Verizon HTC Rezound Smartphone Review

When it comes to Android powered smartphones, it seems like there is a new phone released every month or so. At this point, there isn’t a lot that can be added to a smartphone to make it different than every other smartphone on the market. There are only so many cores you can add to the processor to make it faster, so much memory you can add for apps, and so many megapixels you can add for better pictures. The HTC Rezound from Verizon Wireless finds another way to stand out by offering a better audio experience with their Beats Audio technology and included Monster Beats Audio headphones. Let’s see if it improves your music listening experience while still performing well as a phone.

Note: Click the images in this review to see a larger view.

Hardware Specs

Operating System: Android Gingerbread + HTC Sense
Processor: Qualcomm® MSM8660 1.5 GHz, Qualcomm MDM9600
Internal memory: 16 GB onboard memory, 1 GB DDR2 RAM
Network: LTE 700MHz (band 13); CDMA 800/1900MHz
Display: 4.3″ super LCD screen, 1280 x 720, HD 720p
Memory card: 16 GB microSD™ pre-installed
Camera: 8 MP with auto focus, f/2.2, 28mm wide-angle lens, 2 x LED flash; 2 MP front-facing camera, 1080p video recorder
Bluetooth v3.0
Battery: Rechargeable lithium–ion battery 1620 mAh Usage: 404 minutes (typical), Standby: 261 hours (typical)
Dimensions: 5.08” x 2.58” x .54”
Weight: 6oz

Package Contents

HTC Rezound smartphone
Monster Beats Audio headphones with 5 different sized ear tips
Headphones pouch
AC adapter with USB micro cable

Let me start out by comparing the HTC Rezound to an iPhone 4S so you can get an idea of how large it is. This phone is a handful, but it’s not uncomfortable to hold or use as a phone. It’s about the same size as my original Motorola Droid X, so it’s not crazy huge… The back is nicely rounded, so it feels good in your hand.

The Rezound has a large 4.3 inch capacitive display with no physical buttons on the face of the device. At the top there is a status LED and the front facing 2MP camera.

The display is gorgeous without looking cartoony like Samsung phones. With 1280 x 720 pixels, this is the first 720p phone.

Below the display are 4 touch sensitive buttons for Home, Menu, Back and Search. These touch buttons have a red backlight when you’re in a dim area, and they have haptic feedback, which will cause the device to vibrate when touched. This is a setting that can be turned off if desired. I always turn off the haptic feedback on my devices because I fear that it negatively affects battery life. I’m not sure how much it really does though…

The back of the phone has the 8MP camera lens and dual LED flash.

The soft touch plastic cover is easily removed to access the battery compartment and 16GB microSD card which is included with the phone.

Removing the 1620 mAh battery reveals the 4G LTE SIM card. Since 4G has not yet made it to bustling metropolis of Columbus, Indiana, I have not been able to test 4G performance with this phone. Of course, it works just fine on 3G too.

The left side has the charge port which looks like a proprietary connector, but it’s really an ordinary micro USB connector.

The opposite side has a volume rocker switch. This switch is narrow and flush with the casing and has very little tactile feedback.

The same goes for the power switch on the top of the phone. 50% of the time I have to press this button 2 times for it to turn the device on or off because I either pressed in the wrong area or not hard enough. Grrr…

I love the large bright crystal clear display on this phone, but the rest of the physical design is nothing special in my opinion. It doesn’t look much different than other Android smartphones currently available. Black shiny plastic. Yay… But it feels solid and doesn’t have any issues with flexing or cracking when I try to crush it in my super human gadgeteer grip of steel, otherwise known as the gadgeteer squeeze test.

Camera

If you read The Gadgeteer, you will know that I’m a big fan of the iPhone’s camera. It’s one of the biggest reasons why I switched back to the iPhone from the Droid X months ago. Well guess what? I am really impressed by the HTC Rezound’s camera!

The camera app has a lot of features including a collection of effects that are applied in real time so that you can see what you’re going to get before you snap the picture. Unfortunately the screen capture feature doesn’t show this.

Here are a few sample images:

The camera actually captures better macro shots than the iPhone and can focus at a slightly closer distance. Dim shots do seem to have a bit of a yellow cast though. But all in all, this phone has a really nice 8MP camera.

Music

The main selling point for the Rezound is the special Beats Audio technology that enhances audio through the included Monster Beats earbuds.

If you use the included Monster Beats earbuds, you will a notice significant boost in bass and over-all fullness of the sound. If you’re not a big fan of in-ear type earbuds (like me), you’ll be happy to know that using your favorite buds will also sound great.

I listened to the same song on a Motorola Droid X and the HTC Rezound with stock Apple earbuds (don’t kill me…) and the Monster Beats earbuds. The Rezound with the Monster Beats earbuds sounded great and very good with the Apple earbuds, too. The Droid X sounded anemic in comparison, even with the Monster Beats earbuds. Whatever special sauce has been added with the Beats Technology, is a great improvement.

Included Software and other HTC Sense Interface Goodies

The Rezound includes HTC’s ever popular Sense UI enhancements.


Some of the extras includes cool lock screen styles. The default is shown above. To unlock, you just push the ring at the bottom of the display upwards. But, if you want to unlock the phone and go right into your favorite app, you can drag the icon into the ring. Nifty.

The notification screen has a horizontal scrolling bar with apps recently opened so that you can access them easily. There’s also a quick-settings tab that can be accessed from this screen too, which is a nice touch.

The app view has some nice touches as well. There are buttons at the bottom to access frequent apps, your downloaded apps, and Verizon’s own apps.

The animated weather app, which is powered by Accuweather.com, has a nice helping of eye candy.

Also included are a handy task manager task killer, Footprints, Hot Pursuit racing game (demo), Let’s Golf 2 golf game (demo), Polaris Office (Microsoft Excel and Word document editor), Scan barcode scanner / price checker app, and Slacker Radio music streaming app.

But can it make phone calls?

Do people still use their smartphones to call people these days? ;) If you prefer talking over texting, the Rezound has no problems making and receiving calls… at least on the 3G network which I tested.

One cool feature that I like is that you can use the number pad to either enter part of a phone number or use it to spell the first or last name of someone you want to call. As you type on the number pad, your list of contacts will filter based on matches.

Of the handful of calls that I placed, they sounded clear on both sides of the connection and I had no problems with reception or dropped calls and was very happy with the audio quality / volume.

Battery Life

Since I’m not in an area with 4G reception of any kind, my experiences with battery life probably aren’t very useful. All I can say is that with normal use of a few calls, some video recording, text messages, some game play, music listening through headphones and surfing, I’m getting 1-2 days between charges. It doesn’t seem better or worse than what I remembered of my Droid X. Charging often is just a tradeoff that we have to deal with when we use smartphones.

Conclusion

I didn’t think I’d care all that much about the HTC Rezound, but I am surprised at just how much I like it and wish I didn’t have to return it to my Verizon rep. My two favorite things about it are the display and the camera. Better audio through headphones is a plus too. If I were looking to switch back to Android from my iPhone, I would definitely consider this phone. Go check it out at your local Verzion store and let me know what you think of it.

 

Product Information

Price:$299.99 with 2yr contract, $649.99 without contract
Manufacturer:HTC
Retailer:Verizon Wireless
Pros:
  • Great 4.3in display
  • Snappy performance
  • Enhanced audio
  • High quality earbuds
  • Excellent camera
Cons:
  • Volume and power buttons are small and hard to press
Posted in: Android related, Reviews

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Ken Schoenberg December 12, 2011, 4:56 pm

    At this point the hardware is all more than powerful enough. Smartphone choice comes down to form factor, screen size and most importantly what operating system is running. If Android were my choice I would hold off on a phone running Android 4.x (Ice Cream Sandwich). They’re already starting to hit the market. Many phones will be upgraded, but that’s generally at the discretion of your carrier and time frames can be a bit long. On the positive side Android OS upgrades include all features whereas iOS (iPhone) upgrades may be purposely be missing features like Siri, gestures, etc.

  • Orlando December 12, 2011, 5:00 pm

    Great review. Originally I was set to get either the Galaxy Nexus whenever they release it, or the Droid Razr. Surprised that the camera performs well, possible better than the Razr, so now I’ll need to give this some serious consideration!

  • Bloom December 12, 2011, 6:53 pm

    I loved my old Motorola Razr phone because of the cool light switching keypads. However the HTC Rezound today outdid the new Razr in terms of music performance. One thing to add, the Amplified sound you’ll hear will only work with the Beats system and not with youtube.

  • MP Reviews December 13, 2011, 12:33 pm

    Nice Review. I was all set to purchase an HTC smartphone and then someone came along and gifted me a Blackberry Curve. While the Blackberry is a cool piece of engineering, I still hanker after the “big” screens of the HTC and Galaxy handsets.

  • DG December 13, 2011, 1:11 pm

    I was waiting for the GNEX but decided I couldn’t stand the games that were going on with the release. The Moto Razr was too thin and felt too gimicky for me in there appears to be no ergonomics built into that device. As nice as the display and overall performance are, the Rezzy felt just perfect in my hand. Not heavy or clunky. As a matter of fact, I find the device to be rather perfect for hands that are on the larger side of medium and bigger.

    The screen is sublime. I’m coming from my Moto Droid which is eons old by cell phone standards. No comparison at all. Very smooth fluid scrolling in Sense 3.5. I’m still getting use to Sense, but so far the new features are quite nice for new users like me. Did I mention the screen is beautiful to work with?

    I really have enjoyed the new phone and contact management system that Sense offers. To me, that is critical as well as a good sounding phone. HTC fully delivers here. No problems at all.

    The Rezzy refuses to get hung up on anything. I’m sure the massive 1.5 ghz processor is behind that. I feel this phone has enough gas to last at least a year especially since it is a true 4G device as well as having plenty of features to keep it running very fast and smooth for quite a while.

    Let’s talk 4G – This was the main reason I like the Rez. I live in a Verizon 4G area and the speed is simply unbelievable. I clocked it yesterday at home downloading at 25 mbps. Upload was 9 mbps. That was faster than my Comcast cable connection! (17 down, 4.8 up) I totally forget about WIFI at home now. There’s no need. If I didn’t have an unlimited plan, I would be forced to, but I completely enjoy the speeds. My iphone friends simply drool with good reason. Their connection is abysmal. Even my iphone toting business partner was shocked when he saw full web pages loading in but seconds.

    Beats Sound – Nice, but a few problems for true audiophiles. It only works with the stock music app from HTC. If you’re like me, I prefer Double Twist which doesn’t recognize the Beats audio. Who knows if it will when ICS gets released. Either way, I tested the Beats earphones against my Bose buds, and some Apple buds on different devices. In and of themselves, the Beats earbuds work well. The Beats audio produces a much bigger bassy sound than I care for when engaged with the Beats earbuds. However, Bose earphones in my opinion seem to balance out the bass and add more mids and highs across the spectrum. Bottom line, if too much bass is not right for you, try using your preferred earphone or headphones with the stock music app. Beats will engage automatically through your preferred phones and deliver a more rich sound.

    Battery – The stock batter is something like 1620 mAph. Kids, this is simply not enough juice for power users for a day’s use. I’m not a true power user, but I have days where I need to access the web, return quite a few emails, use some apps and engage google maps. If you do that day to day, you’ll probably not make it through the day on one charge. Generally, I make it through the day fine so far, but a few times the Rez is hitting yellow at 3-4 pm. One word: Addtional battery. Verizon is offering a back-up batter (@2700 mAph) and that works wonders. The cost is $29.00 and comes with a new battery cover, but adds some girth. You’ll also need to spring for a new phone case which Verizon will sell you happily for $29.00 and you’ll have your choice of 1 grey model. For power users, this batter will be a must.

    However, the phone never looses its nice hand feel due to the way the device is designed. I still can’t say for me this made it a bad deal at all. I simply use the battery I need on any given day, and I know when I go away, I’ve got a monster battery that will allow me to do what tasks I need to do. Heavy users will be more than fine for over a day.

    Finally, I really recommend the Rez. No phone today is perfect by any means, so that leaves us with decisions. If you’re a Verizon customer like me, you have lots of options including waiting for the GNEX. The Rezzy is a wonderful device that is sure to make it easily through your new 2 yr contract. Silky smooth operations, beautiful HD screen, the fastest 4G connections of current smartphones, and a great contact management phone interface. There’s no telling what enhancements will be made when ICS comes out. Either way, I’ve enjoyed this device immensely and recommend it.

  • Donald Schoengold December 13, 2011, 7:33 pm

    Back in the good old days of the previous century, the goal of a good sound system was to be musically neutral and to reproduce the sound as if it were live with nothing added and nothing removed. Now we judge systems based on how unbalanced they are and how much bass they add to the sound.

    Am I the only Luddite here who regards this attitude as strange?

    If this is the goal of a system, we might just play all of our music w a tuba.

  • Jas January 14, 2012, 11:29 pm

    Thanks for this! We were really quite ticked when we got it home and saw that proprietary-looking connector, thinking we’d need a new car charger and the whole nine. You’re right that a vanilla MicroUSB plugs right in and works fine.

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