Review: HTC Sensation

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HTC has long been one of the most desirable smartphones brands in the market, and their flagship mobile devices have had a reputation of combining the latest tech in form factors that are prime examples of understated elegance. The Sensation continues this proud tradition, while it’s a bit late to the dual-core smartphone party, it still manages to impress with its solid features and innovations.

I’m a dude with big hands and usually I don’t complain too much when a 4.3-inch smartphone rolls my way, but I’ve gotten feedback from other people that devices that big feel awkward to hold. It came as a surprise then that people found that the Sensation just right for their hands, especially considering it has the same 4.3-inch screen that they’ve complained about in the past. HTC has managed to shrink the phone’s dimensions without sacrificing the size of the screen by shrinking the bezel around the display, which contributes to the Sensation’s 126.1×65.4×11.3mm frame.

The Sensation still retains much of the design cues of HTC’s previous efforts, which include unibody construction and shyness from physical keys (save for the volume rocker and power button). The overall design of the Sensation will be familiar to anyone who has ever used a HTC device, yet doesn’t alienate anyone from jumping from other brands. There’s a dual LED flash, 8 megapixel camera on the back with another, smaller front facing camera on the front. Imaging wise, the Sensation is able to take full HD videos (1080p) without issues. The device feels comfortable to hold in the hands, and the rounded corners give you a positive grip without making you uncomfortable.

Of course, the Sensation has the hardware front covered well – it sports a 1.2 GHz dual-core, Adreno 220 GPU, Qualcomm MSM 8260 Snapdragon processor for number crunching and graphics work. Android 2.3 Gingerbread is the OS of choice here (naturally) topped off with HTC’s Sense overlay. The device is easy to navigate for the most part, and like the HTC Desire S, the Sense overlay gives users a couple of extra features that’s not available on regular Android devices.

One slightly new addition is the way you unlock the screen – instead of swiping your fingers across the screen, you now have to pull a ring towards the center to unlock it. You can also pull down a widget to go to an app directly. For example, if someone messages you via SMS, you can drag the SMS widget to the ring directly so you can jump directly to it.

To accurately gauge the performance of the Sensation, we downloaded two benchmarking tools – AnTuTu and Quadrant Standard – to get two different performance viewpoints on the Sensation.

For AnTuTu, the Sensation managed to bag 4501 points which is pretty good, but was about 1,000 points short of its dual-core contemporaries like the Optimus 2X and the Galaxy S II.

It scored high marks with Quadrant Standard, scoring 2212 points.

One issue I had with the Sensation was the mediocre battery life – though I wasn’t expecting much given the amount of power and features on tap, I was still expecting to at least be able to finish a day without being charged. Alas, I was barely able to get through a single day of moderate use before it died on me. Clearly, the Sensation won’t survive long without a trip to the charger.

Probably the biggest deal breaker for most for the Sensation is the price. HTC pegged the price for the Sensation at Php 31,990, which is a bit more than its primary competitor, the Galaxy S II which retails for Php 29,990.

Ultimately it all boils down to brand preference. While a bit pricier, the Sensation has a couple of unique features that in my opinion makes the slightly higher price worth it. It may seem formulaic, especially when compared to other devices in the market, but there’s a reason why HTC is sticking to their established formula: it works.

 

What’s Hot:

Doesn’t feel as bulky as other 4.3-inch equipped smartphones

Fast processor, extremely responsive

Elegant design

 

What’s Not:

Mediocre battery life

Pricey

 

Bottomline:

While a bit more expensive than other Android superphones out today, the HTC Sensation brings its fair share of features to the table that warrants a closer look, if not a flat out purchase.

 

Buymeter: 8.6

 

TECH SPECS:
Operating System

Android 2.3 with HTC Sense 3.0

CPU

1.2 GHz dual-core processor, Adreno 220 GPU, Qualcomm MSM 8260 Snapdragon

LCD size

4.3 inch S-LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, 540 x 960 pixels

Physical Dimensions

126.1×65.4×11.3mm

Weight

148 g

Band

GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, HSDPA 900 / 2100