Thursday , June 29 2017

HTC Sensation — Review

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding the HTC Sensation since it was first announced back in April, and for good reason; it’s HTC’s first dual-core device that will hopefully push them to the forefront of high-end devices once again. I can tell you now, that’s not the case. HTC seems to have given up on the hardcore Android users that pushed them to their current success and instead have turned to the average consumers who want flashy looking phones with colourful animations and absolute user-friendliness and I applaud HTC for that. So hit the break for my rundown of the HTC Sensation.

Pros..

  • The qHD, Super TFT display — close to the best out there
  • Sense UI is extremely user friendly for first-timers
  • Instant-capture camera function, excellent video quality
  • Fairly snappy 1.2GHz dual-core CPU

Cons..

  • Not the greatest design, feels heavy
  • “death-grip” does kill Wi-Fi in some normal use
  • HTC have their own channel in the Market which removes the “your apps” icon

Hardware..

The Sensation ticks all the boxes when it comes to high-end hardware, you’ve got the 1.2GHz Dual-Core CPU, 8MP Camera w/ 1080p video, 4.3″ qHD Super TFT display as well as a fairly speedy 14.4Mbit downlink connection over 3G, depending on your network of course. The design of the Sensation is very sleek and good looking, especially with its uni-body aluminium back cover. Below the 4.3″ qHD display are 4 capacitive buttons: home, menu, back and search; above the screen is a VGA front-facing camera, ambient light and proximity sensors, and the phone speaker. There’s nothing on the left side of the device, which curves to fit nicely in your hand; on the right hand side is the volume rocker and micro-USB input which is for charging and outputting video via MHL. The power button and 3.5mm headphone jack sit at the top of the Sensation.

It weighs a fair bit heavier than the Galaxy S II thanks to the aluminium in its structure. There is a fair placing of plastic on the Sensation as well which is used to dissipate the heat that is produced by the dual-core CPU. The design also has its flaws, such as when your hand covers the Wi-Fi antennas on the rear of the device will cause Wi-Fi signal to drop and sometimes even cut out, this does happen in real-world use and you hold the phone in landscape mode with two hands on the rear of the device. Annoying.

Display..

Oh my goodness… The display on the Sensation is top-notch and in a way I think it’s the best screen in any current Android device, though I could be pushing the limits a bit there. Measuring in at 960×540 over a 4.3″ display, you get some pretty nice pixel density — 266ppi to be exact — and it’s extremely evident, small text is sharp, icons and images look superb and the colour production is quite nice, if not a bit washed out, which is to be expected of TFT. Colours aren’t as saturated as those on the Galaxy S II (powered by Super AMOLED +) and blacks aren’t as black, but it can certainly hold its own.

The glass over the display is curved upwards on the edges to leave a gap between the screen and any surfaces which may scratch it when lying face-down. The screen is actually not as wide as the Galaxy S II, but taller which gives you the 4.3″ measurement. HTC have also limited through their software, the number simultaneous touches on the screen, that being 4 at any one time compared to 10 on the Galaxy S II.

With this screen HTC are well in front of the qHD race, with the Atrix being abysmal and no one else really pushing qHD outside of America. However, I see Sony Ericsson and Samsung being massive competition to HTC on the qHD front in the near future, with Sony Ericsson’s Bravia Display technology making their screens look beautiful and Samsung’s Super AMOLED + is outstanding.

CPU..

Under the hood of the Sensation is Qualcomm’s first Dual-Core Snapdragon CPU which has been underclocked from 1.5GHz to 1.2GHz to increase battery life and reduce heat. It’s certainly not slow as it powers through whatever task you throw at it. Some consideration of speed also has to be given the qHD display it has to power as well as the resource hungry Sense UI which caused most of the slowdowns on the device.

We’ve also included some Quadrant and Neocore benchmarks in the benchmarking part of the review down the page a little further.

Camera..

There’s an 8MP shooter on the rear of the Sensation, which sits next to two LEDs, and a VGA camera at the front for video calls and all that good stuff. The quality of the rear camera is top-notch and the instant-capture feature is freakin’ amazing. Just to be able to take the photo of what you’re looking at the exact moment you hit the on-screen shutter button is great.

Video records at 1080p (1920×1080) @ 30fps and records audio in stereo thanks to the two microphones on the Sensation. If anything I do think the quality of the video recording is better than that of the Galaxy S II, but that’s subjective. As always there are some samples below.

[nggallery id=79]

Battery

There’s only a 1520mAh battery on the back of the Sensation and it drains the life out of it fairly quickly. After leaving home at 7AM each morning and getting home at around 3:30PM, I would have to put it straight on the charger after that period of time with pretty intensive use (syncing, music, browsing). I don’t think HTC realise that with such a powerful processor pushing out enough to power a qHD display, it would need a lot of juice. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Telephony..

Surely we can phase this part of out of reviews? The Sensation makes and takes calls perfectly. There’s a second mic for noise cancelling which is an absolute must on phones these days, so it’s nice to see HTC putting it there. In call volume is clear and loud and the loudspeaker is exactly that.

The Sensation, in its current form, supports 14.4Mbit HSDPA and 7.56Mbit HSUPA which isn’t quite HSPA+ speeds and useless on Optus’ 7.2Mbit network, though I did peak at 7Mbit down fairly regularly during my time with the device.

Software

Sense UI is the kind of User Interface you either love or you hate with a passion, despite that, I feel that Sense UI v3.0 is extremely well designed and implemented. It’s all about flashy graphics, pseudo-3D widgets and overall making things easier and more appealing for the end user. For that reason I see the HTC Sensation being more aimed at the less tech-savvy user, not that there’s anything wrong with that; I applaud HTC for making such a high-end device that’s easy and appealing to use for the average consumer, but as we’re a site aimed at the more tech-savvy end of the consumer scale, I don’t know how many of you guys/girls would appreciate the over-done interface. Everything spins, flashes, twirls, glows and half the time you’re flying through clouds on the lockscreen, wallpaper or weather application.

The weather & clock widget on the home screen also makes weather-based sounds whenever you unlocked the device (outside of silent mode) which can be either irritating or a cool little gimmick. There are seven home screens, and you’re limited to that amount, so if you’re a massive fan of widgets and icons you may find yourself replacing Sense with a Launcher from the Android Market. The best part of Sense UI is that nearly everything is interactive, such as the messaging, email and twitter widgets, so that you can look through your interactions with others by swiping through the widgets on the home screen.

There is a downside to a UI this resource intensive: it tends to slow the device down at times, and with a 1.2GHz dual-core it’s hard to imagine why this still happens. When downloading and installing applications off the Android Market that phone comes to an almost complete stop, which is something that I’ve had happen on nearly every device I’ve used that had Sense UI on it. Even some of the HTC-built apps can get a little sluggish. But overall there aren’t a lot of HTC-built apps and everything downloaded off the market was nice and snappy for me.

As with nearly all HTC phones, the keyboard is once again top-notch. It responds quicker and more accurately than any other stock keyboard I’ve used and that’s been the case since the first keyboard on the HTC Hero back in the day. I did have to turn haptic feedback off though as it wouldn’t always vibrate when you hit a key, making it feel like you’ve missed a character when you actually had not.

Benchmarking..

Just remember that the Sensation is pushing out a much higher resolution that all of the phones below expect for the Atrix which also has a qHD display.

  Neocore (Frames/sec) Quadrant (Higher = better)
HTC Desire 28.1 1240
Xperia Play 59.8 1351
Xperia Arc 58.3 1579
Motorola Atrix 54.1 2801
Galaxy S II 59.8 3428
Sensation 57.8 1968

Conclusion..

I enjoyed using the Sensation, not as much as I thought I would though. I see the Sensation as a real competitor against the Galaxy S II but in the same way they’re both very different, but that’s the great thing about Android, you get all this choice. The Sensation is a bloody great phone for those that like a good looking device, with a solid-metal feel and a user interface that’s extremely intuitive and at some points, a little over-the-top. The Galaxy S II is a work horse that gets the job done without looking pretty. A major downside for a lot of our readers in regards to the Sensation is that it currently has a locked bootloader, however that is meant to be unlocked in the future sometime by HTC.

The battery life isn’t there, the user interface and looks are there, and it’s just what appeals to you the most between these two amazing dual-core devices. I’m a fan of both; best of both worlds.

 

Buzz Moody  

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25 Comments on "HTC Sensation — Review"

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Eddy
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Eddy
Just got one of these after having a couple of iPhones over the last few years.  The battery is so bad I’m wondering whether I’ve got a lemon and thinking of taking it back to see about a new one.  I’ve been in meetings all day yesterday and today, and consequently only made one or two short calls each day, plus email syncing etc.  Both days the phone was nigh on dead by 4pm, after coming off the charger around 8am.  Totally unacceptable. It’s such a pity, because I’ve been really looking forward to getting an Android device.  Now it… Read more »
Luke
Valued Guest
Luke

Hi Eddy your battery probably needs to be calibrated first. Try Googling about this, basically the battery should be run complete flat then recharged. Over time the phone is calibrated to the battery. E.g. http://forums.techarena.in/portable-devices/1418855.htm

Eddy
Valued Guest
Eddy

Luke, thanks heaps for that, I’ll give it a go.

Luke
Valued Guest
Luke

No problems. Seems like a HTC thing, a friend had a Desire HD that took awhile for the battery to last a day, but now runs fine.

LongWittyUsername
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LongWittyUsername

Above the benchmark table, the sentence reads:
“much higher resolution that all of the phones below expect for the Atrix”
Should be except. Just in case you want to edit. Great review!  

Anonymous
Valued Guest
Anonymous

I am a little confused by your description of the device as having a “uni-body aluminium back cover”. Surely the ‘uni-body’ description can only apply to a phone such as the HTC Legend; the back AND front are one piece.
This phone has a separate back cover.

You are also being a tad kind to HTC re the battery; they know fine well that their batteries are inadequate. That they continue to pump out phones with limited ‘mobile’ capability is a cynical, cost-saving excercise. That people continue to buy them is beyond my comprehension…

Tomas Donovic
Valued Guest

I don’t think that it is a cost thing, a 400mah bigger battery would not cost a company which ships that many phones that much. It is more of a size thing, I would say. They want to keep their devices as thin as possible, unlike the atrix.

anon
Valued Guest
anon

hmm, I don’t think video image quality from the Sensation are better than the SGS2.  For starters, it’s recording at a lower bitrate, and it’s also storing video using the 3GP container instead of MP4.  Sound would be better because it’s stereo of course.

Source: http://www.gsmarena.com/htc_sensation_vs_galaxy_sii_vs_optimus_2x-review-608p4.php

Craig Durkee
Valued Guest

No thats what I call a comprehensive review/comparison.

That website is so much more thorough than most  

Ozivillan
Valued Guest
Ozivillan

Tandomobile now have this phone for $524 + $20 FeDeX shipping (3 days), some phones have shipped with a 2gb card but recent purchasers have been getting the 8gb sd card, also comes with AUS power adapter, it’s a fantastic phone and at that price it’s even better

keyna wilkins
Valued Guest
keyna wilkins

Tandomobile only have a 48 hr warranty? bit dodgy isn’t it?

Ozivillan
Valued Guest
Ozivillan

I think that is tando’s DOA warranty, you still get HTC’s 12 month warranty. tando also sell via ebay slightly more expensive but it does state on there that the phone comes with 12 months warranty  

Marcus Grimes
Valued Guest

yeah i ordered a card in preperation for when my phone got here and then mine came with 8gb anyway which i shouldnt complain about lol. however they packed the wrong power adapter, i suppose its the thought that counts. luckily it has the same plug as my gfs blackberry charger.

Craig Durkee
Valued Guest

Is there any Day time 1080p footage

Nkanogia
Valued Guest
Nkanogia

Hi guys great review, just wondering if sense 3.0. Came with the camera panorama sweep function that was all over the web a month back, can someone pleeeaaase tell me

Jez650
Valued Guest
Jez650

Hey Buzz. I have one of these and you can turn off the weather sounds. It was the first thing I did.
I do think it is a fantastic phone, but I have had a few slow downs and the odd force close. I am hopeing that alot of these things will be sorted in a firmware upgrade. HTC are good at that, if you have an unlocked phone.
By the way, I think the look and feel of the Sensation is great. feels good in the hand and very solid.

Ozivillan
Valued Guest
Ozivillan

+1 for the look and feel of the phone it is superb, as to the weight i like to feel that i have a $600 phone in my pocket 

Tomas Donovic
Valued Guest

Same thing with the desire hd

Marcus Grimes
Valued Guest

got mine a week ago and love it!

James
Valued Guest
James

which aus telco will be picking it up?

Happy.Ending
Valued Guest
Happy.Ending

vodafone

Butch
Valued Guest
Butch

Thanks for the review, I have been waiting for this since your initial thoughts. 

Now lets just hope Telstra hurry up and get it out to us all!

AndrewPalozzo
Valued Guest
AndrewPalozzo

Which do you think take better pictures? Sgs2 or the sensation?

dawdle
Valued Guest
dawdle

The camera on the SGS2 is freaking amazing.
You can check out pics I took with it here:
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150632345555612.690160.594105611&l=ee81a3e682

Member

Nice safe place to take a video at night in front of the Police Centre.

wpDiscuz

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