HTC Sensation Review

Vlad Savov at Engadget:

In our review of the Galaxy S II, we opined that though its display was of superlative quality, its pixel density left a little something to be desired. The Sensation gives us that extra flourish with a 960 x 540 resolution (35 percent more pixels than on Samsung’s 800 x 480 panel) on a Super LCD screen that fails to match the vivid output or viewing angles of its Super AMOLED Plus competitor, but at least maintains a similarly hyperbolic naming scheme. There are two significant advantages to moving up to qHD resolution. The first and most tangible is that you get more of everything: Gmail displays more missives, the browser fits more of your favorite blog’s content at a time, the calendar includes more agenda items, and you get to see more of your contacts without having to scroll (11 on the Sensation versus 9 on the WVGA Incredible S screen). Additionally, though the user interface sticks to the standard 16 grid slots for your icons and widgets, having them all in higher resolution lends an extra layer of visual polish, if nothing else. The camera and gallery apps benefit from having more dots to display your compositions and resulting images.

There are two exclusive things you can do with more pixels on a smartphone. One is to make it so that users “get more of everything,” which means everything becomes smaller. The other thing you can do with more pixels is to make everything more clear. Apple went the second route by giving you four times the clarity. In the case of all Android smartphones that have been introduced or announced to date more pixels on the same sized display only means more of everything and everything becomes smaller. I prefer clarity.

In terms of the Sensation’s output quality, it merits noting that in spite of its 4.3-inch display bearing the same branding as the 4- and 3.7-inch ones on the Incredible S and Desire S, it is not up to the same standard. Viewing angles are the first giveaway, as they’re nowhere near as expansive on the Sensation. At 45 degrees away from center, the Sensation’s picture washes out, whereas the Incredible S maintains color fidelity until laid almost flat. Additionally, the smaller handset is brighter and better saturated than its newcomer buddy. None of this is to say that HTC has installed a poor LCD on the Sensation, we’d just refrain from calling it a Super one. As to our running tally against the Galaxy S II, the Sensation wins out on resolution, but loses by a big margin when it comes to quality and the sheer feeling of luxury that the GSII provides.

Super LCD with not so super viewing angles. What would you call that? Super LCD Minus? Almost the entirety of a modern smartphone experience is dependent on the display: clarity, color, touch responsiveness, brightness, viewing angles, etc. I continue to be surprised at companies like HTC that put a name like Sensation on one of its smartphones and yet the experience is nothing but sensational precisely because the display fails to meet expectations. When you read reviewers describe the Super AMOLED Plus display with phrases like “sheer feeling of luxury” Samsung did right with its Galaxy S II.

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