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HTC Rezound hands-on first impressions

HTC just announced and officially revealed the HTC Rezound for Verizon (though we saw a leaked image the other day). Blessed as we are, we were able to attend the New York City event and spend some hands-on time with what is now the third great option for Android owners hunting for a Verizon phone this holiday season. The Rezound is comparable to the best of them, running on a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, a 720p HD screen, 4G LTE connectivity, and containing 32GB of combined memory (half internal, half microSD). More importantly though, it packs in Beats by Dr. Dre support and the expansive camera features of the HTC Amaze as well as some cool video features, like slow motion.

Design

In our limited time with the device, we found it to be a great new entrant into the 4G LTE race this holiday. The body design is a lot like the original Droid Incredible, with red trim, haptic navigation buttons and interior. When you take off the backplate of this phone, it’s all red. There’s no reason why a phone should look great under the hood, but it’s always nice when a phone maker puts that extra effort in. The screen measures 4.3 inches and has a full 720p HD resolution like the Galaxy Nexus. The only downside is that HTC still relies on LCD technology, so this screen won’t be quite as vivid as the Droid Razr or Galaxy Nexus, which both use AMOLED technology. Video looked quite crisp on it. It’s hard to imagine that we now have phones that have higher resolutions than a lot of laptops. The thickness of the Rezound won’t set any records, but it’s certainly not too large at just over half-an-inch thick. 

Beats Audio

HTC didn’t have the earbuds included with the device on display, but we got to listen to audio on a pair of full-size Beats headphones. You can toggle the Beats audio enhancing technology on and off. There’s definitely a noticeable bump in audio quality from nothing to Beats. We will have to test this out compared to other phones to really know how much of an improvement Beats makes, but it’s doing something. Other than Beats, none of the audio software or services appear to be different. HTC has its own music app, but the experience is still no where near as nice as the Zune interface on a Windows Phone or the iPhone. Still, for Android, this is a step up. If only it had native support for podcasts. Then we’d be pumped. 

Camera

We didn’t have a chance to actually test the 8MP rear camera much, but it’s full of features. You can add filters to your photos, take panorama shots, and do a whole bunch of things that you probably won’t ever need or want to do — but you can, which is all that matters. The slow motion video and instant video effects are cool new features. Mostly, it appears that this camera will be on par with the T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide and HTC Amaze 4G, two recent HTC phones that have some of the best cameras on mobile. The iPhone 4S may still rival this device and the Galaxy Nexus supposedly has a fast shutter speed, but HTC’s camera is near instant, snapping pictures quickly and more accurately in low light than a lot of smartphones, or point-and-shoots, for that matter. 

Battery Life?

We don’t know anything on battery life and HTC completely neglected to bring it up, which may not be a good sign. The device has a 1,620mAh battery, but it’s hard to say how much juice it sucks up. Motorola touted the long battery life of the Droid Razr. Hopefully this device can hold up better than the HTC ThunderBolt. 

Overall

Overall, this is the same basic phone as the Droid Razr and Galaxy Nexus (minus Android 4.0; HTC promises that it will deliver the new version of Android by the beginning of 2012). The benefits here are a great camera, and solid sound and headphones. With so few phones taking audio seriously, this should give HTC a serious edge. The Rezound hits Verizon on Nov. 14 for $299 with a two-year contract. 

MORE COVERAGE: To learn more about the Rezound, check out our live coverage of the announcement as well as our video on the Rezound’s user interface and its Beats & Camera features