Smartphones: HTC rocks out to the Rezound, a phone for music lovers

Smartphones aren't known for impressive audio. Enter the HTC Rezound. Join us as we take a look under the hood of the rock star of smartphones.

Smartphones with good audio hardware? Hard to come by. That's why HTC is pushing the Rezound, which comes with Beats headphones.

Looking for new smartphones? It’s a good time of year to be a Verizon customer living in a city with decent 4G coverage. HTC unveiled the multimedia-oriented Rezound this week, and it rivals the recently-announced Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the Motorola Droid RAZR to be a flagship among Android smartphones. All three phones are available only on Verizon's network.

The Rezound’s standout feature is its Beats Audio integration. Beats is widely regarded as a fairly high-end audio option, and thanks to HTC’s partnership with Dr. Dre, this is the first stateside phone to include it. (The phone even comes with a pair of the iconic black-and-red Beats headphones.) HTC says the Rezound will offer “thundering bass, soaring midrange and crisp highs,” which, to their credit, aren’t qualities one usually associates with cell phone audio. Jessica Dolcourt at CNET reports that the Rezound recognizes when Beats headphones are plugged in, and that the audio algorithm “really boosts the sound … creating louder, fuller, and heavier audio.”

Let’s take a look under the hood. The Rezound sports a 4.3-inch 720p display – slightly smaller than that of the Galaxy Nexus and Droid RAZR, but a good bit larger than that of the iPhone 4S – and a dual-core 1.5GHz processor. It can hold up to 32GB of storage (16 built in, and another 16 on a removable microSD card), and packs in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 radios (no NFC chip, though – although that’s still very much a niche feature at this point).

The Rezound also packs impressive camera hardware: an 8-megapixel shooter on the back that can record 1080p HD video, and a 2-megapixel camera on the front for video chatting. There’s a suite of “scene modes” on offer, allowing the camera to capture panoramic shots, quick action bursts, and even slow-motion video. There’s also a low-light sensor for night shots and a no-lag “instant capture” mode (a feature also found on the HTC Amaze 4G).

On the software side, the Rezound ships with the Android 2.3 “Gingerbread” OS, overlaid with HTC’s own Sense UI. The company promises in its press release that an upgrade to Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” will be available “in early 2012.”

The Rezound will be available starting November 14 for $299 on contract. That’s $50 more than the similarly-specced Droid RAZR -- no word yet on pricing for the Galaxy Nexus -- but at least customers are getting a decently high-end pair of headphones as part of the bargain (the set that comes with the Rezound costs around $120 on its own, so there's definitely some bundle savings at work here).

Verizon customers now have three top-tier Android smartphones to choose from. Readers, what do you think? Are you tempted to snag a Rezound come November 14, or are you holding out for the next big thing? Let us know in the comments.

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