This is already the 3rd dual-core Android smartphone we’ve reviewed and still the HTC Sensation got me excited as much as the first two did. Check out our full review and verdict on the HTC Sensation after the jump.
HTC has never failed to impress us with their signature handset designs. It’s got the same form factor as the Desire HD, only slimmer and sexier. It doesn’t have a unibody design but that allows you access to user-replaceable batteries.
Here our quick familiarization video of the HTC Sensation:
There are no physical buttons at the front panel, just touch-sensitive icons (same as the Desire HD). Power button is found on the top side along with the 3.5mm audio port. The volume rocker is found on the left side together with the micro-USB port.
At the back is the 8MP camera with dual-LED flash and the SRS speakers. Access to the battery and the SIM card is also from the back panel, split in three plates of varying shades of brown.
The large singular sheet of glass that serves for the display curves inwards along the edges (much like a concave glass). This helps the screen avoid contact with any surface when placed facing down (I normally do that when on a meeting or don’t want to be disturbed by SMS) — and hopefully also avoid possible accidental scratches (though the Gorilla Glass should do its job in that department).
Over-all build and construction is very good, has a bit of a heft to it and not that very slippery on the hands. The display is also almost at the edge (with very thin bezel left) so the screen real estate is maximized. HTC must have looked at the Desire HD’s shortcomings and built the Sensation from there.
And, unlike the relatively low resolution of the Desire HD, the Sensation’s 4.3-inch screen packs 540×960 pixel resolution so the display is more crisp and clear (and you can hardly see the flickering of the pixels in the screen even at very close inspection).
The Super LCD screen is bright and display vivid colors, much like what we’ve seen on the Desire S. It’s not as nice as Super AMOLED but for most of the time, you can’t really see any difference between the two (I’ve observed this with the HTC Desire on SLCD and AMOLED).
The HTC Sensation’s specs are way up there in the smartphone hierarchy, along with the Samsung Galaxy S2 which is its closest competitor.
HTC Sensation specs:
4.3 inches @ 540 x 960 pixels
1.2 GHz dual-core processor
Adreno 220 GPU
Qualcomm MSM 8260 Snapdragon
Gorilla glass display
HTC Sense v3.0 UI
1 GB storage, 768 MB RAM
up to 32GB via microSD, 8GB included
HSDPA 14.4 Mbps, HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, WiFi hotspot
Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP
8MP autofocus camera, dual-LED flash
1080p @ 30fps video, stereo sound recording
GPS with A-GPS support
Li-Ion 1520 mAh
Android 2.3 Gingerbread
One thing that I found a bit inadequate is the internal storage. While most other smartphones of this caliber would come with 8GB or 16GB (up to 32GB in some) internal storage, the HTC Sensation only comes with 1GB. Good thing they included an 8GB microSD card in the box.
Performance of the handset is impressive — apps load faster, screen and navigation is responsive, camera launches very quickly, web browser renders pages fast and the device plays full HD 1080p movies very smoothly.
Our Quadrant benchmark gives the HTC Sensation a total score of 2033. Our SGS2 Quadrant score was 2622 but that was just pre-release model running 1GHz so I’m sure the scores will be higher on the current release model (I’m seeing around 3,207 for other results of SGS2 benchmark).
The HTC Sense 3.0 UI is even spiffier — lots of animation and transition effects, more intuitive and comes with more HTC widgets. The screen un-lock mechanism now involves a ring that you slide up.
The UI also allows for quick access to a maximum of 4 features which you can drag the ring into to instantly activate. Use this for frequently accessed functions like SMS, phone, camera and mail (or some other apps you like).
The Sense UI is undoubtedly the best Android UI we’ve ever used and the HTC Sense 3.0 brings it up a notch, pushing the gap further away from all other Android manufacturers.
The 8MP camera on the HTC Sensation is arguably the best camera we’ve ever used and/or reviewed on any HTC phone. The lens focuses very well, locks on the subject in a jiffy and captures it quite fast. I would not dare say it’s the best but it’s very close to what the iPhone 4 and the Galaxy S2 can get. There’s no dedicated camera here though so using the on-screen button can get a little cumbersome sometimes.
The photos are crisp and the images are well saturated. Let’s just allow the sample photos to speak for themselves, shall we:
Here are sample videos taken using the Sensation. It’s only at 720p (forgot to set it at 1080p, will post more when I can) but that should give you a good idea how good the video recording is.
The speakers at the back of the device does a good job in the sound quality department — the volume range is not too loud but once you activate the SRS Surround Sound, that’s when the sound is more powerful, clean and with solid bass.
Battery life isn’t impressive but if you’ve been using any HTC handset before, you might have gotten used to it. I’m getting between 24 hours to 36 hours on regular use — calls, SMS, Twitter, Foursquare, Dropbox and a bit of browsing over WiFi. The 1520mAh Li-Ion battery is pretty standard and it’s already a known fact that smartphones of this caliber need to be re-charge almost on a daily basis.
The HTC Sensation is definitely a great phone, both specs-wise and design-wise. HTC’s tight integration of hardware and software, especially with HTC Sense, is what separates it from all other Android smartphones out there.
The handset retails for Php31,990 in stores but you should be able to get it as low as Php28,000 in some. The HTC Sensation is on the running as one of the best smartphones for 2011, just like what the HTC Desire did a year ago.