Ask anybody who knows me and they’ll tell you that I take a ton of photos. Too many, at least according to my husband – he tends to wince when he sees the camera in my hand. Although lately, I tend to take so many pictures on my phone, that he never even realizes what I’m doing until the picture’s been snapped. It’s so convenient – my phone’s always with me, and it’s small, portable and easy to catch the kids’ latest activity or antic on. But that’s about all I do with it, since you can’t really do any serious photography on a smartphone.
I’ve been in love with my iPhone since I first got it, but was totally shocked to find that I’m now somewhat disappointed in its camera – especially since I’ve had the chance to play with the Rhyme phone from HTC for a couple of weeks and see how many features it’s really possible to pack into a smartphone camera. On our Disney Fantasy cruise, the Traveling Mom bloggers were given Rhyme phones to try out, along with an hour-long presentation on taking better photos from our resident expert, Photo TravelingMom Kymri Wilt.
We were then set free with our phones and given a series of photo assignments in a treasure hunt format to test out various features of the camera and see how creative we really could get in our picture-taking. And what a wonderful subject to have – the brand-new Disney cruise ship! Yes, I got a bit carried away. I didn’t finish much of the official hunt, but I took over 400 photos with the Rhyme phone alone. And many of them are as good or better than ones I took with either of my ‘good’ point-and-shoot cameras. I don’t have a DSLR, so I can’t compare it to that type of quality, but I was honestly amazed at what I was able to do – and how easy it was to change the various settings and take photos with this phone.
For example, can you guess which of the photos below was taken with the Rhyme and which with my Canon Powershot SX10IS (affiliate link)? You can click on each of them to see a larger version in Flickr if you’d like.
Both of these pictures were taken at Castaway Cay as we were walking back to the ship in the late afternoon. Same conditions, same vantage point – just different cameras. Other than the fact that my Canon has a better ability to zoom, so I could get closer in to the ship – these pictures are both very high quality, at least to my untrained eye. And I actually like the one taken with the Rhyme (on the right) better.
The camera on the Rhyme is 5 megapixel 28mm f/2.2 with auto focus and power LED flash. It also has HD 720p video recording. The camera features face detection that (according to Verizon’s website), “adjusts automatically to capture the most flattering lighting and automatically smoothes skin, so every side will be your ‘good side’”. And using it on the auto setting does provide a very good result in many of the conditions that I tried taking pictures in (including low-light, indoors and motion shots). But it’s the manual settings that really set this camera phone apart – I’m not used to having the option to change the ISO, the exposure and contrast or the color saturation before taking the picture instead of adjusting afterward when editing the photo (and that’s not even mentioning the Instagram-style effects that are offered too, although I haven’t used those much). I had so much fun playing around with these settings to get the best possible shots on the cruise! Here are just a few samples – straight out of the camera:
Now of course, the Rhyme is much more than just a camera. And I have used some (but not all) of the phone features as well. While on board the ship, I did use the (spotty) wi-fi reception to access Twitter and my gmail account. And I used this phone to call my husband from the airport before my flight on the way home to check in and see how well he and the kids survived in my absence (just fine). It’s an Android phone so works differently from my iPhone, but I’ve been able to add and use apps very easily. I really like some of the features, such as the phone dock that lets you use it as a clock or multimedia player while it’s charging. Reception’s been very clear on the Verizon network and I really like the beta of the Google maps navigation app that I tried out on a day trip last weekend.
The size of the phone fits very well in my hand, which is comfortable for either talking, surfing the web or taking photos. It even comes with a small charm that you can hang from your purse strap, and which lights up whenever you get a call or a text so you won’t miss a thing if your phone is tucked away inside. It’s easy to see that women are the primary market for this phone (especially given its very cool dark pink color, and there are these little tweaks they’ve given it to make it especially appeal to us, which I appreciate.
In the end, while I still love my iPhone – I am greatly dreading the day that I’ll have to send the HTC Rhyme back. I found that it takes better photos than either my iPhone camera or my small point-and-shoot (a Nikon COOLPIX S6200 – affiliate link), so I’ve used it almost exclusively for all of my picture-taking since I’ve been home from the cruise. Including for all of the photos I took for my oldest daughter’s 11th birthday, her party, and our trips to two museums over spring break last week. I honestly LOVE this phone as a camera – and would buy one solely for that purpose in a heartbeat if I could do so without a 2-year Verizon contract. Oh well.
If you’d like to see more of the photos I’ve taken with the Rhyme, you can check out my #TMOMDisney 2012 (#HTC) set on Flickr or view any of the photos that I’ve tagged with ‘HTC Rhyme’. You can also check out the #TMOMDisney photos with #HTC phones group to see photos that some of the other Traveling Mom bloggers took as well. And watch here for more pics in future posts – I’ll post in the disclaimer at the bottom if any of the photos were taken with the Rhyme.
This cruise was a press event and working retreat for the Traveling Mom blogger network, and I was hosted for free. I was also provided with an HTC Rhyme smartphone to review and which will be returned now that the review is complete. Although this is a compensated review, all opinions stated here are 100% my own.