As mobile phones begin to mature into more and more powerful devices, we find ourselves beginning to wonder what the differences are between all of them and which devices are more powerful than others. This has been discussed mostly while referring to dual core phones; these phones are all relatively new to the market and add a whole new level of performance to phones that has never been seen before. While having a Qualcomm, Texas Instruments or NVIDIA dual core is important, the OS and software support are even more important. As we’ve seen with some dual core devices in the past, having a dual core processor does not necessarily mean that the performance will be there. The best example of this is actually found in a tablet, in the form of the recently defunct HP Touchpad. The Touchpad was riddled with performance issues. However, the problems were not with the hardware, but rather with the software support. It is not entirely evident who should be blamed, but there is almost no doubt that the software is oftentimes more important than the hardware.
This brings us to our review, today we will be reviewing the HTC Sensation 4G for T-Mobile
and evaluating its worthiness as a phone for someone expecting only the best.
Key Technologies – Hardware and Software
This brings us to the HTC Sensation. It is a member of the dual core smartphone category; it was even referred to as a ‘Superphone’ by Nvidia’s CEO Jen Hsun Huang at CES this year when describing their Tegra 2 processor based devices. The HTC Sensation is powered by the Qualcomm MSM 8260 SoC, which is a dual core processor powered by two 1.2GHz Scorpion 2nd generation Snapdragon cores
. This is actually part of the Snapdragon S3 family
of processors which include the APQ 8060, MSM 8260, and the MSM 8660; all of which are variants of the 8x60 series of processors in which the APQ processor is missing the modem to enable cellular connectivity. This processor is also manufactured using the TSMC 45nm manufacturing process which allows for higher clock speeds and lower power consumption. Essentially, this means that the HP Touchpad and HTC Sensation are technically running almost the exact same processor. The MSM 8260 also has the Adreno 220 GPU as part of the 8260 SoC, which enabled improved 3D graphics and gaming and puts it into the S3 class of processors. This should enable us to get a lot of really great gaming, video, and browsing. Considering how many resources Qualcomm sinks into software development efforts on behalf of their processors, we’d expect nothing short of a flawless experience using this processor.
After discussing the hardware performance at length we now jump into the software aspect of the phone. The HTC Sensation runs Android 2.3.4 also known as its codename ‘Gingerbread’. This means that the Sensation is running the latest version of the Google Android operating system, which enables the best performance for any Android based smartphone. On top of that, it also features the latest version of HTC’s famed SenseUI, which has been in use since the early Android days (Oct. 09) and late Windows Mobile days. Currently, the HTC Sensation is running Sense UI 3.0 which was released on HTC’s latest dual core phones; the HTC Sensation and the HTC Evo 3D. This UI is actually very different from its predecessors in one very significant (and in our opinion; revolutionary) way. It utilizes the lock screen in a way we haven’t seen before on an Android device. It enables the user to launch applications from the locked menu screen.
The ability to launch applications from the lock screen means that there is no more waiting for applications to load or to find applications you use the most after unlocking. You can simply unlock the phone directly to the application of choice and it will generally launch almost instantaneously. The Stock SenseUI 3.0 comes with four applications that you can customize to your needs. The four applications that HTC chose were Phone, Mail, Camera, and Messages. Quite frankly, these are probably the four most used applications on a smartphone, and for our purposes they fit our usage scenarios quite well. It also allows you to preview your notifications from those applications in the lock screen before even opening the application. We found this to be an extremely useful way of implementing the lock screen. This feature also creates the ability for widgets to be used inside of the lock screen which welcomes developers to develop for SenseUI.
The SenseUI 3.0 allows widgets to run inside of the lock screen while still making the lock screen useful for what it was originally intended, since you still cannot accidentally launch any application without dragging it into the circle. Sense UI 3.0 doesn’t just bring improvements to the lock screen; it also improves the well known Android drop down menu. It does this by adding recently launched applications in the order of which they had last been used and also allows you to quickly access them without even opening the main Android desktop.
In addition to widgets, HTC has also added another tab to the drop down menu which allows you to manage your connectivity from the drop down and does away with the previously used connectivity widget. These quick connection options include Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi hotspot, Mobile Network, Bluetooth, GPS, All System Settings and it gives you a status of used and available memory. All of this in one easy and convenient drop down is a brilliant idea, and we’re very happy to see HTC understanding the needs of the consumer and streamlining SenseUI to improve the Android experience. The truth of the matter is that in the past, SenseUI was simply an attractively designed RAM hog but it has evolved into an extremely useful and capable user interface that adds value to Android and any device running SenseUI.
HTC Sensation 4G Specifications
4.3” capacitive touch screen operating at 540x960 resolution (qHD)
1.2 GHz Dual Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 MSM 8260 SoC with Adreno 220 GPU
1GB Internal storage with 768MB of RAM Plus memory card slot
8MP Camera with AF and dual LED flash
Front facing VGA fixed focus camera
1080P Video recording
3.5mm stereo audio jack
HSPA+ (4G) with upto 14.4Mbps/5.76Mbps download/upload speed
1520mAh Lithium-ion battery
Weight: 5.22oz (148g)
Supports Quad-Band GSM (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz) and HSPA/WCDMA (900/AWS/2100 MHz)
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