HTC Rezound: a powerful smartphone infused with Beats Audio (first impressions)

HTC's Rezound is built with music in mind. Will the rest of the smartphone market follow suit?

HTC's Rezound is a device with a mission. Like the widely popular line of Beats Audio headphones that preceds it, the Rezound is, in the words of Beats Audio owner and music producer Jimmy Ivone, designed to rectify "the destruction and degradation of sound caused by the digital revolution." So it clearly has its work cut out for it.

The Pitch

The Rezound's gist is simple: Featuring Beats Audio technology, the Rezound is being billed as the ideal smartphone for those who don't want to sacrifice music quality in their handsets. To that end, HTC is shipping the Rezound with its own pair of custom Beats Audio headphones. The Rezound is no slouch on the non-audio side either. Featuring a 4.3-inch 720P Super LCD screen, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, and 8-megapixel camera, the Rezound is as powerful of an Android smartphone as any.

Incredible on the Outside

If it feels like you've seen the Rezound before, then that's probably because the device very strongly resembles HTC's Incredible line of phones.  So the device doesn't do anything particularly new, design-wise.

HTC Plays Apple

Far more interesting than the Rezound's externals are its innards. Channelling Apple, HTC opted to furnish the Rezound's insides with translucent red plastic. HTC says that the move was inspired by the desire to give users a peek into the care that went into the device's engineering, which sounds a whole lot like what Steve Jobs said about the iMac G3. In any case, HTC's design decision is sure to make the process of swapping out the Rezound's battery, SD card, or SIM card slightly more stimulating.

Red Through and Through

From the device's colored accents to the wire that stretches from its top, the color red plays a major role in the branding of the Rezound. That, of course, stems largely from the device's connection with Beats Audio, which is also a brand that also features lots of red. And that bold "Z" that cuts through the Rezound's logo? It looks an awful like the red "Z" in Verizon's own branding. Intentional or pure coincidence? You decide.

Ice Cream Sandwich Ready

While the Rezound won't ship with Ice Cream Sandwich, HTC was quick to note that the device will ship "Ice Cream Sandwich-ready" which means that, whenever the final build of Android 4.0 is ready, so will HTC and the Rezound.

$299 - an Unbeatable Value?

Similar to what we've seen with the Droid RAZR and others, the smartphone in late 2011 is getting more and more expensive. The Rezound will sell for $299 with a two-year contract, which is an awful lot. Then again, considering that the device ships with its own pair of custom Beat's headphones, perhaps $299 isn't too much to ask.