HTC Amaze 4G Review

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

With the onslaught of top-end Android devices hitting the market it takes a lot to amaze, but as they usually do, HTC have managed to make us pause with their latest superphone. The HTC Amaze 4G is an unofficial response to the Samsung Galaxy S II with specs to match: a 4.3” qHD Super LCD display, dual core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S3 processor, 8MP camera with 1080p recording, 16GB of internal memory, NFC and 42Mbps HSPA+ data all wrapped up under HTC’s Sense 3.0. Launching side-by-side with the Galaxy S II for T-Mobile does this device have what it takes to stack up?


Design:

One look at the HTC Amaze 4G and you know it is an HTC device. The industrial design has softer, rounded corners and the two-tone battery door reminds you of other HTC devices such as the Sensation and Desire. We’ve become accustomed to heavy offerings from HTC, but the Amaze 4G feels heavier than most in the hand. If you have petite hands this phone is going to feel awkward, but despite its size and weight the Amaze 4G felt comfortable in our medium-sized hands.


You can compare the HTC Amaze 4G with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The 4.3” qHD Super LCD display absolutely sparkles and is noticeably better than the good qHD panel found on the HTC EVO 3D. It is very bright with vivid colors that are more natural than the super-saturation of AMOLED displays. We didn’t have any problems reading it in most lighting conditions, but in strong, direct sunlight it did wash out a bit. Still, even when put side-by-side with the Galaxy S II and LG Marquee, HTC’s display looked awful good.

The battery door is actually wraps around the sides and to the front of the phone like it does with the Sensation 4G. Despite the aluminum look, the door is constructed of high quality plastic with soft touch material being used for the black areas. The buttons around the phone offer sufficient feedback, but could have a little more travel or a more satisfying click to them. Not only is there a dedicated camera key, but also a dedicated camcorder key which is a nice addition.

HTC have set the bar so many times for design that we’ve come to expect nothing but the best from them on the hardware front. The Amaze 4G does not disappoint us as the build quality is top notch. The phone feels great in the hand and the materials used are all high quality.



HTC Amaze 4G 360-Degrees View:





Interface and Software:

HTC’s Sense 3.0 is in full effect on the Amaze 4G. We’ve seen this on a few devices now like the Sensation 4G and there is nothing new on the Amaze 4G. Not that it runs poorly on the Sensation or EVO 3D, but it is exceptionally smooth on the Amaze 4G thanks in part to the dual core 1.5GHz processor. HTC continues to lead the way with Android overlays, and HTC Sense is arguably the only skin that actually improves on the stock Android experience. We appreciate the included screenshot function (press power then home) and the new HTC keyboard supports trace writing so Swipe is not included.


There is plenty of storage space on the HTC Amaze 4G (over 2GB for app storage) but we still don’t appreciate the amount of bloatware. In fact, there are 16 pre-installed apps not including Adobe Reader, Flash and Facebook (which we’d imagine most people install anyway) or any of the HTC apps. Some of them are useful, like Polaris Office, but because they are not uninstallable you’re going to be stuck with apps like Slacker, Lookout Security, Zinio Reader and Highlight whether you want them or not.




Internet and Connectivity:

The HTC Amaze 4G runs on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network and is theoretically capable of speeds up to 42Mbps. In our testing we got anywhere from 3.5-10Mbps, with upload speeds a measly 100-600kbps. Wi-Fi a/b/g/n is also available for local connections, and the Amaze 4G can be turned into its own Wi-Fi hotspot for an extra charge. It uses the same HTC browser we’ve seen for a while now and really like. It is quick and fluid and supports all the gestures you’d expect.

The Amaze 4G is one of the few devices to support NFC (near field communication), the tech behind Google Wallet. Google Wallet, however, does not support the Amaze 4G. Like advanced QR codes, the tech can be used to get information like contact info, a URL or multimedia simply by placing your phone on an NFC tag. The theory is pretty cool, but adoption is going to determine its success. 

Other communication standards such as GPS and Bluetooth are aboard the Amaze 4G. Bluetooth is at version 3.0 with support for the HSP 1.1, HFP 1.5, OPP, FTP, PBA, A2DP 1.2, AVRC and HID profiles.





Camera:
  
Though the Amaze 4G has top shelf hardware through and through, there is definitely some emphasis on the camera and its “zero lag” shutter and 1080p recording capabilities. We can report that the shutter is quite impressive and there is virtually no lag. It is possibly the fastest shutter we’ve seen on a cell phone, which is impressive.  

It was an overcast day when we snapped our sample shots and the Amaze 4G’s 8 megapixel camera did a good job of capturing the mood of the sky. Color reproduction is quite natural, but details aren't very good. The focus of the picture is almost always quite clear, but depth of field tripped up the Amaze 4G. Beyond that focal point things began to get blurry, even in closer shots such as the clovers near the pool of water. The macro mode had trouble focusing on the berries, even when we used the touch focus to try and adjust it. 


The panorama mode however was quite easy to use and results are pretty good. 

The dual LED flash was also quite impressive; we were able to light up our entire kitchen in the pitch black quite well. Unfortunately the picture quality was lacking. Even though the Amaze 4G has F2.2 lens and backside illuminated sensor, there is lots of noise in less than perfect lightning conditions. 


Our samples from a day with better weather are definitely better looking.



Videos have never been a strong suit of HTC and it continues with the Amaze 4G. Despite 30fps 1080p capabilities, the video is muddy and generally unsmooth. Audio pickup is not exactly stellar either, especially in terms of quality. Now that HTC has taken care of the music side they should really start looking into a partnership with someone who knows what they’re doing in the camera field.

HTC Amaze 4G Sample Video:




Multimedia:

HTC’s stock music player is a fine app. The Amaze 4G does not benefit from the recent Beats Audio acquisition, but it still sounded good to our ears with SRS enhancement and to be honest the no effects option may be better. When listening to the Beatles (who liked to use the left and right channels independently of each other) the SRS enhancement tended to blend the channels and bring them more to the front, whereas with no effects the experience is more true to the music. We didn’t have any issues playing our test videos, which looked quite nice on the qHD Super LCD display. Xvid played the best, with DivX and MPEG-4 having slight pixilation issues.





Performance:

Callers were pleased with the sound quality of the HTC Amaze 4G, telling us that we sounded clear but slightly hollow. Overall they rated us an 8/10. Things were good but not great on our end. Voice quality was good but it was a little quiet and distant, with a constant hiss in the background. Despite a beefier battery than the Sensation 4G, the Amaze 4G manages just 6 hours of talk time, 2.25 less than the Sensation.

Conclusion:

All things considered the HTC Amaze 4G stands among the best Android devices out there. The upgraded hardware is nice, but the Amaze doesn’t set itself apart from the Sensation 4G all that much. The processer is better, it has more RAM, more internal memory and can theoretically download faster, but at the end of the day these are all just incremental upgrades. With the Sensation 4G only being released in May we’re really not sure why T-Mobile felt the need to pick up the Amaze 4G. It is certainly a better device , but it doesn’t necessary fix the flaws or bring anything really different to the table. If you’re in the market for a new T-Mobile device the Amaze 4G is worth looking at along with the Samsung Galaxy S II, but if you’ve already got a Sensation 4G then you’re not missing much.

Software version of the reviewed unit:
Android: 2.3.4
Software: 1.36.531.5


HTC Amaze 4G Video Review:







Pros

  • Rock solid construction
  • Gorgeous qHD Super LCD display
  • Blazing fast performance with lots of internal memory

Cons

  • Disappointing camera and video performance
  • Battery life
  • Thick and heavy

PhoneArena Rating:

9.0

User Rating:

9.1
10 Reviews

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