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T-Mobile HTC Sensation 4G review
By James Lenhart

Sensation 4G - Top Angle

It’s been several months since the release of the Sensation 4G, but it still holds it’s ground as a dependable phone built with high-grade materials. The Sensation 4G is using T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network, which made the phone feel much snappier while using data intensive apps for obvious reasons. While this phone slouches on some hardware aspects, it makes up for it in other ways.

First Impressions

Packaging was interesting. It looks like HTC is targeting people who like to dance in clubs, and perhaps those that get their “shuffle” on. Inside the box you’ll find the phone, battery, USB cable, home charger, ear buds w/ multimedia controls and volume adjustment, and optional foam for the ear buds. The usual starter guide and warranty information is included for those who were worried.

I was very impressed with boot speed the first time I powered on the Sensation 4G. Restarting the phone was also as fast. After getting through the usual Android account setup I was greeted by Sense UI 3.0. While I’m not big on all the animations and the added sound effects that the phone ships with out-of-box, I can see how some people might enjoy the added eye-candy.

After primarily using an iPhone for the last six months it was a nice to use something different despite some of the quirkiness of Sense. Make note, you can get rid of the intro animations by removing the stock clock widget. And as always, HTC has done a great job with the dialer app and contacts management, but they really impressed with their keyboard that has built in Swype-like capabilities.

Hardware

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The phone itself is very nice to hold on to, and it never felt like it was going to slip out of my hand. This is mainly because of the materials on the backside of the phone that give it  a rubbery feel on the upper and lower portion. The phone was fast enough to keep up with apps and games I used on it, however, scrolling was poor on some third-party apps.

Display

We have a large 4.3″ qHD Super LCD Display sporting a 540×960 resolution. Space between pixels is very minimal, and can’t be seen unless you get up close and personal with the phone. Brightness and color definition were not a problem, but the display did not sport the best viewing angle I’ve seen from other phones. However, the display was fine in direct sunlight, and it responded very well to touch. The size alone made it easy to get used to the keyboard almost immediately, but it required that I use two hands for certain operations.

I think most people will be impressed with this screen, although, the geeks will always pick out it’s short comings. One feature that most will overlook is the slightly concave design, and the Gorilla Glass — who needs a screen protector?

Buttons and Ports

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All of the buttons feel extremely solid, especially the power button which will probably be used the most. The capacitive touch buttons are accurate, and are placed where I feel it makes most sense out of all the other manufacturers. The volume switch is a rocker, which I think fits well with the design of this phone. The headphone jack and charging port were both sturdy, but I was disappointed with the placement of the charging port as I’m left-handed.

Camera

HTC has always had an awesome camera app that sports an easy way to zoom and switch between flash settings. I enjoyed the built-in effects that can be applied on-the-fly. The picture quality was decent, but looks grainy in low-light situations —  which most phones still suffer from. Speed was very impressive between shots, and I think 8-megapixels will suit most people just fine. On a parting note, I thought it did very well with nighttime shots considering that it has a dual-flash.

The front-facing camera seemed like an after thought and wouldn’t do well in most indoor situations, however, how many times have you actually used that thing?

Sensation 4G Photos

iPhone 4 Photos

Speed and Performance

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Processor and Memory

Inside the Sensation 4G you’ll find a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.2GHz processor that works very well with Android Gingerbread 2.3.

You’ll also find 768MB of RAM, 4GB internal storage with 1GB being user addressable. The phones comes with an 8GB microSD card, which can easily be swapped out for something larger.

The video playback was flawless on HD video as it should be, because the processor was built to handle video playback over HDMI and DLNA. There were points that the phone would stutter, but that was mainly inside third-party apps (Twitter, Facebook). All the included software seemed to preform well, and shouldn’t leave you feeling disappointed.

Network

The phone works on the GSM/EDGE network over 850/900/1800/1900MHz frequencies and has the additional HSPA+ 1700 MHz AWS Bands, which allows you to take advantage of the “4G” speeds. We were impressed with the average 4.7mbps down and 1.1 mbps up. And I can’t tell you how bad I want this on my iPhone. It was very hard to browse the web over standard 3G after being spoiled with those speeds.

You also have the option to use Bluetooth 3.0 and connect over WiFi 802.11 b/g/n

Battery

The HTC Sensation 4G ships with a 1520mAh Li-Ion battery which is replaceable by removing the back. Using the phone through out the day without charging it is definitely possible and only requires that you charge it once a day if you’ve used it heavily. Casual usage will get you close to two days. You can find replacement batteries on Amazon that will give you that extra if you really need it.

Wrap-Up

I think very highly of a device that is able to perform well even though it’s been released several months ago and is now considered outdated by most geeks. Most people that I let play with the Sensation 4G  enjoyed the design and the sleek profile of the device. It really looks very thin while sitting on a flat surface, and it fits great in the hand with that 4.3″ Super LCD display.

There were things that we felt HTC overlooked, but again, this phone was released back in June and has since been replaced with new devices that pack in all the latest features. At some points it felt like I was using WiFi everywhere, which is very impressive considering it’s on 3G but is considered “4G”.

Thanks HTC!

 

 


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