As usual, HTC has plunked its Sense user interface on top of the stock Android 2.3 experience, and that’s mostly a good thing. I like how Sense comes pre-loaded with useful widgets for e-mail and Twitter, so you needn’t venture into the Android Market to find them yourself. The web browser is among the smoothest I’ve seen on an Android handset, and in a nod to iOS, it lets you return to the top of a page by tapping the top of the screen.
The latest version of Sense gets some other useful changes, including a redesigned lock screen with widgets and quick links to favorite applications. To unlock the phone, you drag a ring from the bottom of the screen upwards, but to open one of these apps, you drag the icon into the ring. Clever. The Sensation also lets the user swap between multiple home screen layouts, with preset options like Work, Play and Social.
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But the best tweak HTC has introduced with the Sensation is to the camera. The 8-megapixel sensor snaps nice pictures, but more importantly, there’s hardly any lag between tapping the shutter button and getting the photo. I went to a Los Angeles Dodgers game on Monday night, and had no problem catching the action mid-pitch. I’d show you, but that’d probably violate Major League Baseball licensing rules, so here’s a pretty picture of the Los Angeles skyline instead, taken from the Dodger Stadium parking lot:
Of course, you’ll find some bloatware on the Sensation, most prominently HTC’s Watch app for videos and T-Mobile’s TV app for free and premium streaming television, which requires you to sign up for a premium trial to access to the free stuff. And as with most bloatware, I didn’t care to spend much time with either app. If users can find some utility in this stuff, more power to them.
The only thing that really bothers me about the Sensation, and that cannot be tested in a review, is the paltry amount of storage you get with the phone. Internally, there’s only 1 GB of storage, and T-Mobile’s throwing in a mere 8 GB microSD card. For such a powerful smartphone, I’d at least like the option to pre-load a 16 GB or 32 GB card. Storage is not something I want to worry about later.
But in nearly every other area, the HTC Sensation 4G excels as a thin, touch-screen slab with solid hardware and no gimmicks. There’s always a better Android smartphone right around the corner, but for T-Mobile subscribers, I don’t hesitate to recommend this one right now.