HTC Sensation Review
While reviewing another Android handset, we were in a bar in London having a drink with some friends when a girl commented on our phone saying she liked our HTC. We replied with a polite "It's actually not an HTC, though it does run Android". "Well, if it isn't an HTC, it's an iPhone, isn't it?" she said, to which we pulled a face, she walked off and we never saw her again. This little anecdote sums up how successful HTC has been in making its name synonymous with Android, at least in Europe. Of late however, HTC's handsets and tablets have been consistently good, just, not great. Specifically, their S range offered some refined elements, but lacked wow factor, while the HTC Flyer delivered functionality, but lacked both a dual-core processor and Honeycomb. With arguably better handsets and tablets being offered by other manufacturers, HTC needed something better than good to ward off the competition, they needed something sensational. So here it is, 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor with a qHD screen and HTC Sense 3.0 atop Gingerbread – the HTC Sensation.
Premium. This would be our word of choice to sum up the HTC Sensation’s design. From the bevelled glass display through to the aluminium construction, the word is metaphorically lathered all over this phone. While the Samsung Galaxy S II scored across the board in our review, except for its uninspiring design, off the bat, we're smitten with the HTC Sensation's look and feel.
You can compare the HTC Sensation with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
The display on the HTC Sensation is a qHD (540x960) Super LCD with a Gorilla Glassfascia, measuring in at 4.3". It offers greater pixel density than WVGA screens of the same size such as the Samsung Galaxy S II and a longer 16:9 aspect ratio. The glass fascia is also bevelled, with a smooth raise towards the edges. We definitely appreciate the HTC Sensation's aspect ratio when viewing movie content or using the phone one handed in portrait orientation thanks to it being narrower. The pixel density is also noticeably better when web browsing which is another plus. So while Super AMOLED Plus screens are generally more desirable, the HTC Sensation still looks immense, especially head on offering great brightness with good colour and contrast levels. Unfortunately, viewing angles can be likened to the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, with colours tending to look a bit washed out when tilting the phone to the side, despite a great head on experience.
The inclusion of the bevelled glass around the edges of the screen provides multiple benefits. Most noticeably, acting as a protector for your screen when face down, preventing the main display from scratching against surfaces. The bevelling also cups your thumb when operating the capacitive buttons and serves as a tactile indicator when swiping, letting you know that you have reached the edge of the screen. While Samsung wins in terms of display technology, these subtle elements of design consideration give HTC the edge when it comes to interacting with the device and screen.
Going beyond and HTC just keeps on giving. The handset itself is predictably solid being partially made of aluminum, sitting comfortably in the hand with good weighting and an attractive design. The four capacitive buttons below the screen are nuzzled towards the fascia’s lower end against the bevelled glass, while the front-facing camera, light sensor and in-call speaker lie above the screen along with an HTC insignia. To the left side is a volume rocker and microUSB port, up top lies the power button and audio jack and below is the battery cover release button. The 8MP camera, dual LED flash, loud speaker and 2nd microphone all decorate the HTC Sensation's reverse which is styled with a trademark three shade soft touch backing.
The battery cover is like a suit of armour, encasing everything other than the glass facia. When we think about the fear we experience when taking off the fragile yet super-slim Samsung Galaxy S II battery cover, this is the total opposite, delivering a cohesive styling, secure backing and an even more solid feel to the HTC Sensation. Another plus point of the all encasing back cover is scratches. A scratch anywhere other than the Gorilla Glass fascia and you can simply purchase a new back cover.
As we said very early on, we’re smitten with the look and feel of the HTC Sensation. Its design is interesting yet accessible, its feel is solid yet manageable, and while its screen is good, if not great, the little touches such as the bevelled Gorilla Glass and longer aspect ratio separate it from the crowd in a good way. It’s definitely sporting more character than the Samsung competition, but carries more bulk. Which is the better choice? While the screen quality may not be as good and it isn't anywhere near as thin or light, when it comes to design, the HTC Sensation definitely has more flare and feels more solid.