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HTC Sensation - Screen and Interface

By Edward Chester

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Not content with packing a 1.2GHz processor into its elegant chassis, HTC has also crammed a class leading screen into the Sensation. Its 4.3in size is large but nothing new and it's only an LCD but crucially it has a higher resolution than all but the iPhone 4. Whereas most smartphones, even with screens this large, are content to have 480 x 800 pixels the Sensation squeezes in 540 x 960. This makes a discernible difference, making text look even sharper and – assuming your eyesight's good enough – allowing you to fit more information on screen while remaining readable. This is particularly important for viewing webpages.

HTC Sensation 9

The quality of the LCD isn't the best with colours being a little muted and black levels a little grey, plus there's a bit of colour shift when viewed from an angle. But none of these issues really detract from the general viewing pleasure and the extra detail more than makes up for them.

General performance is also excellent. We were seriously impressed by the power of the dual-core 1.2GHz chip used on the Samsung Galaxy S II and though that chipset technically has a slightly faster graphics processor, the Qualcomm MSM 8260 in this phone keeps pace with it. There will be the odd pause as larger programs take a moment to load or they download new data but to all intents and purposes the Sensation responds instantly. You could even say it's s… plendiforously fast.

HTC Sensation 1

We're just as impressed with the interface. Built on Android 2.3.3, it employs the latest version of HTC's Sense UI. The changes over normal Android span all parts of the OS but some of the highlights include the lock screen. Here you can either drag the virtual grey ring across the screen to unlock the screen as usual or you can drop one of the icons above into it to jump straight to that app. This sounds like a small addition but it's surprisingly useful, regularly saving precious seconds. You can also change the four apps to those of your choosing.

HTC Sensation 2

Once at the homescreen you'll find HTC's signature weather, clock and calendar widget, which looks as elegant as ever and remains very useful for seeing at a glance a host of information. There are plenty of other slick looking widgets too, for showing emails, listing your favourite contacts and such like, but we've never quite found them useful enough to bother using them – a trend that applies to widgets in general.

HTC Sensation - Contacts

Other HTC niceties include the Phone link at the bottom of the homescreen. This opens the dialler but also includes your contacts listed behind, ready for scrolling through, should you not know the number to dial. The same spinning carousel homescreen gesture as on the HTC Flyer is also to be found – swipe quickly across the homescreen and the view will zoom out to show all seven homescreens spinning rapidly round. It's a gimmick but it's mighty impressive.

HTC Sensation - Notifications

We also like the notifications drop down that shows recently run apps, your notifications, and on another tab it has quick settings for Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Mobile Network, Bluetooth, and GPS, as well as a link to the full settings page and the memory management app.

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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