HTC Sensation: The Story So Far

, posted: 5-Sep-2011 20:29

If you've been following the trial of the HTC Sensation operating on Telecom XTnetwork, as recounted by The Three Amigos of Geekzone, you'll have seen that we've delivered mixed reviews of the phone. Like any other tech gadget, the Sensation has strengths and weaknesses, and for anybody considering its purchase, the relative importance of those factors will weigh heavily in one's decision making. To paraphrase a much-loved beer commercial, it's a hard road to find the perfect smartphone. Actually, it's an impossibly hard road, since the perfect smartphone doesn't exist.

But you might find the perfect phone for you. And that's an entirely different thing.

There are things about the Sensation that are just downright tasty. Take for instance, the looks. Even given that aesthetics are very much in the eye of the beholder, it's rare to find somebody who doesn't find the device appealing. To my eye, in fact, it's the best looking smartphone available. Period. And its user interface, Sense 3.0, is quite the prettiest to be found anywhere. "Slick, Smooth and Snappy", it scrolls fluidly and its animations are velvety candy for your ocular accessories.

If you've allowed yourself to hold a Sensation, its fit and finish will have given you the kind of tactile feedback that's a reward in itself. There is likely nothing even remotely as rewarding out there. It's curvaceous, sturdy and quite simply jeans pocket friendly. And there's something about the mix of cold glass and aluminium alloy coupled with heavy duty rubberized polymer that makes holding and playing with the thing so darn enjoyable. If you have any kind of gadget empathy, you will experience a lust that you hadn't believed yourself capable of. Just by holding it. Really.

But it's not all beer. There have been things that haven't resonated well with Sensation testers and owners. One of The Three Amigos had the volume rocker fall out of his Sensation. And another had a wiggly screen. As yet (touch wood, rub lucky rabbit's foot, sacrifice small mammal etc), I have had no hardware issues. It has been perhaps a charmed run, and I don't think it wise to tempt fate by claiming I won't experience such woes at some future date. Nevertheless, it's a fact that in my experience, the handset is bulletproof, surviving even a drop from car boot height onto tarmac without so much as a nick or a scratch.

Then there's the performance gap between the Sensation and the class rocketship, the Galaxy S2. There's no doubt that tests confirm the Sensation isn't as optimized for out and out performance as its nemesis, tests giving SGS2 the edge in video playback, outright benchmark CPU speed and other stressful tasks that will be vitally important to the gadget lover who truly needs that performance advantage, or who is going to lead a sadder life without the bragging rights. And make no mistake, there are many who fit that description.

But if you're upgrading from an iPhone 3Gs, or a Galaxy S, or a Nokia E71 or any one of dozens of smart and not-so-smart phones, you will be delighted by the Sensation's performance. That's right - despite it failing to meet the outright performance of the acknowledged circuit racer of smartphones, if you're happy in the knowledge you've chosen instead the DB9 of the class, it's my honest opinion that you'll be very happy indeed.

In my first ever post on this blog, I predicted that there would be pluses and minuses, and some of what we wrote would likely raise eyebrows. And truthfully, I expected that some of our opinions would be contentious enough to get a fair amount of debate going in the comments. That, surprisingly, has failed to materialize. Why? I don't know, but I could make some guesses.

This blog isn't about guessing though. It's about our real world results based on our use of the Sensation - the opinions and the experiences of The Three Amigos to give the new handset some context. While we might have quoted anecdotal third party experience as part of this process, it simply wouldn't have been honest and thus of any real value for what we have agreed to do. That was to let you know, warts and all and at Telecom NZ's expense, what life is like with the Sensation on XT. And good on Telecom for taking the punt. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is.

I called this post "The Story So Far" because that's what it is. There's more to come, a lot more. Nick and I have now rooted (in the nicest possible way) our phones and will be reporting on the experiences. With the pace of tech change and the progress being made since the unlocking of the bootloader, the Sensation will be ever more customizable, ever more pleasurable to own and use. Yet even without the recent freeing of the device from its prior restraints, this phone has proven itself to be fast, fluid, dependable, with great battery endurance, superb data speed, quick and accurate GPS, class-leading wifi range and a host of other benefits that pay off for the user who's prepared to see beyond the bragging rights competition that so dominates the webosphere.

The rewards are there if you choose to allow yourself the opportunity to grab them. At the start of this project, I was sceptical that I would be able to recommend the Sensation honestly to others, conscious as I was of its on-paper inferiority to its great rival, the SGS2. If you've read my previous posts, you'll have noted that I have tested and reported things as they are. Frankly, I wouldn't be able to show my avatar at Geekzone again if I did any less. So my opinions, that being what they surely are, are given with that understanding. If I wanted to, I could take the Sensation so kindly supplied by Telecom NZ and Mauricio and sell it on TradeMe, with the proceeds making a substantial deposit towards a Galaxy S2. There's no undertaking from me not to do so, and no requirement from Telecom NZ or Geekzone that I refrain from doing so.

It's with that in mind that I tell you that I'm keeping the HTC Sensation. I've grown to really appreciate what it does and how it does it, and even though I will be severing my long-term ties with Vodafone as a result, I believe it's worth it.

If that's not putting your money where your mouth is, I don't know what is.

See you on the next post.

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
Testing mobile data speeds with HTC Sensation
Travelling with the HTC Sensation






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Telecom New Zealand
Auckland
New Zealand


Telecom Tech is a different type of blog. We're sponsored by Telecom New Zealand, but most of the posts here are from every day users like you.

We choose tech savvy Geekzone users to "test drive" the new handsets from Telecom New Zealand.

The team will post firsthand reports on using these smartphones on New Zealand's smartphonenetwork. Make sure to keep an eye on this blog. Who knows who might be our next "test drivers"?

   

Catch up on previous Telecom Tech reviews - read about the Nokia Lumia 1020Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Galaxy Note II, Nokia Lumia 800, Nokia Lumia 710 and HTC Sensation.





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