TEST- DRIVE

HTC is a hit with Aussie con­sumers, but its lat­est smart­phone is its best prod­uct yet, writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley- Ni­chol­son

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

A sen­sa­tional smart­phone from HTC.

OVER two years HTC has swamped the Aus­tralian phone mar­ket.

The com­pany has danced with Face­book ( ChaCha, Salsa), added speed ( In­cred­i­ble S, De­sire S), dab­bled in big screens ( HD7, De­sire HD) and even tapped into the key­board niche ( De­sire Z, 7 Pro).

But the new Sen­sa­tion phone sits on top of the grow­ing HTC pile. It is faster, sharper, slim­mer and smarter than its sib­lings.

In fact, the Sen­sa­tion’s new pro­ces­sor gives it level peg­ging with the fastest phone on the mar­ket ( Sam­sung’s Galaxy S II) and adds some sig­nif­i­cant soft­ware en­hance­ments.

The first thing users are likely to no­tice about the Sen­sa­tion is more su­per­fi­cial, though. This phone comes wrapped in a rounded alu­minium shell that is ex­ceed­ingly com­fort­able to hold.

It may be thicker ( 1.13cm) and a tad heav­ier ( 148g) than its im­me­di­ate, afore­men­tioned ri­val, but it’s also more solid and less likely to slip from your grasp.

The Sen­sa­tion’s touch­screen has been up­graded.

The 4.3-inch Su­per LCD can­vas of­fers qHD ( quar­ter high­def­i­ni­tion) res­o­lu­tion that makes text and pic­tures look in­cred­i­bly sharp, and its true widescreen form ( 16: 9) is well suited to videos. HTC has also made the screen slightly con­cave – it sinks at the edges – so the glass does not touch what­ever harsh sur­face you place it on.

How­ever, this phone’s main claim to fame is speed.

A 1.2GHz dual-core Qual­comm pro­ces­sor runs the show and clearly pro­vides a speed boost for menus, screens and graph­i­cally de­mand­ing apps such as An­gry Birds.

It also fea­tures 768MB RAM, which, while not the 1GB of its ri­vals, makes for ef­fi­cient multi-task­ing.

The Sen­sa­tion also fea­tures one new prod­uct other phones lack: fresh HTC Sense soft­ware. Its Rolodex-style clock and weather an­i­ma­tions have be­come in­stantly recog­nis­able, but the new Sense de­liv­ers some­thing more use­ful: four apps on the lock screen.

Phone, Mail, Cam­era and Mes­sage short­cuts ar­rive by de­fault, but users can swap these eas­ily. Open­ing these apps is as easy as drag­ging an icon into a vir­tual cir­cle. It might not be great for se­cu­rity, but it is quick.

An­other ben­e­fit to tot­ing the Sen­sa­tion is its cam­era, which of­fers an 8-megapixel res­o­lu­tion, aut­o­fo­cus, dual LED flash and full high-def­i­ni­tion video record­ing.

The cam­era’s aut­o­fo­cus au­to­mat­i­cally ad­justs each time you move the phone, sav­ing more time.

But users may want to turn off its widescreen mode to avoid elon­gated snap­shots.

Though a great phone, the Sen­sa­tion has a few quirks to hold it back. Its crisp screen is let down by a highly re­flec­tive fin­ish that im­pedes a user’s view. It also of­fers poor vis­i­bil­ity from an an­gle, ap­pear­ing washed-out.

Some of its spec­i­fi­ca­tions also fall short. Its front cam­era is only 1.2 megapix­els rather than 2, its bat­tery is an av­er­age size at 1520mAh and it doesn’t have the full 1GB RAM that other phones of­fer.

That said, the Sen­sa­tion is im­pres­sively fast, is a fine Google An­droid am­bas­sador and adds its own soft­ware to cre­ate an easy user ex­pe­ri­ence.

HTC has launched a lot of phones re­cently, but this is its best yet.

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