I like what HTC has been up to lately. Rather than fighting a race to the bottom with endless soulless variants of the same piece of hardware in a crowded (and fiercely competitive) Android handset market, it’s trying to grow beyond just being a handset manufacturer. 

I hate starting reviews with history lessons, but in this case we really do need to step back to see where HTC is coming from. In the beginning, HTC was a nameless OEM for other more famous brands. Its clients were smartphone and Pocket PC names like Palm with its Treo, Compaq with its iPaq, Dell with a number of the Axim PDAs, and UTStarcomm. As Windows Mobile aged and showed little signs of improving, HTC took its first step outside the bounds of being just a hardware assembler by taking on an ambitious project to revitalize Windows Mobile with a software skin. The fruits of this effort were TouchFlo, and later TouchFlo 3D UIs - which eventually would become HTC Sense. Somewhere between the release of the HTC Mogul and HTC Touch Pro, HTC realized that its future wasn’t purely in manufacturing devices for other handset vendors, but in leveraging its own brand. The combination of continually improving industrial design, software, and its own direction have turned HTC into the device manufacturer it is today. 

Things have come a long, long way since the HTC Dream, and today we’re looking at HTC’s latest and greatest with the HTC Sensation. 

I get a bit excited every time I look at the HTC Sensation. It’s a device with perhaps the strongest and most bold design language of any HTC phone to date. You can pretty much chart HTC’s design language by looking at each generation of its international handsets.

The HTC Desire was essentially an international version of the Nexus One, with hardware buttons but the same 65nm single core Snapdragon QSD8250 SoC. The second generation was the HTC Desire HD, which brought a larger 4.3” screen and 45nm Snapdragon MSM8255 SoC. The third step is the HTC Sensation, which ups resolution from WVGA 800x480 to qHD 960x540 and brings a 45nm dual core Snapdragon MSM8260 SoC. 

Physical Comparison
  Apple iPhone 4 HTC Thunderbolt LG Optimus 2X/G2x HTC Sensation
Height 115.2 mm (4.5") 122 mm (4.8") 123.9 mm (4.87") 126.3 mm (4.97")
Width 58.6 mm (2.31") 67 mm (2.63") 63.2 mm (2.48") 65.5 mm (2.58")
Depth 9.3 mm ( 0.37") 13.2 mm (0.52") 10.9 mm (0.43") 11.6 mm (0.46")
Weight 137 g (4.8 oz) 183.3 g (6.46 oz) 139.0 g (4.90 oz) 148 g (5.22 oz)
CPU Apple A4 @ ~800MHz 1 GHz MSM8655 45nm Snapdragon 1 GHz Dual Core Cortex-A9 Tegra 2 AP20H 1.2 GHz Dual Core Snapdragon MSM8260
GPU PowerVR SGX 535 Adreno 205 ULP GeForce Adreno 220
RAM 512MB LPDDR1 (?) 768 MB LPDDR2 512 MB LPDDR2 768 MB LPDDR2
NAND 16GB or 32GB integrated 4 GB NAND with 32 GB microSD Class 4 preinstalled 8 GB NAND with up to 32 GB microSD 4 GB NAND with 8 GB microSD Class 4 preinstalled
Camera 5MP with LED Flash + Front Facing Camera 8 MP with autofocus and dual LED flash, 720p30 video recording, 1.3 MP front facing 8 MP with AF/LED Flash, 1080p24 video recording, 1.3 MP front facing 8 MP AF/Dual LED flash, VGA front facing
Screen 3.5" 640 x 960 LED backlit LCD 4.3” 800 x 480 LCD-TFT 4.3" 800 x 480 LCD-TFT 4.3" 960 x 540 S-LCD
Battery Integrated 5.254Whr Removable 5.18 Whr Removable 5.6 Whr Removable 5.62 Whr

Physically it’s obvious that each successive device builds on the former. They’re all backed with HTC’s trademark purple-grey metal and have similar in-hand feel as a result. When I look at the Sensation, I see the Desire crossed with the Desire HD. When I actually hold the Sensation, I feel like I’m holding a grown-up Nexus One.

The two share that trademark combination of slightly rubbery plastic and metal, and as a result the device feels grippy, solid, and confident. What the Sensation also really continues from the other devices is the lack of a hard lip of any kind at the edge, instead every corner rolls off giving the phone a smooth feeling. The sensation of holding something rigid and expensive is communicated by that combination of materials, rather than the cheap plasticky feel conveyed by a number of other handsets. 

The Sensation comes in the same style of packaging that we've seen other T-Mobile phones arrive in. It's a two-part box with a thin middle strip. The top lifts off revealing the phone, and underneath that is the usual paperwork, HTC AC adapter and microUSB cable, and earbuds. 

I started off making one monolithic video for the Sensation, but that ended up being unwieldy, so I split it into multiple parts. The first one is simply a look at the hardware from all angles, torn down, and how it compares to both HTC's legacy devices and some of its modern contenders. 

Physical Overview Continued
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  • leexgx - Monday, July 4, 2011 - link

    but is not 800-900MB not enough space thought with an 8-16-32 SD card as well (i be hard pushed to use 800MB of internal storage) samsung need all that space as they have there own app store that has 3-4 games that use a lot of space, most other phones have 800-900Mb free space nowadays, i guessing most samsung phones do the 2gb/6gb split with 8gb internal space

    if you was talking about cheaper phones like the HTC desire or some random 1.6-2.1 OS phones with 500-800Mhz cpus (that are still been sold what's very lame as they are Crap) i would agree with you 110-50MB of space is not enough even with A2D (that's only on 2.2+ devices)

    i agree with the sound of the load speaker seem to be lacking on 2 HTC phones i have seen

    samsung need to fix there GPS issues there is Zero reason that GPS should be flaky at best (the jumping between to points every 1-2 seconds)

    i agree GPS should be tested and if the phone has less then 1gb internal storage it should be reported as it makes the phone have limited use
  • bubblesmoney - Monday, July 4, 2011 - link

    Having less internal memory on android phones is actually limitting the number of purchases on the android market. People like me would have probably bought almost all the games by gameloft and many other apps for work. But thats not possible now because of the crap apps 2internal memory policy on android and the equally crap stock app2sd move feature.

    The microsd cards are ok, but that does not replace the need for proper internal memory. I already have a couple of 4gb cards, a couple 16gb cards and a couple 32gb cards. Would have preffered a hot swappable card feature without needing to pull the batteries. But I guess the USB on the Go feature on the SGS2 is an alternative. My cards are mainly stuffed with office documents and presentations, teaching videos etc apart from a few songs. But still need good internal memory for apps (some games and other professional apps and loads of teaching apps for my child). Presently i am using one phone for me and another for apps for my child. If the internal memory was ok then i wouldnt need to keep switching between two phones depending on what app i want to use. Not everyone is interested in rooting and playing around with firmware. But the present internal memory hardware situation and crap app2sd stock situation doesnt leave one with much alternatives on android for people who need more internal memory.
  • ph00ny - Wednesday, July 6, 2011 - link


    As for GPS, i've done multiple tests including a tunnel pass and they've been spot on. Walking sessions showed the exact side of the road that i was on (google maps showed accuracy of ~10m) and during the tunnel test, it was able to get gps signal as soon as i was out of the tunnel.
  • dtomilson - Sunday, July 3, 2011 - link

    Let's see some Mango chatter. Let's see a new and innovative mobile OS that has cool new features that no other OS does. Other blogs have raved about it, has Google paid you not to?
  • kmmatney - Sunday, July 3, 2011 - link

    I'm still waiting for a good real-life battery assessment for a phone. How long does the battery last if the phone is sitting around doing nothing? Can I squeeze 2 days out of it if I forget my charger on a short business trip? How much charge does it lose sitting on a nightstand overnight? I'm a current iPhone 3GS user, and can get up to 3 days of battery out of my phone if I need to. I have no idea if I can do that just by reading this review.
  • JasonInofuentes - Monday, July 4, 2011 - link

    So, battery life assessments are really particular to the user and even down to what day it is. Let's cover your specific questions first.

    -Battery life sitting around doing nothing: Well, what good is the phone to you if you're not doing anything with it? And, what is nothing? If you mean screen off and not handled (as I'm guessing you mean, does that mean it's also not updating e-mail, and other apps? If you have absolutely no applications periodically pulling data and you leave any of these phones untouched until they die then they will last . . . a really long time.

    -2 days on a business trip: What do you do for a living? Again, if you don't have any apps downloading data periodically, you only ever use your phone as a phone and maybe a few e-mail sessions, then any of these phones should hopefully last that long.

    -Sitting on a night stand overnight: See the first answer.

    Don't look at these battery life measurements as an absolute, look at them as a guide. If you spend a lot of time downloading data on 3G, then make sure to get a phone that does really well in the 3G test. If 3G isn't your thing but you're on WiFi downloading data a lot, then grok the WiFi graph and pick something near the top. And if you're main use for the phone is voice calls, there's a great list of voice call data available to you. Not sure which you are? Well, it sounds like battery life is your bread and butter so just pick one from the top of the list and go for it. You've got at least two weeks to decide if it's for you and my experience is that the honeymoon period when people get new phones is about 5-7 days, at that point they'll either be happy or dragging their charger around with them.
  • zhongzyk - Monday, July 4, 2011 - link

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  • kaikaicc - Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - link

    hello,welcome to www. voguecatch us,there have more top goods,like hand bag,t shirt,sun glass and so on ,i hope everyone will like them,thanks
  • crb119 - Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - link

    so is this better than iphone4..........in terms of software avilability...ahat about skype video????.....
  • winst - Wednesday, July 6, 2011 - link

    Why so much emphasis on phone features and such, but little or no information
    on the fundamentals , being able to make a decent phone call in various conditions ?

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