HTC Sensation review
A well-built Android phone with plenty of power and a slick UI, but it just isn’t as good as the Samsung Galaxy S II in the vital areas
Review Date: 3 Jun 2011
Reviewed By: Mike Jennings
Price when reviewed: Free, on a £25.00 per month, 24 months contract.
Features & Design
Value for Money
HTC isn’t shy when it comes to naming its phones, with the Hero, Desire, Legend and Incredible now joined by the equally bombastic Sensation. This confidence works when the phone displays a level of quality to match the name, but the Samsung Galaxy S II has raised the bar for Android phones. HTC’s new flagship has some serious catching up to do.
The Sensation gets off to a good start, partnering Android 2.3 with the Sense 3 interface, as seen on HTC’s Flyer tablet. The most obvious enhancement is an overhaul to the lock screen: gone is the swiping bar, replaced by a metal-effect ring that peeks out from the bottom of the screen. Pull the ring upwards and the phone unlocks with a slick, spinning animation.
There's space for four user-defined app icons on the lock screen, and dragging one into the ring will unlock the phone directly into the app. The lock screen now supports widgets, too, with Friend Stream, weather information, basic music controls and several others available. Alas, they can’t be dragged for direct opening in the same way.
Other changes are subtle. Scrolling between home screens uses a 3D animation, the Connected Media app allows for DLNA connectivity, and the notification bar shows memory usage and can kill persistent apps.
The rest remains the same, which means some widgets and apps are beginning to look a little long in the tooth. Friend Stream and Peep have barely changed from previous incarnations, and they’re best replaced by alternatives from the Android Market. And the Galaxy S II outstrips the Sensation in some areas, particularly its Kies Air wireless syncing tool.
The other obvious difference is the screen. The Sensation’s 4.3in diagonal is the same as the Samsung, but with a sharper 540 x 960 resolution. The 16:9 aspect ratio is better for media than the 15:9 screen of the Samsung, as images don't need to be resized to fit the panel, but it makes for awkward stretching in apps designed for standard 480 x 800 screens.
Close but no cigar
Pity. When I saw the screen resolution I was hoping for the best. The first manufacturer to produce a high resolution super AMOLED screeen gets my money. Might just buy a GSII while I'm waiting lol.
By Scottbag on 3 Jun 2011
Where's the buttons and trackball?
One of the reasons I chose the Desire, was it had physical buttons, and an optical trackball. How do you navigate in a text message or email composition screen, poke and hope? OK if you have dainty fingers, but not if you have big man hands.
By Stonedecroze on 3 Jun 2011
I think the SGSII will have the same as my SGS when you tap on the text you get a button like icon you can drag to any where in the text even with large fingers like mine.
Sorry if thats not good description but drop in a phone shop and try it, makes editing text really easy.
By bazzer on 4 Jun 2011
Benchmarks, Benchmark, Benchmarks.......
What the reviewer either fails to realise or inform us is that the benchmarks run include tests on the graphical systems of these phones.
With that in mind and given that the Sensation has a higher resolution (hence more pixels to calculate) than the SGSII, it is unsurprising that the benchmark scores are lower than the SGSII.
If you put the same screen in to the SGSII, the scores would be lower.
And conversely, if you put the SGSII AMOLED screen in to the Sensation the scores would be higher.
I'm not saying they are equal, just that other factors need to be taken in to consideration here.
By brunop on 8 Jun 2011
Review Sites are Rigged
The guy obviously only used the phone for half an hour.
Camara does have macro.
Build quality far better than Samsung.
Tells up that screen interface is great, but actually, after a few days it goes all funny. Malfunctions and is too sensitive other times. A known problem - do a search.
Cut Samsung's not without problems either it seems.
By MRcrimbo on 6 Aug 2011
I bought one last week. It is very nice. I miss the live tiles from my WP7 Mozart, but it is way better than my iPhone.
iOS has gone badly down hill in recent times and WP7 was much better, but refused to communicate with out Exchange Server (it is very serious about security and won't communicate when the server certificate is invalid, Android and iOS tell you it is invalid, but let you continue) and Audible don't currently support it.
With the Sensation, I get a decent OS, decent hardware and Audible support and access to my business e-mail.
I've now forwarded the company SIM to my private number and just use the Sensation.
First the negatives:
- No sync between Windows and Android for podcasts and audio books - I use WinAmp, which syncs the physical files, but it doesn't seem to sync the position in the podcast. Audible is the same, syncing of audio books work, but the place within the book isn't synced.
- The "media" buttons aren't available on the lock screen (pause/play) as standard, again, Winamp solves this problem.
- Battery life was pretty poor the first couple of days (less than 24 hours), but turning off the GPS has boosted that to a comfortable 2 - 3 days.
- Recharging is very slow, compared to the iPhone, over USB.
+ Sense 3.0 is a nice skin for Android.
+ The sunken display feels odd to start with, but helps against scratches or dropping it display down.
+ Flashing lights... Somehting that really annoyed me about the iPhone, when somebody has called and you missed the call, you were only aware of it, if you turned on the screen. With Android, like WP7, Blackberry etc. you get a blinking LED to tell you that a mail, call, SMS or other message is waiting. A small thing, but a big plus over iOS.
+ Better than the Galaxy SII. My boss has the SII and I much prefer the Sensation. It feels more solid in the hand, Sense looks better and the Samsung just feels cheap in the hand, so much plastic. At the end of the day, it is a personal thing, but the Sensation oozes quality, compared to the Galaxy. The display on the Galaxy is a bit brighter, but I'd still take the Sensation over the Galaxy every time.
By big_D on 4 Sep 2011
I forgot to say on my original post, that compared to the htc Mozart, the loudspeaker doesn't appear as good or loud.
I spend a fair amount of time listening to podcasts & audio books over the loudspeaker, so it is something I notice.
By big_D on 7 Sep 2011
Network Connection Reliability
I find it odd that for any other device with a wireless connection, there are numerous tests carried out to indicate how well they connect to those networks. But for smartphones, which depend entirely on wireless connectivity, in fact this is the justification for them existing, there are no quantifiable tests at all. Its unimportant that a phone can connect to 4 differing wifi networks, if they all stop when you hold the phone or stand more than a few feet from the router. A major factor in buying is how good the phone is at receiving data from the network carrier, but again no test. Battery life is also a critical issue, stating the manufacturers claimed 2 week standby time is just not credible. If you can't call a taxi after work because you had facebook active on a weak data signal in the office is both relevant and a problem faced by many users. It would also be handy to know the firmware build for the phone under test. If you've got a HTC on android then the effect of the OS version on network performance and battery life is significant. Its not that I don't like your reviews, in fact they are probably as unbiased as you can find, but I would prefer to see a few more quantifiables on the items listed, as these are certainly things that affect my decision regarding what to buy.
By EngUser on 6 Oct 2011
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