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Review of HTC Sensation

Live photos of HTC Sensation

Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Positioning
  3. Package
  4. Design
  5. Body Materials
  6. Assembly Quality
  7. Dimensions
  8. Controls
  9. Screen
  10. Camera
  11. Comparison of Cameras
  12. Battery
  13. Performance
  14. Interfaces
  15. Navigation
  16. Sound
  17. Text and Voice Input
  18. Software: HTC Sense 3.0
  19. Rivals
  20. Conclusion

HTC is definitely not suffering from modesty judging by the names of their smartphones: HTC Incredible and its successor Incredible S. And the company's new smartphone HTC Sensation continues this tradition of loud names. The name reminds of the company's interface Sense implying this time we will be overwhelmed by our senses. We'll see about that.

Positioning

HTC Sensation is meant to replace the previous flagship HTC Desire HD. And though there is only half a year between the releases of the two smartphones the time to release a new flagship was chosen right Ц right after Samsung, LG, Motorola and Sony Ericsson have already announced their top phones and there is still some time (3-7 months) before the next wave of releases. HTC Sensation is the top HTC and will play against Samsung Galaxy S2 and LG Optimus 2X and Sony Ericsson Arc.

In this review I want to tell you about the features of HTC Sensation and its differences as compared to HTC Desire HD especially when it comes to the battery and the camera. And, of course, I will try to tell you whether it is worth buying HTC Sensation and why.

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Package

In the box you find the handset, the charger, a USB-microUSB cable, an envelope with all kinds of papers and a wired headset with a remote.

The headset's remote features three playback control buttons (Forward, Rewind and Play), the Play button also plays the role of the answer button.


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Design

I have never compared a smartphone design to cars and this will be the first time: when I look at HTC Sensation it immediately reminds me of Volkswagen Passat CC. The phone has similar smooth and dynamic lines in the body design.

HTC Sensation also looks a lot like HTC Mozart, a mid-range Windows Phone 7 smartphone. In particular, the battery lid design in Sensation almost completely copies that of Mozart. These phones have similar bodies Sensation being a bit bigger.

All in all, except for the battery lid the phone is styled in the usual serious HTC design. At first, the phone will be available only in this gamma Ц dark gray with black metal lid with two "patches" on it: light gray on top and dark gray at the bottom.

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Body Materials

The front side of the phone is covered by a scratch resistant tempered glass. The Gorilla Glass website does not list this phone but, trust me, HTC Sensation will do well against scissors or knives even if you deliberately try to scratch the glass.

If you take off the battery lid you will see that the phone's parts are attached to the curved protective glass and the battery lid is a sort of a case for this contraption. The lid is made of aluminum except for the plastic patches on top and at the bottom.

And that's it for plastic in the phone Ц I couldn't find any more plastic parts in the exterior of the phone.

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Assembly Quality

Unlike HTC Desire HD which had very real quality issues this phone is built very solid. The battery lid is fixed very firmly and doesn't wobble even after half a year of daily use.


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Dimensions

The dimensions of the phone are similar to Desire HD while the new flagship looks more graceful thanks to a thinner body.

  • HTC Sensation Ц 126 x 65,4 x 11,3 mm, 148 in
  • HTC Desire HD Ц 123 x 68 x 11,8 mm, 164 in
  • Sony Ericsson Arc Ц 125 x 63 x 8,7 mm, 117 in
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 - 125,3 x 66,1 x 8,5 mm, 116 in
  • LG Optimus 2X Ц 123,9 x 63,2 x 10,9 mm, 139 in

If your current phone is something like Desire HD2 than carrying Sensation in the pocket will seem quite comfortable otherwise the size of the phone may seem excessive.

The phone is handles nicely during calls though the back panel feels strange at first because it consists of three parts made of two different materials, but you quickly get used to this.

HTC Sensation vs HTC Desire HD:

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Controls

As well as in all ne phones of the company HTC Sensation's controls consist of the screen and the sensor buttons below it. The buttons have a white backlight that turns on only when you use the phone in low light conditions. The buttons are regular: to the left there is the Home button that brings you to the Home screen or opens the running apps menu (press and hold). If you press it while on the Home screen you will see a matrix of all HTC Sense desktops and you can quickly access any of it. The next is the Menu button that opens the context menu (press and hold to show or hide the screen keyboard). Next to the right is the Back button that returns you to the previous screen. And the last button is the Search Ц it opens the search window or the voice search if you press and hold it.

The sensor buttons are quite convenient though they are still not as good as hard buttons as in HTC HD2 for example, but it is ok and you will quickly get used to it.

The power button is located on the top of the right side. it is a bit elevated from the surface making it very easy to use. If you hold the button you will see a menu where you can choose to turn off the phone, enable the flight mode or restart the phone. Next to the power button there is a 3.5mm audio jack.

On the bottom side there is only the battery lid removal hatch.

The volume rocker is on the top of the left side and it is easy to use even when you don't look at it like e.g. during a call. Also on the left side: a microUSB slot for syncing and charging.

On the top of the front side you find the call loudspeaker covered by mesh, under the mesh to the right you see the light indicator. To the left of the speaker you find the light and the proximity sensors. And to the right of the speaker there is the eye of the front VGA camera.

The light indicator flashes in green if you have missed calls, unread messages, it is lit in solid green when the phone is connected to a PC or when the battery is fully charged or red when it is charging or flashes in red when the battery is low.

The memory card and the SIM slots are located under the battery lid. You can hot swap the memory card without turning the phone off.

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Screen

In Sensation HTC has for the first time used a qHD (960x540) resolution of the screen. The screen uses a 4.3" S-LCD matrix (95.5x53.5 mm/3.76x2.1 in). The screen has good view angles and brightness levels though under sunlight the picture fades out and it get difficult to make out the text.

The minimal brightness level is nice for reading at night while the maximum brightness works best outdoors. The screen supports multitouch and it is very responsive.

It might seem that a flagship phone must have a screen worth making in-depth comparisons with other phones but in case of HTC Sensation I have very little to tell you. It has got sharper than Desire HD thanks to the bigger resolution with practically the same size (the screen is a bit narrower than Desire HD). But, all in all, the screen is practically the same as in Incredible S but with a higher resolution.

And, of course, I must say a few words about the main feature of the screen Ц it is a bit curved. From a pragmatic point of view there is little sense in this (but the screen gets even more scratch resistant) but it looks great. And, naturally, as any other touchscreen device, the screen catches a lot of fingerprints.

My general impression is that the screen does not have any considerable flaws but it also does not make you wow. It has a high resolution but as for the rest it is nothing but the same HTC Desire HD screen which was the previous flagship and was released back in 2010. Apparently, HTC Sensation will be the company's last flagship with an S-LCD screen of this generation. The company will have to do better than that in the next model. I mean they will have to improve legibility under sunlight (the main problem of HTC screens), improve color rendition and make a more natural gamma (like in Sony Ericsson Arc) and improve power efficiency.

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Camera

HTC Sensation has got two cameras Ц one 0.3MPix in the front and the main 8MPix camera on the back. The company claims that the Sensation camera has been considerably improved as compared to Desire HD which also had an 8MPix camera.

The camera eye is buried under the surface of the back panel and it is not covered with a protective glass which I think is good Ц the company has revised the camera design after the mistake in HTC Desire and they simply removed any kind of protection and hid the camera eye beneath the surface making it very difficult to scratch. The downside here is that dust gets on the camera and you have to clean it every once in a while. Next to the camera eye you find a double LED flash that you can use as a torch by means of the respective app.

The camera interface in HTC Sensation looks very much like that in HTC Incredible S and Desire S. in the viewfinder mode to the right you see the basic info panel: mode (photo or video), flash mode (auto, manual, off) and the effects and the gallery buttons. When you rotate the phone the interface buttons also change the orientation.

Photo

There are standard and widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio) resolutions available for photos:

  • 8 ћп 3264x1869
  • 5 ћ Ц 2592x1456
  • 3M Ц 2048x1152
  • 1M Ц 1280x720
  • Small Ц 640x368

White balance:

  • Auto
  • Tungsten
  • Fluorescent
  • Daylight
  • Cloudy

There is an effects panel in the left part of the screen.

Besides the settings I have mentioned you can also adjust sharpness, saturation, contrast and exposition. You can turn off the shutter sound, the grid in the viewfinder mode, turn on or off the timer and the geotagging by means of GPS.

You can select one of the photo modes including macro mode. I want to tell you about this mode a separately Ц this HTC phone turned out to have a decent macro quality.

You can make auto portraits by means of the front camera.

You can assess the photo quality by the sample below. I think that the company's claims about significant improvements are true and Sensation has got the best camera among HTC phones. Moreover, it can compete with the best Android phone cameras on the market like Samsung Galaxy S II and Sony Ericsson Arc.

Macro Photography

As a rule, even if phone cameras offer decent general picture quality they are pretty much useless when it comes to specific shooting mode like night or macro shooting. The night mode works very poorly in Sensation as well as in any other smartphone. However, the macro mode pleasantly surprised me. You can make close-up snapshots both in the auto mode and in the macro mode Ц I couldn't find any difference in quality. The camera can focus on an object from as close as 3-4cm (1.5in).

I will not go ranting about the quality of the images since I am not a pro photographer and I cannot give you any useful details about it. I'll just leave these sample photos I made using the macro mode on HTC Sensation so that you can assess them on your own.

Video

Video is recorded in the 3GP format (h.264 codec) with a floating frame per second rate from 7 to 30. FullHD video is recorded with variable bitrate (10000 kb/s in average) according to VLC. Sound is recorded by means of the aac codec in 96 kbps stereo quality.

The following resolutions are available for video recording:

  • FullHD Ц 1920x1080
  • HD Ц 1280x720
  • QHD Ц 960x540
  • High Ц 640x480
  • Low Ц 320x240
  • MMS Ц 176x144

You can choose high or low quality video recording with the time limit of 10 minutes for uploading to YouTube.

Settings for video are the same as for photo. You can turn sound recording on or off. You can set the focus on a specific area right during shooting and you can zoom in or out during recording at any resolution.

You can look at the video samples to see the quality of recording.

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Comparison of Cameras

HTC Sensation, HTC Desire HD, Samsung Galaxy S2, Sony Ericsson Arc, Apple iPhone 4

To assess the quality of the HTC Sensation camera I took a number of other phones (see above) and made sample photos. I will start with a comparison of HTC Sensation and HTC Desire HD.

HTC Sensation и HTC Desire HD

Both phones use 8MPix cameras. The resolution of images is a bit different in widescreen photos as for the rest the specs are identical. Here are the samples.

HTC Sensation HTC Desire HD

The desire HD camera produces sharper images and post processing though not always successful is much more obvious. HTC Sensation gives more natural photos with little post processing. I will say no more Ц see for yourself. I will also throw in a few cropped images for quality comparison.

HTC Sensation HTC Desire HD

You can see that Desire HD photos are noisier and grainier while Sensation images are smoother and more natural and it also allows you to make macro shots unlike Desire HD. On a shiny day the difference is insignificant but still noticeable. HTC Sensation actually makes better pictures than Desire HD.

HTC Sensation, Samsung Galaxy S2, Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc

I am not going to bore you with contemplation on every snapshot and I am not really qualified to do so. I want just to give you material to make your own opinion. I only want to note that the Sensation picture show more color distortion and while SGS II and SE Arc pictures demonstrate a natural gamma the Sensation images have too much of pink and red even where there shouldn't be any.

HTC Sensation Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc Samsung Galaxy S2

The cropped images also show that the Sensation pictures are a little grainy unlike SGS II and SE Arc.

HTC Sensation Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc Samsung Galaxy S2

Judging by the pictures I would give the first place to Samsung Galaxy S II, the second to Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc and the third to HTC Sensation. I have also compared cameras of HTC Sensation and LG Optimus 2X (you can read it in the review of the latter) and I can tell that the HTC phone camera looks better than the LG one.

HTC Sensation и Apple iPhone 4

I decided to compare the 5MPix Apple iPhone camera with the 8MPix module of HTC Sensation out of sheer curiosity. On the pictures you may see that HTC again messes the reds and makes light cherry hue look pinkish and turns white into light violet.

HTC Sensation Apple iPhone 4

On the other hand, HTC Sensation makes sharper pictures than Apple iPhone 4.

HTC Sensation Apple iPhone 4

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Battery

The phone uses a 1520MAh Li-Ion battery. It is quoted to last up to 8 hours of talk time (GSM) and up to 350 hours (14 days) in standby. The real life results are very different from the given numbers but HTC Sensation still does much better than the previous flagship.

The workload of my phone was as follows: 2-3 hours of music playback a day, push-mail service on for two accounts, internet via Wi-Fi and EDGE/HSDPA (about an hour a day), 50-60 minutes of calls and about 20-30 SMS daily. at this workload HTC Sensation can last a day Ц the battery dies at around 8-10pm. As compared to the 3-5 hours of the previous flagship HTC Desire HD, Sensation is monumentally better.

As for video playback, you can watch movies for 5-7 hours depending on their quality. I watched movies with the resolution of 624x352 and the battery lasted for just over 6 hours.

The increased battery lifetime and power consumption optimizing in general is the right direction of development. This is a very relevant issue because the life time has been a big problem of HTC phones for over a year now. And though even the new phones are still very far from the optimal life time which I would say is 2-3 days but the fact that the company is working on this instills optimism.

There are power saving settings including a power saver mode that will (depending on your settings) turn off the wireless interfaces, adjust the brightness levels and optimize some other parameters.

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Performance

The smartphone is built on the Qualcomm QSD8260 platform with an 1.2 GHz dual core processor. It features 768MB of system memory most of which is occupied by system services so if you kill all of the background apps you will have about 200MB for your own needs.

This is the first HTC dual core phone and the main question here I believe is how fast it is as compared to the single core phones of the company? My impression is that games, videos and various apps work just the same as on HTC Incredible S. Its performance is also very similar to that of Samsung Galaxy S II. This does not mean that all the phones I have mentioned are slow, what I mean is that they are all fast enough to work comfortably with them and arbitrary I don't see a difference in the performance of HTC Incredible S and HTC Sensation.

There is 1GB of inbuilt storage space and a microSD memory card slot. In the package you'll find an 8GB memory card. I think it was thoughtless of the company to bundle such a small memory card taking into account the tiny inbuilt memory Ц a 16 GB card would be much more appropriate. But this is just me nagging.

The phone easily plays low res videos like 700x400 or around that by means of the preinstalled player. It also supports standard for Androids codecs and Xvid. You can watch QHD resolution (960x540) videos if you install a third party player like RockPlayer. I tried it but there were a bit of lagging during playback.

In case you are interested below you will find the results of several benchmarks but I think they cannot really give you the right impression of the performance (well, they might be valid for games).

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Interfaces

The handset works in GSM (850/900/1800/1900) and UMTS (900/2100) networks. Both EDGE and HSDPA are supported for fast data transfer. Different modules can be activated or deactivated in the settings menu or with the help of appropriate widgets. There is a widget with the icons bar to switch between interfaces. Separate buttons widgets and the standard Android widget complete the lineup.

PC synchronization and data transfer are carried out via the microUSB (2.0) cable from the box. When you connect to the computer you see the menu to choose one of five connection types: Charging only, HTC Sync, Removable Disk (when you see the microSD card memory), Internet Modem and PC connection to go online.

Inbuilt Bluetooth 3.0. module supports the following popular profiles:

  • Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP) — music playback control via the cordless headset
  • Generic Audio/Video Distribution Profile (GAVDP)
  • Audio/Video Distribution Transport Protocol (AVDTP)
  • Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) – stereo sound transfer via Bluetooth
  • Hands-Free Profile 1.5
  • FTP
  • OPP

Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n). WiFi module works well. You can customize the rules of WiFi moving into the sleeping mode, using only the static IP address during the connection and add security certificates. There is also a mode of WiFi maximum efficiency. During the operation the phone hardly heats up.

WiFi router. In HTC Sensation as in other HTC smartphones and models with Android 2.2 or above there is an opportunity to share 2G/3G Internet connection through WiFi. It works in the following way. In wireless interfaces menu you activate WiFi router feature to open settings where you have to select the network name, password and type of connection (WEP, WPA, WPA2). Besides you can choose the maximum number of connections to the smartphone or ban/allow every new connection.

Below you select a desired access point to go online and then you enable routing. You can connect to the Internet via your laptop through routing on Desire HD and use GPRS/EDGE or UMTS/HSDPA connection customized beforehand on your smartphone.

This feature can be handy in your country house, on business trips or hotels lacking WiFi. You will obviously need a local SIM card with relatively inexpensive 2G/3G traffic.

DLNA, HDMI. The handset supports DLNA, so if you have a DLNA compatible media server or other appropriate devices they can be used together with HTC Sensation. Sound or video from the smartphone can be sent directly to the TV screen.

Besides there is HDMI here. The jack is combined with microUSB and the special cable will be required to capitalize on all advantages of HDMI.

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Navigation

The smartphone sports gpsOne chip on Qualcomm platform. Cold start requires around 35-40 seconds and afterwards the satellites are detected within 10-15 seconds (the testing was carried out with the help of Maverick app available from the Market).

Navigation is assisted by ЌT— Navigation app based on Route 66 and Google Maps together with Google Navigation. Google Maps enables making routes, find addresses using street names or landmarks as signposts. Google Navigation offers voice tips.

HTC Navigation is launched through the Car Panel or Locations app. We get fully functional navigation software with points of interest (POI), routes log and routing. In my HTC Sensation there were no maps for Russia (that is why there are no screenshots). You can buy any available map for the application and pay with the banking card (VISA, Master Card, American Express, and Diners Club). You can also purchase maps online from the developer's website and then enter the code from the voucher in the phone to download the purchased map. It is nice to have several variants of licensing to choose from: 30 days, one year or unlimited. Prices are approximately the following: $5.99 for 30 days, $24.98 for a year and $37.99 for the unlimited licence.

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Sound

I listened to the music on HTC Sensation, but could not get hold of Ilya Tarakanov to assess the sound quality. You will have to believe me then. The sound was good and to my mind (and bad ear) HTC Sensation can rival Apple iPod Classic.

The music player now allows for downloading albums covers manually or in the automated mode for one album or the whole library. It is a convenient feature. I immediately updated several covers to improve the quality of images.

The handset comes equipped with the FM radio capable of manual or automatic stations search. Radio stations can be stored under particular names. There are some widgets for the radio as well.

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Text and Voice Input

Sensation has a standard HTC screen QWERTY keypad. It is one of the best screen keypads among Android smartphones. Other OS cannot rival it either. It has one and only drawback, which persists for some time. When using the Latin alphabet you can enter additional symbols by simply pressing and holding the button (symbols are located on buttons and are entered by pressing and holding), but for Cyrillic letters you have to go to the symbols menu first, which is not very convenient.

Every time you press the screen button the handset gives a vibration, which makes the input more realistic and helps to get used to the screen keypad. The languages switch is effected quickly by pressing one button. If you press and hold the button you can also activate messages voice input.

The screen keypad can be hidden by pressing and holding the Menu button or by pressing a dedicated key. To move the cursor inside the text leave your finger on a text piece until you see a magnifying glass. The idea was borrowed from Apple iPhone, and it is still very convenient. In the magnified fragment you see the cursor, which can be moved to move the text itself. When you take a finger off an additional menu appears to select the fragment or the whole text. Alternatively you can leave the text unchanged.

In the updated keypad there is no button for quick access to settings. Instead you have to go to general settings and search Language and Keypad section to reach your destination. Apart from the full screen QWERTY keypad you can use mini keypads. You can see them below.

There is a proprietary dictionary for the keypad where you can add frequently used words. The dictionary can be edited or synchronized with the backup copy on the memory card.

As to the voice input it is one of the standard features of new Android versions and it works pretty well now. Voice input can be used for searching the information in the phone or online, enter addresses for Google Maps or Google Navigation and even dictate voice messages, which is extremely convenient. I often managed to get 80% of words recognized and at times there were no mistakes at all.

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Software: HTC Sense 3.0

The smartphone operates under OS Android 2.3 with the HTC Sense 3.0 interface similarly to HTC Flyer. New Sense has several additional features, but the key point is the new lockup screen.

Detailed review of HTC Sense under Android 2.1

First let's mention some changes to the shell. The system menu is now divided into two sections. One shows events and active apps, while the other displays activation and deactivation of wireless interfaces.

The programs menu is once again has several panels (their order can be changed). One panel is for all programs, the second shows frequently used apps and the panel three displays apps downloaded by the user. Carrier versions may get a proprietary panel for a particular carrier.

Screens browsing was changed. Now we have Dock Mode, which shows weather, time and other important information on the screen.

The main innovation in comparison with previous versions of the interface (including HTC Sense 2.1) is the new lockup screen. It has an area with four apps shortcuts and a ring below. If you drag the ring to the center of the screen the smartphone will be unblocked and if you move the ring to one of shortcuts or drag the shortcut into the ring then the appropriate app will start. This useful feature was implemented in Meizu M8 and M9, while I have not seen it used in other models.

Shortcuts for the lockup screen can be customized and the screen itself can be selected from a number of available options. You can go for the screen with shortcuts only, with the clock complementing shortcuts or with weather/share prices and dynamically changed photos from the gallery.

The only drawback of the lockup screen is the inability to install a background different from that of a desktop. I would like to have such a choice as well.

HTC Sensation boasts standard apps: HTC Hub, HTC Likes, Black List and News. I have described them in detail in the review of HTC Incredible S. There are several apps for carrier versions, but they do not deserve any special attention.

Calculator is simple, but you can also use an engineering one if you turn the smartphone in the horizontal position.

Dice also allows dragging onto the desktop different types of dice and even a coin with the HTC logo.

Gallery is a proprietary solution for pictures and videos from HTC. The new feature is an opportunity to view video shot by shot and implement editing. There is a new widget for the gallery, which shows pictures as a matrix from one folder.

Pictures can also be edited. Add effects, cut or rotate them.

Mirror is an application, which shows you via the frontal camera.

Reader helps to read books. In new versions the company is steadily improving this app and in 6 months or 1 year it will be able to compete with third party readers in terms of features offered. This time we received color themes, which makes it unnecessary to read only black on white or vice versa, but allows choosing different colors.

The smartphone has a User Guide in the electronic form with separate chapters. It is downloaded from the Internet after your first access.

HTC Watch is an app to watch and purchase trailers/movies. Its features are limited on selected markets where you can watch only trailers, but in September HTC will make it fully functional.

The model supports printing, so documents, photos and other files can be sent for print through WiFi if you have a printer with appropriate capabilities nearby.


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Rivals

The official price of HTC Sensation will start at $960. Now let's look at competing solutions.

Apple iPhone 4. Any modern flagship must be compared with Apple iPpone 4. It happens that Apple phones set the trend nowadays and all potential customers looking for an expensive handset will always think if they should go for iPhone instead.

The official price of the 16 GB model is $960, which equals that of HTC Sensation. Apple iPhone boasts the unique design and the Apple halo supported by a 16 GB memory module and numerous accessories ranging from cases in different materials to dock stations among other things. In terms of cameras both models are comparable, but HTC Sensation has a better camera and boasts a more flexible interface, which can be customized or changed.

Choosing between Apple iPhone 4 and HTC Sensation is not an easy issue. Pay attention to your individual feelings towards Apple, but you can opt for Sensation if you need something less rigid.

Samsung Galaxy S II. Today it is the strongest offer running Android. It combines a dual core processor on Samsung platform with 1 GB of RAM, SuperAMOLED Plus screen, 16 or 32 GB of memory for data, 8 MP camera and numerous apps available from the box.

Samsung Galaxy S II beats HTC Sensation with a slightly superior camera, more RAM, 16/32 GB memory module and good accessories, which is one of the latest priorities for the company.

The advantages of HTC Sensation are an excellent body of metal and plastic (Samsung Galaxy S II has only plastic) and HTC Sense. In terms of the interface HTC is still far in front of rivals (Samsung and LG). To my mind Sensation also has another bonus in the shape of S-LCD screen with more restrained colors, but it is a purely subjective approach. Some prefer juicy and colorful SuperAMOLED Plus, so screens are on par in both models.

Another advantage of HTC Sensation lies in a lower price as Samsung Galaxy S II costs $1150 now.

If asked what to purchase Samsung Galaxy S II or HTC Sensation I would offer the following solution. If you need the maximum amount of features ignore the plastic and boxy design of Samsung Galaxy S II and buy this model. It has no face, but offers best hardware and software available. If you are ready to put up with slightly weaker camera, simpler screen and lack of appropriate storage for data choose HTC Sensation. It has its unique face and HTC Sense, which is such an addictive interface that many owners of HTC models cannot migrate elsewhere.

LG Optimus 2X. If you look at characteristics it is a rival for HTC Sensation due to a dual core processor, 4" WVGA screen and an 8 MP camera, but in real life this solution easily loses to HTC Sensation and Samsung Galaxy S II. It has an inferior screen (viewing angles and brightness leave much to be desired) and a weaker 8 MP camera. The shell is simple and apps from the box are not the best.

At the same time LG Optimus 2X have some strong points. It costs around $715-$900 and offers higher speed in video and gaming. nVidia Tegra 2 has separate HD games in Android Market as well. If you want to play then the LG handset is not a bad option indeed.

Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc. Initially I was not going to mention SE Arc as a rival, but then I had a change of heart. The phone has its own thin design, boasts hardware buttons (even the one for the camera), which is a rare feat among Android models. It is capable of slightly better photos and has a decent screen (color reproduction is good for both camera and screen in SE Arc).

With the price of $930 it cannot compete with HTC Sensation. If you need a nice looking smartphone look no further. At the same time HTC boasts better materials and build, speed of operation, interface, video recording and so on.

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Conclusion

Sensation offers standard reception quality, so we cannot complain here. Speaker volume is average and sometimes it was not enough when I was talking in a noisy indoor or outdoor environment. Ringtones are loud enough and some of them are even too roaring at the maximum volume. The vibro is below average and I missed it at times. Similarly to other models from HTC Sensation has some additional calling features. In the etiquette mode you can take the phone in hands during the incoming call to decrease the volume automatically to the lowest level. Besides, if you turn it around during the incoming call the ringtone will be muted, but the call will still be coming through.

Let's look at improvements in HTC Sensation compared to the previous flagship HTC Desire HD:

  • New platform with the dual core 1.2 GHz processor
  • Increased screen resolution
  • Better build without moving parts
  • Improved camera
  • More sensible dimensions (the smartphone is not so wide as before), but it depends upon your taste
  • Higher power efficiency
  • New interface HTC Sense 3.0 with numerous tweaks

It is a crucial question if you should move from HTC Desire HD to HTC Sensation. If you want new Sense and cannot tolerate the phone with low operation time (Desire HD) then make the swap. On the other hand the owners of the previous flagship can wait, because HTC representatives promised to offer HTC Sense 3.0 update for older models. If Desire HD gets into the list its life cycle will be prolonged, but the new firmware will not boost its power efficiency much.

I will crown this review with my personal impression from HTC Sensation. I will be partial, but when last year I reviewed HTC Desire HD I had many reservations. Now I have no complaints apart from the price, though it is still lower than that of its only rival SGS II. I am glad that the manufacturer finally started addressing its weaknesses: low operation time and mediocre cameras. HTC Sensation is not a benchmark in all respects, but nonetheless it has a positive dynamics due to a better camera and one day of operation. HTC continues improving its interface, which is its strongest point. HTC Sensation is a true flagship without reservations, which can be bought to go strong for one year or even more.

Description:

  • Class: smartphone
  • Form factor: candybar
  • Rivals: Apple iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy S II, LG Optimus 2X, Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc
  • Body materials: aluminium base and plastic elements (soft-touch)
  • OS: Android 2.3, proprietary interface HTC Sense 3.0
  • Networks: GSM/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, UMTS/HSDPA 900/2100
  • Processor: dual core, 1.2 GHz on Qualcomm QSD8260 platform
  • RAM: 768 MB
  • Memory for data storage: 1 GB + microSD memory cards slot (8 GB in the box)
  • Interfaces: Wi-Fi (b/g/n/), Bluetooth 3.0 (A2DP), microUSB (USB 2.0) for charging/synchronization, 3.5 mm for headsets , HDMI (through microUSB), DLNA
  • Screen: capacitive S-LCD 4.3” with the resolution of 960x540 (qHD), automatic backlight adjustment
  • Screen: 8 MP with the autofocus and video recording in 1080p (1920x1080), LED flash (can be used as a flashlight), 0.3 MP frontal camera for video calls
  • Navigation: GPS on gpsOne chip of Qualcomm (featuring A-GPS support) platform
  • Add-ons: accelerometer, light and proximity sensors, FM radio
  • Battery: detachable Li-Ion 1520 mAh
  • Dimensions: 126 x 65.4 x 11.3 mm
  • Weight: 148 g.

Artem Lutfullin (artem@mobile-review.com)
Twitter
Translated by Maxim Antonenko (maxantonenko@ukr.net), Robert Mugattarov (mugattarov@gmail.com)

Published — 15 June 2011

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