Winter has come and with it the second wave of 4G LTE-enabled smartphones vying for consumer dollars and what may have otherwise been ‘free time’, now spent keeping in touch with friends and streaming HD videos instead. Verizon’s HTC Rezound is a fully-loaded package boasting Beats Audio integration for a superior sonic experience, a gorgeous 4.3 Super LCD HD display, a speedy 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and an intimidating 8 MP rear camera capable of serving as a dependable ‘point and shoot’ alternative. A direct successor to the HTC Thunderbolt (Verizon’s first 4G LTE smartphone, reviewed here), Rezound’s premium bells and beats easily outstrip more economical options like the HTC Vivid and position the device as a direct competitor to the Samsung’s newly released, ‘king-of-the-hill’-claiming Galaxy Nexus, but the extra features also contribute to a relative bulkiness and elevated price point that will not be the best option for everyone.
Audio and Visual
The Rezound’s 4.3 inch display is brilliant and holds bragging rights as the first true 720p HD device to be made available in the U.S. market. The Super LCD panel compares favorably with that of the Galaxy Nexus, handily out-performs the Samsung Skyrocket (now a distant third) in both brightness and fidelity, and yes, even tops the much-touted ‘Retina Display’ of the iPhone 4 and 4s. Holding down the top-shelf gadgetry in the audio department is the inclusion of iBeat headphones and built-in Beats Audio software functionality. The Beats Audio software upgrades audio for enhanced bass and overall quality, while the iBeats headphones represent the absolute best in-the-box headphones out there, easily competing with the industry-standard Apple ear-buds with incredible playback, a comfortable fit and a satisfying solidness that contributes to an overall aura of quality. It is this visual and auditory ‘one-two punch’ of the Rezound that is by far its greatest asset.
Construction and Design
This is unfortunately where things get a bit murkier for the Rezound, as the device’s design, or more specifically, its relative bulk, is its greatest overall detractor other than price. HTC’s typical rectangular body and faceplates have been augmented slightly to accommodate some slick Beats-specific branding and the back of the device features an easy-to-hold, soft-touch plastic shell with a ridged center for added friction, but at 13.7 mm thick the Rezound is only slightly less chunky than its 14.0 mm predecessor the Thunderbolt and almost twice the size of the super-slim 7.1 mm Droid Razr. Button design for the unit is tastefully minimalistic but the volume control button on the side of the device is so far recessed that it is often difficult to tell whether or not it has been pressed. Rezound is by no means a chore to hold onto and even fits into one’s hand quite comfortably, but the same will certainly not hold true for the pockets of your skinny jeans.
Performance & Support
Features, features, and more features. 1.5 Ghz is a lot of power and the Rezound puts it to use in the form of high-speed web-surfing and high-octane gaming. The 8 mega-pixel rear camera is likewise quite impressive, with built-in support for quick photo and video edits in addition to extremely high image quality. Indeed, with dozens of useful features the HTC Rezound and its Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread OS might even be a bit intimidating, but Verizon has introduced a series of free in-store Android and smartphone-specific workshops seemingly styled after those available at Apple’s ‘Genius Bar’ (that’s a good thing), as well as an exhaustive amount of additional content available online via Verizon’s support page. In-store workshops are tailored towards individual participants while the online tutorials are especially convenient for quick reference.
Rezound is currently entrenched in a two-way battle with the Galaxy Nexus over which device will officially by named the ‘cadillac of smartphones’, but in an as-of-yet undetermined grudge-match it would be exceedingly difficult to discount the Rezound as a serious contender. Nexus does currently enjoy the added benefit of Google’s fresh new Android 4.0 (a.k.a. Ice-Cream Sandwich) OS, while Rezound still runs version 2.3.4, but HTC has promised to remedy that particular blemish with a timely upgrade around the beginning of the year. Rezound offers a top-to-bottom premium experience for smartphone users frothing at the mouth for the very latest in speed, graphics and tech, but at $300 the highlife does not come cheap. Consumers looking to save some extra cash would best look elsewhere, but for those of the ‘gotta-have-it’ crowd, committed early-adopters and various tech-savvy-types out there, by all means, consider the HTC Rezound a more than viable option.
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