By June 21, 2011

HTC Sensation review

htc sensation reviewWhen HTC announced 5 new phones at MWC earlier this year there was some criticism that there wasn’t a dual-core model there in the lineup. With LG and Samsung there with handsets featuring dual-core CPU’s the expectation was that HTC should at least be following the competition, lets face it, HTC are more accustomed to being leaders rather than followers.

However, maybe the critics should have had a little more faith that HTC had something up their sleeves as less than two months after MWC, HTC were holding their own press even here in London to announce the new HTC Sensation. Not only does it include the much coveted dual-core CPU but includes a 540 x 960 resolution QHD display which is the first to have a Gorilla Glass screen that’s curved on all edges.

Other new features such as HTC Sense 3.0 and the 8 mega-pixel camera with instant capture technology and 1080P video recording means that not only is this certainly HTC’s flagship handset but it’s also one of the best specified on the market today.

I’ve been using the sensation for a little over a week, so if you want to find out what I think of it you’ll have to read on!


The 10 Second review:

  • Device: HTC Sensation
  • Price: around £498
  • Summary: A well built phone with a large hi-res display and great new features.
  • Best of: Hi-res display, performance
  • Worst of: slower benchmark scores than competitors, battery hungry
  • Buy it now from: Clove Technology
  • Also consider: Samsung Galaxy S2 or LG Optimus 2X


What’s in the box?

  • HTC Sensation handset
  • Mains charger
  • Battery
  • MicroUSB sync/charge cable

Bear in mind that although our review unit is final ROM and final hardware we haven’t yet seen the final retail packaging so you can expect to get more in the box if you buy one than we have with ours!



HTC Sensation specification:

  • Processor: Qualcomm MSM 8260 1.2 GHz dual-core
  • Platform: Android Gingerbread 2.3.3 with HTC Sense
  • Memory: Internal phone storage: 1 GB
  • RAM: 768 MB
  • Dimensions: (LxWxT) 126.1 x 65.4 x 11.3 mm
  • Weight: 148 grams
  • Display: 4.3-inch touch SLCD screen with QHD, 540 x 960 resolution, Gorilla glass
  • HSPA/WCDMA Europe/Asia: 900/AWS/2100 MHz Upload speed of up to 5.76 Mbps and download speed of up to 14.4 Mbps
  • GPS: Internal GPS antenna
  • Sensors: Gyro sensor, G-Sensor, Digital compass, Proximity sensor & Ambient light sensor
  • 3.5 mm stereo audio jack
  • Bluetooth 3.0 with FTP/OPP for file transfer, A2DP for wireless stereo headsets, and PBAP for phonebook access from the car kit
  • Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11b/g/n
  • DLNA for wirelessly streaming media from the phone to your TV or computer.
  • Micro-USB port with mobile high-definition video link (MHL) for USB or HDMI connection
  • Camera: 8 megapixel colour camera with auto focus and dual LED flash, 1080p HD video recording
  • 1.3MP front camera
  • Audio supported formats Playback: .aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma (Windows Media Audio 9)
  • Video supported formats Playback: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv (Windows Media Video 9), .avi (MP4 ASP and MP3), .xvid (MP4 ASP and MP3)
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery Capacity: 1520 mAh
  • Talking time: Up to 400 minutes for WCDMA and up to 495 minutes for GSM
  • Standby time: Up to 400 hours for WCDMA and up to 350 hours for GSM
  • Expansion slot: microSD memory card (SD 2.0 compatible)




So lets start, as we always do with a look at the physical aspects of the HTC Sensation. The first thing that strikes you about this handset is that it’s pretty large. With a 4.3″ display it’d be hard not to end up with a large handset though. That said there’s very little wasted space with very slim bezel around the screen and only small areas above and below for the speaker, forward facing camera and capacitive buttons below.

The 4.3″ display is of a higher resolution than the ‘normal’ WVGA phones out there. Here we have a QHD with a resolution of 960×540. Quarter HD means that it’s a true 16:9 aspect and will be great to watch videos upon.

htc sensation review-front

Gorilla glass protects the screen and as we know that is virtually impossible to scratch. HTC tell us too that this is the first phone to have a glass screen that is curved on all sides. This helps to protect the center of the screen if the phone is placed face-down on a desk and also looks really cool! Hard to see the effect in the picture below but hopefully you get the idea.

htc sensation review-screen-detail


Looking to the top of the handset the power button is located on the right side (looking at the screen) which means that it should fall quite easily under your index finger when holding the phone. Next to that the 3.5mm headphone socket. The top placement of this too makes good sense as the phone stays the right way up in your pocket if you are using your headphones.

htc sensation review-top


To the left and towards the top is the up/down volume control and on the lower portion the microUSB sync/charge connector.



The right side of the phone has nothing at all. I’ve mentioned recently with the Wildfire S and Desire S that I really do wish HTC would place a hardware camera button on this side of their handsets but the only one to have this recently has been the HTC Salsa. Shame.



On the back you’ll find an 8 mega-pixel camera with dual-LED flash system.

The design of the back looks pretty cool with the angular segments and 3-shades of colour, it makes for visual interest. The back is nicely curved and is made of a soft feel plastic which helps to make the handset seem a lot lighter in the hand than the numbers on paper would suggest.



Unlike other models in the HTC range at the moment the HTC Sensation isn’t made from a single piece of aluminium. If you take a look at the images below you should be able to see just how much of the back cover comes off when you want to access the SIM and memory card. the cover extends to the sides of the handsets and, at the top, to a portion of the front.

Sensation-back-off Sensation-back-cover




  • Excellent S-LCD display
  • great performance
  • HTC’s new Sense 3.0 UI
  • Launch apps from the lock-screen


  • Battery life isn’t brilliant
  • USB connector placement
  • Size and weight may be off putting to some
  • Power button could be more positive




We’ve looked at a number of new ‘flagship’ handset lately. The Optimus X2 from LG and the Galaxy S2 are both flagship devices within their respective manufacturers model range over the past few months it has felt a little like HTC were a bit behind as their then top of the range handset, the HTC Desire S, whilst a great phone in its own right, just felt to be an incremental step up rather than the leap forward that we all seem to now expect, even demand, from HTC.

So lets skip forward to April when HTC announced the HTC Sensation, finally a new top of the range HTC handset that was worthy of being called the flagship. There was a lot of interest at the launch event in London, lots of the usual press suspects but I see that HTC are starting to get a following from the ‘mainstream’ media organisations.

The HTC Sensation was well received at the event, the biggest draw likely being the inclusion of the dual-core processor but for me the QHD display was or particular interest. At 4.3″ I was concerned that this would be a handset too large for me to consider for my every day use. I felt that the Touch HD2 and HD7 were too big for me so I had my suspicions this was too.

However, picking up the device for the first time the size is quite deceptive. Perhaps we are all becoming far more used to larger devices? Going back just a few years I think that if one launched a handset with a 4.3″ display we’d all think they’d gone mad but as it’s been in increment over time perhaps it’s becoming the norm. Of course the HTC Sensation is a large phone. Let’s face it, it would be hard to put in a large display and keep the overall handset small. However, HTC have done a great job of using curved edges, curved back and even a curved screen all of which help to reduce the perceived size of the handset.

The same is true for the weight too. Comparing the HTC Sensation to some competitors of a similar size the sensation comes in at almost 30% heavier. Once again the design helps reduce what you feel to be the weight of the phone in your hand thanks for a nicely rounded back and the use of different textures. I doubt it would be easy to guess the weight and as I have ranted about before, a little extra mass adds some sturdiness to the handset where others can feel somewhat toy-like if too light.

I’ve already made mention of the curved screen but to cover this a little more; to me this sounded a little bit gimmicky at the launch event. Sure this is the first to have a Gorilla Glass display that’s curved on all edges but what’s the point. Well in practice this is partly so to help protect the screen then its placed face down. The edges touch the desk and not the middle of the display. Secondly though, and not something that you discover until you’ve used the Sensation for a while, is that make a nice edge for your fingers to follow when you are swiping across the screen. Your fingers don’t ‘fall’ off of the display. Finally is looks really cool to have the curves!

In overall design the HTC Sensation does well. It’s certainly obvious that it’s an HTC handset just form the look of it. There is the smallest hint of a chin at the bottom, nowhere near as pronounced as on other models, but you’d spot the HTC in a line-up.

Like other handsets from the stable Aluminium features in the construction of the Sensation but not to the same degree as the HTC Desire S or Legend for example. The whole of the back cover removes for access to the inner workings; battery, SIM and microSD card but it’s not al all Aluminium unibody this time around. The design remains fairly slim at just over 11mm (almost 3mm thicker than some models though) the back has a three-tone design which adds visual interest whilst being practical too as the plastic parts wont block RF signals in the same way as Aluminium would.



As with all the other HTC handsets we’ve looked at recently, setting up the HTC Sensation for the first time is a piece of cake thanks to a step-by-step guide through the basics. So if this is your first Android handset or you’re a novice user it should guide you simply through the process.

 setup1 setup2 setup3 setup4 setup5 setup5b setup6 setup6a setup7

So you’ll see from the images above there are 9 screens to take you through the setup. Language, installing the SIM, transfer from old phone, internet connection, sync, WiFi Setup, Google location, email setup. Each of these screens either require you to ask a few simple questions or fill in certain information. As with other phones, you don’t have to go through the whole of the setups, you may choose to skip through the bits you don’t need and just concentrate on the more relevant parts such as the WiFi settings. Should you wish to do so you can rerun the setup process at any time the icon in the apps menu.



Before I get on to the homescreen itself the first clue you are going to get that the HTC Sensation has a new version of HTC Sense is from the lock screen itself. Almost every touchscreen phone out there has some kind of ‘swipe’ to unlock gesture from the lock screen. The Sensation has this too but there are some differences.

First of all the HTC Sensation has a ‘lock ring’. In the screen shots below you see the lock ring sits at the bottom of the display and in order to unlock you simply drag the lock ring up to somewhere near the middle of the screen. This unlocks the phone. Simples.


Now, this is where the unlock screen starts to become really handy. You’ll notice that at the bottom of the lock screen there are icons for 4 different apps. These 4 all can be launched directly from the lock screen without the need to unlock the phone and then find the app. This makes commonly used features, such as the phone, email, camera and messages, easily accessible.

To launch any of these apps you drag the icon for the app in to the centre of the lock ring. The phone unlocks and the app launches contemporaneously.

As we know, Android is all about customisation so you can pick which 4 apps you want to have on the lock screen and edit them at any time.



Once you get past the wizard, either by skipping or completing it, and we’ve unlocked our phone as detailed above, you’ll end up at the main homescreen. The first time the phone boots up it will take a little longer while it loads the interface for the first time. Subsequent startups will be much quicker. As with other HTC handsets that have Sense you’ll find a homescreen which consists of 7 pages as you’ll see below.

 home1 home2 home3 home4 home5 home6home7

The home view starts off in the middle and there are three additional screens on each side that are accessed by swiping from side to side. From far left to right they are:

  1. Full page weather that uses your current location and provides a 5 day forecast. This has been updated a little in the new version of Sense (Sense 3.0) so the weather animation is a little nicer, there is also an audio sound effect that describes the weather too.
  2. The messages widget displays the most recent text messages.
  3. Friendstream. First introduced on the HTC Desire and HTC Legend last year, Friendstream brings your Facebook, Twitter and Flickr accounts together in one location. We’ll look at this a little more later too.
  4. The middle, ‘home’ screen has the now iconic flip style clock with a weather summary. The lower half of the display has shortcuts to Tips, Messages, Email, Web Browser, Camera and Android Market.
  5. The next screen has the Google search bar complete with voice search option. Below is the People widget which displays favourite people and groups for quick access to contact them.
  6. The Map widget is quite useful. Not only does it display your current location but also allows you to share that location via a number of social services and then also integrates with Footprints and then a further two pages, accessed by swiping up/down gives you a list of places to eat/drink nearby and then a page of shops nearby. More on this later.
  7. Finally, the 7th page is left blank for you to fill yourself.

Of course this is just the default setup of the homescreen. You can add and remove shortcuts and widgets to your hearts content. Fortunately HTC give you an awful lot to choose from, more than your average Android handset. To customise it’s simply a case of pressing and holding a blank portion of the screen to add something new or else pressing and holding an existing item in order to remove.

If navigating backwards and forwards between the 7 homescreen pages help is at hand in the form of the helicopter view that HTC call Leap. You can either pinch any of the homescreen pages or press the home button twice to be presented with a zoomed out overview of what’s happening on each page. This Leap view can be handy if you don’t know which screen you’ve put a widget on but overall I’d say that it’s more for show-off factor than practical use.

As I’ve already mentioned, there are some visual and practical changes to this new version of HTC Sense. First of all as you swipe left and right between homescreen you’ll notice that each page now has a more 3D visual effect. Each page rotates like it was a face of a virtual cube (remember the HTC Touch?). In addition to this the items on each page are arranged in layers which you may be able to make it in the screenshot below-right.

leap homelayer

The other minor homescreen change is where the swiping left and right between pages is concerned. You can now swipe left from the left-most page and end up back at the right-most as the navigation now wraps around.


At the bottom of every homescreen page are three buttons. On the left is the ‘launcher’ icon which brings up your full list of installed apps. Phone, which gives access to the phone pad for dialling numbers or finding contacts and then on the right is the customise button. Customise allows you to, erm, customise everything from the wallpaper to the sounds and tones.


The pull-down bar has been expanded to include, at the top, a list of the most recently used applications. This list can scroll to show a more used items and provides another way of getting quick access to things that you use frequently. In practice I think you’d want to add your favourite apps to the homescreen but this is another option.

Below the most recently used list you’ll see more detail for the notifications shown in top-most bar. These may include message alerts, WiFi networks found, tweets and Facebook message updates. Anything that requires attention should be listed here.

You’ll notice too that there is an additional Quick Settings tab in here. This provides quick access to common control panel items allowing you to easily go in and switch WiFi, GPS or Bluetooth on/off for example. This I found particularly useful as it saves a lot of clicking or menu navigation that would otherwise be required to change these through the normal settings menu. Obviously you wont find everything in this list but the last item will take you to the full settings menu if you want to go via this page rather than from the homescreen.


taskbar2 taskbar1




The Scenes feature is not a new HTC feature, it’s been around for a while but each time HTC Sense is updated so too are the Scenes. These have been updated again on the HTC Sensation I suspect partly due to the Sensation having a higher-res display. The new HTC created Scenes are more visually interesting than the earlier ones offered too.

These Scenes allow you to have multiple homescreen profiles so that you can set them up and switch between them at any time. This may be particularly useful if you use your phone for both work and personal being able to set up the homescreen with various widgets for each profile. Out of the box HTC provide Social, Work, Play and Travel Scenes on top of the default HTC Scene. On top of that you can also download more Scenes. The Scene selection is a lot easier now too as each one now provides you with a small preview image rather that a named selection list.


If none of these Scenes float your boat then you can also have a look at the large selection available to download from HTC. This can be achieved through the Scene selection area too.



Customisation isn’t just limited to Scenes and there’s probably a million and one ways to change the appearance of any Android smartphone, in fact that’s why many people choose Android over other operating systems out there.

HTC have added features, such as the Scene selections mentioned above, that make it easier to change the look and feel of the handset without having to dig too deep in to the settings, making it easier for new or novice users to get to grips with.

The Skins feature is another example of the changes you can easily make to alter the overall look of the user interface on the HTC Sensation. Skins go beyond simple wallpaper changes and change the overall colour scheme, back ground wallpaper, font colours, lock screen etc. so the changes can be quite dramatic by simply selecting a different theme or Skin.

On the HTC Sensation you just get two Skins preinstalled. The default HTC skin and one called Blue Sky. Once again you can download other Skins from HTC if you wand something different.




As with all Android powered devices there’s an extensive Settings menu to allow you to change or set all manner of phone features. HTC even customise the settings menu with more colourful icons. Not an earth shattering change but does make it a little more pleasing.

I note that other handset manufacturers have started doing this too now.

 settings1 settings2 settings3 settings4 settings5



I suspect that one of the first things that most people will do when they have a new phone is to jump in to the list of pre-installed apps and take a look to see what has been included. That’s certainly what I always do.

For the most part the apps on the HTC Sensation are the Android norm such as the web browser, Gmail, Google maps etc. There are a few HTC specific apps that you’ll find on almost every HTC phone, Peep, HTC Hub and HTC Likes are prime examples. On the Sensation we have almost 3 pages of apps to play with. A few of them are new such as Dice, Dock Mode and most notably the HTC Watch.

In their words:

HTC Watch – an application and service that puts an entire library of the latest, premium movies and TV shows right at your fingertips, letting people discover the latest video content in an easy and visually engaging way. HTC Watch uses progressive download technology that makes it possible to watch videos without waiting for a huge file to finish downloading. HTC Watch offers the choice of renting or buying videos, and if purchased, lets you watch them on up to five different HTC devices.

I guess you can thing of this as HTC answer to the iTunes store in that it gives you access to movies and music videos and if you are using WiFi or have access to unlimited data on your phone you can start watching immediately.

 apps1 apps2 apps3



We are always being asked what the phone dialler on various devices looks and performs like and with all the flashy features smartphones have I guess it is all too easy to forget about the more rudimentary features that you buy a phone for.

The phone dialler on the HTC Sensation is pretty standard. I quite like the smartdial feature though. Simple start typing in a portion of a name or number and the matching suggestions appear in the list. It’s here too that you can assign contacts to your favourites list.

Being a large screen phone the numeric keys are generous in size and easy to hit.

dialer dialler2



Last year HTC released their updated email client on the HTC Desire and HTC Legend. This was a great step forward for Android handsets as earlier email clients were pretty basic in terms of functionality. Last years update included multiple email account support and combined inbox views as well as a number of other email views to make dealing with email a lot easier.

With the HTC Sensation the email client has been updated once again. These various email views are still present and multiple Exchange email support is there too but on top of this there is now a nicer email view so email messages now have a preview so you can see the first few lines of the message along with the subject and sender address. This is configurable too so you can set the number of lines to show in the preview or turn that off altogether.

 email1 email2 email3 email4 email5 email6 email7

The email client has multiple views to help deal with your email. If you have a large volume of mail then this definitely useful. As you can see from the screenshots above there are several ways to see your messages. From left to right:

  1. The main inbox view has all of your email in one list. The nice thing here is that you can see the messages from all the email accounts you have configured in one consolidated view. You’ll notice the coloured bar on the left of each message denotes the account it belongs to.
  2. Conversation view groups messages in a threaded format by subject.
  3. Favourites view allows you to see only email from those people on your favourites list. This works hand in hand with the favourites you have in contacts and as speed-dials. You can also have a favourites group and email everyone in that group with one click.
  4. Unread view. Can you guess?
  5. Marked messages or those that you have flagged for followup.
  6. Meeting invitations are shown in the next tab and new meetings can also be set up here.
  7. Finally the attachments view. Only messages with attachments are shown here. I find this useful as I frequently search email for attachments when looking for a file.


For those using a Gmail account your emails are accessed through a separate application on the phone. Personally I only use a Gmail account for testing review handsets and for signing in to Android Market. If you do use Gmail as well as other mail services though you may find it annoying to have to use two separate apps for each one as the main email view, although it can combine multiple email accounts, doesn’t combine with Gmail.

 gmail1 gmail2



Just as with the email client the calendar app also underwent some work last year. Multiple calendar support was added and a number of calendar widgets were developed.

The calendar has changed slightly on the HTC Sensation with the latest version of Sense. There is a neater agenda view and the today view also includes today’s weather forecast which is a nice idea. If you are obsessed with the weather as much as the developers I guess!

The month and agenda views have been neatened up and there are some slight tweaks to the widgets. You can choose from a full-screen month view, full-screen agenda view or a small calendar widget that just shows the next calendar entry.

When you add a widget you can also select which calendar you want the appointments to appear from, so you could choose to show entries from all, a few or just one calendar if you wish and because you can add more than one calendar widget you may want to compartmentalise or, better still, make sue of the Themes to have various calendar views set up for work and personal life.

 calendar1 calendar2 calendar3 calnedar4 calendar5 calendar6 calendarchoice



When it come to text entry HTC have their own QWERTY keyboard rather than using the standard Android one. In reality there isn’t a huge difference between them but I do prefer the darker colours of the standard Android keyboard where the HTC keyboard is virtually white.

With the large and high-res screen on the sensation you may expect the keyboard to be significantly larger than on other handsets out there. However, it turns out that the keyboard has been kept much the same size and is confined to the bottom third of the screen (aprox) when in the portrait mode. This is a good thing though as the keyboard is still plenty large enough and this leaves the rest of the screen free for whatever else you were doing, particularly useful if you are typing an email.

The keyboard includes a voice entry button so that you can use your voice for text entry. One thing to remember though is that you have to have internet access for this to work and you may also have to adopt a more American accent for best results.

One thing still ‘unresolved’ is that the shortcut key for email and internet extensions only includes .net, .com, .com and .edu – particularly obviously missing is

keyboardport keyboardland keyboardtla



One of the best things about having a device with a larger and higher resolution display is how much better the web browsing experience is. Turning the screen to landscape to make the best use of the 960 pixel width means you can do an awful lot. In fact, not that long ago even the high-end netbooks out there only offered 800×480 resolution and that was in a 7 of 8 inch screen.

Having a fast CPU and a decent amount of RAM also makes quite a difference to the browsing experience. Pages load and render really quickly, subject to your connection speed of course, but moving between pages, following links scrolling around and zooming in/out is really snappy. Even fairly complex Flash sites perform well and while you can notice the difference between sites with Flash content and those without the overall performance it more than acceptable.

The larger screen and more pixels also means you can get a lot more on the screen, obviously, but makes reading big bodies of text a lot more pleasurable and you don’t have to zoom or scroll quite as much.

As I have mentioned in the past, the new Super LCD screens that HTC have started using are fantastic. The demand for AMOLED and Super AMOLED screens became too great so HTC began using the SLCD screens on the later HTC Desire’s. Unless you put SLCD and AMOLED Side-by-side the difference is hard to spot. Apparently, SLCD is somewhat more battery friendly too.

The colour and clarity of the display are well demonstrated when browsing the web too.

 browserport browserland



On the HTC Sensation you’ll find the standard YouTube client, the same one as every other Android handset out there right now. Android has the best YouTube client in my opinion, it’s simple and elegant. All you have to do to full-screen a video that you are watching is turn the handset 90 degrees and the display rotates and the video plays full screen hiding the other toolbars and navigation items.

Once again, the resolution of the display on the Sensation makes a huge difference here!

youtube2 youtube1



Social networking is well covered on all HTC handsets thanks to the Friendstream app and widget built in to HTC Sense. We first saw Friendstream last year on the HTC Legend and then on all other HTC devices since. This brings together three social network feeds in to one place. Twitter, Facebook and Flickr are supported so any time there is an update from one if your friends you’ll see it in one list. It’s a social network aggregator.

Friendstream has not changed much, if at all, over the past year or so but it’s one of those things that you’ll either love or hate. Personally I prefer to use separate Twitter and Facebook apps.

That said, Friendstream works well and is a neat enough solution. From the desktop widget you can post your own status updates. When you post an update it’ll go to each account you have configured, there doesn’t appear to be a way to say you just want a particular update to appear in just Twitter or just Facebook. As with the email and calendar widgets there’s a choice of sizes so you can have a full page or half page widget.

From the homescreen widget you can click through to the main app where you have a little more control over your status updates and you can post photos and video from within the app itself.

The app has different tabs to allow you to search or filter friends updates. The first has all updates, then status updates, photo and video updates, posted links, lists and finally notifications.

 friendstream1 friendstream2 friendstream3 friendstream4 friendstream5 friendstream6 friendstream7



If you prefer the standard Facebook and Twitter clients you’ll find the preinstalled on the sensation. Both of these have been updated on Android recently and look rather swanky. Of course there are hundreds of other third-party options available through android market so you are bound to find one you like, chances are you already have a favourite.


HTC have their own lightweight twitter client called Peep, again this isn’t new but it’s a nice simple option.



Android Market

Android Market is the same regardless of the type of Android handset you have. One slight exception to that is that on an HTC device you’ll see an HTC recommends tab with all of HTC’s top picks. You’ll also find a large selection of widgets to supplement the ones the handset ships with.

 market1 market2 market3


Music & Media

Not a massive change in the music and media department. The music app works well but there are no frills as such. Music can be displayed by title, album artist or genre. Album art is shown along with the playtime and time remaining and playback can be controlled from the lock screen too.

There is an SRS sound enhancement feature there if you want to use it. This adds some depth to the sound and makes a huge difference when using the loudspeaker.

 music1 music2 music3 music4

As with other handsets the Sensation has a built-in FM radio. It seems to be a feature that almost every manufacturer wants to cram in to their smartphone. This isn’t something that I ever use myself, I wonder how many people actually use it or would worry if a handset didn’t include it?  You have to have the headphones plugged in for the radio to function as the headphones also act as an aerial. Getting the best reception is a matter of finding the best way to hold the phone in relation to your headphones. Not easy to do if you are walking and using the radio.


News & Weather

I’m not sure if smartphone owners are as pre-occupied with news and weather has the handset designers think we are or perhaps I am just the exception to the rule but here on the Wildfire S you’ll find that news and weather are well covered with not only the weather widget but also a news and weather app.

This app has a series of tabs along the top and starts with the weather and a 7-day forecast for your current area. Then there are additional tabs for the Top Stories, UK news, Sports and Entertainment. These just provide headlines and tapping on a story loads it in the web browser.

 news1 news2 news4 news5 news6



Another recent addition is the Reader app. and we worst saw this in the Desire S. This is essentially an eBook reader much like the Kindle App or iBooks on the iPhone. You get to see each book in your library and once you pick the one you want you can thumb through the pages. It works ok but isn’t particularly exceptional. There are a few pre-loaded titles that you can have a look at or of course you can go and buy other titles through the app. The eBooks come from Kobo and while there are loads to chose from there aren’t as many titles available as via the other apps already mentioned.

There are also some weird category headings such as ‘Books for Dudes’ and ‘Heathers Picks’. I’m not sure what’s wrong with regular library categories!

 reader chapter2


WiFi Hotspot

Using your phone as a WiFi hotspot isn’t a particularly new feature but HTC has made it nice and easy to use. Simply start the app, give your phone a router name or SSID and switch it on. Then you just connect to the Sensation in the same way as  you would join any other WiFi network.




I’m sorry to say that in the past the cameras that HTC have used in their smartphones have been probably the worst feature of those phones. There have definitely been some big improvements lately but as I reported with the HTC Desire S the results can be really variable. The optics seem good but then the images seem let down by over compression of the images when they are saved.

One of the enhancements on the HTC Sensation is the new instant capture feature. This, as the name suggests, allows you to take still photos really quickly without worrying about missing or keeping up with the action.

The HTC Sensation also shoots full HD video in 1080p resolution, with full stereo sound, at up to 30 frames a second, giving you smooth video that is better than many other phones. With the new Video Trimmer tool, people can crop their clips to the perfect size for easy sharing with friends and family.

The camera interface is more or less the same as we have seen in the past with HTC phones. The menu has plenty of settings for you to tinker with from ISO, White Balance and Resolution etc. There are also Zoom and Flash controls too.

  camera1 camera2


I am pleased to say that the camera on the HTC Sensation is among the best I have seen on any phone. Not only are the images clear and sharp but they are also colourful and have plenty of contrast.

The capture speed is really quick, not instant though. In practice it rather depends on the focus. If you already have the subject in focus then the capture is virtually instant but if you need to refocus the frame that can take a second or two to achieve depending upon the amount of available light and the contrast in the subject.

If you take a look at the samples below you’ll see loads of detail in the trees and grass as well as great colour reproduction, green can be tricky with some cameras.

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In the photos below you can see how the camera copes with a close up shot and, on the right, in rather low-light with the flash firing. I’d say the images are rather good indeed!

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Recently we started to benchmark review handsets as it gives us a practical way to compare the performance of different models. It’s worth just mentioning that a benchmark number isn’t the be-all and end-all of a phones performance so just take it as a rough guide!

As we know, the Sensation is HTC’s first Dual-core phone with a 1.2GHz clockspeed. I was expecting to see a really high number in the Quadrant benchmark results. The number is high for sure 2226 is quite impressive but it’s worth mentioning that the Samsung Galaxy S2 had a score of over 3000.

Now I’m not sure why the Sensation has doesn’t have a higher score, I’m not sure if the higher display res pushes the CPU harder or if HTC Sense running in the background has an effect?

Will you notice this in every day use? Probably not. I certainly didn’t feel that the Sensation was by any means a slow phone.









Let me start with a simple statement. The HTC Sensation is currently my favourite Android device. It ticks all the boxes and I do love that it has a high resolution display.

The battery life is a little disappointing, probably because of the dual-core CPU and the larger SLCD display. In average everyday usage I would just about get a full day from one charge. Start making a few extra calls and using as an MP3 player and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to make it though the day with out a top-up.

If you are worried about the raw numbers then perhaps the benchmark score of the Sensation, when compared to the other Dual-core handsets reviewed recently, will be a cause for concern or potentially put you off. As I said in the review, I really could not notice the difference between this and the SGS2 in terms of general performance. I would have to agree though that the relatively low benchmark is curious.

I’ve been carrying the HTC sensation for a few weeks along with my iPhone and BlackBerry. Yes I always carry multiple devices. Up until having the Sensation the iPhone would be my go-to phone for web browsing and video but now I pick the Sensation for that role every time.

I know that HTC Sense isn’t to everyone’s liking and there are many of you that prefer a much more ‘vanilla’ Android experience. I however, don’t find Sense over-baring and there are other overlays that are far more restrictive. I guess that having had almost every phone out there at one point or another HTC Sense feels like an old friend.

In final summary, the HTC Sensation is well worthy of the flagship handset badge but it would have been better if the benchmark scores could also see off the competition a little more convincingly!


Review by: Matt

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
Tags: , ,

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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