It started with a seemingly casual Geekzone message from Mauricio (freitasm) asking what handset I was using and which carrier. I assumed, wrongly, that he was about to ask for some advice about Android phones from a fellow Geekzone inhabitant. Instead, I won the lottery.
That's what it felt like, although in truth, never having won Lotto or anything like it, I could only imagine what a lottery win feels like. But it was a very pleasant feeling.
I get to play for several weeks with the Telecom New Zealand supplied HTC Sensation, the company's finest handset to date. And the only stipulation is that I use it, really use it, and report honestly on the experience. And what's more, if I like it, I get to keep it.
It arrived a week ago as I write this. Some days later than I had hoped actually, leading to much anticipation, excitement and expectation. I was at work when I got the message that the courier had delivered it, and 20 minutes later I was home and preparing for the unboxing ritual.
It's a well established tradition that unboxings are accompanied by photographing the event for the likes of blog readers such as me and yourselves, and so it was as evidenced by the images you see here. And I apologise for their quality as it was a quickie shoot before getting back to the office for the rest of the new smartphone ritual.
I decided early on that I'd give the phone the best possible chance at a decent battery endurance by charging it until it would practically groan under the strain of all those ergs before running it down to complete depletion. Then, popular wisdom suggests, the trick is to fully charge once more before turning it back on.
This I duly did while resisting with great difficulty the urge to fire it up. But my will was unbroken. The "Battery Conditioning Juju" was complete, with its electron rich bounty assured for eternity.
Well... more on that later.
To say that the HTC Sensation is a nice piece of kit is a little like saying that Megan Fox is cute. Its aesthetics are basically unequalled in the smartphone arena. The hardware is easy on the eye and sensuous in the hand. If you haven't held one, you are missing a treat. It weighs fractionally more than my Galaxy S, is a couple of mm wider, longer and thicker, yet it feels as sleek and organic as any gadget a male is likely to encounter.
There's an oleophobic coating on the screen that's at least the equal of my Galaxy, a non-slip finish on the device's back that shames the Samsung, and its screen is freakin' huge! With its 540x960 pixel 4.3" display, there's heaps of screen real estate for apps and menus and such. In comparison, the Galaxy's beautiful AMOLED display seems kind of "dinky".
But size isn't everything, as we blokes are inclined to claim, and as we'll see later.
Doing what phones do
We make calls on them - at least some of us do - so it seems fitting that I pay some attention to that aspect of the review (or rather, the blog). First, this phone is a Telecom New Zealand exclusive. By that, I mean that the only 'official' retail channel is through Telecom retail. So I also have the opportunity to compare the Telecom XT network to Vodafone's offering. The testing is ongoing, and there will likely be no fair way to compare directly, but that's never stopped me before!
I will say now that the clarity of voice calls is a wash - both networks seem to be delivering high quality audio on their 3G services as tested so far. I aim to put them both under duress to see if there're any weaknesses, dropped calls, black holes, you know the drill. But mostly, I need to know how the 3G/HSDPA data speed and reliability compares (this is a smartphone after all) and I'll be comparing value for money in plans as well.
Hear that carriers? You have been warned!
So, what do I think?
It's really impressive. Like others with an interest in the device, I've done my share of checking the online reviews, and I've come to the conclusion that this phone polarises opinion somewhat. There are those whose interests lie in out-and-out performance, while others are seduced by the HTC Sensation's whole experience. That's more than just a function of the hardware and the firmware - it's also tied to the pleasure delivered by the included software, the user interface and the network itself.
And here, as with other exciting new hardware entrants, it's not always what you'd expect, and often eye-opening. Blog posts from my fellow testers will doubtless demonstrate a quite different emphasis on certain things and we will surely disagree on numerous points.
But that's what this blog is about. Real people. Real lives. Real results.
Coming up next
It would be like reading an encyclopaedia in a single sitting if we were to try to cram too much into each post, so bite sized chunks would be prudent I think. For that reason, I'll be focussing on one particular facet of the HTC Sensation in each post, and the post will be in as much depth as it needs to demonstrate a point, and no more. You won't need a Bachelor of Geekosity degree with a Major in Obscure Jargon to read it, but it hopefully won't bore the pants off the true geeks among us either.
And in that spirit, my first real post will be to have a decent squiz at the HTC Sensation's beautiful display and in doing so, compare it to the Galaxy S's own. I look forward to bringing it to you in a couple of days.
About the author:
Andy (ArtooDetoo) may be a relative noob in comparison to his fellow HTC Sensation testers, being merely an "Ultimate Geek" in Geekzone, but it hasn't prevented him from commenting at length on numerous topics and forums, with a prolific presence in the Geekzone 'Android' area.
An advertising creative in his day job, he also possesses a passion for tech stuff - software and hardware - and besides having a number of gadgets to keep him interested, he also has a background in software development.
These attributes should at least give him the kind of analytical slant to temper opinion with reason. He and his fellow Telecom Ambassadors have already been hard at work testing and benchmarking so you'll get all the info without the effort. At least, that's the theory. Judge for yourselves.
Other related posts:
HTC Watch on HTC Sensation in New Zealand
HTC Sensation: The Story So Far
Testing mobile data speeds with HTC Sensation
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