The HTC Sensation is the new flagship handset from HTC, it uses the latest version of Android Gingerbread (Android 3.3.4) with HTC Sense 3.0, offering the highest spec of all HTC handsets to date. As you know, specs on paper don’t always mean it will be the best of the bunch (just look at premier league footballers), we have reviewed the HTC Sensation to see if is a royal flop like Fernando Torres or a little gem like Manchester United’s Hernandez.
[singlepic id=397 w=282 h=216 float=right] In the box
- HTC Sensation Handset
- UK charging adapter
- USB cable that works with above
- Getting started guide/warranty/general paperwork
The HTC Sensation isn’t the smallest or even most slender Android handset, it measures 4.96 x 2.57 x 0.44 which accommodates its huge 4.3-inch qHD 960 x 540 display.
Although this makes the Sensation bigger than the Galaxy S 2 it doesn’t feel that much bulkier because the curved guerilla glass screen is thinner in the centre. This actually makes using the phone more comfortable, although the age old fingerprint problem is ever apparent.
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The HTC Sensation has a new aluminum case structure which wraps around the whole internal structure of the phone. Simply pop the button on the bottom of the phone to access the battery compartment, sim port and Micro SD slot(complete with 8GB card).
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The 540×960 pixels, LCD display is bright and offers a great user experience, it doesn’t quite live up the the Samsung Galaxy S II or Apple iPhone 4 though. HTC has included the usual capacitive buttons at the bottom of the phone and the touchscreen works wonderfully, using gestures to swipe through apps is great and typing on the keyboard is effortless in either landscape or portrait mode.
The front also includes a VGA snapper, this is ideal for video calls and works well with video calling apps such as Tango or Fring. The 8 megapixel camera on the back makes up for previous lackluster efforts by HTC, it comes equipped with an inbuilt LED flash and also houses dual microphones for video recording.
HTC Sense 3.0
HTC have updated their software layer, AKA Sense for the HTC Sensation. The unlock screen now plays host to different icons (defaults can be changed), users can quickly launch apps from the lock screen by either dragging the ring over the app icon or by dropping the icon in the ring. This makes launching apps a much quicker affair, a trait that Apple will also incorporate in iOS 5.
Users can customize up to seven home screens with different apps and icons, you can then swipe through these windows which gives the appearance of a 3d environment, it’s a nice touch and clearly a lot of thought has been put into Sense and the way users can navigate content. A simple pinch of any of the home screens allows a birds-eye-view of all the home screens.
Friend stream works well, allowing users to to have live updates from various services including email and Twitter. Notifications take a bit of getting to used to and can result in an even greater addiction of social networking as the stream is live.
HTC has included a backup service, which at the time of wiring was not operating – any updates on this and we will let you know.
Email and internet
HTC Sense 3.0 offers an integrated inbox, so all your email account will play nice with each other. All, apart from Gmail for some reason, we’d have thought Google would have wanted their email to work with their integrated inbox, but it doesn’t – you’ll have to go into the dedicated gmail section to check.
Entering text can be sped up with a new trace type feature, basically this means you can write words without lifting your finger from the screen.
As this runs Android you get full and uninterrupted use of the internet, built in Google voice search and other Android tools make browsing the internet quick and enjoyable.
Viewing media on the HTC Sensation is a real joy, the large HD screen makes for comfortable viewing on the train and is easily a match for the iPhone 4 and S II. Media can be added via the standard USB fashion, with drag and drop making it easy to transfer files.
Films and TV episodes can be downloaded via HTC Watch, prices start from £6.99 making them a little more expensive than iTunes. You can rent films too, although you are unable to transfer or even watch them on your PC. Another slight gripe is the inability to stream content from the phone, HTC has not included a HDMI connection which is a bit of a let down.
The HTC Sensation will be one of the first phones to work with OnLive, a gaming service which has yet to be launched. The Adreno 220 graphics and 1.2 GHz chip should provide an awesome experience when the service becomes available.
HTC have packed a lot of power into the Sensation and it shows, the phone runs quickly and can rival the Galaxy S II and iPhone 4 for speed and power. The 8MP camera is a huge improvement on previous models but still lacks the edge to make it a true digital camera replacement. The Sense 3.0 software update (it is an update and not an overhaul) has improved usability and includes some nifty features, we only wish that OnLive and their own back up system was also ready.
If you are looking for an iPhone 4 or Galaxy S II contender then the Sensation can certainly hold its own, its an attractive handset with some unusual yet nifty features.