The HTC Rezound may look like just another Android 4G LTE smartphone, but it sounds altogether completely different, thanks to the onboard Beats Audio technology. Not so long ago HTC and the Beats by Dr. Dre brand got in bed together and promised to make sweet sweet music. How did they plan on doing this? By injecting true to life high quality sound engineering into HTC’s smartphone handsets, giving the consumer, at last, a high-definition listening experience from their smartphone. Not only did this new collaboration aim to make HTC stand out from the pack, but also challenge the iPhone as an equally powerful all-in-one media player/mobile device.
Unlike our traditional smartphone reviews, where we delve into all the software and hardware specs of the device. This one will only be about the audio experience, which at its core makes the Rezound different than other competing smartphones.
It didn’t take long for HTC to adapt to the Beats by Dr. Dre standards, and we aren’t talking about just the sound. The HTC Rezound features a red and black design aesthetic commonly found on many Beats products. It is also rugged and feels good in the palm of your hand, and won’t slip out if you work up a sweat dancing to the tunes on your phone with your headphones plugged in. Talking about headphones, the HTC Rezound is bundled with a version of the iBeats, the modestly priced Beats by Dr. Dre in-ear headphones.
However, it looks like this version of the iBeats that are bundled with the Rezound have gotten an upgrade in looks and the remote. Since the original iBeats ControlTalk remote worked flawlessly with iOS devices, this version of the iBeats must conform to the needs of the Android OS and it does so very well. Its earbuds have also gotten a slight upgrade in design, but the overall construction of the bundled iBeats seem to be a bit on the flimsy slide.
So does the HTC Rezound set the world ablaze with its sound reproduction? Well, yes and no. While the music that is emitted from the device sounds much louder and sharper than on other smartphone devices, it isn’t such an outstanding listening experience. Comparing the same songs at the same bit rate on an iPhone 4S, HTC Radar and Samsung Galaxy II, the Rezound did outperform them in regards to loudness. But in sound quality it was not very rich nor was it super heavy on the bass which we all know the Beats brand is infamous for. This also has to do with the fact that the Rezound was bundled with the iBeats, which is just an average in-ear headphone compared to the rest of the Beats by Dr. Dre product line.
Swap the headphones out, with another pair of Beats, or just any other pair of decent headphones and the listening experience certainly is enhanced, but the same can be said for the other smartphones as well. In the end, the Rezound with Beats Audio technology provides you with a louder listening experience and certainly adds much needed bass, but I didn’t walk away completely blown away from the listening experience either.
Some subtle touches hardcore Beats fans might enjoy is that when you plug in your headphones, while in the music library, you will see a ‘b’ pop-up on the top of the smartphone – indicating the Beats Audio is being activated. There is also the Beats logo that flashes on the loading splash screen when the device turns on. Sadly those are the only two software indications on the Rezound that there is Beats Audio technology built-in. There is no Beats wallpaper, no special widget or even a branded Beats Audio media player on the device. The stock media player that comes with the phone, is the only one that will enable the Beats Audio technology. So if you plan on using a different player, you’ll lose out on the whole audio concept of the phone. If you use music apps like Pandora, the Beats Audio seems to be disabled as well. The rest of the software of the Rezound is basically stock Gingerbread Android with a few Verizon specific Apps. Lastly, if you slip the battery cover off, the guts of this phone are all red, which is actually pretty cool.
While the HTC Rezound is still a solid Android Smartphone with very capable specs, what was supposed to make this device even more special was its new audio chops. While this is just the first entry in what we assume will be many more to come, I expected the Beats Audio experience to blow me away, instead it was just a light wind. I’m looking forward to HTC tackling some of these gripes in future models as this freshman effort was certainly admirable, but true Beats fanboys and fangirls expect a lot more.
The Good: Solid device; bundled with iBeats; reproduces louder sound than its competition and does add a bit of depth with bass
The Bad: Lacks any type of Beats Audio software or apps; iBeats construction seems weak; stock media player will only activate Beats Audio technology.