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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.