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Alongside the Samsung Galaxy S2, the HTC Sensation has been laid down as the benchmark for Android success. On paper, this is an absolute stunner, chock-full of the very latest tech and the best software available. But how does it stand up to rigorous testing? Read our review now to find out.

First impressions

HTC Sensation

To hold the HTC Sensation is to realise just how far the Taiwanese mobile maker has come in just a few short years. The build feels, well, sensational. Its rounded back means it sits easily in the hand, especially important considering the vast 4.3-inch screen sitting on top.

Ultimately though, this takes its cues from HTC’s other Android devices, with the same three-tone rear as the Desire S, the same soft keys down below and the wide, tapered earpiece up top.

That’s not a criticism, more that HTC clearly prefers evolving the look of its phones rather than going in for extreme design overhauls. Add in new HTC Sense software, Full HD video and an ace camera, and you’re looking at a real winner. If you’ve already got a HTC phone, you’ll love this.

8/10

Design

htc sensation back

As mentioned above, the curved rear makes this phone a delight to handle, whether tapping out texts in portrait mode, or watching video and browsing web pages in landscape. In comparison to its key Android rival, the Galaxy S2, it feels more considered.

The latter is neat, but lacks design flourishes, while the Sensation’s edge-to-edge glass, well-placed and obvious soft keys and HTC’s standard battery cover make this a better bet.

That said, this does once again show that Android phone makers are still not quite up to the standards of Apple and Jony Ive. The iPhone 4’s sharp looks still can’t be beaten, but HTC certainly comes close with the Sensation.

8/10

Features

The Sensation’s key features are all about tweaking and amping-up the Android experience. The 1.2 GHz processor means things move at lightning fast pace, whether that means flipping from app to app, or just scrolling through web pages. 1080p HD video recording is very slick, with images looking beautifully defined.

As ever, with mobile phones and pocket camcorders, the sound isn’t quite up to snuff. That’s an issue if you’re making a lengthy masterpiece, but not so bad if you’re making quick clips to load up on YouTube. The on board editing smarts aren’t as good as those on the Galaxy S2, however. It’s simply a case of trimming footage before uploading it, rather than being able to cut and move shots. This can be done by snagging a third-party editor from Android Market, but is a shame considering video is at the front and centre of this device.

The eight megapixel stills camera is a real winner, however. With dual LED flash, it’s great for taking snaps for social networks and works as an ample compact replacement on nights out, working well in low light. The Instant Capture feature also means you don’t end up missing a shot while the camera tries to catch up with you. It’s a major breakthrough when it comes to camera phones.

8/10

Software

gingerbread

Android 2.3’s skills are very much in evidence on the Sensation, with personal hotspot and beefed up keyboard smarts. But it’s HTC Sense 3.0 that steals the show. The active lock screen now lets you dive directly into the camera, email, SMS or phone functions without having to unlock the phone fully. The web browser has been given a makeover too, with multi window access. In practice, this is great, giving a slick approach to the web unseen on other Android devices.

8/10

Ease of use

HTC Sense 3.0 makes the Sensation one of the breeziest phones to use on the market. Issues could arise if this affects the upgrade path of the underlying Android software, but for now the custom skin makes everything tick along brilliantly. The UI is a doddle to understand and there's no sluggishness thanks to the 1.2GHz processor. The Sensation is truly stunning.

9/10

Specifications

  • Android 2.3 Gingerbread with HTC Sense 3.0
  • 4.3 inch, 540 x 960 capacitive touchscreen
  • 8 megapixel camera with 1080p HD video recording
  • 3.5mm jack
  • Wi-Fi, HSDPA, 1GB storage and microSD expansion

Overall: 9/10

Find out more about the HTC Sensation here

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