HTC Amaze 4G First Impressions

Aaron Baker
Writer from  Dallas, TX
| October 7, 2011

Been itching to move from that iPhone to an Android device, but couldn't find a phone that compared to the design of Apple's iconic series?  Take a look at the HTC Amaze 4G, T-Mobile's newest Android device that comes to the network on October 12th for $259.99 after rebate.  It's the first Android device that's on par with the iPhone 4's aesthetics.

OS battles aside, Android has always struggled in the design department.  There's a lot to like in many of the popular Android series (I'm looking at you, Galaxy S II and DROID), but unless you're a fan of plastic, you probably find it as disappointing as I do to carry around a cheap-feeling-but-still-expensive device while your iPhone-toting friends get to show off glass and metal everywhere they go.

The single feature that caught me most off guard is the Amaze's build quality.  The metal accents and the way the display is elevated off of the chassis gives this phone a premium feel that'll make you feel better about spending just under $300.  If aesthetics matter to you, you'll find this to be the perfect Android device to go head-to-head with iOS users.

Preorders begin on October 10th, and it'll be launching in black and white.  I've had the day to tinker with it, so without further ado, some thoughts:

  • Between the improvements we've seen with the Exynos line and the lag on the HTC EVO 3D and Sensation 4G, I've been increasingly skeptical of Qualcomm's dual-core Snapdragon processors.  It all goes away with the S3, though - I have yet to experience a slowdown with the Amaze 4G.  The 1.5 GHz dual-core chip has hummed along impressively, taking everything I've thrown at it with ease.
  • The 4.3-inch qHD display offers 540x960 pixels, and looks great.  No pixelation so far as I can tell, and images are crisp and full of color.
  • We've got the usual Android 2.3.4 and HTC Sense 3.0 running on this device, but T-Mobile was kind enough to keep access to and HTC Hub intact so you can download additional wallpapers, skins, and other personalization items.  Sense 3.0 offers some nice features over past versions, like the ability to create customized unlock screens that display weather, stocks, and other useful information.

  • Amaze 4G has an 8-megapixel camera that HTC claims as the best on any smartphone today.  I snapped a few test shots while grabbing lunch across the street, and I'm amazed (no pun intended) with the image quality.  I published a 1080p HD video sample to the site, and while audio quality was mixed, video quality was quite impressive.
  • HTC Sense remains incredibly popular and there are a lot of things I like about it (namely, some of the information management features), but after using Samsung's TouchWiz 4.0 and Motorola's revamped UI, the gap between manufacturer-installed UIs has closed.  Those that like Sense will like it on the Amaze 4G.  Those that prefer a vanilla experience or are migrating from another UI may want to snag some hands-on time before committing to a purchase.
  • What I haven't been impressed with in the limited amount of time I've used the handset are the "4G" speeds.  Amaze 4G is an HSPA+ 42 Mbps device, and T-Mobile claims average download speeds approaching 8 Mbps (with highs of 20 Mbps in select areas).  I haven't tested outside of uptown Charlotte just yet, but I've had some pretty wild results ranging from a measly 0.13 Mbps to 3.32 Mbps.

  • With a 1,730 mAh battery, longevity is going to be right up there with the HTC EVO 3D.  I'm still working on official battery numbers, but based on past HTC trends, I'd expect to see about 10 hours with moderate use including calling, text messaging, browsing the web, downloading apps, and the like.  If you're dealing with a heavy day of calls, I'd carry a spare battery.  At the very least, keep a charger in the office, but hey, isn't that the going strategy for today's smartphones?

All in all, the Amaze 4G seems to be a great addition to T-Mobile's high-end Android lineup, though it's going to get some stiff competition from the Samsung Galaxy S II.  Stay tuned for the full review, and be sure to check out the unboxing!

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