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.
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.
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.