HTC Sensation review

I wrote this review for Telecom’s late, lamented co. magazine, after using the handset over the course of a weekend. I subsequently acquired a Sensation to use as my permanent, day to day phone. Reading the review again, it pretty much holds up – I love using it. The camera and video capability are really, really good, and the screen is astonishing – and it hasn’t succumbed to ‘creeping slowdown’ like other Android handsets I’ve used. I *did* install Launcher Pro however, the HTC Sense stuff is to frilly pour moi, and got old, fast. Recommended.

The first thing I thought when I got my mitts on the Sensation was that this phone is big. Big in every way. Conceivably, you could mount it to your roof and put your neighbour’s Christmas light display to shame. It’s got dual core chipset (which means it goes really fast), an 8 MP camera (which means it’s probably as good as your camera) and shoots full 1080p HD video (so you can show off your cat videos on your flatscreen TV), among other impressive sounding features. Everyone tells us our smartphones these days are small computers that just so happen to have a phone on them – this Sensation feels more like a small tablet to me. That said, making a call on this phone doesn’t feel like you’re talking into your ironing board – it’s extremely thin, light and slips easily into your pocket.

The thing that’s stuck with me, though, about the Sensation is the screen. My goodness, the screen. It’s bright and sharp, to say the very least, and for the first time I could imagine sitting down and watching an entire film (with proper widescreen) on a phone without feeling like I was in some kind of dubious adult interest theatre for insects. And with all that screen real estate, tapping out a text, tweet or email was easier than any other touchscreen handset I’ve tried.

The Sensation runs on Gingerbread, the latest and greatest version of Android (version 2.3) – if you’re an Android user, you’ll already be used to how it all works, but you’ll be blown away by how FAST it goes – it’s as responsive as a hungry puppy. It also features HTC Sense, which makes the Sensation even more user friendly with nifty thumbnail screens, people widgets, a WiFI hoptspot and a really neat weather feature you have to see to believe. Google’s apps like Gmail, Google Docs, Google Maps all run brilliantly, and there’s plenty more to choose from in the Android marketplace. Angry Birds, the incomprehensibly popular catapult game, is GORGEOUS to use on this screen.

So, what did I actually do with it? Sat about on my couch and played with it, mostly, marvelling at its speed and the screen.  But I am a lazy, lazy man. Who’s going to want one? Early adopters, yes, but anyone interested in a highly spec-ed touchscreen phone that’s easy to use should have a look at the Sensation, it measures up to any phone out there, and beats them in places. I could imagine using one for work. I could imagine it coming in really handy for Googling and looking up directions when you’re out and about at the weekend. I can also imagine loading it up with Dora and throwing into the backseat for a happy family on a long car journey.

Luckily for us, the Sensation is one of two HTC handsets exclusively available on XT that come out in early July. The other one is the Wildfire S, a slightly smaller, slightly lower-spec-ed handset, which may interest those who balk at the Sensation’s size. It goes without saying that the Sensation goes FAST on XT – this is mobile internet at its finest, and before you know it, you’ll be using the fan on your desktop PC to dry laundry. Probably.


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