HTC Sensation

Since its announcement in April, the HTC Sensation has become one of the most anticipated phones of 2011 so far. Combining a sleek unibody design with a dual-core CPU and the shiny new HTC Sense 3.0, the Sensation emerged as a seriously desirable piece of hardware. But it isn't the only dual-core Android contender, and competition is tough among high-end smartphones, so the Sensation's success is not a foregone conclusion.

We've spent the past couple of days getting acquainted with HTC's next big thing, and you can check out our initial thoughts and hands-on video after the jump.

From the hardware to the software, it's pretty clear that HTC has gone all-out on the Sensation. Packed inside its stylish chassis is a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon CPU, 768MB of RAM, and a 960x540 (qHD) Super LCD display. You also get the best camera on any HTC phone to date, and video-calling options thanks to the front-facing camera (though, sadly, no bundled video-calling software).

In terms of software, HTC continues to heap on the functionality with the new Sense 3.0. The Sense launcher has gone all 3D on us, and the traditional Sense lockscreen is gone, replaced with more flashy and functional offerings controlled via the personalization menu. The new HTC Watch service is included, bringing TV shows and movies directly to the phone. Let's not forget the gorgeous new weather animations, either.

And, naturally, you get everything from both previous versions of Sense -- the unified contacts system, the HTC Hub, cloud functionality, social network aggregation, DLNA connectivity. The list goes on. There are some who consider anything other than stock Android to be bloat, but the Sensation doesn't feel sluggish, nor do the extra Sense apps really get in the way if you're not using them.

There are a few niggles, though. The launcher is a little slow with live wallpapers, even with two Snapdragons powering it. In daylight, the camera is among the best we've ever tested, but in low light, quality degrades rapidly. The new "trace" keyboard seems to be a bit of a dud. And there are still question marks over how developer-friendly the Sensation will turn out to be.

Of course, no phone is perfect. But the Sensation offers a tantalizing blend of high-end hardware and one of the best smartphone user experiences available, and we're looking forward to spending more time with it as we prepare our full review.

In the meantime, check the photos below, and be sure to watch the hands-on video above if you haven't already.

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Reader comments

HTC Sensation hands-on video and initial review


See, I'm the opposite. I don't care about 3d and other similar gimmicks. Just one more thing that will take longer to port to non-Sense builds like Cyanogenmod. I would love for this to be the next Evo but hopefully the talk of a possible HTC Nexus on Sprint will deliver something more like this.

I don't care how much brighter the SG2s screen is or how much faster the exynos chip is compared to the Qualcomm or Tegra2. My awesome experience with the Incredible has me sold on a full featured HTC duocore device. I'm still loving it(Incredible) and enjoying and do want to continue the experience with the Sensation. I've been waiting for this device since last summer/fallish when I first read the rumors. I don't plan on gaming, but watching movies on the go will look and be a joy on this device I just can already tell.
This is my new precioussss :)

I don't care how much brighter the SG2s screen is or how much faster the exynos chip is compared to the Qualcomm or Tegra2. My awesome experience with the Incredible has me sold on a full featured HTC duocore device. I'm still loving it(Incredible) and enjoying and do want to continue the experience with the Sensation. I've been waiting for this device since last summer/fallish when I first read the rumors. I don't plan on gaming, but watching movies on the go will look and be a joy on this device I just can already tell.
This is my new precioussss :)

No kidding, Verizon really needs to step up soon. If other companies had as better coverage in my state I would drop VZW instantly.

Sensation to T-Mo, Evo 3D to Sprint...WHEN IS VERIZON GETTING A GOOD HTC PHONE?! Honestly, how does the nations largest phone provider have the worst selection of phones.

Granted, ATT doesn't have a sweet new HTC phone like the other two, but they still has a much better selection of phones compared to Big Red...especially with dual-cores. Verizon is slacking like crazy.

Verizon is putting its eggs in the iPhone basket, like ATT used to. Luckily ATT has figured out that Android is the real winner and started getting some great ones and Sprint and T-Mo continue to be the biggest backers of Android.

The fact that Verizon's pushing forward with LTE temporarily limits the highest-end devices they can release.Which,for now,gives the advantage to HSPA+ "4G" carriers and devices.

"The launcher is a little slow with live wallpapers, even with two Snapdragons powering it. The new "trace" keyboard seems to be a bit of a dud."

Must be your handset. I have the Sensation from Vodafone UK and it's flawless.

Can somebody help me with this i want this phone but i want the evo3d to the only problem i have with the 3D is its network(Sprint) it is so slow with data that i can only do things when im at home on wifi whats the point of having a great phone you can on use on wifi i have the evo already but i want to know with the 3D being dual core does that make the data fast to verizon deposit is too much and so is at&t so i can only choose evo 3d wifi only or htc sensation i need help in choosing

Punctuation is your friend. :-)

I must admit, I want this phone so bad! I just can't decide whether or not it's worth breaking contract and switching carriers for.

No, dual core doesn't help your data speeds.

Personally, I'd go with the Sensation. 3D is a gimmick, and you're sacrificing a decent camera because of it (5MP on the Evo vs. 8MP on the Sensation).

3D can be ignored and it takes nothing away from the Evo 3D.

Number of MP has nothing to do with camera quality.

My plan is to get the Evo 3d then switch to t mobile when the Hercules comes out. I am anxious to switch to T-Mobile because because sprints data is sooooo slow. My girlfriends 3g vibrant is 20+ times faster than my 4g Evo. The problem with the Sensation is the internal storage, 1 gig is not enough. But I should be able to sell the Evo 3d to cover most of the cost of switching carriers.

Depends where you live. In most metro areas Sprint is easily as fast as the others on 3g and on Wimax it's more than enough with a typical 4-6mbps down. Your main consideration should be how a new Tmo phone will work once ATT buys them out and does what they did to Cingular.

Yeah... taking the cover off basically involves skinning the phone. If you can load the first minute or so of the video, it's in there.

"The Sensation's success is not a foregone conclusion."

Duh. No kidding, neither was the Thunderbolt.

Let's wait and see how many bugs it has and how many apps either don't work or will be dropped from the initial launch.

Damn having so many issues with my G2X I just cant wait until this phone comes out and I will sell my G2X in a heartbeat, dont get me wrong the G2X is a speedy demon, but the constant reboots, the radio on it sort of sucks and drops connection, sometimes even saying your on 4G and you cant go on a website, anyhow the sense UI, HTC Watch, and the camera instant shutter sold me, hope we get a date that we can start pre-orders Good luck everybody.

Here's hoping they leak an engineering bootloader like they did for the Thunderbolt, so we can unlock it fully, specially in light of their recent announcement. An official path to an unlocked bootloader would, of course, be even better.

I prefer The HTC EVO 3D on this, I had T-mobile but doesn`t work good as Sprint network,on Sprint even thu if am in a bad reception area for the voice data, still am able to communicate by the e-mail and the text, on other carriers if there no voice data reception you are out of luck. And the EVO 3D I can use the web and the voice in the sametime as the Iphone on AT&T.

Except that on sprint you cannot surf the web and be on the phone at the same time since it is cdma and not GSM. Atnt and T-Mobile are currently the only carriers that let you do this and in some lte markets with Verizon if you have a thunderbolt.

Wrong! When you are on 4G, voice and data are simultaneous. And it has been that way over a year now.

Thunderbolt can use voice and data at the same on 3g as well. I suspect the tech may come to other Verizon phones soon. Google it if you don't believe me. I use it occasionally, however, its not that big of a deal.

Works on Wimax and Wifi...also I can't think of a single time I have needed to talk on the phone and use data so that only matters for some I guess. Depends how you use it. If I take a call I take a call. Otherwise it's a data device for me.


For the full review...

1) Can you please test out the GPS (indoors and outdoors) to see:

a) how fast it locks on, on average
b) While driving/moving around, how well does it keep the GPS lock

2) Also...battery life (in hours) and a description of your usage (40 SMS, 1 hr of phone calls, 20 min browsing over wifi, 20 pictures...etc.)

3) And since it's an HTC device, please check if there's the "bump charging" issue; i.e. once the LED turns green to indicate full charge, can you remove the plug and put it back in within a few minutes and see an orange LED light, indicating there's still "room" for more charge?

Incredible 1 and Thunderbolt have this issue and it seems pretty exclusive to HTC.

Great hands on and video!

I never have any problem with my EVO 4G battery, after it fully charged I remove the plug for 10 mints and I pluged back and I get the green light.

Nexus S has this ''issue'' too. But you need to know that this feature is here to prevent you from overcharging your phone and domaging the battery.

Bump charge reduce it life. Avoid it. Plus, you'll be at 90% as fast as if you didnt bump charge.

It like task killers, you think it's good but it doesnt!

I want this on Sprint, I would prefer the 8mp camera then the 5mp. I don't care about the 3D, I have a evo and don't want to downgrade my camera.

MP has nothing to do with picture quality, and 99.9% of people won't know the difference and would never have any need for 8MP over 5MP.

The Evo 3D camera is supposed to be significantly better than the Evo 4G.

You're trying to use logic with people who believe the higher the number, the better the picture...It will never work on here. Some people are simply incapable of "getting it". Nice try


I believe in proper use of capitalization. However, yes, a lot of people still believe it's the mega pixel number that determines picture quality. Not always true but definitely can be.

I wish people on tmobile well with the Sensation the cousin of the Evo 3d this device will pimp slap any other device on tmobile and don't make me laugh about verizon or at&t for that matter. It's no secret that SPRINT will have the top device on the market in the Evo 3d but the Sensation is definately a very close second. These devices have so much technology inside of them that they both PIMP SLAP THE Samsuck Galaxy S2 I will have to say from a internal storage standpoint HTC needs to STEP THERE GAME UP otherwise they are TOPS espically as far as updates are concerned. BOTTOMLINE IF YOUR NOT ROCKING SPRINT OR TMOBILE THEN YOUR NOT REALLY IN THE GAME THE WAY YOU SHOULD BE.

And MP has nothing to do with picture quality, and 99.9% of people won't know the difference and would never have any need for 8MP over 5MP.

The Evo 3D camera is supposed to be significantly better than the Evo 4G.

people say steve jobs has a reality distortion field but it seems Dan Hesse has a stronger one on you, im sorry to break it to you but the SGSII pimps slaps the evo 3d when it comes to screen, i rather have a super amoled plus vs just slcd and exynos vs snapdragon

Hahaha. First conclusion I can draw is either you are being sarcastic, or you have nooooo knowledge of smartphones.

Im sorry to break you out of your dream (and maybe others) but its BEEN PROVEN the SGS 2 is better then the Sensation. First of all, if you think the browser performance is good on the Sensation, you will be amazed how much better it is on the Galaxy S II. Thats a fact, the SGS 2 has the smoothest, fastest best performing browser. Fact. For mor info search for Sensation vs Galaxy S II vids on youtube, so you can see with your eyes how slow and stuttery the Sensation looks next to the Galaxy S II.

Some other facts:

Super AMOLED plus screen is best there is. No other screen compares. (qHD doesn't make up for those washed out colours on the Sensation. See Engadget review, even the Incredible 2 has better screen then the Sensation!)

Exynos browser performs better in most benchmarks. And from real life experience, it really is blazing fast.

You get 16 GB of fast built in storage. On the Sensation 1 GB. LOL. (and remember, no microsd vard is as fast as built in flash storage)

The camera on the Galaxy S II is better. (Engadget, other websites)

Battery life is better on Galaxy S II, though there have been some mixed opionions. Some Sensations have good battery life, some have bad.

Updates will come from both. At least for me, Im in Europe where Samsung has excellent support and the carriers dont ruin everything.. Like in the US. Anyway, with the recent succes of Samsung and the news from Google IO about update rules, Im sure it will be fine in the US as well. And remember, with the Galaxy S II you get all the support from XDA. With the Sensation, thats not sure yet. Yes I have read the news about HTC stopping with locking the bootloaders, but since it was already locked on the Sensation from the beginning..)

TouchWiz 4 is very good. Its fast, has many options, resizable widgets, nice animations, etc. Its good, I'd rate it an 8. And I rate HTC Sense 8 as well. Both good.

Now look at this. And tell me, how on earth could you not go for the Galaxy S II?

I care how much ROM? and how much RAM? On the phone and the speed.
Am not in the camera or the games or the 3D.

am I the only one that's really tired of the HTC clock widget?
they make good hardware, maybe the best, but the interface needs a refresh.

Just dont put the widget on the screen and download the one you want from the market. That's why we love Android :)

its same 3d thats found on the nintendo 3ds. which in my opinion looks kind of weird. i would def rather have a 8mp camera that a 5. everything else is exactly the same as the evo3d.

I guess no one remembers what Verizon had available a few years ago? They have come along ways within a few years when it comes to smartphones, they didn't have nothing at all to compete vs iPhone until LG Dare? And that wasn't even close to what AT&T had, then the Droid and Storm came. Remember the days of GSM having all the cool phones and huge selection and CDMA had junk? That was only a few years ago! Am I the only one that has seen VZW release 4 smartphones in the last 2 weeks? So as a Verizon customers for over 10 years, I'm more than happy with phone selection for me and my family.

It's not that Verizon doesn't have any good phones, they're just lacking in bleeding edge tech. And chances are if you're commenting on an Android Central post you're here for the bleeding edge stuff, not just phones that get incremental upgrades. And that is where Verizon seems to find itself at the moment.

At 9:30 of that video, the task manager is opened.

472 MB of Ram used
86 MB of Ram free

Thats 558 MB of RAM. I thought this had 1 GB of Ram? would that leave about 760 mb's free for the user? Where is the missing 200?

I don't like it ONLY has 1GB of internal memory, they should have included at the very least 8GB. Another flaw I see is they should've put 1GB of RAM vs the current 758MB. Really, its a shame considering it's T-Mobile's first 4.3" Phone which alot of people have been craving since the first EVO came out on Sprint. Based on the reviews, the Samsung Galaxy S2 is Way better for the money.

I do agree but it was already stated that is (4gb internal storage) 1gb user addressable, meaning 1gb for app installation which in my opinion is pretty good, i have never reached that, much considering movies are going to be on a cloud server, and there are cloud servers for music, like amazon mp3, mspot music, and google music beta, Im not worry about the internal storage, the Ram yes is 768mb which for me is an improvement, coming from the G2X only having 512mb. and yeah the Samsung Galaxy S2 is good but trust me so far the international version unlocked is around 800 bucks for AT&T Network, which im not willing to get until of course a variant for Tmobile, at a reasonable price comes out.

Very Nice phone, too bad Verizon is going to be the last carrier to get an HTC Dual Core phone.

Why everyone want more than 1gb of internal memory? I have 1gb in my Nexus S, around 50 apps installed, dont even use them all. And I cant go lower than 600mb. I dont need more and I have a LOT of apps.

If I had 100 apps, I'll still be at around 200-300mb free... WHY MORE????

I love this phone but I'm disappointed this thing is missing HDMI, 768MB of RAM and ONLY has 1GB of memory. Also, I wish they'd add a exit/close button/option in the browser and in ALL the Apps. Some Apps have it and some don't and it's annoying when you have to keep going back instead of just giving you the option to exit altogether. The browser doesn't even have an exit/close option, you have to keep going back, back, back until FINALLY the browser exits. I really wish Android would fix this.