HTC Rezound tries to make itself heard

What with all the new phones making their debuts these days, it's a little difficult to set yourself apart from the pack -- or to grab attention when all the Android fans are staring out waiting to see the Nexus peek up over the horizon.

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HTC is making a game effort to make some inroads with its new Rezound, which is being marketed as the smartphone to get if you want really good audio. The Rezound, which will be available from Verizon on November 14 for $299.99 with a two year contract, will feature Beats Audio technology, which is supposed to offer deeper basses and a more authentic sound.

In order to emphasize this, HTC brought in Jimmy Iovine, a music producer and entrepreneur who also represents Beats by Dr. Dre, the company that is responsible for the earbuds that will ship with the phone, to talk to the press at the announcement in NYC. Iovine talked with a refreshing appearance of frankness about reversing what he saw as the degredation of music by digital devices. It was certainly an effective speech (at least, to those of us who remember the digital vs. analog wars).

The phone's theme is reflected in its look, which is a snazzy black with red highlights; this includes the Android buttons on the bottom of the phone just below the display. While I'm not usually a fan of the heavy-metal look, I rather liked it. The back of the phone (which offers a ribbed area that makes it easier to hold) opens to reveal a translucent plastic back (in the same bold red) allowing you to see some of the technology, including the 1620mAh removeable battery and the 16GB SD card (which, with the 16MB internal memory, gives it about 32MB of storage).

The back-facing 8-megapixel camera will have an f/2.2 lens, low-light sensors and will be capable of 1080p video. There is also a 2-megapixel front-facing camera.

The other specs for the phone aren't bad either. The Rezound features a nice-sized 4.3-inch 720p HD display (1280 x 720), a Qualcomm 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 1GM RAM and support for Verizon's 4G LTE network.

The Rezound will ship with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), but HTC reps assured the crowd that it is "Ice Cream Sandwich ready" and will be upgraded early in 2012. It also includes the HTC Sense overlay, which is a bit of a disappointment to those of us who enjoy our Android straight up, but of all the overlays out there, Sense seems to be the least intrusive. (Although it did look like there would be the usual number of unwanted apps coming along for the ride.)

I tried the Rezound out with a pair of over-the-ear headphones supplied by HTC; unfortunately, not being an expert in audio quality, I couldn't tell whether it was better than the audio from any other music device. The phone itself, though, felt very comfortable in my hand, and the screen was bright and quite clear.

Certainly, considering the very favorable specs, the HTC Rezound could be a real competitor in what is becoming a very crowded market.

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