The days of the dedicated MP3 player are dead and gone. Every smartphone ships with its own music player now, and a dozen other streaming music options are just an app download away.
So it makes little sense that the headphones bundled with smartphones are usually crap. HTC is pushing back — its new Rezound phone for Verizon’s 4G LTE network ships with a snazzy red and black pair of iBeats earbuds (around $100 on their own) that are complemented by the red accents on the handset. Some built-in Beats audio software comes pre-installed on the Rezound, as well. It’s a move designed to appeal equally to those who want better (and louder) music performance and those craving a bit of visual flare.
HTC bought a majority share of the Beats by Dr. Dre brand for $300 million back in August. By dressing up the Rezound in Beats livery, HTC is making good on its promise to boost the mobile device maker’s brand profile in the youth and accessories market.
But what matters most is the phone itself. Inside, it’s a pretty typical high-performing 4G Android Gingerbread device. As a successor to HTC’s mighty Thunderbolt, it has the heft we’d expect.
A 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor and an Adreno 220 GPU ensure the Rezound performs soundly. It’s got 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage (plus 16 more on its microSD). Outside, it’s got a 4.3-inch 720p HD display that manages to pack in more pixels than the iPhone’s current Retina Display — the Rezound has a pixel density of 342 pixels per inch compared to the iPhone 4/4S’s 326 ppi. The result is buttery smooth graphics and nary a pixel point to be seen.
An 8-megapixel camera with a dual-LED flash graces the back, and a 2-megapixel camera is on the front. The rear camera takes great 1080p HD video. And for photographs, you can adjust everything from the white balance, ISO and exposure, to the type of scene you’re shooting (landscape, panorama, action shots). 13 different photographic effects can be used on top of that, ranging from Instagram-like filters (“vintage warm” and sepia tones) to fun tweaks like a posterized filter and a Photo Booth-style distortion.
The Rezound’s tooling is tidy, with the power button and volume rocker lying nearly flat against the sides of the phone. This does mean they are a little more difficult to press than if they were raised a bit, but it reduces accidental presses. There’s no dedicated camera shutter button.
Now, on to the audio goodies.