HTC Sensation standard review picture
HTC Sensation

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a phone as beautiful or as well equipped as the NZ$1100 HTC Sensation. It is the best Android I’ve seen to date.

HTC Sensation design

Physically the HTC Sensation is gorgeous. Android phones tend to look similar – the large touch screen format doesn’t give designers much room for manoeuvre. Yet HTC has wrapped a 4.3 inch super LCD touch screen with a sturdy and attractive unibody casing. The case is carved from a single chunk of aluminium which gives it a distinct quality feel.

The screen is described as qHD – that’s 540 by 960 pixels one quarter of an HD screen. The resolution is great for watching movies or viewing photographs. The web browsing experience as about as good as it gets on a handset. Text is crisp and easy to read. The screen is recessed in the case which adds a level of protection – making it harder to break the glass. At the same time this concave effect feels better in use. Like most Androids the phone is equipped with four touch-sensitive backlit buttons.

One important aspect of the concave design is the phone is designed to switch off if you turn it upside down. The recess means you can do this without worrying about cracking the screen.

Opening the case to insert the Sim card was a minor struggle – but that’s not something I’d plan on doing often.

Powerful dual core processor

Physical matters aside, the other noticeable aspect of the HTC Sensation is its dual core 1.2 GHz power plant. It seems to take everything thrown at it in its stride.

HTC has overlaid the Android Gingerbread operating system with its HTC Sense user interface. In the past I’ve found these overlays sluggish and distracting because they overburden the processor. In this case it works smoothly with no obvious lags.

The HTC Sense interface has a lock screen with customisable shortcuts which can immediately take you to key applications. It also displays information – for example missed calls or other notifications.

Clever software

Overall, the HTC Sense software adds to the phone experience. It isn’t perfect, but as good a phone interface as I’ve seen so far. Sense is pretty with 3D effects and an undated version of the Android weather app along with animations. Web browsing is good, but I installed Opera Mini – mainly because I’m familiar with that application.

One interesting aspect of the software is the way it grabbed all the settings and applications from my existing Android phone via Bluetooth. I wasn’t surprised to see contact information sync between the two devices, seeing all the software move across was less expected.

More camera than I need

The HTC Sensation packs more camera than I need. There’s an 8 megapixel on the back and a tiny forward facing camera for video calling. The phone can handle full HD video recording. There’s a flash and the picture and video quality is excellent. One negative is that you have to take pictures using the onscreen button – which makes it hard not shake or jerk the camera.

I haven’t yet got my head around battery life – unlike my other Android there’s enough juice to last all day and I don’t feel compelled to charge the phone overnight – just in case.

The HTC Sensation is only available on Telecom’s XT network in New Zealand.