T-Mobile Sensation 4G Review

HTC and T-Mobiles Sensation 4G has launched. Running Sense 3.0, the phone sports HTC’s most modern software with the Qualcomm 1.2 GHz dual core chip with Adreno 220 graphics, meaning less lag in game and out. Read past the break for the full review.


HTC built the Sensation in two parts. The front includes the screen panel, battery pack and phone components, including a front-facing and rear facing camera. The back ‘shell’ includes the antenna and sides of the phone (when the back cover is removed, cellular access is lost). As a result of this design some creaking noises come from the shell. It’s not dangerous and this should be considered normal behavior for the design, but it is definitely noticeable and occasionally annoying. Many 3rd party cases remedy this.

Overall the Sensation looks and feels well built; from its metal frame to the curved gorilla glass screen that makes the phone feel as if it were smaller than an EVO or HD2, all while gaining pixel density this feels like a solid phone. We trust this phone will last for years to come in our pockets, along with our keys or even razor blades.

Internal-wise the Sensation doesn’t have the same 768MB of system RAM that the ATRIX and others have, which is a much bigger deal than it sounds. With only 568MB of usable (read: not shared with the GPU) RAM the Sensation often runs out of memory on tasks, or needs to load in Rosie (the home screen manager for Sense) very gracefully – usually up to 20 seconds of loading to pop the home screen back up if you’re running low on RAM. We found LauncherPro to correct our problems with Rosie with little effort, but it’s a third party fix nonetheless.

Processor and graphics are top-notch with the Adreno 220 GPU but expect the RAM to always be the bottleneck on this phone. Games, including emulators like FPse run great on the Sensation. Most PS1 games run at 60 fps consistently. Older Android games are handled with ease. Unfortunately, because this phone doesn’t feature NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 chip with their own dual core store, you can’t buy dual core optimized games yet from the Market, but this is sure to change.


The HD7 is noticably heavier than the Sensation giving it a more premium feel when being held. Upon closer inspection the metal frame of the Sensation is notably stronger and more light-weight than the cheap plastic chrome painted bezel on the HD7 (which scratches away). Probably the result of slim lining several parts down on the inside of the phone, HTC has created a unique method of opening the back cover/frame unit giving room for one of the biggest mobile phone batteries today. (1530mAH)

Software – Sense 3.0 + T-Mobile add-ins:

This thing comes loaded with bloatware, but unlike many previous Android phones of the past they don’t manage to slow down the Sensation at all, and as long as all of them don’t sync at once, battery life with the applications installed shouldn’t be an issue either.

WiFi calling, an exclusive T-Mobile feature was the worst of these preinstalled applications. With WiFi turned on, the application immediately assumes you want voice over IP and begins draining the battery vigorously to stay connected to WiFi. Luckily, this feature can be easily disabled/enabled when needed.

Sense 3.0 is unfortunately all about the looks. HTC’s designers have taken you inside the weather with the newest update to their live wallpapers and live lock screens with weather, music or stocks optional, although plain lock screens are available if you like your system memory.

We’ll note that these applications didn’t slow down the phone until we had some of our own on the phone. Conflicts between HTC application functions and third party apps becomes difficult to manage, sometimes adding doubles of simple things like clock widgets or other HTC tools.

Related Story: HTC Sense 3.0 Review – is it better or worse?

Battery life

We know how important battery life is to mobile gaming, and the Sensation comes in rather average in terms of use time; however, idle time has been improved. It takes about 2:50 minutes to charge according to the built in Android battery meter. This is pretty standard for a phone with a battery this large.
Data was gathered using Android’s built in battery meter.

  • Day 1: 10 Hour 35 Minutes total time on charge. 1 Hour 45 Minutes use time.
  • Day 2: 14 Hour 57 Minutes on charge. 1 Hour 53 Minutes use time.
  • Day 3: 7 Hours 8 Minutes on charge. 2 Hours 42 Minutes of use time w/ WiFi on.


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