HTC Rezound review
The end of 2011 brought three new LTE phones to the Verizon network. The Droid Razer, HTC Rezound and the Samsung Nexus Galaxy. The Droid RAZR and the Nexus Galaxy seemed to receive the most press of the those released; however, the HTC Rezound is no slouch of a phone. My wife recently purchased this phone when she upgraded to a 4G phone and luckily I was able to play with it for a period of time. I was quite impressed with this new phone.
The HTC Rezound brings some impressive specs to the table when you start looking at what’s under the hood. The 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S3 CPU is one of the fastest stock processors available in a cell phone. Couple this with an Adreno 220 GPU and 1GB of RAM and you have a device that will smoothly run any game you throw at it. The Rezound is also the first U.S. carrier phone with a 720p resolution. The stunning 4.3″ 1280×720 resolution is something that needs to be seen to truly appreciate.
The HTC Rezound is not an ideal choice if you are looking for a lightweight phone as the 13.7mm thick phone weighs in at a hefty 5.78 ounces (164g). Despite its bulkiness, the phone seemed to fit comfortably in my hand as well as in my wife’s hand. The curved edges and soft plastic on the back allow you to grip the phone without feeling like it will slip out of your hand. The HTC Rezound also features addition red trim and the soft buttons light up with a soft red glow.
The button layout will feel familiar for those who have owned previous HTC devices. The lower left side of the phone provides a micro-USB compatible MHL port while the upper part contains a secondary noise-cancelling mic. On the top of the device you will find the standard power/lock button as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack. Moving right, you will find the volume rocker for the phone. Unfortunately, HTC decided against including a dedicated shutter button on the Rezound so the rocker remains the solitary control on the right side of the phone.
The Rezound is equipped with a 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with a f/2.2, 28mm wide-angle lens and duel LED flash. For those of you with Facetime-envy, the Rezound also includes a 2-megapixel front facing camera (capable of recording 720p HD video) that you can use to chat with friends and family via third-party apps such as Tango and Skype.
The camera software on the Rezound features a number of image effects that can be used to include: Grayscale, Sepia, and Negative. There are also various shooting modes, or scenes, that can be used to help take the best picture for the given situation. The standard Portrait and Landscape scenes are available, but one scene I was pleased to see included was one called Panorama. This allows you to easily take a 360 degree photograph of your environment. Overall, these assorted shooting modes are nice, but none seem to stand out aside from Panorama. The camera seemed to take great pictures in daylight providing vibrant images, but it failed to impress me when taking a picture in a dimly lit environment. The HDR scene included in the camera can be used to help provide a small amount of additional light into the frame, but the pictures I took only produced a slight improvement.
Recording 1080p at 30fps resulted in good quality videos. Video was very fluid and the sound appeared to be quite clear. The 720p recordings resulted in similar quality, although they appeared to capture fast moving objects slightly smoother than my 1080p recordings. While not as robust as the rear camera, the front-facing camera is unique due to the ability to record at 720p at 30fps. I found those videos turned out well, even though I’m not sure how often I will record video using the front camera.
The Rezound ships with Android 2.3.4 and the new HTC Sense 3.5. However, it’s worth noting, that HTC has promised Android 4.0 will be coming to this device in the future. The new Sense 3.5 proprietary UI appears to bring very little new other than the ability to remove the home screen panels. You still see the traditional bar at the bottom consisting of the app menu, phone app, and custom app options. One new, non-phone feature, I was impressed with was the free 5GB of space on the Dropbox service. If you are not aware, HTC recently reached an agreement with Dropbox to provide free 5GB of space for all devices shipping with their new updated UI. This service and accompanying app allows you to readily access important files while on the go.
Verizon phones are notorious for the numerous pre-installed apps and the Rezound is by no means an exception to the rule. The phone is loaded with software I may never use. These include: Blockbuster, Mobile IM, VCAST music and video, My Verizon Mobile, Polaris Office, Slacker and VZ Navigator. The games Verizon chose to install are: NFS: Hot Pursuit and Let’s Golf 2. As I suspected these apps cannot be uninstalled and there is no way to hide them in the app drawer.
The HTC Rezound offers something unique for the audiophiles out there. The Rezound is the first smartphone in the U.S. to provide both Beats audio as well as a set of $100 iBeats headphones. The Beats audio software equates to a configuration setting that is only available with the stock music and video player. There is no option to enable Beats audio with third party applications such as Last.FM or Pandora, but HTC is working on adding an open API that app developers can use to add Beats audio support to third party apps. The included iBeats headphones, however, provide excellent audio. The rich full sound they deliver leaves you feeling like you are right there with the artist.
The battery life on the Rezound is not good. Plain and simple. After 8 hours of moderate use (calls, surfing, and streaming music), I noticed the battery had dropped from it’s fully charged state down to a surprising 27%. I know there are many factors contributing to poor battery life, primarily the LTE network, so I was surprised the stock battery wasn’t bigger. If you are a heavy phone user, I strongly suggest investing in an extended battery or additional cables to charge your phone.
The new HTC Rezound may not be the thinnest phone in Verizon’s stable, but the top-notch specs easily compensate for the bulkiness of the phone. The gorgeous display and included iBeats headphones make this an attractive phone for those looking to upgrade to a 4G device. In addition, Verizon recently dropped the price to $199 on contract. Considering the iBeats headphones sell for $100 alone, there is no reason not to pick it up if you are eligible to upgrade your phone.