Friday, November 18, 2011

Review: HTC Rezound (Verizon)

I've had a cell phone since 2003, but didn't own a smartphone until this past Monday. Until that point I had owned only 2 phones, both of which were Verizon LG phones that served me very well. My last phone was an enV2 that I had modded so that I could tether it, wired or wireless via bluetooth, to a laptop and use as a modem. The time spent on the blazingly-slow EVDO-based Internet connection merely counted against my voice minutes. Very handy on vacation. I also loved the full QWERTY keyboard for texting. I basically used the phone until it literally fell apart in my hands. Whatever replaces it, I told myself, had better be an upgrade. Well, the HTC Rezound is just such an upgrade.

I first read about the Rezound (then Vigor) over the summer, I believe. I heard about it having a 720p screen and a 1.5Ghz dual core processor, and said, "That's my next phone." I read all the pre-launch hype, and post-launch reviews, still unwavering in my attraction to this handset, at least on paper. I went to my local Verizon Wireless store at lunch time on launch day, and bought it for $250 ($300 minus $50 loyalty discount). I also bought two years of insurance for $100, which I sort of regret. Total was $365. I had already budgeted for this, so no real issue there. They gave me the "4GB-for-the-price-of-2GB" promo, which is nice, especially since I'm a light data user (more on this later). I walked out of the store a happy guy.

I've been using the phone for 4 days now. The battery life was an issue at first. I was lucky if I could get a day of use on one charge for the first two days, then I wised up. I noticed that the phone has an on/off switch (soft) for 4G and GPS. I turned them off. The real culprit, though, is the Wifi radio. I downloaded a widget that acts as a switch for that as well, and turned it off. Some of you may be thinking, "But don't you want always-on notifications, etc.?" No, I don't. I find them annoying. If I want email, eBay, etc., I'll ask for it. No reason at all to have Wifi running all the time. This is not for all users, I realize. But if you want to get decent battery life out of this phone, or most smartphones for that matter, you'll do as I have. Also, "Task Manager > Kill All" is your battery's friend.

I don't use the phone to listen to music, so no info on Beats Audio, sorry. Unless 64GB microSDHC cards come down in cost, I'll keep using my iPod for music. The phone just won't hold enough music for my liking as is. Anyway, on to the goods. The screen is awesome. I can't really say anything bad about it. 720p. Angry Birds has never looked so good. Videos look amazing. The OS is Gingerbread w/ Sense 3.5 on top. I've customized it significantly, and I like it. Others hate on it. Whatever. I find it to be snappy and responsive. I added the slideIT keyboard so I can swype instead of type. Still getting used to it, but very cool. Haven't used GPS yet as such. I'd like to get a car dash mount first. There is some unremovable crapware like "Let's Golf 2," but that's only a minor annoyance. The phone itself has a beautiful black and red motif with nice rounded corners and a sturdy plastic shell. It's a little heavy (~6 oz.), but not bothersome. Call quality and reliability have been great. Internet browsing is cable modem-fast. People bitch about the volume and power buttons being flush with the unit. I don't really feel it do be an issue. If they were a little more raised, it would be nice, but no biggie.

Overall, I'd say that I made a damn fine choice for my first smartphone. I like just about everything about this phone. Once Ice Cream Sandwich is available for it (Jan.?), it'll be the phone to have. It does everything I want it to do and, once customized, nothing I don't. If you want a fast, beautiful phone, and have some money saved, get a Rezound.