HTC unveiled its newest Google Android smartphone, the Rhyme, at a press event in New York City on Tuesday morning. In a bid to broaden its audience and continue pushing record sales, HTC is positioning the Rhyme as a lifestyle device that’s aimed at female customers, calling it “elegant”. The handset runs on Verizon’s(s vz) 3G network and will cost $199 after contract when it becomes available on September 29.
The HTC Rhyme offers a combination of features expected at this price point: a single-core 1 GHz processor to power Android 2.3 (s goog), front and rear cameras (VGA and 5 megapixel, respectively), and 3.7-inch Super LCD touchscreen running 800×480 resolution. The rear camera supports auto-focus, has an LED flash and uses a relatively large f/2.2 aperture so it should excel in low light conditions. HTC has also revised its Sense software to version 3.5, with some new modernized and useful widgets on the handset.
But this smartphone won’t sell based solely on its specifications and features. Instead, the appeal will be its design as a lifestyle device. Verizon’s version will arrive in a fashionable plum color, while other carriers may offer it in Clearwater or Hourglass hue, according to HTC.
Unique to the Rhyme is a small charm, which isn’t wearable on the wrist, but instead plugs into the phone’s headset jack via a small cable. The idea is that when a phone call or message arrives, the small cube charm glows, allowing the phone to stay in a pocket, purse or bag. I like the concept, but think HTC fell short in the execution: A wearable wireless charm would have impressed.
Accessories for the Rhyme round out the lifestyle approach:
- An included docking station that charges the phone and activates dock mode software for use as an alarm clock or music center through built-in Bluetooth capable speakers
- The Rhyme sports an armband for working out with the handset
- Tangle free headphones
- A Bluetooth headset patterned after the same design as the phone
- A Bluetooth car speaker with visor clip
I’m not sure HTC needs to tread down the path of smartphones targeted at women; I see a fair number of females happily toting other HTC phones such as those in the Incredible and EVO line. Perhaps the Rhyme will be a one-time experiment to see if such a device will appeal more than the generic designs currently offered by the company.
My colleague, Ryan Kim reminds me that Motorola’s (s mmi) Pink RAZR sold well and that Verizon’s Droid lineup is skewed towards sci-fi and robot imagery that might appeal more to men, so perhaps this is a good move for HTC. Those are fair points, but I don’t see that much upside for HTC with this play; let’s see if the HTC Rhyme proves me wrong and becomes a runway, er… runaway hit.