HTC Rhyme Android phone (preview)

HTC Rhyme preview: The HTC Rhyme looks like a re-badged Desire, but its purple colour and optional "charm" is clearly targeting women

HTC might not be officially saying it, but the Taiwanese company has just announced the release of an Android phone that is clearly marketed at women. The HTC Rhyme is a compact Android phone with a 3.7in touchscreen, mid-range specifications and an optional "charm" accessory that glows when you receive a call or text message.

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HTC has not directly stated that the Rhyme is intended for females, but it's hard to argue otherwise. For starters, the HTC Rhyme is emblazoned in a light colour called "clearwater". It's also available in a purple colour called "plum" but this colour will not be sold in Australia at this stage.

It's not just the colour of the Rhyme that makes it a feminine phone — that's been left to an optional accessory called the HTC Rhyme Charm. The charm attaches to the phone and is designed to dangle out of a handbag or purse, emitting a soft glow when you receive a call or text message. Try marketing that to a male audience.

The HTC Rhyme includes a number of accessories in the sales package that you normally wouldn't find with other smartphones. Aside from the charm, Australian models of the Rhyme sold through Optus will also include a docking station with built-in speakers, "virtually tangle-free" headphones with a flat cord and a pouch to store the phone in. Optional accessories include a wireless Bluetooth speaker for the car that clips to your sun visor, a Bluetooth headset in matching "clearwater" colour, and a workout armband for the gym. It's a solid list of accessories that not too many other Android phones can match.

Aside from its flashy coat of paint and unique accessories, the HTC Rhyme is a similar phone to the Desire S. It has the same 3.7in capacitive touchscreen, is powered by the same single-core 1GHz processor and has the same 768MB of RAM. However, the Rhyme boasts 4GB of internal memory compared to the Desire S's paltry 1.1GB.

The HTC Rhyme has a microSD card slot for extra storage and dual-cameras: a 5-megapixel camera on the rear and a front facing VGA camera for video calls. In an interesting design choice, HTC has followed Apple's lead by opting for a non removable battery.

The HTC Rhyme runs the Android 2.3 operating system, but its HTC's Sense UI overlay that's of more interest. The latest version is Sense 3.5 and once again HTC has added some minor features. These include an updated clock widget on the home screen, a preview window that lets you view your most recent e-mails, photos, messages and apps, and 12 new wallpapers. HTC has also added some enhancements to the camera app: you can now snap images with face recognition and burst mode, as well as upload photos to Facebook automatically — this was a feature first introduced in HTC's ChaCha and Salsa Facebook phones.

As it's a Sense 3.5 Android phone, the HTC Rhyme is also the first smartphone that will work with the company's new HTC Sync software. It's now compatible with both Windows and Mac PCs and will sync music playlists from iTunes, along with your contacts, calendar, photos, videos and Web browser bookmarks.

The HTC Rhyme will be available from 1 November exclusively through Optus in Australia for a period of three months. It will be sold for $0 on Optus' $59 cap plan over 24 months. The plan includes $750 worth of calls, unlimited SMS and MMS, 2GB of data and unlimited access to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, eBay and Foursquare services within Australia.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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