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HTC Rezound for Verizon Wireless hands-on [REVIEW]

The HTC Rezound for Verizon Wireless has the richest spec sheet in the entire HTC global lineup – a true flagship from every angle you look at it.

The Rezound is also the first HTC creation in the United States, made in collaboration with the newly acquired Beats Audio. The device arrived fashionably late to the market, compared to its rest of the world, siblings, gone through Dr. Dre’s treatment but, dare we say, the wait was well worth it.

The HTC Rezound is a CDMA device and we don’t review those at GSMArena.com, as the name would suggest, but it was too big a device to miss. So here comes a shorter version of one of our trademark reviews. We are going to kick things off with the HTC Rezound, by taking a look at its key features.

Key features (in a nutshell)

• Dual-core, 1.5 GHz Scorpion CPU, Snapdragon MSM 8660 chipset, Adreno 220 GPU
• LTE network connectivity
• 4.3” S-LCD display with HD resolution (720 x 1280 pixels), 342ppi pixel density
• 1GB RAM; 16GB built-in storage; 16GB microSD card included in the retail package
• 8MP autofocus camera with dual-LED flash, 1080p video recording, 2MP front-facing unit
• Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread with HTC Sense 3.5 UI
• Beats Audio software enhancement; premium iBeats headset in the box

The list gets completed with the typical for upper class HTC smartphones, software tricks, along with the usual HTC related services. I do believe however, that even a brief look at the above listed specs of the HTC Rezound, will show you that the droid means business.

Speaking of business, it is now time to go over the main disadvantages of the HTC Rezound. See them below.

Main disadvantages

• No dedicated camera button
• Design is a bit on the plain side for a flagship
• The screen has a gloss finish, which hampers its outdoor performance
• Absurd amount of preloaded Verizon apps (there is a separate tab for them in the grid launcher)
• Questionable battery life

It’s been a whole year since the first dual-core Android smartphone saw the world and the competition has reached unseen before highs. To put it quite simply, there is absolutely no margin for error out there. As the company’s flagship at the moment, the HTC Rezound has a lot to offer in terms of sheer specs. The big question is how much the droid’s disadvantages will affect the end experience.

Retail package, design and build quality

The HTC Rezound has a dream retail package. In the all black box, you will find a charger, a USB cable, exclusive iBeats earbuds with a pouch, as well as a 16GB microSD card. The usual booklets are also inside.


HTC Rezound retail package • the iBeats headset

This is the most complete package we’ve seen for a smartphone in a really long time. With so many accessories in the box, it is much easier to explain the relatively high retail price of the phone (a pair of iBeats earbuds cost $119.99 alone).

In terms of design, the Rezound is, unmistakably, a member of the HTC family. The only minor issue here is that the device looks identical to the Droid Incredible. Verizon sells the Droid Incredible too for a third of the Rezound’s price.


HTC Rezound live shots

That aside, the hints that the device is a Beats handset are subtle, yet nice. The touch sensitive buttons at the front glow in red. Same is the color of the earpiece grille. On the back of the device, you will find a Beats logo. The red theme continues under the battery cover, where the translucent phone body is all red, as well as the battery of the phone.


The red Beats theme runs through the entire handset

With measures of 129 x 65.5 x 13.7mm and 170 grams of weight, the HTC Rezound is by no means the most compact smartphone you will encounter. The usual for HTC superb build quality is present as well – no surprises here.


HTC Rezound hardware

The 4.3” HD resolution display is nice to work on. With a higher pixel density than iPhone 4S, performing any task on the HTC Rezound is a pleasure. We did however find the glossy finish to compromise the outdoor performance of the unit on a sunny day.


The HD screen is impressive

The 1620mAh battery of the HTC Rezound is probably its weakest spot. We ran our battery test of the device and it came up with a score of 32 – not the most impressive out there.

You can find out the full scoop about the Rezound’s battery performance here.

Despite its serious dimensions, the HTC Rezound is easy to handle. The soft-feel, high quality plastic on its back provides a lot of grip and leaves little room for unfortunate accidents.


The phone handles quite nicely

As always, there are no surprises with the hardware of the HTC Rezound. The phone is superbly built and well designed, if a bit too plain for a flagship. It is now time to see if the software will perform on par with the device’s massive spec sheet.

User Interface: HTC Sense has grown a bit

The HTC Rezound runs Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread, dressed in HTC Sense 3.5. We have prepared a video of the droid in action. Check it out below.

HTC Sense 3.5 is an evolution of 3.0. While the UI does not differ significantly from its predecessor, it does bring several welcome changes.


The home screen of the HTC Rezound

The most notable change is the ability to add, delete, or rearrange the homescreen panels in leap view – a feature which has been notably missing in all previous versions of HTC Sense.


You can now delete and rearrange the screen panels

The Personalize screen has been touched up as well. It is now tabbed.


The Personalize screen is now tabbed

You will also encounter tabs in the phonebook and messaging department. Their buttons are nice and large and you be immediately at ease when using them.

While still talking about tabs, we must point out that we were unpleasantly surprised to see that an extra one has been added in the grid layout, to specifically house the proprietary apps from Verizon Wireless. They cannot be uninstalled (not without rooting the phone) and clutter the device unnecessarily.


The Verizon tab in the grid layout • the amount of preinstalled apps is ridiculous

Following next are the benchmark results of the HTC Rezound.

Benchmarks tell only half the story

The HTC Rezound is certainly not a benchmark monster. We’ve seen quite a few Android smartphones score higher than it, including other HTC made devices. We have compiled several benchmarks for you to check out.


Antutu • Quadrant • Pi • Vellamo

As you can see above, the Rezound is certainly not the fastest dual-core we’ve seen out there. There are even members of the HTC family which have posted stronger scores. We do suspect that the benchmark results have quite a lot to do with the monster resolution of the screen. There is simply a massive amount of pixels to be dealt with.

We’ve already observed before that benchmark results do not tell the full story. It is the same case with the HTC Rezound. We found the phone to be blazing fast in our experience with it – no lag whatsoever.

Beats Audio

At a first glance, the music player of the HTC Rezound looks like business as usual. When you plug the headphones however, the Beats logo pops up in the notification area. From there you can enable or disable it.


Beats audio is a nice touch

While having Beats Audio enhancement is great, we were a bit surprised to find out that there is no custom equalizer setting present in the music player of the device, leaving you with two choices to enjoy your music – with or without Beats Audio on board.

The Beats Audio experience extends to the video player as well. Again, you can switch it on and off only.


The video player has beefed up audio credentials too

Camera

The HTC Rezound packs an 8MP camera with f/2.2 lens and a dual-LED flash. A slew of different shooting modes, which we’ve seen in other high-end HTC devices, are on hand as well.

The Camera UI has been slightly redesigned in Sense 3.5. The changes are not dramatic however – you will not find yourself in an unfamiliar place if you come from another HTC device.


The camera UI has been tweaked a bit

The pictures which the HTC Rezound took had fine detail and good exposure. There was however a lot of noise in them. The colors were a bit off and the dynamic range was limited. We have put together several samples for you. See them below.

Video recording

The UI of the video camera has been slightly touched up as well. Again, the changes are not dramatic.


The video camera UI

The Rezound captures 1080p videos at 30fps and 720p videos at 60fps. Both resolutions are captured with stereo sound. The videos pack a lot of detail and impressive framerate. We have a couple of samples for you to enjoy. The first one is shot in full HD, so don’t forget to switch the resolution and hit full screen in your browser.

Connectivity

The HTC Rezound has more connectivity options than you will possibly need. Having seen most of them before, we were mostly curious to put the LTE network to its paces. Verizon Wireless has flawless LTE coverage in New York City, so the Rezound network speeds came quite impressive. Check them out.


LTE is a perfect addition to the HTC Rezound

The rest of the connectivity suite comes straight from the rest of the HTC top dogs.

Final Words

The HTC Rezound is certainly one of the most complete packages you will find on the market today. In terms of sheer specs, the droid offers more than any competitor. The same goes for the smartphone’s retail package.

The battery performance and huge amount of preloaded software from Verizon are the two major letdowns to the device. If you can compromise on those two, look no further – it is the right one for you.

HTC Rezound is offered exclusively by Verizon Wireless in the United States. The smartphone is priced at $299.99 – much like the rest of the top Verizon offerings. We must note here, that the Rezound has a retail package which appears to justify its asking price.

Speaking of prices, you can pick up an HTC Rezound from Amazon Wireless through Monday, November 28, for a penny with a two year contract. In case you are already considering it, this little fact might help with your decision.

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