Sunday, July 3, 2011

New HTC Sensation Android Smartphone outshines others

Posted By Ray Nicolini

Big screen, fast processor and great camera

PHOENIX - With the future of T-Mobile in the U.S. in complete limbo , you would think innovation might slow down at the No. 4 national cell phone carrier, right? Not so fast. T-Mobile continues to pump out new technologies and new smartphones that can easily go head to head with the best of the best. I had a chance to check out the HTC Sensation 4G on T-mobile.
From a hardware perspective, the Sensation is a beast. Inside it packs a 1.2 GHZ dual core processor. This is one of the fastest mobile processors on the market right now. It’s the same one inside the just released HTC EVO 3D that I reviewed for you last week . It’s fast! The phone is designed around a gorgeous 4.3” LCD display pumping out an impressive 540x960 resolution. The phone is also super thin at .44”. This is not quite as thin as the iPhone 4 but we’re talking fractions here. It feels solid and sleek in your hand. On the back is an 8 megapixel camera that shoots 1080p video! That’s one of the highest megapixel mobile phone cameras available. It also has 2 LED flashes that work well. The pictures and video impressed me but I’ll let you decide. Check out the pictures I posted on Flickr  and a sample video on Youtube . My only pet peeve is that there is no dedicated shutter button. I’m growing very tired of trying to hit the on-screen button to snap a picture. Why don’t they just let me use the volume up key as a shutter key when I’m in camera mode? Seems like a no-brainer to me.
The Sensation also packs a front-facing camera for video calls. This is your standard low-end front camera that works just fine.
HTC built a second microphone into the Sensation that’s designed to help filter out background noise while in a phone call. It’s tough to truly test this in just a few days but the phone calls I made seemed to sound just fine on both ends. Time will tell if this second microphone actually makes a difference.
The Sensation (as of July 2, 2011) runs an “almost” current version of Google Android, 2.3.3. Android is technically up to 2.3.4, a minor update that adds a few bug fixes and patches. Google Android is what you would expect on the Sensation. The real difference here is the newest version of HTC’s “special sauce”, HTC Sense. It adds special widgets to the home screen, changes the app menu and redesigns the unlock screen, among other things. As I mentioned in my review of the HTC EVO 3D , I’m not typically a fan of add-on software to Android. Nonetheless, HTC has added real value with some of its enhancements. I hope Google is paying attention and taking notes. Some of HTC’s tweaks, like the unlock screen, would be a great addition to the Google Android operating system.
The one thing I did notice from time to time was a bit of sluggishness. This really doesn’t make any sense considering the hardware prowess that’s packed inside. Sometimes the interface wouldn’t respond as quickly as you would expect. Other times the browser would seem to get clogged up. Outside of these hiccups, the phone would fly. My guess is that there is some software issues that need to be tied up. Perhaps this is a causality of tacking the Sense layer on top of Google Android? It created a minor level of frustration for a phone that’s supposed to be one of the fastest available.
T-Mobile Network
The T-Mobile network performed well in my East Valley neighborhood. Phone calls sounded great. With 2 bars of 4G coverage speed tests racked up at about 1500kbps down and 700kbps up. Hardly impressive for 4G but I’m not ready to make a judgement based on coverage at my home. Your experience may vary. I suggest you find a friend with T-Mobile to test out coverage at your home and work before you waltz into a store with that wad of cash in your hand.
The HTC Sensation falls into a best of the best class of Android phones. The latest generation dual-core processor flies (for the most part), the phone is built well and the camera is among the best. There really isn’t much to complain about with the Sensation. If you don’t need a physical QWERTY keyboard, it’s the best phone to buy on T-Mobile right now.
The HTC Sensation on T-Mobile is available right now for $199 with a contract. 
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