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HTC Sensation In Use

First I wanted to come up with a comparative InUse article for HTC Sensation and Samsung Galaxy S II, but then I realized that this kind of a review will not be useful and effective. You would have to switch between models incessantly, so I decided to give a closer look to each model separately. I have been testing HTC Sensation and Samsung Galaxy S II during equal time periods and today I would like to tell you about advantages and disadvantages of HTC Sensation I managed to come across during one month of active use.

Body, Build and Materials

As to the design I have already mentioned my overall verdict here and there is no need to repeat oneself.

During my one month use of the phone I have not managed to find any serious drawbacks in its build and materials, but there are still minor issues here.

First, after several weeks I felt that the protective glass could be easily pressed down. I clearly remember that there was no such a problem from the outset as I tested it carefully. Now if you press the glass in the middle you will surely feel as if under the glass there is a void. In real life it does not influence the way you work with the phone, but it is still unsettling.

The second problematic area is the battery cover with plastic elements. If dirt, dust or paint get in between it will be difficult to clear it.

After one week of use in my sample the rim of the camera fell out though it is connected to the battery cover from the inside. I put it back with the help of the glue, but it is not nice that a 25 000 camera sheds components, albeit unimportant ones.

The reason behind this accident was my desire to take many pictures, which lead to my frequent cleaning of the lens with the cloth. Now I think that the idea to ditch protective glass in new HTC models was not good.

Dust is not the biggest enemy of Sensation. It gets into holes around the screen and if the battery cover is off you will see the dusty top of the screen as shown below.

On the other hand the model looks great and retains its visual attractiveness over time unlike Samsung Galaxy S II after several hours of use. The screen is not easily soiled and in real life you will not notice traces and fingerprints on it.

As to the wear and tear of the body I can confess that nothing changed after one month in use. Several times I dropped it on the carpet from the height of 1.5 meters and it stayed for some time in the bag among other gadgets, etc. So far Sensation looks like new.

Finally I can say the following. If the camera rim stayed intact I would not mention other details, but the first impression was not positive. At the same time HTC Sensation has a clear advantage over plastic Samsung Galaxy S II, LG Optimus 2X and SE Arc. It is cool in the hand, can be safely carried in a bag without the risk of getting scratches and traces on the body.

Controls and Touchscreen Elements

Before I used to tell here about convenience of particular buttons, but now we can speak about software only, because these screen elements are key ones in the control of the device.

HTC Sensation has a good and efficient lockup screen, but its one feature did not impress me much. When you are listening to music and activate the screen you see a playback panel in the centre. Occasionally a touch turns it into a similar panel with the album cover but without the music controls. I do not know the reason of this approach, but it often happened that I unintentionally made this turnaround while trying to play the next track. To turn it back you need an extra touch. Everyday operations must be the most efficient and even one redundant touch is not good, or may be I did not understand the rationale behind this option.

The rest of controls is just fine, at least I did not have erroneous pressings and had no issues with call start and end. You can complain about the camera button, especially now when we have HTC EVO 3D with a very convenient hardware camera button. It makes no sense though, as my nagging will not create a dedicated camera button in Sensation.

Operation Time

I did not want to write anything here, because you can tell everything with one photo.

Some words will suffice anyway. In this respect HTC Sensation is clearly better than the first Desire, but the overall performance of Android models and HTC gadgets still leaves much to be desired.

At 10 am I finish the charging of my Sensation, connect Creative WP-300 Bluetooth headphones , start the music playback and go wherever I need.

During the time two push-mail accounts (Gmail and mail2web.com (MS Exchange Server) are active and offer synchronization: Evernote, weather and news. During the day I spend 40-60 minutes on browsing, 20-30 minutes on Android Market and the same amount on reading new e-mail messages. In the background I listen to the music for 2-4 hours. By 6-7 pm the battery is almost dead.

What can I say? Nokia 1280 is the best answer to Android smartphones. I purchased it when my Sensation again showed a red battery indicator in the status bar. I inserted a second SIM card there, set up a redirection from Sensation if I cannot connect for more than 40 seconds or the number is not answering. Nokia phone is always in the bag, so I can stay in touch with people.

So far I cannot think of other ways dealing with the issue. There is no point in saving the resources on Sensation, because it is a working tool, which costs a lot and I will rather switch to a simple phone without mail and music instead of getting nervous that the battery will be dead completely.

Performance Stability

It seems nowadays that the times of faulty firmware have passed a long time ago but here we see the proof that they have not. My HTC Sensation is somewhat stable Ц it has only restarted two times during the month. There is however the issue of bad cell reception I am going to discuss a bit later. Right now let's talk about the heating.

This smartphone gets rather hot when you actively use it. And though it does not burn your hand it is a bit hotter than comfortable levels. I found it quite unpleasant to use it in the hot summer days Цhot air and the hot brick in hand.

I think the new HTC phones could use some extra RAM Ц just to be on the safe side. I have not really had any problems caused by insufficient system memory despite having only about 60-100 MB of free RAM all the time.

Extra Apps

You may know that HTC phones are almost as good as Apple iPhone in terms of working out-of-box. You get everything you need to make calls, listen to your music, browse the web, work with mail and lots of other things. But I needed a few extra apps on my Sensation anyway.

Skype. First things first: I had to install Skype. I say I had to because I can't stand the Android Skype client because it never works properly and it tends to get on your nerves. Some notifications are delivered immediately while for some it takes a whole hour even if the phone is always connected to the Internet. It's nice that free video calls are now available for it but so far the quality is so low I cannot consider it a serious service. But all my contacts, friends and work partners, use Skype so I always use it too.

Google+. I have installed this client of the latest Google social network not because I needed it but rather just to see whether it is any good. And I have found it to be pretty handy Ц you are an active Google+ user you would appreciate the simplicity of this client but as for me, I only read the Stream.

VLC Remote. At nights I like to watch a movie or an episode of my favorite TV shows, lying on my couch about eight feet from my PC. It's not convenient at all to control the VLC player from such a distance Ц I have to get up just to adjust the volume. This is where the VLC Remote comes in Ц it works immaculately via Wi-Fi. It is a really handy tool I use every day.

Twicca. Previously I have always used Seesmic on smartphones but it seems to me that most Android Twitter clients are all the same nowadays and if you only read the feed and want to be able to quickly respond to a tweet or post a tweet than any client will do. And for that I use Twicca on my Sensation.

Bookmate. This is a very simple and handy reading app that has a rather rich bookstore that you can use for a very modest fee. It's very good if you don't usually read on you smartphone but need every once in a while to kill time and there is no ebook or regular book around.

LoL server status. Here are a couple of screenshots. Fans of League of Legend will surely understand me.

Call Quality and Speaker Volume

My handset has a very decent call speaker volume; the ring speaker has a medium volume level so you will probably have to choose the ringtone carefully to be able to hear it ringing.

My Sensation has a cell reception issue Ц it sometimes cannot connect to the cell network. To troubleshoot this issue you will have to turn on and then off the Flight mode and wait for about 20-30 seconds Ц only then the phone will find the network. Sometimes the phones says that it is connected to the network but neither GPRS nor HSDPA are working Ц you will have to use the Flight mode to get back online.

I hope the issue is not caused by the hardware and that it will be fixed by the next firmware update because at the moment it is a big downer for HTC Sensation.


There aren't that many cool accessories for HTC phones as there are for Apple iPhone. But you can always find cases, batteries and stuff like that. Lovers of the classic who switched to Android from WM will appreciate Piel Frama cases Ц leather cases with hoods, card holders, belt straps Ц like in te good old times of palm PCs.

If you prefer something more cheerful you may like cases made of plastic, silicone and similar materials.

PowerSkin team presented case for HTC sensation of the same name. I think this case is a must have. More info on this accessory here. The capacity of the additional battery is 1500mAh.

If you are not impressed by the cases and the battery you might be interested by external microUSB batteries like this one here. I personally don't find them very convenient.

There is a branded charging cradle for HTC Sensation.

You can browse the accessories list on the company's website Ц it does not list all of them but you can get the right idea what you can get for this phone.

Bottom Line

The new HTC flagship phone is not perfect and it was clear from the start but a month spent using this phone make all the tiny imperfections clearer. But all in all, after considering all its advantages and disadvantages I still stick with it. I compared it to Samsung Galaxy S II and I found that the total of the Sensation specs, screen, out-of-box functionality, the interface, the design and the body quality to suit me better.

P.S. I have a tip for you. If you are planning to buy a top Android smartphone don't listen to anyone talking about two days on battery. Just be ready to carry a second(inexpensive) phone to always be in touch.

Do you want to talk about this? Please, go to our Forum and let your opinion to be known to the author and everybody else.

Related links

Review of HTC Sensation

Review of Samsung Galaxy S II i9100. Part 1

Detailed review of HTC Sense under Android 2.1

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

Published — 15 August 2011

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com



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