Sunday , April 30 2017

HTC Sensation — Initial Thoughts

First off, this isn’t the HTC Sensation review — that’s coming in a few days once I’ve spent some more quality time with the device. For now I’m giving you my initial thoughts on what is to become HTC’s flagship device. Just like all phones it has its pros and cons, however: Sense UI is what really sets this device apart from all the other dual-cores currently on the market. So hit the break for my quick thoughts on what I think of the HTC Sensation so far.


Sense UI on the HTC Sensation is evidently all about flashy graphics and making everything look very appealing the user. Quite frankly, I hate it — I’m more all about just getting stuff done and not have graphics glowing or flying across the screen at me. HTC have put a tonne of work into Sense, just like they’ve done in the past, building on what they already have and making it far more resource intensive to attempt to hinder the Sensation’s performance. Considering there is a 1.2GHz dual-core CPU under the bonnet, it’s still quite jumpy when scrolling through the home screens and the app launcher.

We’ve always known Sense UI to be a more complete user interface (UI) in comparison to any other custom Android UI currently available. You’ve got tonnes of cool widgets that all look nice and do a great job at what they’re meant to do (show weather, texts, time, stocks, etc). Sense UI used to be what sucked me into HTC devices, now it’s kind of pushing me away; it’s all a bit too much.

I’ll get into more detail in the review, but for now: Sense UI is very resource intensive, has millions of shiny graphics that mimic 3D effects and is more user friendly for everyday consumers or first smartphone owners.


Update: My Sensation also suffers from the “death-grip” that’s hitting the blogosphere. Seems to almost completely kill wi-fi reception on my device.

The design.. Oh goodness me, the design! HTC needs to stop recreating the Nexus One. The Sensation doesn’t have to be as thick as it is, there’s plenty of bend in the back cover where there is empty space between it and the battery. That bend also makes it feel kind of cheap and it’s something that doesn’t happen on the SGSII. When you take off the back cover, it’s like you’re pulling the phone in half, the whole outer shell of the phone comes away from the front, this is mainly due to the unibody aluminium design to improve strength.

The qHD (960×540) Super LCD display is immaculate and blows the Atrix’s comparatively poor qHD display out of the water. Colours are far more vibrant on this display than they are on the Atrix though not as good as the SGSII, however the qHD resolution is a one-up over the WVGA (800×480) resolution of the Galaxy S II. Everything is very crisp thanks to those extra pixels and the display makes everything look like it has a little frost effect on it (seems the best way to describe it) which looks really nice also. So well done HTC on creating a great display, the glass atop of it though.. it’s annoying. The edges curve upwards for some reason, whether that’s to help the user feel where the edge of the screen is, I’m not too sure.

The camera appears to be doing a good job and the instant-shot feature is bliss. Just knowing you’ve taken the picture you saw when you pressed the shutter is what you need to have on a camera. Video recording also works well and I’ll have some sample video in the review.

Final Summation

You may think I’m being harsh to the Sensation; I’m not, I’m being hard on it because HTC don’t seem to want to innovate the design of their phones and their UI is chewing through battery and CPU like it’s going out of fashion.

Ed: What we would like to see HTC do is stop renovating – Sense UI smacks of this – and start innovating again. For so long trailblazers in the Android smartphone space, they’re now just keeping up…

I certainly don’t see this phone being good the savvy Android user, unless you’re going to root and ROM it when that becomes available in the future. The Sensation is absolutely geared towards the average consumer who likes flashy graphics and a spruced up spec sheet.


Buzz Moody  

  • Anonymous

    Fair enough, honest good feedback…. First thing I would do is load up Go Launcher or LauncherPro…

    • Morkai

      yeah this would be interesting in the final review, any chance you could add in something like that Buzz? comparitive performance with another launcher? pwetty pweeeeeeeease?

      • O’ alright! 😉

        • Anonymous

          Damn had to twist your arm there hey! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Buzz, turn a few sence things off to see if that improves things in your review. Like getting rid of that stupid weather widget as it makes a mark difference when that is not running.

  • Etherspin

    these are excellent criticisms,I bought a hero (my first android phone) after seeing fluid animations put out by HTC of how sense operated… well, that was BS, it would have animated it as smoothly as the animations if the hero shipped clocked at 1Ghz instead of about 380mhz.. sense made the device more sluggish than it needed to be.Finally we are seeing devices where sense should run smoother than warmed butter (dual core, past 1ghz each) at higher resolutions but HTC have opted to add more polish like that carousel effect on the homescreens, its as if they aren’t content when the phone actually runs well and need to bog it down.
    and yes, this needs to be thinner and more lightweight.HTC needs to hear this and get back in the game!

  • Darren

    Great to hear your first thoughts on the phone. I understand your reaction to Sence UI and like others you have moved on. I look forward to your longer look and review.   

  • Interested to hear your thoughts on the death grip in everyday situations… The vids on the blogs shows people holding it flat on their palm. Can’t imagine too many times holding it like that. How is it holding it less ridiculously?

    Gotta agree on sense ui from all vids I have seen of it. I have never liked sense due to it being a massive resource hog. Funnily enough I had a guy on whirlpool arguing with me that everyone knows that sense ui is less of a high than even lpp.

  • Completely agree on the Sense UI. 

    It is very attractive at first glance, it actually is what drew me to Android in the first place (my first Android phone was the HTC Hero, the first phone with Sense UI). 

    I was a big Sense UI fan until I got to try vanilla Android, and spent some time on it. Fact is, for every app and widget that comes with Sense UI, there is a better alternative out there, usually free. The camera app looks nice at first, until you come across so many other camera apps with so much more features. The widgets are nice at first glance, until you come across beautiful widget and fancy widgets, which are infinitely more customisable and less resource hungry. The twitter app is just pathetic, why does HTC insist on having their own twitter app is beyond me. Launcher Pro and ADW are far better launchers, and there are even better diallers out there. I even hate what they do to the browser… the stock browser is more usable and faster… you get the idea.

    For a first-time Android user, I can see the appeal of Sense UI. It’s comfy and provides many things without having to dig around. But the fact that they can’t get this thing running smoothly and efficiently is the major letdown. I wouldn’t mind it so much if it wasn’t such a resource hog. 

    Can you imagine if the bootloader ever gets unlocked, what running vanilla AOSP Android on a dual core 1.2 Ghz phone will be like? Speaking of which, Buzz, can you do some investigation and let us know if this thing has a locked and encrypted bootloader? Peter Chou has said that their devices will not be locked in future, I wonder if the Sensation counts as ‘future’ or not.

    Alas… flashy graphics and sprucced up spec sheet is what most customers are after. I can’t really blame HTC for the direction they’ve taken with Sense UI, but it’s a pity that form is winning over function. You are absolutely right that HTC is not innovating anymore. For me, my HTC Desire will probably be my last HTC device, unless they make the next Nexus phone or change directions with Sense. 

  • jivemaster

    These dual core phones will scream once hardware acceleration comes in ice cram sandwich. Until then, they will indeed continue to lag. Qhd is where it’s at, manufacturers need to bring this to all new’s time to move on from 800×480.

    Sensation’s builds is far better than sgs2. I agree that all these htc phones are starting to look the same, but it’s htc’s established style. Samsung make the same looking phones, as do motorola. Why change something when it ain’t broke. Htc phones are the most distinguishable of all android handsets. You can spot them almost as easily as iPhones.

    Sgs2 might be easily hackable but has severe gaming limitations, and it’s res is last gen.

    Definitely get a sensation over an sgs2. It’s truly next gen.

    • Sachmojo

      Severe gaming limitations? From a performance point of view the SGS2 beats the Sensation in pretty much all benchmarks. And it has more RAM. Any gaming compatibility issues will no doubt be fixed because globally, the SGS2 will sell an absurd amount of handsets as did the original SGS. If a qHD screen means next gen to you, then so be it, but in every other way the SGS2 leaves the Sensation in the rearview mirror, and it was released ealier!

  • Anonymous

    Buzz, the Sensation has a signed bootloader. That means you’re not going to be able to flash a custom ROM on to the device, root is still possible.

    • Correct, however HTC are reviewing their policy on the locked bootloader, which may lead to them unlocking the Sensation.

      • HTC Already reviewed there policy and went back on the bootloader… but no news about already locked devices being unlocked but this is HTC response to XDA’s mushweed in regards to getting the boatloader unlocked

        “We are currently developing new bootloader unlocked software for your phone. HTC is still committed to allowing our customers to unlock the bootloaders if they wish, however we are still implementing the policy and many updates were already finalized prior to our change in policy. We apologize for the inconvenience, but be assured that we are working on a solution for our customers and our commitment has not changed. Please stay tuned to our official channels for ongoing updates on how we will be implementing this policy.”

    • Ozivillan

      There are some sensations out there with a unlocked bootloader

  • Level380

    “The Sensation is absolutely geared towards the average consumer who likes flashy graphics and a spruced up spec sheet.”

    Hmm spruced up in most area other than the internal storage area 1.5 -> 1 GB (DHD vs Sen)…. Why isnt there an 8/16/32/64/128gb versions of this phone!?

    • because HTC feel that you don’t need a lot of onboard storage as you can slap a 32GB micro sd card in it.

      personally it is a small sacrifice for a great device (once great not sure about these new HTC’s) SGS and SGS2 are the only phones i would consider over a HTC and i’m just waiting for them to go the way of the tab 10.1/v

      i’m holding out for the MSM8270/MSM8960 Generation of HTC phones before choosing though as the Nexus S (custom rom) Vs SGS2 (Custom rom) is faster i don’t think i will make the mistake of Tegra 2

  • qldsparky

    Do any of these new phones from mobicity (HTC Sensation or Samsung Galaxy S II) have any telco software on them or are they clean??? HTC and Samsung software only. I sent a request to mobicity early yesterday-still no reply 🙁

    • Neither the SGSII or Sensation that I’ve received from MobiCity had carrier software on them.

      • qldsparky

        thanks 🙂

  • MrSimtang

    Hmm very strong words about the Sensation, but good you’re being honest.

    Nothing wrong about stating what you dislike about the phone, and I applaud you for doing this with the SGSII and other smart phones.

    I’ve had issues with HTC phones for a while now (each phone looking like a clone of their previous model, not a huge fan of Sense and Sense 3.0 looks like a massive resource hog), but I’ll wait to read your full review. Your reviews are one of the few that I’d actually take into consideration (Even though I’ve bought the SGSII, I read so many ass-kissing SGSII reviews that didn’t state any negatives. Couldn’t get an objective opinion. Really annoying).

    Awaiting the full review. Please keep it honest.

  • Petegraham

    Glad I opted for the sgs2 .. one thing I hate is overdone grahpics on recycled UI .. in the end it was the lack of onboard storage that lost it for me and made me chose the sgs2 .. I’m glad I did

  • Ozivillan

    got one being delivered for $530 can’t grumble at that price what ever problems it has, can’t be no worse than the Optimus 2x i had, just can’t bring myself to purchase a samsung over HTC no matter how good it is 

    • G L


      • Ozivillan

        Tandomobile $567us delivered (fedex) mines on route estimated arrival fri will let you know if it is a phone or a lump of wood in the box when it gets here  😛

        • very tempting indeed!

        • ended up buying one from there too, $575 AUD delivered. and now the worst part, the wait!

    • Sachmojo

      Can’t bring yourself to purchase a Samsung over an HTC but you previously had an LG? hmmm…

      • Ozivillan

        Yeah didn’t have a problem purchasing the LG reading the reviews prior to release Of the phone LG were again producing a phone with good build quality. If I wanted to buy a cheap plastic iphone looking phone I would have purchased the SGS II

  • Anonymous


    Quote “Oh goodness me, the design! HTC needs to stop recreating the Nexus One”

    You could say that about Samsung when it come to physical design. Not changed much between models

  • Mlap56

    obviously whoever wrote this is an idiot. HTC is the FASTEST most RELIABLE and TECHNOLOGICALLY ADVANCED company on the market right now. every phone and company has its issues including the iPhone. Just because a person with the ability to review it and offer insight doesnt mean the other 80 million people with cellphones wont like it or the sense. Phone companies build and design phones with features that allow you to UPGRADE each wdget, app, and program associated with the phone. They give you the 8 megapixels, the gb’s, the processor, but its all about how YOU build your phone.  Android was built to let YOU take hardware and build it with the software that pertains to YOU to make YOUR everyday functions, work, and life as pleasurable and/or serious as possible. If phones were suppossed to be perfect there would be no iOS or AndroidOS. This article is horrific, and the writer obviously is just as mind consumed with apple as every other consumer on the market and for what? to over pay for everything, see it on a small screen, and “brag”.. give me a break

    • Sachmojo

      HTC fanboy much?

      If you had any idea about the writer or this site instead of just stumbling on it on Google you’d know this is an ANDROID site made by and for android enthusiasts. Any comparisons made are with OTHER android phones, in this case most likely the SGS2. 

      Get back in your hole.

  • Anonymous

    Hi everyone, let me share some personal generalised feedback for you from an outsiders perspective.

    It was my turn to do the big phone upgrade, and I was going to go for the most current and the best of the best. By this I mean, anything but an iphone (Baaaa go the sheep).

    Originally watching and waiting for the Desire HD yodrop in price so I can buy outright. 
    I did extensive reasearch daily/weekly/and monthly on the forums online for over 6 months, checking networking sites and blogs. (No way in heck was I going to get a new contract with Vodafail. I’d rather a sulpheric acid enema!).

    As DHD (A9191) got cheaper, newer and better models were released, and the new possibilities of phones were leaked ( via WMC ), and excitement stirred. 

    So now as all these stunning phones started showing their face and competing for the best phone, I put my money on the HTC Sensation, and awaited the pre-release.

    My decision was down the path of the Sensation..or the SGS II. I preferred the design of the HTC, the weight/shape/aesthetics, the Sense (yes I have played with a few DHD’s now), and it just appealed on many facets.

    I ordered the HTC Sensation via mobicity and was rubbing my hands together because I now finally playing with the big boys phones, and stepping up to the plate of “super-smart phones”.

    2 days before my order arrives…the
    Galaxy S II vs. Sensation vs. Optimus 3D vs. Atrix article comes out and I’m still pleased with my decision. HTC was up there, the phone I wanted was on it’s way to me.

    1 day before my phone arrives…I see the “death grip” update first….ok, slight nervousness now and wondering, should I have gone the SGS II despite my wanting for the HTC?
    (I have also played with the SGS2, and didn’t mind it…but it just wasn’t feeling right.)
    Don’t get me wrong, the Samsung phone has the AMOLED, and was smooth in the menus…but the heart said otherwise.

    Then I see some of the comments underneath, most was negative feedback, and I almost soiled myself and considered sending the HTC back upopened, getting the SGS2 to replace it.

    Heck….I opened it anyway.
    I’m going to be blatently honest here. The Sensation ain’t all that bad. I gave it a decent charge overnight and setup took all of 4-5 mins. This included transferring all my contacts/calendars/and messages via bluetooth. All of this before I even put the SIM in.

    I personally didn’t find any issues with the menus, they were fluid enough and responsive where required. Slightly overwhelmed by all the extra flashy graphics with the weather.
    I know that the top of a cloud is going to look pretty similar to the bottom. That part is a little unnecessary.

    Camera is great, it exceeds the expectations and I think it is the just a little more responsive than Samsungs.  
    Apart from that the only negative I can really say is the battery life. I have turned off the automatic roaming which helps significantly.

    Apps so far run brilliantly smooth, and this shows off some of the true raw power HTC is capable of.

    Now as for the death-grip….sure if you are going to cup it in both hands or hold it like a relay baton, any phone with an antennae is going to drop reception. Especially Wi-Fi. Heck, I had that a few years ago with a Nokia N95 8Gb.
    Holding the phone sideways playing games, does not have any effect on the reception.

    I’m sure HTC will fix the bootloader issue too so that the Sensation doesn’t become the “inconvenienced one of a kind” phone.

    Without playing favourites, the Samsung yes is a great phone….but so is the HTC.
    I may do a few vids and more detailed explainations to offer if you are keen.

    I’m happy with the decision made in keeping it.

  • Ozivillan

    phone arrived  from Tandomobile, from order to delivery 3 days, extras in the package included 2gb sd card, (no sd card in the phone which the quick guide says there is) screen protector (for incredible S) and aus power adaptor, mine shipped with a UK plug (HTC), others who ordered from Tandmobile received a HK plug (HTC), Total cost inc FeDeX shipping $567usd lovely looking phone, comfy in the hand and a breeze to set up and get going, and so nice not to have a phone rebooting and freezing (optimus 2x) every few hours, looking forward to customising the phone in it’s current locked state and hopefully soon with new roms when the phone is unlocked

  • craig

    How many bloody days does it take to write a review about a phone?

    • You’re an idiot.

      Aww no… poor faggot.

      • craig

        As ever, there are aggro fckwits like you trolling blogs. How do you get the words idiot and faggott out of me wondering why it takes 1 day to write Initial Thoughts, and a week and counting for a full review? You’d be on Youtube using the same terms to describe someone else’s favourite band or whatever too. Only when you’ve taken time out from masturbating at your laptop though.

        • Davoftw

          Just give poor young buzz some air, the poor fellas going through vce. For him to balance his flat out school life and work on this rapidly growing site is a true effort.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed, no more nexus one’s please HTC.
    And some decent batteries would be nice however I don’t think they have to ‘revamp’ sense. People seem to like it and they have added a lot of features over the years, sure the battery / ram hog issues should be fixed though.

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