HTC Sensation

10th Jun 2011 | 16:49

HTC Sensation

HTC's dual-core wonder finally arrives - let battle commence!

TechRadar rating:

4.5 stars

Definitely HTC's finest Android phone to date that shows the Taiwanese firm still has what it takes to cut it at the sharp end

Like:

Premium build; Fast operation; Pin-sharp screen; Accurate keyboard; Slick 3D animations

Dislike:

Awful battery life; Still poor in direct light; Video player erratic; Power button slightly lost; Camera needs to be faster;

Overview, design and feel

Updated: now read our Hands on: HTC Sensation XL and HTC Sensation XE reviews.

HTC has gone from being an unknown manufacturer for bigger brands to one spewing out leading Android smartphones. The Desire was a landmark phone in the fight against the iPhone, but now tech has moved up a level - can the HTC Sensation stay at the sharp end?

With the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S2, the Motorola Atrix and (to a degree) the LG Optimus 2X, dual-core phones have become the darling of the tech enthusiast.

And HTC has recognised that in bringing out a phone that ticks all the boxes for the most sought-after tech, bringing an 8MP camera, 1080p video recording, a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm chipset and a qHD resolution 4.3-inch screen.

We've decided to test out the new HTC flagship in front of the camera, so if you want to see it with real life moving pictures, check it out:

Coming in at £35 a month on a two year deal, or £500 SIM free, it's matching the cost of other high end smartphones at the moment - but given it's HTC's flagship device, we'd expect it costing a little more than the masses.

HTC sensation review

The design of the HTC Sensation is a little bit larger than its rivals, in that it comes in at 11.3mm thick - noticeably thicker than the likes of the Galaxy S2, but still feeling comfortable in the hand.

HTC sensation review

The screen is also a different animal to most of the 4.3-inch offerings out there - with the qHD (540x960) resolution display, the Sensation is a thinner offering while still allowing movies to be played in widescreen.

HTC sensation review

The phone itself is encased in toughened plastic and aluminium (which feels more like plastic) through the stripe in the centre - the whole back of the phones pulls away from the main device, with the antenna and suchlike pumped into the chassis rather than on the phone itself.

HTC sensation review

Getting the back of the phone off through the little catch at the bottom is much harder than it looks, with the fingers needed to prise it apart almost holding it in place at the same time - wiggling and shaking is needed to get to the battery and microSD card slot.

The power/lock button is placed on the top right hand side of the phone, and sits probably a little too close to the chassis to be easily pressed - although it's more of a minor annoyance than a deal breaker.

HTC sensation review

HTC is one of the few brands that's still keeping faith with the dedicated search key, (the likes of the Sony Ericsson Arc and Galaxy S2 have done away with it altogether) but the keys are touch sensitive like the HTC Desire S, and react instantly to a feathery fingering.

The headphone socket is at the top of the Sensation (rather than taking its design cues from the larger-screened phones like the Desire HD, which liked to plonk it at the bottom) but is probably a little close to the edge of the phone - getting a good grip when holding the phone to watch video can be a little hard.

HTC sensation review

HTC has long had a problem with screen visibility in direct sunlight, and it seems that issue has continued somewhat with the Sensation. It's definitely a step up, as at medium brightness you can make out what's on the screen, but compare it to the iPhone 4's Retina Display or the Super AMOLED Plus of the Galaxy S2 and it's miles behind. However, the resolution is definitely a step forward, and the sharpness of the text is impressive.

HTC sensation review

The HTC Sensation isn't in the same 'thin and super light' category of many of today's smartphones - it comes in at nearly 150g compared to the helium-esque devices on the market today - but it's a solid build quality and one you wouldn't panic about too much if you saw it plummeting towards a carpeted floor.

Interface

With the HTC Sensation we're given our first look at the new version of the Taiwanese brand's overlay to Android. Running Android 2.3.3, the Sensation is perfectly up to date with the most recent version of Google's OS, and the new Sense 3.0 iteration is the next step forward for a user interface.

The main thing most HTC fans will notice is the new 3D scrolling - flicking through the many home screens will now see each one rotating around a virtual cylinder, rather than bouncing left and right in a linear fashion.

The widgets will even expand inwards and outwards to add to the effect, and really works to show off the dual-core nature of the 1.2GHz processor under the hood.

HTC sensation review

In standard HTC style, the Sensation reacts instantly under the finger - we're not talking Nokia N8 levels of swiping and waiting here, the capacitive touchscreen leaps to do your bidding in nearly every scenario.

HTC sensation review

The lock screen has also been given a massive overhaul too - instead of dragging a bar upwards to open up the phone, you have a large ring to swipe upwards to get started.

HTC sensation review

HTC sensation review

But it's not just that - there are four application spaces to drop your favourite functions into, and you can drag these into the ring to jump into them instead of starting up in the home screen. This is brilliant for things like the camera (as there's no dedicated button) so you can start snapping as fast as you can.

It's not a perfect system though - we had a few instances where we couldn't get the ring to slide fully up with our touch, meaning we had to have multiple attempts to simply get into the phone.

The other annoyance is notifications - if you have a message or missed call, it shows in a big pop-up at the centre of the lock screen, which is cool. But you can't drag this into the ring to jump straight to the notification unless you have the phone or message application selected as one of your quick links - seems like a missed trick from HTC.

HTC sensation review

The drag-down notification bar, which is present throughout the phone and one of the key pieces of the Android OS, has been given another makeover by HTC compared to the likes of the Desire (although we've already seen the upgraded functionality on the Desire S).

This means you can drag it down to see emails, messages and application notifications, but also see a scrolling list of the most recently used applications in a sliding bar and access the music player controls if you've got some tunes playing.

HTC sensation review

However, there's also a little tab at the bottom to let you control oft-used elements of the phone - we're talking Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS etc all toggle-able with the touch of a check box. It's a little convoluted to get into (we prefer the Samsung TouchWiz version, where these controls are at the top of the drag down menu) but it's great to be able to activate Bluetooth without having to open Settings.

There's clearly been a great deal of effort made with the HTC Sense 3.0 user interface, and it shows - it's not as snappy as the Samsung Galaxy S2, but it's unflappable and we found very little slowdown throughout. If you're upgrading from another HTC Device, this is Sense on a whole new level.

Calling and contacts

You can access contacts on the HTC Sensation using the People app, or by just going straight into the phone app. Your most recently used contacts will be at the top, or there's the dialler underneath to search for someone using smart dialling (ie in the old T9 predictive text fashion).

There's a widget on one of the Home screens by default for accessing your favourite contacts, which comes in three forms and ports Facebook, Google or Twitter pictures across automatically.

Contact lists can be imported in several ways. The most obvious is your Google contacts, which Android adds when you sign into one of the Google apps. You can also add Twitter and Facebook contacts, as well as Exchange if you're a working girl.

HTC sensation review

As ever, this can mean multiple entries for people. We've always been impressed by HTC's ability to link together contacts, and that's present on the HTC Sensation - the auto-link icon comes up with a lot of suggestions.

However, we couldn't get the Twitter app to automatically add contacts, and then suddenly it decided to do so after a day - having already done the same thing with the onboard Twitter for HTC Sense, we now had reams of Twitter people polluting the phone and asking to be linked.

HTC sensation review

Linking contacts manually isn't too arduous, though – there's a link button at the top of every contact, and it's then just a matter of searching for the other entry and hitting Save.

The People app is presented as a list, with social networking status updates appearing beneath someone's name. You can sort by forename or surname, and you can also choose to display contacts from only some of your linked accounts if you want (for example, you could have Twitter and Google, but not Facebook).

HTC sensation review

You can also use the arrow at the top to quickly see your contacts from only one of your social networking accounts, or go back to seeing all contacts.

One really irritating problem, like the Twitter app above, is the contacts didn't automatically load from social networks, so we were forced to keep re-entering the details.

And even after having linked up a load of friends, the names wouldn't appear in the messaging section, so each message was from a random set of numbers. However, tap the number and the contact page would load. Odd.

What's crazier than that is after 24 hours the Sensation suddenly realised what was going on and managed to sort out the problem, complete with Facebook pictures a-plenty, and it's been fine since, so we won't mark it down too much for that.

Going into someone's contact entry presents you with lots of useful quick options for getting in touch with them. The initial screen displays their phone and messaging details, and you can tap on them to get in touch using your preferred method.

However, if you slide to the next tab at the bottom, you'll be able to see your text history with that contact, presented in a threaded view. You can send a new message from here.

HTC sensation review

The next tab does the same for emails, and the next shows you their recent social network status updates. There's also one to see their galleries from linked social network sites, and buried right at the end is your call history with them.

Plus Android has the awesome feature of any time you see a contact's picture you can tap it to get a quick list of all the ways to talk to them - really nice, and makes the whole phone experience seem much more integrated.

Adding a new contact sees you presented with the option of choosing to save to your cloud accounts or to the phone memory or SIM. After that, you've got all the usual options, including phone numbers, email addresses, IM usernames, postal addresses, birthday and more.

Of course, the more simple method also works – just tap a number into the dialler and a 'Save to People' option appears.

Calling

Call quality on the HTC Sensation seems to be poorer than many other phones, which is even more perplexing when there seems to a be a separate noise reduction microphone on offer above the camera.

HTC sensation review

Even in slight wind we were asked if it was really gusty where we were, and in a bar environment we were practically inaudible.

The speaker on the back of the phone is perfectly usable for day to day calling - it's not ear-splitting at maximum volume, which might be irritating in a noisy car or conference environment, but for one on one use in a relatively quiet environment, it's fine.

We also like the fact that our friends' Twitter or Facebook status updates pop up when we phone them, as well as birthday notifications should we be close to forgetting. The only problem here is we spend so much time reading them updates we haven't got the phone to our ear - but that's more stupidity than HTC's fault.

The signal quality was excellent on the whole for the HTC Sensation, with up to 50% more signal reported in known weak spots. However, we're wondering if this is just the phone exaggerating what's on offer, as internet speeds didn't seem to corroborate the three bar signal strength we were apparently getting.

Messaging

As mentioned in the Contacts section, messaging is heavily integrated into the Sense experience. You can get to email and text conversations with people through their contact entry in the People app, but there are dedicated email and messaging apps.

Messages is a fairly straightforward text app, showing you an overview of the different people you've been texting on the main screen, with a threaded conversation view on offer if you tap on one.

To write a new text, just tap in the field at the bottom to bring up the on-screen keyboard. We've always been mightily impressed when it comes to writing messages on HTC's Sense range, including the original Desire and the HTC Desire HD, which is partly down to the excellent autocorrect.

HTC sensation review

We've always been fans of the HTC keyboard, and we're glad that the same thing is back in full force on the Sensation - we found accuracy much higher than that on the Samsung Galaxy S2 for instance, where the full stop kept getting in the way.

In landscape mode, this problem did creep in though, thanks to the size and dimensions of the screen. Another oddity: the 'I' sometimes decided not to capitalise when typing, but then would do so when you go back to it.

HTC sensation review

Words still take as long as before to save to the dictionary - it's only a fraction of a second, but it's still an annoying pause.

As is often the case, you have the choice of a Gmail app or a more generic Email app. The Gmail one is just as easy to set up as ever; if you have your Google account details, it's automatically set up.

The Email app also proved easy, offering an Exchange option and a generic POP/IMAP option initially. To set your POP/IMAP, you generally just have to put in your email address and password and the phone will do all the configuring for you.

HTC sensation review

Both email apps are very good, though HTC's Mail app fits in with the aesthetics and UI of the Desire S's other app better. It offers several ways to view your messages, including options to view your email as a straight up inbox, or as conversations.

You can also view email just from your favourite contacts, and this tab also enables you to address an email to all of your favourites with one tap.

There's an unread-only view, and also a screen that enables you to view only emails with attachments.

Writing emails uses the same keyboard as the messaging, so it's easy to write emails of a good length without getting frustrated.

When it comes to social network messaging, HTC's Friend Stream does a good job of bringing Facebook and Twitter together, but it isn't quite the complete messaging solution. It's more suited to fairly passive users who like to read others' statuses, lacking the depth you can go into for both social networks.

HTC sensation review

Basically, public replies on Twitter and Facebook status comments are in, but direct messages, trending topics and any other wider information is out - you'll need to download the official applications for that, which we would recommend as they integrate very well throughout the phone.

Internet

The large 4.3-inch screen of the HTC Sensation, like the Desire HD and HD7 before it, is simply ace for browsing the web, easily as good as anything else in the Android range and even better because of the improved resolution.

The qHD resolution makes web pages look as crisp as anything else on the market at the moment, and the pictures and video all pops with slick ease.

That's right - thanks to Flash 10.3 integration and the dual-core processor chugging away in the background, the HTC Sensation is the best HTC device for internet, hands down (taking out the Flyer, of course, but even then it's only a question of size).

HTC sensation review

The Flash integration is sensational (we're sorry) as videos will stream without a judder and will instantly leap to full screen (once you've figured out the convoluted full screen option through long-pressing, that is) and it's really as simple as watching a video on your PC - iPlayer rocks, even though it doesn't have the option to download yet.

You can use also the dedicated mobile YouTube site, which uses HTML5 to work quickly and simply, so it's future proof too for standards going forward.

There are a number of other positives to the internet experience on the HTC Sensation - multiple windows with thumbnail scrolling through them mean various websites can be open at once.

HTC sensation review

It's odd that you're limited to just four windows though - and that's still in effect despite that limit being offering on the single-core offerings. Surely the Sensation can handle at least six open at once without destroying performance?

HTC sensation review

One think that Android (and HTC's Google portfolio especially) does well is text-wrapping; namely, zoom into whichever size you want on a column of text and the words will jumble around the screen and reformat to fill the display.

Sure, you can double tap to get closer to the text in the same vein as other smartphones, but the text wrapping puts you in control of the size... and you can go mightily close on the HTC range as no matter where you pinch and zoom to, the text stays all on screen.

HTC sensation review

Another winning feature from Android is the ability to share web pages to a variety of sources without having to break stride: if you're on a page that you think your buddies online will like then you can head into the 'Share Page' option and lob the link out via Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, SMS, Bluetooth - you name it, you can get it there via that method. Not carrier pigeon though. This is a mobile phone, you fool.

We've always been fans of the bookmarks, as when you enter this section you can either look at the ones you've saved (via thumbnail, nice) or see your most visited or history of pages you've been to - enabling you to choose bookmarks that you need without realising it.

With the Sense UI (this is a feature we've loved and is carried forward to Sense 3.0), users of the HTC Sensation can also subscribe to an RSS feed (if present on the page) by hitting the icon in the top left hand corner of the screen - it makes keeping up to date with the sites you love very easy.

Another plus we've always loved on the HTC Android range: the implementation of copy and paste. It's a little Apple-esque, as you long press on text and see a little magnification pane pop up.

HTC sensation review

From there you can drag two little pins to select the text you want - which bar the colour is almost precisely the same as Apple's offering.

Where the difference lies is in the pop up menu that appears after: you can copy the text, share it via the same options mentioned earlier or use it to search.

But not just search on Google, oh no. You can look for the phrase on Wikipedia, YouTube, Google Dictionary or even Google Translate - and that's an awesome option.

The internet experience on Android phones has always been a plus, and the sheer speed, functionality and slickness of the offering on the HTC Sensation means web browsing a really great experience, although we didn't experience the jaw-dropping, eye-popping speeds we did with other dual-core handsets.

Camera

HTC sensation review

The camera on the HTC Sensation is an 8MP effort with dual-LED flash and autofocus - pretty much ticking all the boxes on offer aside from a Xenon flash, but then again some comprimises have to be made to keep the width down.

The autofocus is a good feature though, and one we've seen from the likes of the Desire HD and Desire S in the past, where tapping the screen will alter the focus of the photo. This extends to exposure values as well, meaning that if you're trying snap something in a darker area, the Sensation will work out the optimum light levels needed.

The shutter speed is pretty nifty on the Sensation too, with the camera loading very quickly from the lock screen if you choose it as one of the 'ring options' we mentioned in the interface section, with photos taken in around three seconds after pulling the phone out of our pocket.

There are the usual plethora of shooting options on offer - from the pointless negative/grayscale/sepia range to more useful ISO, white balance and exposure sliders, the HTC Sensation is a camera phone that offers more than enough functionality to take some decent snaps.

HTC sensation review

The standard settings show a decent amount of contrast and a good level of sharpness for a well-lit shot

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HTC sensation review

With a bright background, the object being photographed quickly gets lost as the camera looks to focus on the clouds

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HTC sensation review

Forcing the camera to focus on the tower doesn't really seem to help the exposure, which is odd considering it's so adept at doing so for video recording

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HTC sensation review

The HTC Sensation doesn't have a macro mode, instead choosing to automatically work out the focal length, with some surprisingly good shots

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HTC sensation review

The VGA front facing camera is perfectly acceptable for self shots if you happen to meet a famous lion

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HTC sensation review

This is a standard photo in a darker corner of London

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HTC sensation review

But with the exposure turned up, you can see a signifcant difference in detail without much penalty on the shutter speed

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HTC sensation review

This poncey cocktail is shot in fairly dark conditions but still maintains a decent level of detail

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HTC sensation review

This shot was taken at speed using the quick unlock function - the Sensation does not appear to be adept at fast moving photos

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HTC sensation review

The Sensation is good at capturing changeable conditions, although the lighter section of the photo is quite over-exposed

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HTC sensation review

This photo is taken indoors with the auto focus turned on

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HTC sensation review

With the auto focus turned off, you can see the white balance is quite heavily skewed, showing how good the automatic mode is

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HTC sensation review

The dual LED flash is quite poor given its brightness - the throw of the light is minimal

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Video

The HTC Sensation is a device with a stronger focus on video recording than ever before, with 1080p footage possible from the 8MP sensor, thanks to the dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm processor.

A video light is on offer to help make shots look that little bit classier and at 30fps the footage we captured is nice and smooth, with no hint of the choppiness affecting the likes of the HTC Desire HD from before.

What is nice is the touch to focus option on offer, meaning you can choose what part of the screen the footage will be looking at. Be warned, only use a feather touch for this, as otherwise you'll shake the living daylights out of your recording.

If you want to port your HD video across to a larger TV, you can either do this through the Connected Media sharing over DLNA or fork out for the MHL lead to bring HDMI connectivity to your phone - no luck getting this on the box unfortunately.

Check out the footage we captured using the HTC Sensation and see if the full HD footage lives up to the hype:

Media

The HTC Sensation is a phone that's clearly built for media, with the Taiwanese brand not only offering a range of applications to help make your media experience as good as it could be, but the addition of the on demand HTC Watch service for movies shows it's looking to plough a new revenue furrow.

HTC sensation review

We're upset that there's only 1GB of internal memory, but our sample came with a 4GB card and can be expanded all the way up to an additional 32GB if you're into that, so it's not the end of the world, although it pales compared to the 16GB internal memory of the Galaxy S2.

Music

Sonically, HTC has done well again with the Sensation - sure, it might not be market leading, but it's perfectly competent and works well within the phone.

The same system as before is in place, namely that you can slide your finger along the bottom of the screen to search through your media to find the song you want, plus hit that little search key to find what you're after.

HTC sensation review

HTC has also added another little treat, in the new arrow at the top of the screen - tap this and you can instantly stream to another DLNA-enabled device with ease. It takes a little while for the song to load, but overall it's cool functionality that actually works.

The audio is acceptable without being mind-blowing on the HTC Sensation - you can use custom equaliser or have virtual SRS enhancement to make the songs sound bassier or less tinny, but the range of customisation doesn't actually afford too much control.

HTC sensation review

The other annoying element is that you can't control the music player from the notifications bar, only pause the music - although you can tap the album art to get straight back into the music application.

HTC sensation reviewHTC sensation review

One REALLY cool bit of functionality that shows HTC has design at the heart of the Sense UI: the lock screen music control widget lets you spin the album artwork around to let you choose between the picture or additional lock screen controls... and we love playing with things like that.

Video and HTC Watch

Given HTC is putting so much effort into movies with the Watch offering, it's surprising that the video offering on the Sensation is irritatingly poor.

We say poor only because there is a) no dedicated video application, and b) when you open the video section in the Gallery you get a list of thumbnails and no labels for each video, so you have to either look at the details or open the file to see what it is.

HTC sensation review

Come on HTC, we've begged you to fix this so many times - please just do it.

The thumbnails load much faster than before thanks to the dual-core processor, but not as lightning fast as the Galaxy S2 it has to be said, or even the single core Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc.

Video performance is perfectly respectable, although certainly not market leading. The sharpness of the picture is really, really nice, and we enjoyed a few TV shows in the right conditions because of it.

SRS is still offered, although Dolby Mobile has sadly not made it on board - it wasn't really necessary to have two audio modes on there. We also love how NOBODY at HTC has noticed that it's not 'enchancement' after two iterations of phones since the Desire HD.

HTC sensation review

Take the HTC Sensation into the light (we don't mean kill it), not even direct sunlight, and you'll have to instantly turn up the brightness as high as it will go, which really washes out the picture. Samsung and Apple are certainly well in the lead when it comes to media on your phone for this category.

The HTC Watch service looks like a winning offer for those that are locked into a two year contract with the phone, as the DRM means you can only play the files in HTC Devices (although that includes the Flyer if you have one).

The quality is great, but £9.99 for a film seems a lot to pay for not the most up to date titles - and renting for £3.49 feels rubbish when it's not yours to keep.

HTC sensation review

The selection of four old series of TV shows is disappointing too - but we're sure the collection will grow quickly in the future, and hopefully the cost will come down.

Over Wi-Fi the download speeds were pretty good for movies, and the ability to pay directly with your credit card is good too - it feels less like you can accidentally spend loads on watching films, especially if you're renting (although remember it used to be cheaper to rent videos from Blockbuster).

Battery life

We've always been slightly confused by HTC phones when it comes to the battery life, as they seem to offer wildly different experiences depending on who is using them it seems.

HTC sensation review

The HTC Desire was fine for us when it came to lasting a day, but others found it would be dead by 7PM. The Desire HD was more universally panned for a poor battery, but still some chastised our verdict of it being unacceptable.

Well, it's going to happen again with the HTC Sensation, as the battery life, to us, seems woeful and not up to scratch. We're talking dead by 8PM with no push email, minimal Wi-Fi and about 30 mins of music and video at the most.

HTC sensation review

We've cycled it a few times to see if it can be improved, but the same things happens: it holds charge averagely well mostly, but then will get very warm and discharge at a rate of 10% per hour... which is a familiar scenario with the Desire HD.

We constantly kept the applications killed and the notifications to a minimum - but it seems only turning off the background synchronisation altogether helped the issue. And don't even think about hammering the camera in the middle of the day, or you'll be without a phone come the evening for sure.

HTC sensation review

That said, we're going to request another sample to test this out with, as it's probably the poorest experience we've had on an HTC device so far, so it's only fair we test to make sure it wasn't just a diff unit.

HTC sensation review

On the plus side, at least HTC has decided to break the 1500mAh barrier in terms of power unit: it's a whopping 20mAh more, although still miles and miles behind the power of the 1950mAh unit in the Motorola Atrix.

HTC sensation review

UPDATE: We've finally managed to get our hands on a new review model of the HTC Sensation, and the good news is the battery life is definitely improved.

It seems that a combination of data-hungry applications and a slightly dodgy model caused the odd readings from before, although we're not entirely convinced the above scenario isn't one power users will face, which is why we've left it in.

But in normal use, and by that we mean sending 42 texts, spending 49 mins on the phone, watching an hour and bit of video and using the music player constantly, plus a few minutes spent using GPS to track ourselves and browsing the internet for roughly 45 mins, the battery pretty much lasted the day, although it was often in the yellow zone come 11PM.

However, what was more impressive (and a relief) was the sleep state of the HTC Sensation. Where before the phone would get very hot and start spewing out battery life in our pocket for no reason, if you leave the phone locked up for around 10-15 minutes on our new model the power consumption dropped to almost nothing.

This is more what we expect from Android Gingerbread devices, as the intelligent power management kicks in to stop background applications updating pointlessly - so if you're a lighter user then you'll generally find at least 30% battery power left at the end of the day.

Connectivity and HTCSense.com

The HTC Sensation is one of those phones that has a huge range of connectivity on board, from Wi-Fi b/g/n to Bluetooth 3.0.

The Wi-Fi is certainly a step up from the likes of the HTC Desire S, which had a very strange attenuation problem if you held the phone in a certain way. The Sensation is a lot better, and even a big improvement over the Samsung Galaxy S2, which is useless in mid-strength Wi-Fi signal zones.

HTC sensation review

Bluetooth connection strength and speed was very good throughout our review time, with wireless headphones showing no problems at all, no matter what we threw at them. The range was impressive too, with around 10 metres the maximum with walls in the way.

HTC sensation review

HSPDA is at an acceptable 14.4Mbps speed, with the upload speed bouncing in at 5.76 Mbps, both of which seem plausible in our tests - plus the lovely option of setting up your own Wi-Fi hotspot if you fancy chewing the battery in heartbeat.

HTC sensation review

HTC has chucked on quite a few options when it comes to connecting the phone up to the PC, with the main one being HTC Sync.

HTC sensation review

While this is more of an option to get your contacts and such backed up, it works well for keeping your calendar, document folder and even internet bookmarks safe should you lose your phone or transfer to a new one.

HTC sensation review

If you're after an easier way to get content across though, simply dragging and dropping media into the phone will work just as well - it zips across in no time at all, which is a blessing when you're getting movies ready for a long journey.

HTCSense.com

The HTC Sensation also offers connection to HTCSense.com, a portal that allows you to control your phone from afar.

If you leave your phone at home or misplace it, this website is designed to take the hassle out of that.

You can perform basic tasks like forwarding all your calls to another number and messages too - it works nicely and makes the hassle of people not being able to get hold of you a distant memory.

You can also ring the phone as loud as possible - it overrides the vibration setting as well, so even if you've turned the ringer off you can still hear where you've left your precious device.

HTC sensation review

But there's a lot more to this portal than just that - being able to send a message to your phone or lock it remotely means that if you think you're going to get it back you can protect it or entice someone to return it.

You can also see roughly where your phone is - handy if you think you might have left it at that restaurant across town but don't want to go over there on a wild goose chase.

And of course there's the remote wipe option, allowing you to protect any data that might fall into the wrong hands.

You can also see your messages and contacts on this offering as well, so make sure you sign up to the free service as soon as you get your shiny new Sensation out of the box to make sure it's easy to find it when you start panicking that last night's drunken fug resulted in a wasted £500.

Benchmarks

tablet benchmarks

HTC Sensation

How it rates against the rest - higher is better

S2

How we test

TechRadar aims to produce the most helpful phone reviews on the web, so you're able to make a more informed buying decision.

Part of this testing process includes benchmarking. It's a good way of measuring the overall performance of a product's internal hardware components.

We use Antutu System Benchmark to test tablets. It's a comprehensive Android benchmarking app and produces consistent results.

Antutu measures an Android device's CPU performance, 2D and 3D graphics performance, memory speed and internal and external storage read/write speeds. It combines the results for each test and gives the device a final score.

We test each device three times and take an average.

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HTC sensation review

HTC sensation review

HTC sensation review

HTC sensation review

HTC sensation review

HTC sensation review

HTC sensation review

HTC sensation review

HTC sensation review

HTC sensation review

HTC sensation review

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HTC sensation review

HTC sensation review

HTC sensation review

HTC sensation review

HTC sensation review

Verdict

HTC sensation review

We've been so excited about the power of the HTC Sensation ever since we heard rumblings that the company was making a dual-core handset - and we've not been let down.

What's annoying though is we weren't blown away, and that's mostly because there was nothing wrong with the speed of Sense before on the likes of the Desire HD or the first Desire.

Sure, we get new fancy animations and 3D graphics, but it's not the step change that we saw from the Galaxy S to the Galaxy S2, which is a compliment in a way to HTC.

We liked

This section of our HTC reviews is always well-stocked, and that's the case again here - we really like the HTC Sensation and it ticks all our boxes for the most part.

Be it the constantly impressive contact integration, the ability to download movies and books (although we need a wider selection for the former) and the sheer level of customisation means that the Sensation is a great phone for the general user.

The internet browsing speed is impressive over Wi-Fi, and the qHD screen is really impressive for video in the correct conditions.

The design is nice and stylish too, plus the power of the camera is clear to see for anyone that likes to dabble in a spot of Full HD video and share it on a larger screen.

HTC sensation review

We disliked

The big worry for the HTC Sensation is whether the battery life can hold up, and right now we don't think it can based on our review sample running out of juice by the evening without fail.

The screen quality is good, but not market-leading; if you're comparing it to something like the Samsung Galaxy S2's Super AMOLED Plus offering you'll notice a massive difference in quality at times.

The back cover to hot-swap the microSD card is very hard to get off, and the Sensation as a package is pretty chunky compared to the competition.

Verdict

Whether it's just that we're getting spoilt by the quality of the HTC range or that the brand simply can't innovate at the electric pace it managed when it made Android smartphones good enough for the masses, the HTC Sensation doesn't get our pulses racing like other models in its range have.

HTC Watch needs to a larger range of movies and TV shows before we can even begin to assess whether it's going to take off or not - and the price seems a little high at this early stage.

We love the Sense UI still, and the 'Unlock Ring' is a cool addition to the party - we still want the notifications to be more interactive, but overall it's still a neat idea.

The design of the phone is different and, in our eyes, pretty premium with the metallic feel and steel grill - the weight feels solid in the hand and the screen size is impressive and sharp.

It's still not one of HTC's best, but one we'd definitely recommend over a number of other phones in the marketplace and if you're an HTC fan or just looking to get one of the cutting-edge dual core devices, we suggest you seriously think about the HTC Sensation.

Thanks to Vodafone, which is initially exclusively stocking the HTC Sensation, for supplying our review unit.

HTC HTC Sensation Vodafone Android 2.3 Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread
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