Having ticked our fancies with new versions of the Wildfire and Desire, HTC has now released what can be considered the ‘real deal’ – the dual-core Sensation. We’ve had some hands-on time with this stupendous superphone in order to bring you some early impressions. Is this a handset capable of rivaling the sublime Samsung Galaxy S II, and can it help HTC reclaim its crown as Android’s top dog?
From a purely physical standpoint, the Sensation feels very traditional. It borrows design elements from the original Desire, Nexus One and the more recent Desire S and Wildfire S. The rounded body and mixture of metal and rubber is pleasing, and the device rests in the palm more comfortably than the Desire HD – despite having similar proportions and the same 4.3-inch screen.
Speaking of which, the Sensation’s display is based on Super LCD technology, so it loses out to the Galaxy S II’s Super AMOLED screen in terms of brightness. Dark areas are also deeper and more impressive on Samsung’s phone, but we’re not grumbling – the Sensation still offers a fantastic viewing experience.
The phone comes with HTC’s Sense 3.0 user interface, which offers the usual collection of widgets and shortcuts. What’s new this time around is more impressive transition animations when you move between home screens – each element of the interface is rendered in 3D, making for a alluring visual spectacle.
One of the most significant additions is HTC Watch, which mimics Google’s recently-announced movie-streaming service. Although we’ve not had chance to get to grips with it yet, the quality of the playback is amazing – not doubt thanks to the 1.2GHz dual-core CPU which beats at the heart of the phone.
Thanks to this raw power, the Sensation makes short work of running applications and games, and when you consider that many recently-launched handsets – such as Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Play and HTC’s own Desire S – are lumbered with single-core 1GHz chips, the Sensation should be on the cutting edge for the majority of 2011.
Another unique aspect of the phone is the casing; while it initially appears to have the same uni-body construction as the HTC Legend, when you come to insert your SIM you realise that the handset is separated into two parts – the entire back of the phone wraps around the edges, and lifts off to reveal some delicate-looking innards. Although it feels strange to be handling such such a bare-looking device, the upshot is that there’s no creaky casing to contend with. When the back is fixed to the phone itself, it creates a reassuringly solid-feeling phone.
With 1080p video recording and HDMI-out capability included (so long as you invest in the appropriate adapter), the Sensation is geared up for HD viewing and media sharing. Although the phone’s small camera lens obviously isn’t going to capture Hollywood-style films, the HD videos you create should hold up pretty well when played through your TV. The Sensation also comes with DLNA capability, allowing you to wirelessly stream content to any compatible device (such as your TV, Hi-Fi or PS3 games console).
The Sensation is HTC’s big chance to hold back the advances made by rivals such as LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, and thanks to its dual-core power and the typically slick HTC Sense UI, we think it might just be the phone to do it.