By Claire Reilly

HTC was in the rhyme-zone yesterday following the launch of the new HTC Rhyme smartphone, available exclusively through Optus from November 1.

The mint-blue coloured phone features a 1 GHz processor, 3.7-inch touch screen and Android Gingerbread operating system, as well as the refreshed HTC Sense 3.5 – the first phone from the company to be kitted out with the new operating system.

According to country manager of HTC Australia and New Zealand, Ben Hodgson, Sense 3.5 “brings content to the surface and offers the best camera experience of any HTC phone we’ve released to date.

“The market is ready for more choice,” said Hodgson. “The HTC Rhyme doesn’t compromise – it’s still a powerful, fully-featured smartphone, and the user interface is heavily decluttered.

“We’ve designed the HTC Rhyme based on feedback that consumers want their phones to be more personal and complementary to every moment of their day,” he added. “HTC Rhyme delivers an ecosystem of style and substance, meant to naturally integrate into people’s lives and deliver a more convenient mobile lifestyle.”

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The key selling points of the device – features that certainly make for a value-add for consumers – are the accessories that are available with the phone out of the box.

The phone is packaged with a set of tangle-free headphones that are wired to control calls and music as well as a docking station that charges the phone whilst also acting as a music player and alarm clock.

Another unique accessory is the plug-in charm. The charm looks like a long wire with a cube on the end that lights up when a call, email or message is received. It is designed to fit into the headphone jack and hang out of the side of the handbag, notifying the user of phone activity when it might be out of earshot.

The charm also points to the fact that the HTC Rhyme is geared more towards female consumers. While Hodgson and the HTC team were keen to play down any allusions to the feminisation of the product, Optus’ General Manager, Awareness and Acquisition Maria Loyez was more blunt.

“The HTC Rhyme was designed particularly with women in mind,” said Loyez. “ With its style and form factor, this handset has it all.”

Loyez was also on hand at the launch to confirm pricing for the device. In stores from the start of November, the HTC Rhyme will be available for $0 upfront on the $59 Optus Cap Plan.

The new "Clearwater" coloured HTC Rhyme shows the simplified home screen offered by HTC Sense 3.5.

The Rhyme's accessories include a speaker dock, tangle-free headphones, a light-up charm and case.