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Sensation 1

Building upon the success of flagship Android phones like the EVO 4G, and ThunderBolt, HTC's at it again with the Sensation 4G.  Available now at T-Mobile, the phone is awesome on paper: 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video recording capabilities, and Android 2.3 with HTC Sense 3.0, just to name a few of the high-end specifications.  It's feature-packed, that's for sure, but in today's mobile world, Android phones launch on a weekly basis.  Does it distinguish itself enough to stand out in a green sea of Androids?

Design & Features

On aesthetics alone, the HTC Sensation 4G takes home the gold medal.  Simply put, it's a beautifully crafted device.  The battery cover is a combination of metal and plastic (to allow for optimal signal strength), and doubles up as the sides and earpiece grille for the phone itself.

Sensation 2

Hitting the scales at 5.2 ounces, the Sensation is thin enough to throw into a tight pair of jeans or a side purse pocket.  The 4.3-inch curved qHD display offers 540 x 960 pixels, and is vibrant with no pixelation issues.  The curved display isn't really noticeable unless your finger grazes over the sides, the top, or when pressing the capacitive buttons at the bottom.

Usability & Performance

Sensation 3

Since it's a flagship HTC smartphone (for this month, at least), the Sensation 4G ships with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and version 3.0 of HTC's popular Sense user interface.  Though 3.0 is more of an evolutionary bump from 2.0 (the version found on the Inspire 4G, ThunderBolt, and a few more), it offers new features like a revamped lockscreen, a new notification bar, and minor changes to the menu structure, plus some features from Sense 2.0 like HTC Hub access and the enhanced personalization menu

Despite the improvements in Sense 3.0 and the awesome specifications that the Sensation has, I was surprised to see lag present.  Chalk it up to the fact that Sense (particularly the latest iteration) is resource-intensive with its eye-catching transitions, but for a device with a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, it's noticeably slower than some of its competitors.  For an untrained eye, it won't be too frustrating, but those used to the speeds of devices like the T-Mobile G2x, Samusng Galaxy S II, and even the similarly-spec'd HTC EVO 3D will notice small delays from opening the app drawer to scrolling through the gallery.  It's manageable, but it's unfortunate to see.  I expected more from one of HTC's high-end smartphones.

Sensation 4

Rocking an 8-megapixel camera with HD video recording, picture quality was very impressive.  Colors were natural, and even in low-lit situations, the camera performed well thanks to the dual-LED flash.  Editing options include various scenes and the ability to modify the image adjustment, white balance, ISO, and resolution.  Sensation shoots video in 1080p, and while the video quality was decent, the audio appeared to be a bit brash and choppy.

HTC packages the Sensation 4G with a 1,520 mAh battery, so you can expect average battery life.  With moderate use like calling, text messaging, browsing the web, and downloading apps, I was regularly able to make it into the evening before the low battery warning flashed across the screen.  If you're a hard-core user, you'll probably require a charge by mid-afternoon.

Sensation 5

It's clear that calling isn't the Sensation's best feature.  Even in areas with strong service, call quality left a lot to be desired.  The earpiece was a bit muffled at the loudest volume, and I noticed quite a bit of static and excess feedback during my calls.  Some of my callers reported some distortion on their end as well.  When I took the Sensation to a T-Mobile dead zone in the Charlotte metro area, I was able to maintain the call, though the call was very choppy with a lot of static.

There have been scattered reports of a "death grip" issue, similar to what plagued the GSM variant of Apple's iPhone 4.  I haven't been able to replicate, though I'd caution that every smartphone on the market today will experience some level of signal attenuation (that is, the signal will drop) when you hold it like a sumo wrestler.

Despite it only being able to attain a theoretical peak of 14.4 Mbps, the Sensation's HSPA+ data speeds were pretty impressive.  In testing, it achieved download speeds between 3.70 and 7.05 Mbps, with upload speeds between 1.05 and 2.30 Mbps.  Webpages loaded quickly and apps downloaded with ease, though I noticed that the Sensation rotated between 4G (HSPA+) and 2G (EDGE) in historically strong T-Mobile areas within Charlotte.

Conclusion

Sensation 6

The HTC Sensation 4G is the most beautiful Android phone out there, and rivals the Apple iPhone 4 in terms of build quality.  But aesthetics are only half of the equation.  It struggles at times in the call quality department, and signal strength fluctuates too much.  Perhaps more troubling, it's laggy in comparison to other top Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S II, which is disappointing given its status as a dual-core powerhouse.  Despite the issues, it's still one of the best Android smartphones on T-Mobile, and is an excellent alternative for those that don't like the stock Android build that comes on the T-Mobile (LG) G2x.

Wrap-Up

What's Good: Beautifully designed; fast web speeds despite only supporting a maximum speed of 14.4 Mbps; decent battery life.

What's Bad: Sluggish at times; signal strength fluctuates despite being in the same spot; call quality could be better.

The Verdict: The HTC Sensation 4G is the most beautifully designed Android phone on the market today, but it suffers from lag that no dual-core device should have.


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Comments & discussions  

31 Reactions to this post

"Aaron reviews the HTC Sensation 4G. Is this T-Mobile's best Android device?"


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Jan Siegien
Jan Siegien i really want this phone. it is so sick.
Philip John
Philip John got it yesterday for $149.99 awesome phone, cant put it down
Kidd Hampton
Kidd Hampton G2x best tmobile phone ever
RodrigoyClaudia Salazar
RodrigoyClaudia Salazar Hd2 on android enought said
Utkarsh Sharma
Utkarsh Sharma Of course.!!
Ara Boss Zakarian
Ara Boss Zakarian Had it for a day n it lagged so much I returned it! My vibrant rooted is ten times faster!
Piterson Massenat Desir
Piterson Massenat Desir I don't think anything can beat the g2x
Kevin Walker Jr
Kevin Walker Jr People say It's slow but I think is just the sense ui....HTC can probably optimize it some more. I just bought it and I love it. I had the nexus one before this. This is the best looking phone out! I'm cool with my upgrade!
Lidia Obando
Lidia Obando Left my HD7 for the Sensation and luv it!!
L.c. Tooflyforafullname Carter
L.c. Tooflyforafullname Carter Great phone, very responsive , the keyboard app works better than swype . Still wanting a pure android phone without the extra crapload of apps that charge for services Google has for free.
Devonne Illusive Man Akinyele
Devonne Illusive Man Akinyele I love my sensation
John Cruz
John Cruz Aaron I think your cool and your jokes don't suck
Mike Mota
Mike Mota Yes Oscar. Says the little boy taking pictures with his iPhone in front of his bathroom mirror
Oscar Rubi Jr.
Oscar Rubi Jr. Tmobile sucks!
Ayo Q Sipho
Ayo Q Sipho I finally got to check out the sensation today and its a bit slow but its up there with the top "tmo" phones. My hd2 cm7 is faster then it. Ima hold out on the sensation and wait for the next nexus to come out Thanksgiving
Mikey Salvato
Mikey Salvato Lol galaxy s 2 what a joke!
Danny Spaide
Danny Spaide I love my sensation. Best phone to date
Joshua Castro
Joshua Castro IN tmo yes overall no galaxy s 2 better.
Luciano Ace Escobedo
Luciano Ace Escobedo I jizzed my pants playing with this phone
Pascal Hertinge
Pascal Hertinge phonedog are you going to do a review of the Adam Tablet?
Donovan Fraser
Donovan Fraser Most beast phone out.
Tim Fuhrmann
Tim Fuhrmann I would have to say its in the top two. Haven't done a comparison against the G2x personally, but seeing as those are the only two high end Android devices they offer(maybe the only since the G2x has been out of stock for what, a month at least?), it has to rank high.
Facebook user
Facebook user @Hansel Thank you :-)
Hansel Starley
Hansel Starley Aaron Baker and his hair make the best reviews.
James Gustavo Hidalgo
James Gustavo Hidalgo G2x... sensation lags
Isaac Castillo
Isaac Castillo Yes cause, t mobile sucks I have it :(
Daniel Powell
Daniel Powell The f2f us just ewwww HTC sensation 4G is much better
Pascal Hertinge
Pascal Hertinge Yes.
John Cruz
John Cruz cool.....
Eric Casanova
Eric Casanova First
Tim Melo
Tim Melo No ... G2




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