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HTC Sensation review

HTC's dual-core wonder finally arrives - let battle commence!

Our Verdict

Definitely HTC's finest Android phone to date that shows the Taiwanese firm still has what it takes to cut it at the sharp end

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 1 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 8 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 8.25 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 540 x 960

View full specification

For

  • Premium build
  • Fast operation
  • Pin-sharp screen
  • Accurate keyboard
  • Slick 3D animations

Against

  • Awful battery life
  • Still poor in direct light
  • Video player erratic
  • Power button slightly lost
  • Camera needs to be faster

Updated: now read our Hands on: HTC Sensation XL and HTC Sensation XE reviews.

HTC has gone from being an unknown manufacturer for bigger brands to one spewing out leading Android smartphones. The Desire was a landmark phone in the fight against the iPhone, but now tech has moved up a level - can the HTC Sensation stay at the sharp end?

With the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S2, the Motorola Atrix and (to a degree) the LG Optimus 2X, dual-core phones have become the darling of the tech enthusiast.

And HTC has recognised that in bringing out a phone that ticks all the boxes for the most sought-after tech, bringing an 8MP camera, 1080p video recording, a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm chipset and a qHD resolution 4.3-inch screen.

We've decided to test out the new HTC flagship in front of the camera, so if you want to see it with real life moving pictures, check it out:

Coming in at £35 a month on a two year deal, or £500 SIM free, it's matching the cost of other high end smartphones at the moment - but given it's HTC's flagship device, we'd expect it costing a little more than the masses.

HTC sensation review

The design of the HTC Sensation is a little bit larger than its rivals, in that it comes in at 11.3mm thick - noticeably thicker than the likes of the Galaxy S2, but still feeling comfortable in the hand.

HTC sensation review

The screen is also a different animal to most of the 4.3-inch offerings out there - with the qHD (540x960) resolution display, the Sensation is a thinner offering while still allowing movies to be played in widescreen.

HTC sensation review

The phone itself is encased in toughened plastic and aluminium (which feels more like plastic) through the stripe in the centre - the whole back of the phones pulls away from the main device, with the antenna and suchlike pumped into the chassis rather than on the phone itself.

HTC sensation review

Getting the back of the phone off through the little catch at the bottom is much harder than it looks, with the fingers needed to prise it apart almost holding it in place at the same time - wiggling and shaking is needed to get to the battery and microSD card slot.

The power/lock button is placed on the top right hand side of the phone, and sits probably a little too close to the chassis to be easily pressed - although it's more of a minor annoyance than a deal breaker.

HTC sensation review

HTC is one of the few brands that's still keeping faith with the dedicated search key, (the likes of the Sony Ericsson Arc and Galaxy S2 have done away with it altogether) but the keys are touch sensitive like the HTC Desire S, and react instantly to a feathery fingering.

The headphone socket is at the top of the Sensation (rather than taking its design cues from the larger-screened phones like the Desire HD, which liked to plonk it at the bottom) but is probably a little close to the edge of the phone - getting a good grip when holding the phone to watch video can be a little hard.

HTC sensation review

HTC has long had a problem with screen visibility in direct sunlight, and it seems that issue has continued somewhat with the Sensation. It's definitely a step up, as at medium brightness you can make out what's on the screen, but compare it to the iPhone 4's Retina Display or the Super AMOLED Plus of the Galaxy S2 and it's miles behind. However, the resolution is definitely a step forward, and the sharpness of the text is impressive.

HTC sensation review

The HTC Sensation isn't in the same 'thin and super light' category of many of today's smartphones - it comes in at nearly 150g compared to the helium-esque devices on the market today - but it's a solid build quality and one you wouldn't panic about too much if you saw it plummeting towards a carpeted floor.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported32 GB
Built-in Memory1 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyEDGE, GPRS, HSDPA, HSUPA
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationNo
Integrated TV TunerNo
Cellular Generation3.5G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1700, WCDMA 2100
Rear Camera Resolution8 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlack
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameHTC
Battery Talk Time8.25 Hour
Product ModelSensation
Screen Size10.9 cm (4.3")
Screen Resolution540 x 960
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)148 g
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 3.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 2.3 Gingerbread
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Height126.1 mm
Width65.4 mm
Depth11.3 mm
Radio TunerYes
Battery Standby Time350 Hour
ManufacturerHigh Tech Computer Corp
Product NameSensation Smartphone
Processor Speed1.20 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeG-sensor, Accelerometer, Digital Compass, Ambient Light Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Gyro Sensor
Manufacturer Part Number99HNA033-00
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.europe.htc.com
Marketing Information

A multimedia superphone in the palm of your hand

Want to be entertained like never before? On-demand movies look great with a stunning qHD display, and they sound crystal clear with Hi-Fi audio technology. The HTC Sensation also includes an immersive HTC Sense experience making this phone easy-to-use and a top entertainer. The premium design, complete with contoured glass edging, feels great in your hand. The HTC Sensation is a multimedia superphone.

Package Contents
  • Sensation Smartphone
  • Battery
  • microSD Card
  • USB Cable
  • 3.5mm Stereo Headset
  • Power Adapter
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Safety and Regulatory Guide
Limited Warranty1 Year