"The Sensation is a worthy purchase with a few quirks."4.0 starson by DrHyde25
Pros: Excellent qHD screen, premium construction, excellent signal strength, great specs, loads of eye candy
Cons: Limited app storage, no onboard user storage, Sense gets bogged down quite often, antennas attached to case creates high risk of being damaged
Summary: A note to start with, I root all of my Android phones so I will make notations as necessary.
My review comes a bit late considering the Sensation is now hitting its end of life, it's still worthy to review considering there is still a good secondary market for the phone.
First off, the construction of the phone is excellent. HTC never disappoints and the Sensation is top quality. The unibody aluminium gives the phone a sense of weight and durability. However, I have many misgivings about the antennas being placed in the case cover. This seems like a very dangerous design. Carelessly removing and inserting the cover or doing it too often could lead to problems like signal degradation later on.
Still, much about the design is very reminiscent of the Nexus One. You can see touches of it here and there such as the color of the aluminium and the speaker grill. Overall, I'm pleased with the design.
The specs for the phone are in some ways a bit outdated. Don't judge that too quickly however, as much of the phone still runs strong with the newer models. The 1.2 GHz dual core processor is still solid today, along with the 8 megapixel camera. However, the 768 MB RAM is a bit under most new phones. You can really see the issues when using Sense (either 3.0 or 3.6 depending on your Android version). You'll sometimes get lag or Sense will reload the homescreens after exiting a program.
Much of the other specs are pretty standard fare. You get your USB port that also includes MHL, Bluetooth 3.0, Wifi covering all the variants, GPS, and finally, tethering and hotspot. However, there are a few things lacking. No NFC is a strange one since the Amaze released some months later includes it and most people seem to think it will be the future of payments. There's also only 1 GB of app space and no user storage on the phone so you're going to have to get a SD card. The Sensation does accept cards as high as 64 GB.
Data speeds and signal strength are pretty good. I found the Sensation maintains consistent signal strength wherever I was in my town, even in buildings that would kill my Nexus S signal. The 14.4 Mbits data speed is outdated considering most HSPA phones are doing 21-42, but it still gets the job done. Hardware acceleration in the browser makes web browsing very fast in spite of my city running at about 3-9 Mbits.
The phone ships with Gingerbread running Sense 3.0, but most people should be on Android 4.0.3 with Sense 3.6. Either way, Sense is filled with eye candy to behold. This is part of the reason RAM is inconsistent at times as Sense takes a large chunk of it. The 3D-like homescreens are great to flip through and the HTC widgets have a very premium feel to them. Overall, performance is very strong all over. Even more so on my rooted version that runs the CPU at 1.5 GHz (the actual chipset speed, reduced by the manufacturer) and an overclocked GPU.
Battery life is fair. Running the system stock, you'll find battery life to be just barely passable. Heavy users will find the phone inadequate, but light and medium users should be able to make it through an entire without the need to charge. Beyond that, you're going to have to carry some form of charger with you. I managed with a custom kernel, overclocked and undervolted, to get around 30 hours up time consistently with highs as great as 50 hours. However, I'm a light to medium user and your mileage may vary.
Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the phone. Like many Android phones (or smartphones in general) there's always a couple of things that make you question what was going through the manufacturers heads when they made it, but the Sensation has more positives than negatives so if you're interested in high end Android phone and can get it cheap, it's worth picking up. If you're looking for something more then look towards the Amaze or the new One series.