HTC Sensation Review


htc sensation review fonearena
The Sensation is HTC’s first Dual Core phone and it’s answer to the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the LG Optimus 2X. Check out the FoneArena HTC Sensation Review to find out where the Sensation wins and where it fails. The phone was unveiled in London in April and has made it’s way to India and many other markets in June.

Internals

  • 1.2 GHZ Dual Core Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU (MSM8260)
  • Qualcomm Adreno 220 GPU
  • 768MB RAM
  • 1GB of inbuilt memory
  • 960×540 4.3 inch Super LCD Display

Hardware and Design

One the of the main highlights of any HTC phone is the premium build quality it offers and the company delivers again in this area with the Sensation. Judicious use of metal and a qHD display is a welcome thing. It weighs 148 grams and feels premium.

The 4.3 inch display sports a resolution of 960×540 pixels.  The glass on the display is tapered towards the edges. Above the screen you have the HTC branding, earpiece grill , front facing camera and notification light.

Below the display, you have the traditional Android touch sensitive keys – Home , Menu , Back and Search. Sadly these keys don’t change orientation like in the Incredible S.

On the left you have the volume rocker and the microUSB port for charging and data transfer. The right side is just plain. On the back you have the 8MP Camera with dual LED flash, microphones and the loudspeaker. At the top you will find the power button and the 3.5 mm audio jack.The bottom has a microphone and access to the back cover.

We can’t help but feel bad about the Super LCD display which is underwhelming compared to the Super AMOLED Plus display on the Galaxy S2. It is however pretty fine to use and responds well.There is no Camera key and no way to access the memory card slot without removing the back cover.

UI – Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread and HTC Sense 3.0

HTC Sense 3.0 brings a new interesting lock screen feature.  It works in 2 different ways. In the first method you move the ring to the center to unlock the phone and it opens up the homescreen. The 2nd method is actually more interesting. You can drag the app icon such as Phone, Mail, Camera , Messages to the ring and it instantly opens the app bypassing the homescreen. This is actually awesome for launching the camera as you can quickly capture the moment without wasting time.The lockscreen can be changed too from the Personalize menu.

The Weather widget has always been awesome in HTC phones right from windows mobile days. HTC now takes it all new level with Sense 3.0. You get a more realistic representation of the weather. This is a feature one must surely try.

The Homescreens give you a 3D view the minute you give them a spin. Some Scenes are pretty simple and other Scenes show you a lot more graphic effects. The Helicopter View / Leap view which we first saw in the Legend is still there, giving you access to all the homescreens in one single screen.

There is a tabbed notification area on the top which has the normal android notifications and a second tab for the quick settings. This is where you have easy access to various toggles such as WiFi, Bluetooth , Data , Hotspot.

You can also access your social networking profiles right from the homescreen.

Phonebook, Apps

The Transfer my stuff app is a great feature in the Sensation. You can transfer all your contacts, messages and call logs from most phones to the Sensation over Bluetooth and get started with your new phone in no time without even having to go near a PC. It’s very similar to the Nokia Switch app found on Symbian phones but we could not find something similar in the Samsung Galaxy S2 or LG Optimus 2X.

The Phonebook is one of the reasons to love HTC android phones. You can keep track of all your conversations with your contacts on a individual basis from the phonebook.

You can easily send SMS, SMS and Email. You have the Gmail app and also Email app. The HTC keyboard is okay but not great. But there is a option called Trace Keyboard which is HTC’s answer to Swype.

Some apps worth mentioning are Dockmode which lets make the best use of the standby screen, Dice game which uses accelerometer and even lets you break the screen for fun. There is Flashlight which even has a SOS mode. This is the coolest flashlight app you can find on a phone.

You also have access to the Android market where you can always download free and paid apps at your will.

Some preloaded apps mentioning are Polaris Office , HTC Hub,HTC peep,Mirror ,Reader – powered by Kobo

Multimedia

Most common audio and video formats are supported including Divx.The loudspeaker is pretty loud despite being on the back. The SRS effects do make audio sound better. It was pretty nice to find the DLNA feature on the Sensation actually working. We could beam pictures and videos to a TV connected to the same WiFi network. Media playback from any media streaming compatible host also works but we did not try it. You also have a native Youtube app.

There is a built in FM radio tuner to incase you plan to listen to your local FM stations. The UI of the FM app is pretty good. There is no HDMI port in the hardware but there is a MHL adapter sold separately internationally which lets you convert the microUSB port into a HDMI out.

Connectivity

The phone supports quadband GSM networks 850/900/1800/1900 Mhz and 3G/HSPA networks in Europe and Asia (900 Mhz and 2100 Mhz).

We had no issues with calls and the audio quality was actually quite good. We also tested the phone on 3G , EDGE both indoors and outdoors and did not have any issues and got good speeds.

It supports Bluetooth 3.0 and WiFi(n) standards. The Sensation got a GPS lock really quick both indoors and outdoors. You can use Google Maps with Navigation or HTC Location which is actually a solution from Route66.

You can use your phone as a WiFi hotspot and connect upto 5 devices to the internet which is pretty common in most Android phones nowadays.USB tethering is also possible.

The phone suffers from a WiFi death grip which means that you might lose your connection to your wireless network when the phone is held is a certain position. It does not affect call reception.

Camera

HTC is finally getting better with the imaging features on its phones. The Sensation touts a 8MP Camera with a Dual LED Flash and is capable of recording full HD 1920x1080p videos.

The shutter speed is pretty good for an android phone and it might be a tad faster than the SGS2.

Camera Samples

Video Samples

Full HD

Lower Quality

Browser

The browser is pretty powerful and fast and packs the improvements of Gingerbread update including Adobe Flash Player 10.1 You can play even HD videos inline in the page. We could play videos on the Youtube website without having to use the app.

Vimeo videos too played fine. Sadly only 4 windows can be opened at a time. Sharing and looking up words on Google and Wikipedia has been part of HTC Sense but worth a mention.

You can also add neat visual bookmarks to the home screen with the widget. The browser scores over 35000 in the Browsermark test and 93/100 in the Acid3 test.

Benchmarks

Here are some benchmarks of the Sensation. You would notice that the numbers look slightly lower than the other two dual core phones in the market. But then this might be the reason for the improved battery life.An Asynchronous Dual Core CPU from Qualcomm means that the two cores of the CPU can run at different speeds which can translate to better performance and battery life.

This is what Qualcomm has to say about the MSM8x60 Chipset

The MSM8x60 incorporates an asynchronous dual-core SMP (Symmetric multiprocessing architecture) micro-architecture. Unlike synchronous dual-core SMP designs where both cores must run at the same frequency and voltage when operational, the dual-core Scorpion asynchronous power design provides independent clocking and voltage per core, allowing each to work independently. This highly efficient design provides substantial power savings over traditional SMP technology by intelligently adjusting performance to suit the needs of the application.

Quadrant

Linpack

AnTutu System Benchmark

Conclusion and Battery life

Like most dual core phones, the battery on this phone will last about a day for normal usage and about ¾  of a day under heavy usage. With minimal usage, you can cross a day. It would have been nice to see a bigger battery on this device considering what Samsung and Motorola have done with their dual core devices. The Sensation was launched in India at a price of Rs.32700 and the price has now fallen to around Rs.30000 in the market which puts in the same league as the Samsung Galaxy S2.  We prefer HTC Sense over TouchWiz but the SuperAMOLED Plus display is better than the SC LCD display on the Sensation.  If you are looking for a Dual Core Android phone with a premium feel and trendy UI but are willing to trade off with the slightly older display technology , the Sensation should make a lot of Sense to you.

Pros

  • 1.2 GHz Dual Core CPU
  • Excellent design and premium hardware
  • HTC Sense 3.0 makes a lot of sense and is beautiful
  • DLNA
  • 8MP camera with Dual LED Flash
  • 1080p Video recording
  • Superfast bootup time – with FastBoot
  • 960x540px resolution Display
  • Social Phonebook

Cons

  • WiFi death grip
  • No native HDMI support , need to purchase MHL adapter (sold separately )
  • Battery life could have been better

Asad Rafi contributed to this review.


Author: Varun Krish

Varun Krish is a Mobile Technology Enthusiast and has been blogging about mobile phones since 2005. His current phones include the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge , Apple iPhone 6S Plus & Nexus 5X. You can follow him on Twitter @varunkrish and on Google+ You can also mail Varun Krish