HTC Sensation review: HTC Sensation

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent

Average User Rating

3.5 stars 23 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Solid, familiar design. New Sense UI. Sharp, colourful display. Decent camera.

The Bad Poor battery life. No HDMI port on the handset. Some software instability. Performance could be punchier.

The Bottom Line The HTC Sensation is a good phone with loads of features, but we did expect a little more grunt from the dual-core processor and it could definitely use a bigger battery.

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After an extremely busy first half of 2011, HTC adds yet another Android phone in its long line of smartphones. With HTC's brand recognition booming right now, the Sensation arrives on extremely good footing, but does it deliver the experience to match this high bar of expectation, remembering that it will be one of the most expensive phones in Australia on a plan at AU$79 per month through Telstra.

Design

Like Apple's MacBook range, the Sensation bares a style that is synonymous with its designer's. With a strong resemblance to the HD7 and Desire HD , the Sensation is unmistakeably a product of the same team responsible for so many of our favourite phones of late. In fact, from the front you could easily mistake this handset for either of the aforementioned, though its unique battery cover will be enough to settle any arguments you face when your mate picks up your phone off the table at the end of a night out at the pub.

The feel and appearance of its 4.3-inch is also immediately familiar. HTC uses a Super LCD panel in this screen and its warmth and sharpness takes us back to when we reviewed the Desire S and Incredible S only a few months ago now. This screen is more advanced than those on previous HTC's though, with a crisp qHD resolution increasing the pixels per inch of this lovely screen over previous models. Below the screen you'll find a strip of touch-sensitive navigation controls integrated into the glossy black bezel and an elongated earpiece grille over the display — a common feature on HTC's larger handsets.

The Sensation looks great, all in all, and though this design is far from unique in the HTC range, it should appeal to many. We do wish it was a tad lighter though, its 148 grams is noticeably heavier than the weight of the Samsung Galaxy S II and the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc .

A Sense for the user experience

Most exciting for HTC fans is the introduction of Sense 3.0, the latest update in HTC's long-running and critically acclaimed user interface layer for Android. This new iteration adds a faux-3D effect to the phone's home-screen rotation, giving your main interaction with the phone a spinning carousel-like look and feel. The phone's lock screen is also overhauled, offering four customisable lock-screen shortcuts and a couple of funky-looking animated backgrounds just for that screen, including a weather screen and an animated photo album. Also, if you loved the way HTC phones presented the daily weather information before, you're going to love the way the weather appears now in Sense 3.0.

The new-look weather app is a gorgeously designed affair.
(Credit: HTC)

These new elements build on all of the elements we loved in the previous version of Sense, which is found on the Desire HD and Incredible S, amongst others. Sense 3.0 still uses the HTC's customised notifications windows, with quick access to your application history, the task manager and commonly used settings.

Camera

Many of you reading this review will be weighing up the pros and cons between the Sensation and the Samsung Galaxy S II (GS2), undoubtedly the two juggernauts of 2011 thus far. If you're making this decision and the camera quality is an important factor for you, then we'd suggest you take another look at the GS2. HTC's cameras have come a long way in the recent releases, but the Samsung still takes the crown this time round.

If you choose the Sensation for any other reason, you'll still be very happy with the photos this camera takes. Its autofocus works over time picking out subjects as you line up shots, and when it works the results look great. The colour may not be as vibrant as those that you get when you use the Samsung and the focus is sometimes soft, but we were still pleased with the photos we took using this phone.

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Where to Buy

HTC Sensation

Part Number: CNETHTC Sensation

Typical Price: $792.00

See manufacturer website for availability.