HTC Rhyme – body and soul
The mighty HTC tree has been dropping plenty of new fruit of late and the most recent to fall is a right plum. Not only does the Rhyme don regal plum colours but it’s new Sense 3.5 UI skin makes that Gingerbread OS sweeter than ever. The 1GHz processor glides you through tasks, never seeming to tax the handset even when zooming about on the most awkwardly non-mobile-optimised sites. Our fondlable model of HTC's new Rhyme was pre-production, but we saw no glitches. Perhaps we were just blinded by the crisp 3.7in Super LCD display. The 5MP camera is also impressive (if slightly underspecced in a world of 8MP camphone sensors), but it makes up for lost pixels with face detection, burst shooting and an HDR mode.
HTC Sense 3.5
It's telling of how good HTC's long-running customisation of vanilla Android that a new version of Sense is an event on par with a hardware launch. HTC Sense 3.5 is another evolution in a system that has continually impressed us, without being buggy, nasty or restrictive. Once again, by putting the user at the forefront of the user interface, HTC has managed to outsmart Google's custom Android platform. So now there's a stack of up to five icon-based folders on the homescreen, with slide-out menus for quick access to mail, photos, music or the Android Market. Or whatever you choose to make them. There's also a Facebook chat app for instant messaging without going into the full Facebook app. Another freebie is the DropBox app that lets you share files (much like Apple's AirDrop). It comes with 3BG free storage, unlike the 2GB you'll get with the free third-party Dropbox app (review here)... no relation.
HTC Rhyme – Charm and dock
The Rhyme makes it debut not alone but with a selection of accessories. HTC made much of these, though the company's enthusiasm failed to warm us as much as it might have. Accessory #1 is the "Charm", as HTC calls it. It harks back to the days of flashing fobs strung to the sides of Nokia 3310s, plugging into the headphone jack on one end, while the other end affixes to a top, bag-strap or whatever else is in eye range to give you a flashing alert signal when a call comes in. We can't help feel it's going to be a tangle hazard, but we're definitely interested in the potential for the wireless version of the Charm we'll no doubt see in future. Next up is the handsome rubberised dock, which handles the prosaic but necessary charging duties, but also activates the phone's Bluetooth to connect itself and play music through its (rather tinny) speaker. A one-touch screen dimmer is a nice touch for bedside use.