Jan 06 AT 9:47 AM Sean Riley 44 Comments
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The HTC Rezound is a powerhouse of a phone. While other devices in Verizon’s lineup might have garnered more attention, the Rezound (by the specs) is the best device currently available for Verizon. Do all these high-end specs actually add up to a positive experience, though?

1. Call Quality

The Rezound performed well as a phone throughout my time with it. Callers were loud and clear on my end, and in test calls to a land line the Rezound sounds just as good on the receiving end. If pressed I would still give a slight edge to Motorola in this department, but that’s only due to Motorola’s radio performance in areas with marginal reception. If you rarely leave an area with solid reception, you won’t have any complaints with the Rezound.

2. Display

I’m sure you won’t be shocked to hear that a 1280×720 resolution on a 4.3-inch screen looks phenomenal. The extra space that it provides when browsing the web, reading email, or doing basically anything on the Rezound was more useful than I imagined it would be. If you load 720p content on there, it’ll blow you away. I’m sure many people would like to see a Super AMOLED+, but I’d be shocked if anyone could look at this screen and walk away disappointed. The one caveat here is that many apps are not yet designed with a 720p phone in mind, which usually will result in a lot of white space in the app or elements appearing smaller than they should be. This problem should be short lived.

3. LTE

The 4G LTE radio is doing its thing as always with the Rezound. I consistently saw download speeds of 13-17 down and 3-5 up, which is in line with all my LTE devices here. Obviously your mileage will vary based on your location, but I can confirm that the Rezound managed to hold an LTE signal as well as anything else Verizon has to offer at the moment.

4. Build Quality/Appearance

The Rezound may not be RAZR thin or have the gentle curves of the Galaxy Nexus, but I’m a big fan of its look and feel nonetheless. The Rezound is one of those phones that just fits perfectly in the hand (or at least my hand). I suspect this will carry over to the majority of users, though, as it’s a combination of a slightly narrower form factor with curved edges and soft touch back. The familiar Verizon red accents are a little stronger than they have been on other devices, but in my opinion, it doesn’t cross the line into garishness. The splash of color and varied textures are a welcome break from the sea of black slabs, but I’m definitely ready for someone to break from that design aesthetic at this point. (And for the record that doesn’t mean a purple phone.)

HTC Rezound 4G Front HTC Rezound 4G Back Angle HTC Rezound 4G Back HTC Rezound 4G side HTC Rezound with iBeats earbuds

5. Audio/Beats Integration

I believe I’ve confessed in the past that I am not an audiophile. (If not, then I’m doing so now). I listen almost exclusively to podcasts and audiobooks with music only entering the equation when I’m working out. So I’ll give you my lay opinion on the Beats experience, and if you want a more detailed look at the audio side of things, you might want to check out the review done by Sound and Vision.

It’s important to know that Beats isn’t integrated throughout the OS. You will need to use the HTC Music app in order to enjoy the benefits of the Beats audio profiles with your music. For video, the Gallery is your lone option. With the prevalence of 4G and the rise of streaming audio and video in the past year, this will force you to take a step back and load up your device with content again. Now those of you who really care about the quality of your audio experience on your phone will probably be willing to do that. But I’m afraid I’m a denizen of the cloud at this point, and I just don’t see myself managing content like this anymore. Another important point is that the Beats integration is only fully available to Beats branded earbuds/headphones, such as the included iBeats. With all of that out of the way, I’ll get to whether Beats actually makes things sound better when you’ve got it up and running. In my opinion, the answer to that question is a definite, “Yes.” The Rezound using the HTC Music app and the Beats earbuds was honestly the best audio experience I’ve had on an Android device; whether that’s worth the compromises is something you’ll have to decide for yourself.

6. Android 2.3.4/Sense 3.5

HTC has vowed that the Rezound will see an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich, but for the time being it is running Gingerbread. That, of course, features the Sense overlay. There was a time that I could say Sense made things easier for the novice Android user. But that hasn’t been the case for awhile now, and it’s just going to become less relevant with Ice Cream Sandwich. I’m resigned to the fact that they aren’t going to give up on Sense, but HTC would be wise to continue scaling it back and perhaps concentrating more on their services and apps, such as HTC Music or Watch as their differentiators.

7. Battery Life

This was by far my biggest complaint with the Rezound. Depending on your usage and needs, this could be a deal breaker. I was never once able to make it through a full work day (9-10 hours) with what I consider to be normal usage. Normal in my case involves a lot of email, a few phone calls, Twitter, Google+, and downloading/listening to podcasts. Obviously it’s those last three habits that are particularly hard on the phone. If you avoid any or all of them and aren’t replacing them with a massive Facebook or Netflix habit, then you probably would see 10-11 hours of battery life on the Rezound. Fortunately, unlike the RAZR, you could always just buy an extra battery if you’re particularly concerned with making it through the day.

8. Performance

The Rezound is powered by a Qualcomm 1.5GHz dual-core processor, an Adreno 220 GPU and a full 1GB of memory. It’s a good thing, too, as I’m sure it needs it to push all those pixels on that beautiful screen. Occasionally these super phones seem to have every spec under the sun and yet still bog down at times. I’m happy to say that isn’t the case with the Rezound. I never experienced any stuttering or slowdowns when launching apps or switching between screens. I tried several graphics intensive games on it, such as the included demo of Need for Speed, and it handled them all with ease.

9. Cameras

You’ve no doubt detected a theme at this point: the Rezound doesn’t skimping on features. The cameras are no exception. With a rear facing 8MP and front facing 2MP, the Rezound sits comfortably in the top echelon. Fortunately HTC didn’t just throw any 8MP sensor in there, either; they went with the same back-lit sensor at f/2.2 that can be found in the HTC Amaze. While the Rezound can’t quite match the shot to shot speed found on the Galaxy Nexus, it is plenty fast and capable of pretty sharp images — even in questionable lighting. That rear camera is also capable of capturing 1080p video for those concerned with capturing true HD video with their phone.

HTC Rezound 4G Camera Sample 1 HTC Rezound 4G Camera Sample 2 HTC Rezound 4G Camera Sample 3

10. Bundled Items

Alright. So we aren’t exactly looking at a cornucopia of extras here, just a 16GB microSD card and a Beats headset. But that’s more than you get with the average device, and considering the prices that Verizon is charging,[1] it’s nice to feel like you’re getting something “extra” for your hard earned cash. The iBeats (I know, an “iProduct” packaged with your Android phone) retail for right around $100. While I’m more than willing to listen to a discussion of whether that’s an appropriate price or not, the fact is that’s what they go for. They have a mic and a three-button remote with pause/play, forward and rewind. As a headset I would say they are mediocre; the lack of a clip means the mic is a bit wayward and can end up not being in an optimal location to pick up your voice. As far as earbuds go they aren’t the best I’ve used by any means, but they are far better than anything I’ve had packaged with a phone previously. So if you’ve never splurged on earbuds, these should be an upgrade for you.

Final Thoughts

HTC Rezound8 / 10

The Galaxy Nexus has certainly garnered the most attention and interest from our community. But for the average user, I think the HTC Rezound could easily still be the best option available on Verizon. The form factor alone goes a long way to selling the Rezound; its smaller dimensions (versus the Galaxy Nexus) and rounded edges (versus the Droid RAZR) make it a better fit in hand for a wider audience. The 720p screen is a thing of beauty, and the camera in the Rezound seems to outperform the Galaxy Nexus in many situations.

Again the one real concern I had was with battery life. For the most part, that’s just life with a 4G phone at the moment. A second or extended battery is an easy and relatively inexpensive solution. I should also note that the Rezound doesn’t have NFC natively, which is disappointing. But with the utility of NFC still being fairly limited (in some cases deliberately), I don’t consider that to be a significant negative for the average buyer.

All in all, HTC hit nearly every major check mark with the Rezound. While specs don’t always make the device, I can comfortably say after my time with the Rezound that with this device they all come together into a very compelling package.

References

  1. Keep in mind that new customers can get it for half what Verizon is charging at Amazon Wireless
Sean has been with Android and Me for over 4 years and covering mobile for the last 5. He occasionally muses about gadgets and tech outside of the Android universe at Techgasms.

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