Performance and Horsepower
The HTC Rezound runs on a 1.5GHz dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 CPU with Adreno 220 graphics. That's one of the top CPUs right now, and we're more in love with it because it plays ever so nicely with the Qualcomm radio chipset used for LTE in smartphones (more on that in our data section). The Rezound doesn't score as high on benchmarks as the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket LTE Android phone on AT&T with the same CPU, but it is pushing considerably more pixels than the 800 x 480 Skyrocket. The phone feels fast and smooth, and lag was rarely an issue. If you have a need for speed, the Rezound should suffice. It handled 3D games fluidly and is a champ at MPEG4 video playback up to 1080p high profile.
The phone has a gig of RAM and 16 gigs of internal storage plus an added 16 gigs via the bundled microSD card. It runs Android OS 2.3.4 Gingerbread with a promised upgrade to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in 2012, and it has HTC Sense 3.5 with the usual collection of HTC widgets and apps like Friendstream for social networking and HTC Watch for movie rentals.
Calling and Data
There's good news and bad news here. The good news is that a Qualcomm CPU plus a Qualcomm LTE radio chipset equals a stable LTE signal with reduced power consumption, even indoors and in modest coverage areas. My Verizon LTE phones commit suicide on my desk when LTE is left on. They waffle between 3G EV-DO Rev. A and LTE 4G all day and I get about 6 to 8 hours of standby time. Yes, standby time, not actual usage time. Our LTE Verizon signal isn't even all that bad; it's 1 to 2 bars and averages -90 to -95db. But the signal often drops down to -100db for a few seconds and the LTE pack jumps ship for 3G. The HTC Rezound is much more stable: it maintains 1 to 2 bars and a steady -90 to -95db on my desk and never drops to 3G. The result is normal standby times, no worrying about the phone dropping data altogether during myriad network switches, and a well-behaved WiFi mobile hotspot and tethering. If you've been similarly tortured with LTE dropout issues and shortened battery life, the Rezound is for you.
The not so good news? Voice quality isn't tops. It's not as clear as the Motorola Droid Bionic and Droid RAZR. Unless we have a very full signal, outgoing voice sounds digitized and even garbled with a weaker signal. EV-DO 3G reception isn't as strong as the Moto phones, but those Motos are tops for 3G reception. If you live in a very good Verizon 1xRTT coverage area, the HTC Rezound will likely be fine for you and your call recipients. Otherwise, not so much. Incoming voice sounds rich, full and loud with a good signal, but does warble with a middling or worse signal.
Like most Verizon LTE phones, the HTC Rezound uses the old 1xRTT network for voice, CDMA EV-DO Rev. A for 3G and LTE 4G on the 700Mhz band. It is not a GSM world phone. At the moment, there appears to be a limit to the number of cell technologies and SIM cards manufacturers can squeeze into a smartphone.
The phone can act as a mobile hotspot over WiFi for an additional monthly fee ($20/ month for tiered data plans and $30/month if you have the grandfathered unlimited data plan). The WiFi mobile hotspot feature was reliable and stable in our tests, though speeds didn't match Verizon's fastest LTE data phones, the Droid Bionic and Droid RAZR. On the phone using the Speedtest.net app, we averaged 9Mbps down and 3Mbps up. On our laptop we got 7Mbps down and 2.5Mbps up according to the Speedtest.net website. Our two Moto Droid models averaged 13Mbps down and 4.5Mbps up on device and when tethered to a laptop. On 3G we saw a respectable (for EV-DO) 1.9Mbps down and 1Mbps up on the phone. If you wish, you can turn off 4G and stick with 3G to improve battery life.
HTC recently bought Beats, maker of high end headphones and earbuds. The Sensation XL and Rezound have received some Beats love, and in the case of the Rezound, this gets you a set of iBeats style earbuds and a Beats audio mode on the phone. Beats over-the-ear headphones are bass heavy to my ears, but the included buds sounded very balanced and full. Honestly, I've rarely listened to earbuds that gave over-the-ear headphones competition, but the Beats earbuds included with the HTC Rezound sounded almost as good as my Urban Ears Plattan and Skullcandy Aviators. That's not bad for an in-the-box perk. The headphones have in-line music playback controls and a mic that delivered clear voice in our tests.
The Beats audio setting works whenever you're using headphones, and it essentially improves EQ in a very good way. Turn it off and you'll easily hear the difference. It's not just a bass boost either; I listened to classical music and jazz where excess bass isn't a good thing, and highs were clearer without being harsh. Midrange became more alive, and background voices in a choir suddenly came alive, as did cello and guitar winding behind a lead. Could you do much the same thing if you spent time fiddling with EQ settings in a mobile music player, if present? Sure, but Beats does it for you and does it well.
HTC has really stepped up their camera phone game, and the current 8 megapixel model that debuted on the T-Mobile MyTouch 4G is good stuff. It uses an illuminated backlit sensor for less noisy low light shots and quicker low light focus, and it has a fast f2.2 lens with a wide 28mm equivalent. Though Samsung's 8 megapixel cameras are still a little better at low light with reduced noise, HTC's camera exposes outdoor shots better without the Samsung's whiteout. Photos look natural and warm with a sense of depth that's distinctly better than most phones. Low light (very low light) shots do have noise, but colors are still pleasingly saturated and reasonably accurate, unlike the Droid Bionic's near monochromatic low light mess. The HTC Amaze 4G on T-Mobile and the Rezound take some of my favorite shots, and I've gotten more keepers with them than competing phones (Nokia N8 not withstanding).
The camera can shoot in widescreen or 4:3 aspect ratio, and there are plenty of scene modes, ISO settings and more to keep a shutterbug happy. Our only complaint is with incandescent shots: on auto they're too warm and when we manually selected incandescent, the camera software overcompensated and photos were a bit too cool and lost color depth. The HTC can shoot 1080p video at 30 fps, and video is very pleasing with well controlled motion blur, not too much blockiness and good color. The HTC has a front video chat camera that works with Gtalk, Skype and more.
No, it's not as bad as you think. Despite the relatively low capacity 1620 mAh battery, the Rezound fared no worse than my Droid RAZR or Bionic with its standard battery on 4G LTE. It easily outlasts the HTC Thunderbolt, a phone whose battery life might be counted in minutes rather than hours when on LTE. I'd wager that the full Qualcomm integration inside is helping the Rezound achieve decent runtimes with the smaller battery, and we've noted that AT&T's first 2 LTE phones running on all Qualcomm silicon also have decent battery life by LTE standards.
If you're in an LTE coverage area and run the phone on LTE, you will need to charge nightly with moderate to heavy use. If you stream lots of video, use the GPS for trips during the day or stream Slacker over 4G, you'll probably need to plug it in by the dinner hour. If you use the phone for email, some web browsing and 45 minutes of calls with no extended multimedia use, it will make it to bedtime. If you turn off LTE and stick with 3G, the phone can last up to 2 days with moderate use.
We've got the latest version of HTC Sense here with their over-the-top (in a nice way) weather, a good social networking client and more. Verizon includes their data counter widget; a must have with a phone that can consume a lot of data quickly (Netflix, YouTube... you get my drift). I particularly like how HTC has added an app drawer tab just for Verizon's bundled apps. They're segregated, and that's handy whether you want to avoid them or find them because you love them. The usual Verizon suspects are here including VZ Navigator, Verizon Video, NFL Mobile, Backup Assistant, Visual Voicemail and VideoSurf. Blockbuster, Amazon Kindle, Mobile IM, Slacker, Polaris Office (view, edit and create MS Word and Excel compatible files), Need for Speed Hot Pursuit (demo) and Lets Golf 2 (demo) are also on board. You can't uninstall most of these bundled apps, nor can you hide them like on the Motorola Droid RAZR.
It's not flashy and it's not impossibly thin, but the HTC Rezound is a sturdy workhorse of a phone that just works. It has a solid data connection, average Verizon LTE battery life despite the lower capacity battery, a very good camera, a reliable data connection with good indoor LTE reception and a sharp 720p Super LCD display. The phone will get Ice Cream Sandwich, so you won't feel left out next year when that OS starts appearing on Android phones, and the specs are high enough to keep the phone current for some time. HTC Sense remains friendly and useful, though I know some of you are growing tired of it. I still like the way it puts important things at my fingertips like wireless radio controls and Facebook/Twitter updates. The HTC Rezound isn't a supermodel that will seduce you at first sight, but it's a partner you'll be able to count on after the flashy looks wear off.
Price: $299 with 2 year contract
Websites: www.verizonwireless.com, www.htc.com//us/