This holiday season we have seen the release of some power house phones on Big Red’s network. The first being the Razr, the second being the Rezound and the third finally being the Galaxy Nexus. As you should now well know, the Nexus is out. Hey! Where’d you go? Oh, well, for those of you still here and reading, this review will feature the Rezound in all its glory. So without any further hesitation here it is; the review.
The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up this phone is that it has some serious heft. Weighing in at 5.78 ounces, this phone is almost 1.5 ounces heavier than the Droid RAZR and about an ounce heavier than the Galaxy Nexus. The phone is 0.54” thick which is about two times the thickness of the RAZR. Other specs are 5.1″ x 2.6″ which gives the phone a decent size even with the 4.3” screen. However even with the size and heft I was able to move my entire thumb over the whole screen with ease.
The phone also feels balanced in your hand so holding it for any length of time shouldn’t be tiring. The contour ridged back on the phone gives it a great grip to prevent slipping and adds a nice feel to holding the device. The phone basically looks like a bigger, thicker version of the Incredible 2 but with a nicer screen. One gripe I did have with the phone were the power and volume rocker buttons. I found that they were hard to find and press without a little fumbling around first. I did eventually get used to them after a while. Continuing on.
The full hardware specs include a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 MSM8660 dual-core processor, with 1 GB of RAM and 32GB of storage (12GB usable with 16GB SD card). It has the first 720p qHD LCD (color TFT/TFD) display in the U.S. and also boasts a higher PPI resolution than that of the iPhone, 8MP rear camera with 1080p video recording, dual LED flash and a 2MP front-facing camera. The phone comes with iBeats headphones that double as a headset. It comes with Bluetooth 3.0, wifi, and miniUSB and Android 2.3.4 with Sense 3.5 (sort of). We will get to the sort of here in a bit. One thing, if you buy this phone, do not get thrown off by the miniUSB port as normal miniUSB plugs fit into it. I don’t know why HTC decided to change this up but it kind of threw me off at first.
Out of the three power house phones the Rezound has the smallest battery at 1620mAh. Given moderate use, two or three phone calls, constant emailing and texting, some music use, I have found that the battery is decent. I don’t have 4G in my area because well, I live in the boonies of Montana. However, I was still impressed with how long the battery lasts. After 14 hours and said moderate use I am still sitting at 43% battery life, even with Sense. For most people who have HTC phones you know the battery isn’t the strongest aspect of the phone, but like I said, this battery did a lot better than expected.
When I first booted the phone I was zipping right along. The entire phone was both snappy and responsive and I saw no lag time. I did not benchmark the phone but based performance on use. I use my phone as I see a typical business user would. Emails were sent and received quite quickly, I was able to zip through apps and multi-task without a moment of lag.
The qHD LCD display while not as crisp as some of Samsung’s Super AMOLED displays was in itself, quite crisp. The entire screen just looked, polished. I don’t know what it is but it seemed that the backlight was a little dull, so while the screen looked crisp, it just didn’t pop. However for the average user, you will be quite impressed with it. Video displayed on the phone was crystal clear.
The one thing I did notice about the phone that I found somewhat annoying was that the backlights used to light the capacitive buttons showed up on the touch screen, leaving small amounts of light showing (see below). While minor, it detracted from the finish and polish of the phone. Sound quality was clear and I was able to hear conversations crystal clear. Speaking of the capacitive buttons, I found the backlight sometimes didn’t turn on where as other times it did. Apparently, after some searching around on the internet, the reason the lights seem to “randomly” turn on is because it’s based on ambient light. If you have great ambient light, the lights don’t turn on, if it’s darker, they do. In my opinion this is a pretty awesome feature, although it takes a bit to get used to.
The phone comes with Android 2.3.4 and Sense 3.5 (sort of, again I will get to that). As HTC has said, the Rezound will be seeing Ice Cream Sandwich but won’t be until sometime next year. Sense is installed and the current version is somewhat on here. The reason I say sort of and somewhat is that this phone is missing a few key Sense 3.0+ features that come with others. There is no HTC hub which I don’t get. For those that don’t know, this hub allows you to download different widgets, apps, alerts, and ringtones and so on. Another thing that was missing was the shortcuts and clock widget. The new weather animations are gorgeous and looked good as well.
When I first started up the phone I went through the usual account sign up process. However the first thing I noticed was that instead of re-downloading my apps like previous phones it just synced my contacts, emails and so on. I don’t know if this has something to do with people having data caps but I miss not having to re-download each individual app while also trying to remember which free ones I downloaded, quite tedious nonetheless but after I downloaded all these apps I was back in business. I did notice that the Rezound has only 2GB of storage set aside for apps which to me seems kind of small. Maybe because of App-to-SD support, this isn’t an issue but with these flagship phones being all about storage and capacity it seems weird that so little was allocated for apps.
The camera worked well and the panorama mode is pretty awesome. The phone takes decent photos as you will see from the pictures below. There wasn’t much in terms of shutter or photo lag. Check out the photos below to see how well the camera held up. I tested out the video and it held up pretty well and the picture was decent. Some aspects of the phone caused bleeding. Look at the picture of the shop chihuahua and you can see what I mean. Yes, we have a shop chihuahua, don’t judge me.
There was one nagging bug in the software that I found after a little use. When you go to send a text message and are in landscape mode the keyboard kind of tweaks out. The message will “glitch” and when you hit the space bar it will act like hitting the return key and add a new line. However it only does this once and the backspace key doesn’t do anything until you return to portait mode. I wasn’t able to replicate the bug in the email app so it appears that it’s localized to the messaging app.
The Rezound boasts the fact that it is the first U.S. handset to have Beats by Dre integrated into it. This comes in two flavors. First is the optimized music app with the special Beats (EQ) profile. Coupled with a pair of iBeats in-ear headphones valued at $100 retail the Rezound offers one of the best headsets out there.
I popped some music onto my SD card and plugged these puppies in. I experimented with various genres and found that the bass sounds amazing, even with both rock and classical songs. I was amazed at the sound quality and if you want a phone with awesome sound the Rezound is your choice. However I did notice that when Beats was disabled the music did sound somewhat flat. When it was enabled though, it was well received and I enjoyed using the headphones immensely. Some have complained of a lack of bass sound but I found that this was only true when the headphones weren’t set properly in my ear. A quick readjust fixed this and I was rocking along. The only downside was that it’s Beat by Dre’s way or no way. You have no ability to change your EQ settings.
The headphones double as a nice headset and the party on the other side was able to hear me quite clearly most of the time. I say most of the time because about 10 minutes into my first phone call I noticed a strange crackling sound and the other party could barely hear me. I fiddled with the connection a little bit and the crackling got worse. I don’t know if this has something to do with the sound issues some Rezounds are having but after that one time I haven’t had another issue like that. So honestly I don’t know.
In closing, I have to say I am thoroughly impressed with this phone. It’s thick and sturdy but after you get used to the heft you will barely notice. Ice Cream Sandwich will eventually come to this phone but I will have to say that the Nexus has that over both the RAZR and the Rezound. However if you are looking for a phone that will eventually see ICS and enjoy phones and headsets that put out great sound then the Rezound is a great choice for you. The display while a wee bit lackluster still looked crisp. I am still saddened by a few aspects of Sense 3.5 missing but if you haven’t used them before, you will not miss them now.
The Beats Audio is for lack of a better description, amazing. Even with other genres the headphones put out amazing sound and the phone makes a great iPod or MP3 player replacement. The phone’s other specifications puts it right up there with the best of them and this phone has some staying power. So if you are in the market for a new phone I recommend this phone immensely. Like Robert, who wrote up the review on the RAZR, I am impatient when it comes to Ice Cream Sandwich so I bought the Nexus. However if ICS isn’t on the top of your list in terms of priority then you can’t go wrong with this phone. For those of you having a hard time deciding, look for our upcoming review of the Galaxy Nexus to help with your decision.