HTC Amaze 4G review: HTC Amaze 4G

Despite its advanced features, the Amaze's camera still struggled in low-light conditions.

Picture quality was a bit mixed. The camera did an excellent job outdoors. Images came out looking sharp with good detail and bright colors. The ClearShot HDR and SweepShot modes also worked well, but the SmartShot feature didn't really work in our testing, as we still ended up with photos of people with their eyes closed. Also, even with the BSI sensor, photos taken in low light (see above) came out looking a bit soft and washed-out.

HTC and T-Mobile also claim that the Amaze 4G's camera has zero shutter lag, but we didn't find that to be the case every time. It was definitely fast, but we did experience a slight delay here and there.

On the video side, the camera can record up to 1080p HD clips, and the results were very similar to those of the still camera. Great quality in outdoor and brightly lit environments, but videos taken inside had a slight haziness to them. You can share your videos and photos through a number of channels, including e-mail, Facebook, YouTube, Picasa, and Flickr. You can also mirror content to your HDTV via DLNA or using an HDMI MHL adapter. The HTC Amaze 4G has 16GB of internal memory and an expansion slot that can accept SD cards up to 32GB, but sadly, an SD card is not included in the price of the phone.

The HTC Amaze 4G is a quad-band world phone and offers a speakerphone, conference calling, voice dialing, video calling via Qik, and text and multimedia messaging. Like the Samsung Galaxy S II, the Amaze is also compatible with T-Mobile's faster HSPA+ 42 network, meaning it can reach a theoretical download speed of 42Mbps--double that of its HSPA+ 21 network. Currently, this network is available in more than 150 markets, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay area, and covers 170 million Americans.

The smartphone can also be used as a mobile hot spot for up to five device and features Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), and GPS, as well as NFC support. With the embedded NFC chip and the preinstalled Tags app, you can use the smartphone to scan, read, and share RFID (radio frequency identification) tags. In the future, once Google Wallet support is expanded beyond the Nexus 4G, you should be able to use the Amaze 4G to make mobile payments.

In addition to the standard Google services, the HTC Amaze 4G comes preloaded with a number of other apps and tools, including the Polaris Office suite, a flashlight, an FM radio, HTC Watch, T-Mobile TV HD, and TeleNav Navigator. Unfortunately, unlike other carriers, T-Mobile does not let you uninstall any of the preloaded apps.

We tested the quad-band HTC Amaze 4G in New York using T-Mobile service, and call quality was decent. In general, we enjoyed clear audio, but we did notice a slight background hiss during lulls in the conversation. There wasn't any type of voice distortion, but the sound was a bit tinny. Friends also noted the same thing, but overall, they were happy with the call quality on their end.

HTC Amaze 4G call quality sample Listen now:

Speakerphone quality was good. The sound was clear and full, There was also enough volume to have conversations in a louder environment. We paired the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones and had no problems making calls or listening to music.

We didn't experience any dropped calls during our review period, and T-Mobile's HSPA+ network provided impressive speeds here in Manhattan. Using Ookla's, we recorded an average download speed of 8.52Mbps, peaking at 13.9Mbps, and an average upload speed of 1Mbps, peaking at 1.71Mbps. CNET's full site loaded in a zippy 7 seconds, while the mobile sites for CNN and ESPN came up in 4 seconds and 6 seconds respectively. High-quality YouTube clips played within a couple of seconds and playback was smooth and continuous.

The Amaze 4G is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon S3 1.5GHz dual-core processor and has 1GB RAM. The smartphone was able to keep up with our demands, as it launched and switched between apps with little to no delay. Flash content and 3D games presented no problems for the Amaze either.

The HTC Amaze 4G ships with a 1,730mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 6 hours and up to 16 days of standby time. In our battery drain tests, the Amaze provided 5.5 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge. According to FCC radiation tests, the Amaze 4G has a digital SAR rating of 0.46W/kg.

As we said when we first saw the T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide, it's great to see manufacturers like HTC concentrating on improving smartphone cameras. The HTC Amaze 4G shows great potential in terms of what smartphone cameras can do, though its features didn't always perform as advertised. Even so, you're still getting a fast and powerful Android device, and it's one of the best smartphones in T-Mobile's lineup right now. However, its high price tag will be a barrier for a lot of people. There are some good alternatives: for example, for $30 less, you can get the Samsung Galaxy S II, which also has a great camera, supports T-Mobile's faster HSPA+ network, and comes with a Super AMOLED Plus display. Or, for $60 less, you can get the MyTouch 4G Slide, which comes with some of the same great camera features and has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard.

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