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HTC Sensation - Messaging, Contacts and Camera

By Edward Chester

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Another key tweak HTC has made is to the onscreen keyboard. Not only is the layout excellent but the predictive texting is top notch and the addition of a button for manually minimising the keyboard is very useful. The general experience is also helped by the spacious expanse and responsiveness of the phone's screen – you can blaze away at a blistering pace with few typing errors.

This of course makes keeping on top of emails and text messages a cinch, something which is helped by the easy to use apps for each. Likewise, it's a simple task to get your contacts list filled out with information from email accounts, Facebook and Twitter, and HTC has done a great job of making it easy to jump straight to profile information, updates, messages and pictures from Facebook right from within the contact page.

HTC has also bolstered the Sensation with an ebook app, which does a decent job of presenting the written word in an easy to read manner, with pretty page turn animations, various font options, and easy chapter navigation. Indeed this is one area where the higher resolution screen really comes to the fore. It's also where the screen's limitations, in terms of viewing angles, play a role but as already mentioned, the former outweighs the latter. The Kobo bookstore is built-in, for quick and easy copyrighted book download, while you can also sign in with an Adobe ID.

HTC Sensation 4

Watch is another HTC addition, and it provides access to streaming and downloaded films. While pricing seems just about reasonable, the selection is too poor to be worth bothering with.

Sadly, if you want to play back your own videos the Sensation doesn't make for the best tool. The inbuilt codec and format support is a bit limited, with mkv support being the most obvious omission. Nonetheless, DivX and Xvid are accounted for (and you can download alternative video players) and if you get the formatting right, the results look brilliant. They also sound reasonable through the speaker – yes, HTC seems to have used a half decent speaker for once. The headphone jack isn't bad either, with no background hiss or other disturbances to report.

HTC Sensation 5

Not only can you watch video on this phone with a smile on your face, you can also create it too. While the 1080p video recorded on this phone won't rival even a pocket internet camcorder – especially in low light – the extra detail it packs in over 720p cameras is noticeable. There is a bit of tearing and resolution loss in fast movement but it's still more than usable. That said, for smooth results and lower file sizes you may be better off sticking to 720 anyway.

Photos also impress with loads of detail captured by the 8-megapixel sensor. As ever, they look better on the phone's screen than when blown up on a computer (with loads of sharpening and JPEG compression artefacts in evidence and a slightly muted tone) but they're still mostly up to snuff. What's more the twin LEDs do provide a surprising amount of light – just compare our test shots at the end of the review. The camera app also packs in loads of scene modes and other tweaking tools, with touch to focus (which also works during video) being probably the most useful extra.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

Chris

April 14, 2011, 9:45 pm

Yay, comments are back :)

Liking the look of this phone, but I read elsewhere that Sense 3.0 won't be made available to earlier handsets? Apparently the single core hardware isn't up to it, but I find that hard to believe given how well SPB Shell 3D runs on these handsets.

Chris

April 15, 2011, 12:33 am

If I try to play the embedded YouTube vid I get 'This video is private'. Just me?

Enarca

April 15, 2011, 1:20 am

Guys... it keeps on saying the youtube video is private??

Virbo

April 15, 2011, 4:18 am

If, (as is strongly suspected), the iPhone 5 does not get released until Autumn / Christmas time, I can see Apple losing a lot of their customer base to HTC this summer. I have had various iPhones for 3 years now and am really impressed with Sense 3.0 and the hardware specs of the Sensation. I hope the UI is as intuitive as the promo clips portray because if so (and apart from the ridiculous names they give their phones), HTC has just won a soon to be ex-Apple customer this summer!

LED light FTW

April 15, 2011, 3:30 pm

Does this have an LED light?

stevecost

April 18, 2011, 12:42 am

Need to fix the inverted comma's in the reviews... they seem fine in the comments...

Ed

April 18, 2011, 3:12 pm

Cheers guys, fixed now.

rav

April 19, 2011, 12:55 am

This may be the first phone I've seen that actually looks worth upgrading to from a hardware perspective since getting my Desire over a year ago.

But I can't help thinking it'd still be better to wait until Ice Cream and iOS 5 hit before shelling out.

The Doctor

June 6, 2011, 8:39 pm

After having upgraded my personal phone to a Sensation from a Desire and being given a Galaxy 2S by my employer, it's been interesting to compare the two. Certainly, the Sensation can't match the contrast of the Galaxy's screen or its raw performance but, at the same time, the user experience of the Sensation is well ahead of the Galaxy. Maybe it's just a familiarity with Sense (my last two phones having been the Hero and the Desire) but it stills feels more intuitive and considered than Samsung's diabolical "TouchWiz" (God, I hate that name...)

The Sensation also feels much more substantial in the hand which is obviously a design decision since when removed from its shell, the HTC's innards are about the same thickness as the Samsung's.

Whichever one you pick, however, you'll still have something that is significantly faster and more versatile than an iPhone 4!

tonyreilly

June 7, 2011, 7:51 pm

Re: Lack of HDMI, the MicroUSB Socket is an MHL (Mobile HighDefinition Link) socket. Get an adaptor and it'll convert the MicroUSB to HDMI! DONE! :)

Newer TV's will also even charge the phone off the HDMI!

http://www.whathifi.com/news/CES-2011-MHL-promises-powered-link-between-mobiles-and-TV/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cfus3QMYC3Y

Neil Richardson

June 7, 2011, 11:30 pm

Currently getting about a day and a half out of each charge and i'm going through the process of setting it up and loading it with apps. Battery life seems to get better as time goes. Currently using an app called Battery Indicator Pro. 28 hours since charged, 21% left.

Think the review might want to re-examine battery life after a few charge cycles.

Ahlan

June 8, 2011, 6:19 pm

You said is the video screen is superb and the view angles are good its produces good black levels, then why do you gave it a 7/10? i really don't get it

also the usability score need to be at least a 9 not an 8.

This is the best Smartphone on the market in my opinion, price is a bit high but why better than iphone 4 price.

this phone is at least 9/10. Lower than that is considered a biased review.

Spencer

July 1, 2011, 11:54 pm

Stuffed between Samsung & Motorola the HTC does exactly what it was designed to do. Good review.... job well done!

peterkin101

August 2, 2011, 1:14 am

As an HTC Sensation owner, I will broadly agree with the review. One little omission though-downloaded music sound quality. I have a pair of £300+ Grado SR325i headphones and listened to some uncompressed WMA files. The result? STUNNING! Best I've ever heard from any portable device including iPods etc. And the inbuilt amp is powerful enough to drive those Grados without a problem. It would be nice if somebody could come up with an extended battery pack incorporating a headphone amp though-light the blue touch paper and stand well back!

bbnetworking

August 5, 2011, 7:27 am

I have an iPhone as my personal phone & have just switched to a HTC Sensation from a Blackberry for my work phone...am really liking it so far (obviously anything is an improvement from the Blackberry!) battery life is a big downer tho! I look forward to learning more about this phone ,btw, there's also a fans site http://www.htcsensationforum.com for the phone, take care.

maq

October 30, 2013, 1:48 am

Been using tge sensation for 1.5 years and battery life is a big issue on it. When it was new it would last me 3/4 of a day witout charging but now it barely gives me 3 hours. Also disappointed in the browser it shuts down abnormally most of the time and every time i exit the browser the phone goes into a loop with the white HTC screen. Also each loop sucks up upto 10% of baterry life. It does have a great camera and music player . Overall i am quite disappointed and am contemplating switching to an iphone 5s.

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