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Innovation

Hands-on with the HTC Sensation 4G; the Android smartphone to get on T-Mobile

T-Mobile is getting ready to launch the HTC Sensation 4G, a dual-core, Gingerbread smartphone with qHD display and Sense 3.0.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer on

My favorite Android device for T-Mobile so far has been the Google Nexus One and that has now been bumped by HTC and its slick HTC Sensation 4G. The Sensation 4G launches at select WalMart stores on 12 June and T-Mobile stores on 15 June for $199.99 after $50 mail-in rebate and contract. You can check out a few photos of the Sensation 4G in my image gallery along with a video walk through and more initial thoughts on the device below.


Image Gallery: Check out a few photos of the HTC Sensation 4G on T-Mobile.
Image Gallery: Sensation 4G retail box
Image Gallery: Back of Sensation 4G in hand

In the box and first impressions

The HTC Sensation 4G comes in one of those excellent durable and compact T-Mobile packages that includes the Sensation 4G, SIM card, battery, A/C adapter, USB cable, wired stereo headset, and some pamphlets. The box contains a glossy image of the device and information on the device and services.

I immediately noticed the slight curvature around the edges of the display where the glass curves up to meet the edges of the display bezel. The device has nice curves and felt much like the Nexus One in my hand, even though it was a bit wider and longer. I turned it on and immediately saw the improvement in resolution due to the qHD implementation.

Specifications

Specifications for the HTC Sensation 4G include the following:

  • Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread
  • 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core processor
  • 4.3 inch qHD 540x960 pixels super LCD display
  • 768 MB RAM
  • Integrated 4GB flash drive (only 1GB accessible) with microSD expansion card slot (8GB card included)
  • 8 megapixel camera with dual-LED flash and 1080p video recording capability
  • VGA front facing camera
  • Proximity sensor, light sensor and digital compass
  • Dual microphones for noise suppression
  • Integrated A-GPS
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n)
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • 3.5 mm headset jack
  • 1520 mAh lithium-ion battery
  • Dimensions: 126.1 x 65.4 x 11.3 mm and 148 grams

The Google Nexus One measures 119x59.8x11.5 and 130 grams so it is smaller than the Sensation 4G, but this display is much larger. The high resolution qHD looks fantastic on the Sensation 4G. The back is unique with the three colors and panels and feels great in my hand. The device is rock solid and definitely one to consider if you are a T-Mobile customer.

Walk around the hardware

The front of the Sensation 4G is dominated by the contoured front 4.3 inch display that looks fantastic in qHD resolution. It is a super LCD display and works quite well indoors and outdoors. The contour is subtle, but adds a bit of style to the device and reminds me a bit of what LG did with the G2x. There are four capacitive touch buttons, indicator light hidden in the handset speaker grill, front facing VGA camera, and proximity sensor.

There is nothing on the bottom or right side while you can find the volume button and microUSB port on the left side. The microUSB port also serves as the HDMI connection port with the MHL adapter (sold separately). The 3.5mm headset jack and small power button are located on the top.

The two LED flash lights, mono speaker, and 8 megapixel camera are found on the upper back of the Sensation 4G. The camera lens is inset from the back a bit so there is no real danger of scratching it while a small lip on the back case also adds some protection.

Quick thoughts on the software and performance

The HTC Sensation 4G runs Gingerbread (Android 2.3.3) with the major improvement being the implementation of HTC Sense 3.0. This new version of Sense provides you with an active lock screen similar to what we see on the HTC Flyer Android tablet. Lock screen options include wallpaper with weather, social networking friend stream, photo gallery, stocks, and clock. You also have the ability to customize four shortcuts on the lock screen to apps you wish to launch. Shortcuts assigned to the lock screen can be dragged to the lock screen circle that will launch you directly into that particular application. If you have the friend stream or photo gallery wallpaper selected then dragging a photo or status update to the circle takes you to that image or feed directly as well.

The lock screen also functions with incoming calls and text messages where you can drag and drop your choices into the lock screen ring to activate them.

HTC Watch is the video rental/purchase service on the device with most rentals at about $2.99. HTC also has a new Listen service with a label of MusicStation when you launch it. I couldn't find who is powering the music service, but there were very few available selections and it seems that the service is just in its infancy with no details provided anywhere online.

Your apps can also be filtered by frequent ones and those you downloaded by simply tapping on the different icons at the bottom of your app launcher.

Pricing and availability

The HTC Sensation 4G will be available soon for $199.99 with a minimum voice and data plan with 2-year contract after a $50 mail-in rebate. WalMart will reportedly get it first at selected stores on 12 June with T-Mobile launching it on 15 June.

Summarizing my first thoughts

The HTC Sensation 4G is a very attractive choice for Android on T-Mobile and if I was looking for a new phone I would definitely pick one up. However, I am a fan of Windows Phone 7 and also have my own HTC Flyer so I think I'll be skipping this one for now. The specifications are top notch with the only limiting one being the 14.4 Mbps HSPA+ radio. I still saw fast download speeds of 7 to 9 Mbps, which is plenty fast for a mobile phone.

Reception has been great so far and I have been quite impressed by the battery life. I haven't noticed any lagging or anything and the dual-core processor appears to be performing well.

Let me know if you have any questions and I'll try to answer them since I still have a couple of weeks to spend with the device.

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