The HTC Sensation 4G is T-Mobile’s version of the phone known internationally as simply the HTC Sensation. 4G marketing aside, the handset brings the same powerful hardware and fluid software that make it the manufacturer’s latest flagship device. The Sensation 4G has been dubbed a superphone, and earns the title easily with its combination of devilishly good looks and killer user experience. We could cut to the chase and tell you the HTC Sensation is hands-down among the top of the Android crop, but what would the fun in that be? Read on for our full take on this dual-core beauty.
The top-notch hardware offered by the HTC Sensation 4G makes using the phone effortless. HTC has hit the right note on almost every factor, from the dual-core chipset to the crisp and clear qHD display. All of this is bundled in a sleek unibody design that feels about as solid as a handset can.
A huge part of what makes the Sensation such a treat to use is the dual-core Snapdragon CPU clocked at 1.2GHz. The processor provides plenty of pep there is hardly a task (or multi-task) the chip isn’t up for. It helps that the CPU is backed by 768MB of RAM to insure no bottlenecking of resources. Moving through the HTC Sense user interface is smooth and responsive and nary a snag is to be found. Gaming is fluid and rendered easily.
It’s also rendered beautifully on the 4.3-inch qHD display. This the same qHD display tech that seems to be making its way into every high-end Android smartphone, so we won’t spend too much time praising it, but it looks just as good as ever. In a world where you’d be hard-pressed to find a device with less than a 4-inch screen, the 4.3-inch size feels comfortable and provides plenty of screen real estate.
An 8MP camera is coupled with a dual-LED flash and is capable of recording 1080p video. A front-facing camera is present for video calling and plenty of opportunities for glamor shots without the use of a mirror. Battery life was a bit surprising in a good way. Heavy use is sure to drain your juice quickly, but keeping to tasks such as calling and texting provides oodles of standby time.
The HTC Sensation 4G features Android 2.3.3 with HTC Sense 3.0 on top. Sense has always ranked as one of our favorite custom Android UIs, and here it is implemented to perfection. The latest version of Sense features key enhancements while maintaining much of what made Sense good to begin with.
You will notice as soon as you boot up the phone the new active lock screen. By dragging application icons into the unlock ring the phone will launch directly into services such as the phone dialer, email, and camera. It takes a few steps out of the process, and comes in real handy when you want to quickly snap off a picture without navigating through the UI to jump to the camera.
HTC has implemented a “3D” homescreen system which provides a rotatable carousel of content. Flicking from screen to screen is accompanied by a pretty animation and you won’t hit a dead end — screens cycle back around, a small change that is much appreciated.
The notification dropdown now features two tabs. The first is exactly what you’d expect, all of your notifications in one area, but the second provides quick access to toggling services such as WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS. Being able to access these toggles from any screen gives you quick and seamless control over power-hungry services, a necessary feature for aiding in lower battery consumption.
Gaming, Media, and Web Browing
The great thing about the Sensation 4G is that its powerful hardware and customizable software allow the phone to be a jack of all trades. Power users will be right at home with this handset, and gamers will be equally as pleased. The same goes for those who use their handsets as media machines.
It all works pretty flawlessly. The Sensation makes short work of 3D rendering for games and doesn’t skip a beat in the process. The same goes for pulling down webpages and streaming videos from the internet. And watching those videos on the Sensation’s qHD display doesn’t disappoint.
The real key to the whole experience is HSPA+ support over T-Mobile’s network. We haven’t always been the biggest fans of the 4G name being thrown on this 3.5G technology, but we simply can’t deny the speeds it provides. Downloads and uploads are quick and painless. Uploads to YouTube took mere minutes (though the phone won’t push large files to the web unless you are on a WiFi connection), and browsing even the bulkiest of webpages comes with hardly a hiccup.
The Sensation 4G doesn’t let us down with its 8MP camera capable of 1080p video capture. Images retain great color and the camera fares well in low-light situations. Of course, a dual-led flash means you won’t have to worry too much about that. At its full 8MP resolution, images look gorgeous to say the least. The Sensation may offer one of the best cameras we have seen in an Android phone, but we’ll let the results speak for themselves.
We would have liked a bit more out of the actual video recording, but for a smartphone we get what we’d expect and a bit more. Quality is good, though the result is a bit washed out. Video also plays a bit jittery beyond the unsteady hands of this reviewer. Again, we will let the final product do the talking here.
The HTC Sensation 4G is the complete package: powerful hardware, stylish design, and a solid user experience. The phone doesn’t feel like too much for the average user but its ability to serve the power user is endless. We could even go so far as to say the Sensation might just be the best handset in T-Mobile’s entire Android lineup. HTC really has knocked one out of the park with this one, you will want to check it out for yourself.