HTC Sensation review

HTC's dual-core wonder finally arrives - let battle commence!

The definitive HTC Sensation review
The definitive HTC Sensation review

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The HTC Sensation is a phone that's clearly built for media, with the Taiwanese brand not only offering a range of applications to help make your media experience as good as it could be, but the addition of the on demand HTC Watch service for movies shows it's looking to plough a new revenue furrow.

HTC sensation review

We're upset that there's only 1GB of internal memory, but our sample came with a 4GB card and can be expanded all the way up to an additional 32GB if you're into that, so it's not the end of the world, although it pales compared to the 16GB internal memory of the Galaxy S2.


Sonically, HTC has done well again with the Sensation - sure, it might not be market leading, but it's perfectly competent and works well within the phone.

The same system as before is in place, namely that you can slide your finger along the bottom of the screen to search through your media to find the song you want, plus hit that little search key to find what you're after.

HTC sensation review

HTC has also added another little treat, in the new arrow at the top of the screen - tap this and you can instantly stream to another DLNA-enabled device with ease. It takes a little while for the song to load, but overall it's cool functionality that actually works.

The audio is acceptable without being mind-blowing on the HTC Sensation - you can use custom equaliser or have virtual SRS enhancement to make the songs sound bassier or less tinny, but the range of customisation doesn't actually afford too much control.

HTC sensation review

The other annoying element is that you can't control the music player from the notifications bar, only pause the music - although you can tap the album art to get straight back into the music application.

HTC sensation review

HTC sensation review

One REALLY cool bit of functionality that shows HTC has design at the heart of the Sense UI: the lock screen music control widget lets you spin the album artwork around to let you choose between the picture or additional lock screen controls... and we love playing with things like that.

Video and HTC Watch

Given HTC is putting so much effort into movies with the Watch offering, it's surprising that the video offering on the Sensation is irritatingly poor.

We say poor only because there is a) no dedicated video application, and b) when you open the video section in the Gallery you get a list of thumbnails and no labels for each video, so you have to either look at the details or open the file to see what it is.

HTC sensation review

Come on HTC, we've begged you to fix this so many times - please just do it.

The thumbnails load much faster than before thanks to the dual-core processor, but not as lightning fast as the Galaxy S2 it has to be said, or even the single core Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc.

Video performance is perfectly respectable, although certainly not market leading. The sharpness of the picture is really, really nice, and we enjoyed a few TV shows in the right conditions because of it.

SRS is still offered, although Dolby Mobile has sadly not made it on board - it wasn't really necessary to have two audio modes on there. We also love how NOBODY at HTC has noticed that it's not 'enchancement' after two iterations of phones since the Desire HD.

HTC sensation review

Take the HTC Sensation into the light (we don't mean kill it), not even direct sunlight, and you'll have to instantly turn up the brightness as high as it will go, which really washes out the picture. Samsung and Apple are certainly well in the lead when it comes to media on your phone for this category.

The HTC Watch service looks like a winning offer for those that are locked into a two year contract with the phone, as the DRM means you can only play the files in HTC Devices (although that includes the Flyer if you have one).

The quality is great, but £9.99 for a film seems a lot to pay for not the most up to date titles - and renting for £3.49 feels rubbish when it's not yours to keep.

HTC sensation review

The selection of four old series of TV shows is disappointing too - but we're sure the collection will grow quickly in the future, and hopefully the cost will come down.

Over Wi-Fi the download speeds were pretty good for movies, and the ability to pay directly with your credit card is good too - it feels less like you can accidentally spend loads on watching films, especially if you're renting (although remember it used to be cheaper to rent videos from Blockbuster).

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.