The Sensation has a unibody construction, meaning the frame is milled out of one solid piece of metal. You can see some machining marks inside the metal case from where no doubt CNC was used to remove material in the right places. As a result, the Sensation doesn’t have a battery cover that snaps onto the back so much as the phone itself snaps into one monolithic case. 

There’s a spring loaded button at the bottom of the Sensation which presses in, at which point the device releases and can be lifted slightly. A downward tug then pulls the Sensation out of its metal exoskeleton.

To reassemble the Sensation, the front speaker, camera, and LED all insert into a lip, and then press down. With the phone disassembled, you can get at the battery, SIM slot, and microSD card.

There's a bit of an opportunity for dirt to creep in here, but only when the phone is open like this. The only place that things are a bit sensitive are the top front where the front facing camera, speaker, and LED light sit - you can easily get dust in here that will affect the camera. 

While we're talking about the LED notifications light, I should note that it still is located behind the speaker grille, this time at the far right next to the camera. This was something a lot of people complained about on the Desire HD, and I can understand why - it simply isn't as visible this way because the grille is recessed. 

The back camera however remedies the problem we've talked about with a few other HTC devices that have snap on rear covers. There's no longer a removable plastic layer that's part of the battery cover on the Sensation, and as a result no opportunity for dust, grime, fingerprints to scatter light and create glare and haze. The circular camera cutout allows the module to stick through slightly. 

The volume buttons on the Sensation are thankfully very communicative and protrude enough to be located easily. I'm a bit less enthused with the power button, which is a bit small, and sits flush on our review unit. HTC also put the microUSB port on the bottom left side of the phone, another one of those love it or hate it things. 

I'm impressed with how well the Sensation sits inside this cage, it doesn't rattle or move around at all inside, which is quite a testament. The only evidence that the Sensation literally isn't one solid piece is a tiny gap at the top where the display meets the speaker grille. 

Of course the Sensation needs RF windows for antennas (this is a cell phone after all), so unfortunately the entire backside can’t be metal. Apple isn’t the only one getting creative with where it hides antennas, as HTC patterns them onto the back of the two discrete plastic parts inserted into the metal structure. This is very similar to how the HTC Thunderbolt uses its back case as an antenna, and likewise to how the Desire HD used its battery and SIM slot covers. 

With the Sensation removed from its exoskeleton, you can see the four separate gold antenna connectors which mate up with gold pins on the rear of the device. It doesn't affect the majority of smartphone shoppers, but HTC has also chosen to go with Torx #5 screws throughout the Sensation. I didn't take it apart, but just thought it worth mentioning for those of you interested in ease of disassembly.

We should also talk about the display on the Sensation, starting with the display's slightly concave lip. Curved glass seems to be a trend lately, and the Sensation does something unique on the Sensation that I wish everyone did. 

Instead of leaving the display completely a completely flat piece of glass, HTC created a top glass layer that is slightly curved at the edges, thus recessing the main display and interaction area by just shy of a millimeter. It's a very subtle concave structure. As a result, the display doesn't rest completely coplanar with flat surfaces when you placed face down, and is far less likely to get scratched. It’s just a small detail that shows HTC has been paying attention to the subtle things when it comes to designing its hardware.

Intro and Physical Overview Display: Super LCD and Performance
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  • iwod - Friday, July 1, 2011 - link

    It looks like in Browser Benchmark, iPhone 4 with iOS 5.0 will properly rise to the top. And it is great to see after a year of its introduction, iPhone 4 is still playing very well with it competitors.

    About Screen Size, Brian would you and Anand makes notes which size of screen you prefer.

    For iPhone 3.5", I think a lot of us want a bigger screen. But what size? 4", 4.3" or even larger?

    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Friday, July 1, 2011 - link

    I think 4.3" is really the upper limit for smartphone displays. I've got the Infuse 4G here beside me, which is 4.5", and that already is almost challenging to hold sometimes, and occasionally awkward to type on. Factor in the fact that it has just a WVGA display, and those pixels are positively gigantic.

    Personally, I prefer 4 or 4.3". Anything above that is starting to just get excessive. I can only imagine what that rumored 4.7" HTC WP7 device is going to look like.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • Chaser - Friday, July 1, 2011 - link

    After an iPhone 3G, Droid, Evo, Galaxy S and G2x this phone finally gets it right in so many ways, It never ceases to impress me.

    Sense 3.0 with Gingerbread makes it perfect!

    Reply
  • dtomilson - Friday, July 1, 2011 - link

    Being a tech blog I have always found Anandtech to publish articles on the same phone is the same phone is the same phone (Android). Any updates coming on the beta of Mango that has been released? How smooth it is and how much better it performs given the lower specced hardware the current-gen devices use.. Reply
  • karnovaran - Friday, July 1, 2011 - link

    Brian, there has been much debate on XDA about screen quality differences resulting from the Sensation panels being manufactured by two different companies: Sharp and AUO (Acer). I'd love to know which panel you were reviewing.

    Can you tell us which panel you have? The way to check is by downloading terminal emulator from the market and running the following command: dmesg That will spit out a bunch of information, just hit menu and email it to yourself then search for "panel". Thanks.
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Friday, July 1, 2011 - link

    I always run dmesg on devices just so I can see a bunch of different things/hardware ;)

    Just grepped out panel and found the type:

    <6>[ 1.603759] mipi_novatek_panel_type_detect: panel_type=PANEL_ID_PYD_SHARP

    -Brian
    Reply
  • quiksilvr - Friday, July 1, 2011 - link

    Ahh T-Mobile. It's almost tragic. They have awesome phones but...what's the point? Once the merger happens you have to change the phones and there isn't a full guarantee that our prices will remain the same for monthly bills. Reply
  • Conficio - Friday, July 1, 2011 - link

    So apparently the T-Mobile phone does not yet have the boot lock removed and knowbody knows if that will be some software update.

    Hence question what are then the "unlocked" HTC sensation phones that float around in on EBay etc.?

    I ask, because I'm about to get an HTC Sensation (buying it outright) but I want to be able to operate the phone with other carriers SIMs (internationally). So is the T-Mobile phone locked to their network?
    Reply
  • Conficio - Friday, July 1, 2011 - link

    How much of the htcsense.com features work over Wifi. Does remote Wipe or location tracking work?

    In other words, does the location get determined by the phone and sent back to htcsense.org or is it determined by the carrier?
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Friday, July 1, 2011 - link

    I don't know about location, but I'm assuming that if it uses the Android location framework, it will work. Remote wipe and lock does indeed work over just WiFi, in addition to just cellular.

    -Brian
    Reply

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