The HTC Sensation was late to the dual core processor party but it got there in style, leaving the Optimus’ and the Atrixes at the party with a look of envy in their eyes. This device is the new flagship from HTC. the company that has built an impressive portfolio of Android devices and has seen unprecedented growth as a result. This Taiwanese company just cant seem to take a wrong step but we will come to that in our conclusion. This device is going to go head on head with the Samsung Galaxy S II which was the undoubted leader of the Android smartphones up till now and we will give you in-depth comparison in a separate article. So lets go ahead and see if the Sensation can meet the expecations that customers will have from it.
When it comes to hardware, HTC’s trademark uni-body aluminum construction doesn’t have many parallels. This device isn’t an exception to the rule, the feel of the device in the hand is of a solid premium device. The device is not light when it comes to weight, but to us, the added grams give the device an impression of premium built quality which Samsung’s competitor lacks. Another thing of note is the battery cover of the Sensation is a solid metal slab with plastic inserts at the top and bottom.
You have to peel the cover off which we really don’t like much but it seems to be the predominant way most major manufacturers are swinging these days. The solid aluminum back makes it easy and safe to peel the cover off unlike in the Galaxy S II where the thin plastic bends a lot while taking off, and the plastic hooks feel like they wont take many stresses before breaking. There are very attractive chrome accents sprinkled around the speaker and other places on the body which give the device a premium look. All in all the feel of the device is of a premium device that has a solid built and you will have no complaints about this device on that end.
The overall dimensions of the Sensation are also one of the notable features. The engineers at HTC have been busy with their techniques. The size of the front panel that doesn’t contain the display has been reduced as a result even after the change in the aspect ration of the screen, this phone is smaller than the Desire HD in overall dimensions and feels much smaller than the Galaxy S II. The feel of the phone in the hands is very slightly larger than the Incredible S which is a huge feat on the company’s part.
The 4.3 inch SLCD is a brilliant display with all colors reproduced well. The video quality is crisp and it has no problems playing high definition videos. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass which makes it virtually scratch proof. A unique point about the Sensation’s display is that it is slightly sunk deeper into the body than its surrounding frame which gives it added protection from scratches especially when placed face-down. What you are probably wondering here is the comparison of this display to the Super AMOLED Plus.
Much has been said about the Super AMOLED Plus displays of Samsung. The general perception of most reviewers seems to lie in two polarized camps. One camp believes that Samsung’s display has no matches at all while the other believes that it is in line with the most high end LCD displays. We would like to shift our weight onto the second camp since we found that although Samsung’s display did seem slightly more appealing, especially with the richness of color and particularly the prominent blacks, we would say that the Sensations display was brighter and was almost as good as the Samsung display. What we are trying to say is that, the tech enthusiasts decision should not hinge on the display alone.
HTC has been widely criticized about the camera quality of their phones. Camera in phones from the company in the past didn’t even come on par with the competition. Well, we are glad to announce that the Sensation is about to change all that. As well all know by now, the megapixel race is over and companies aren’t rushing ahead to introduce the biggest image sensor these days, in fact companies are now busy in upgrading their own software while sticking to existing camera modules. Normally the mid-range smartphones have the 5 megapixel sensors while the high-end solution have the 8 or more recently 12MP sensors. Generally the benchmark for pure integration of software and hardware for smartphones was the iPhone 4 with its 5MP shoot. The Sensation on the other hand has an 8 MP shooter. HTC has apparently been busy at work on its image processing algorithms and has made huge leaps at this fronts. The images aren’t blurry compared to the older devices, also the noise in the background is now largely gone. Images come out crisp and clear. Video quality has also improved. Due to the new HTC Sense interface, instant camera moments are captured much quicker now since all you have to do is drag the camera icon into the ring in the lockscreen.
One thing to note about the camera is that it is sunk slightly into the body and the lens does not come into contact with the surface when it is placed with the camera down which is different from the Desire HD and clearly a step in the right direction.
Now lets come to the most exciting part of our review. Traditionally, the HTC Sense UI is what keep the HTC phones in a different league from all other Android smartphones. You would be glad to know that the Sensation doesn’t fail to deliver on that promise. The upgraded Sense 3.0 UI adds even further to the Sense interface. The most notable addition to the UI are the 3D effects that are added to the UI. The icons and the homescreens have 3D effects in them. When you swipe from one homescreen to the next in a fast pace, the homescreens can be seen a carousel which slows down on one homescreen. When you swipe halfway from the main homescreen, you can practically see behind camera app. Another added feature to the interface is a greater integration of the weather app with much better animations.
Besides these interface tweaks, HTC has also added more functionality to the lockscreen. The Sense 3.0 lockscreen is now the mose functionally rich customizable lockscreen available for Android. The lockscreen features a ring at the bottom with a row of icons above it. Above the icons you can see you current stocks or your messages. Above that is the notifications bar that shows you your battery and time. All the icons and widgets on the lockscreen are customizable and you can add any application that you prefer. To unlock the screen you simply have to drag the ring up to the middle of the screen. If you want to quick launch the camera or the messaging app, all you have to do is drag the icons and place them into the ring and the application opens up immediately.
Other new features in Sense 3.0 include the HTC Watch, the company’s newly launched online movie store / rental service, which initially made its debut on the Flyer. It works on a progressive download basis that’s not very different from streaming, you just end up with the trailer, TV episode, or movie fully downloaded on your phone after you’ve watched it. Video’s seen from this service are avant grade. That 16:9 aspect screen ratio and the immense processing power within the phone pair up to deliver a supreme movie-watching experience. If you weren’t convinced smartphones were big or good enough to make films enjoyable, you owe it to yourself to check out what HTC has to offer here in this amazing device.
Overall, HTC has made leaps and bounds in making this device the top of the line device and try to make full use of the enormous processing power it has packed into this device.
Call quality on the device was on par with the best phones on the market. We were heard clearly on the end of the line with noise cancellation working perfectly on our end. The ringtones were of average volume and the vibro alert was also on the high end of the range. The phone was very snappy and easily crunched any and all apps that we could throw at it. This device has all the potential to take the Android crown away from the Samsung competition and will be a best seller for at least the next 6 to 9 months. For all those tech enthusiasts we don’t need to tell you tht this is the device for you. As for the average consumer, if you are looking for a device that is top of the line and one that you wont need to replace in the next two years and the price would make too big a dent on in you pocket, you should look no further. All in all, this is HTC flagship device for this year and it is well deserving of the Android crown.