HTC Rezound: Fastest Android phone yet (review)

Summary:The HTC Rezound is the first smartphone from the company with Beats Audio technology since the alliance with Dr. Dre. The phone is fast, HD-capable, and with great music playback.

Updated: It seems like HTC releases a new phone every week, and each one just a little more powerful than the last. The HTC Rezound hit Verizon today, and I have been using it for a few days. The HD display coupled with a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor makes this the fastest Android phone I have tried. Throw in the Beats Audio integration and the Rezound looks good, sounds good, and operates well.

See also: Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

The HTC Rezound is not the thinnest phone around, but it is solid and fits very comfortably in the hand. The phone is all about speed, as it works with the snappy Verizon 4G LTE network. There is nothing about this phone that is not as fast as can be, and power users will love this phone.

See the HTC Rezound, the most powerful smartphone on the Verizon 4G LTE network


Image Gallery: The HTC Rezound with Beats Audio is a powerful smartphone with HD display
Image Gallery: Charge
Image Gallery: Charge
Hardware

Specifications:

  • Processor: Qualcomm MSM8660 dual-core 1.5 GHz
  • Memory: 1GB DDR2 RAM, 16GB internal RAM,  16GB microsSD installed
  • Display: 4.3-inch Super LCD (1280×720)
  • Cameras: 2MP front, 8MP rear (LED flash), 1080p HD video capture
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, 3G/4G LTE
  • Battery: 1620 mAh
  • OS: Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread); HTC Sense 3.5
  • Dimensions: 5.08 x 2.58 x 0.54 inches, 6 ounces

HTC has put a lot of Beats Audio branding on the Rezound, with delicate red touches throughout the phone. This includes the four Android soft buttons beneath the screen, which are a mild red color. This is nice as you can see the buttons even when the phone is not on, something other phones lack.

The design of the Rezound is recognizably HTC, with the 4.3 display taking up most of the front. The red touch-sensitive buttons mentioned are just below the screen, and the 2MP camera is on the upper right. The top of the phone  has the 3.5mm audio jack, which accepts the included Beats Audio headphones/headset (more on this later), and the power button. The volume rocker buttons are on the right side, a microUSB port for charging on the left, and nothing on the bottom of the handset.

The back of the Rezound is a nice textured material that is grippy, and the top of the back finds the 8MP camera with dual flash next to the lens with a red ring. The back comes off the phone easily, exposing the red innards and providing access to the battery and the LTE SIM card.

Those familiar with the Beats Audio by Dr. Dre know it is designed to provider fuller, richer music playback. When you plug in the Beats Audio headphones included with the Rezound, it detects the technology and enables it as indicated in the status bar. In essence it provides louder playback, with accents on the bass spectrum of the audio. It gives a good listening experience across a spectrum of music genres for me.

HTC doesn't have a reputation for good smartphone cameras, but that changes with the 8MP camera on the Rezound. It has an f/2.2, 28mm wide-angle lens that does a good job for a smartphone. It takes full 1080p video, and has an integrated method to take panoramic scenes. I am no great photographer but have been able to take decent photos and video with the Rezound.

Software

HTC has put the 2.3.4 version of Gingerbread on the Rezound, not the latest but a solid build of Android. This has Sense 3.5 on top of it, and fans of Sense will love this implementation. Sense can bog down some phones, but not the Rezound with the fast processor. This phone is the fastest Android phone I have tried yet.

There is not a lot of pre-installed junkware, mostly just the standard Android stuff. There are a couple of game demos to show off the HD display (1280x720), which look great on the Super LCD display. Android enthusiasts will be familiar with the operation of the Rezound, with no surprises.

Operation

The Qualcomm dual-core processor (1.5GHz) is as fast as anything available, and it makes the HTC Rezound as snappy as any Android phone. The operation is fluid, and the brilliant 4.3-inch HD display makes colors pop. Every person I have handed the Rezound to has commented on how awesome this display is. They then remark on how fast it is.

I have been able to get a full day of moderate usage on a charge, but those who use LTE heavily will need a second battery or extended battery to get through the day. I find battery usage to be typical for Android phones, not bad but not outstanding.

Updated: Android Community has uncovered a big (2750 mAH) extended battery for those who like that solution for all day use. The thick battery requires a replacement back cover to fit (included).

The Rezound can be used as a hotspot for devices using the LTE connectivity, with the appropriate plan from Verizon. I tested the hotspot utility and it works as expected, but also sucks the battery dry quickly. I would only plan on using the hotspot over 4G when near a power plug.

Conclusion

The HTC Rezound on Verizon is the fastest Android phone around, and has a stylish design to fit anyone's style. The fast phone works on the fastest data network out there, turning it into a beast that fits in the pocket.

The Beats Audio is a nice bonus to the Rezound, and delivers pleasant music playback quality. The included headphones are very good quality for those that come with phones.

I am not currently in the market for a new phone, but if I was I would look no further than the HTC Rezound. I like everything about the phone, especially the performance, and the display is simply great.

The Rezound is available today from Verizon for $299 with a two-year contract. An appropriate data plan is required, and optional hotspot service for those wanting to use the phone as a mobile hotspot.

Of interest:

Topics: HTC, Mobility, Telcos

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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