HTC Sensation review

HTC's top of the range, dual-core smartphone with Android 2.3
Photo of HTC Sensation
£498.00 inc VAT, SIM-free; free on £35 a month contract from Vodafone

The HTC Sensation has joined the dual-core party alongside arch-rival the Samsung Galaxy S II. The new HTC smartphone boasts Android 2.3, code-named ‘Gingerbread’, plus an updated version of the HTC Sense user interface and a large, high-resolution screen.

Big and bold
Overall the HTC Sensation is quite a large smartphone. It weighs in at 148g, which you’ll certainly notice in your pocket – and at 126x65x11mm, many will struggle to reach right across the screen one-handed.

But what you get for this inconvenience is a super screen measuring 4.3in and offering 960×540 pixels. It’s sharp and bright – though it isn’t at its best outdoors. And in the short term, you may find your favourite apps don’t quite fit. Most high-end Android handsets have a screen resolution of 800×480 pixels, and apps will need to be tweaked to fit the Sensation’s display. Apps ought to run, but you might find there’s some banding round their edges.

Build quality is very good, with a backplate that unusually stretches round the edges of the chassis, a fair amount of metal in the build, and, beneath the screen, four touch buttons for Android Home, Menu, Back and Search functions.

Tweaks, tweaks, tweaks
Android 2.3 is joined by an updated version of HTC’s Sense user interface, which has undergone a rage of tweaks to bring it to version 3.0. We don’t have space here to cover everything that’s changed, but will mention some highlights you’ll meet early on.

There’s a clever lock screen that lets you have four app shortcuts on it so you can quickly get to your favourite apps. Transitions between home screens are now carousel like – visually rather neat. And the trademark HTC Weather app has some new animations and even sound effects (which you can turn off if they annoy, as they did with us fairly quickly).

There’s a lot more too. For example, HTC includes its Reader app, which has lovely new page transitions that are different depending on where you touch the screen in order to turn a page. Reader requires a subscription to Kobo though – and you may prefer to stick with the Kindle app if you already use it.

Movies, anyone?
HTC has also added a new app called Watch from which you can rent or buy movies. The range is limited, pricing a little heavy (£2.49 per movie), but it could be another money spinner for HTC in the long term.

And we’ve not even mentioned the core specifications yet. A 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 8-megapixel main camera, front-facing camera, GPS, Wi-Fi (plus the ability to work as a Wi-Fi hotspot for other nearby devices) – you name it, HTC seems to have thrown it into the pot. The battery should see many people through a day, though heavy users may need to give it a boost during that time.

Company: HTC

Contact: 08080 408 408

Positives
  • Clever lock screen, large high-resolution display.
Negative
  • The screen isn't great in bright sunlight.

Verdict

The HTC Sensation is a good, solid handset, and it sits well at the head of HTC's Android range. Dual-core smartphones are suddenly burgeoning, and for us Samsung has the best offering, by a whisker, with the Galaxy II S. But if you're a fan of HTC and the HTC Sense interface, the Sensation should not disappoint.