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
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • sam46 - Saturday, July 2, 2011 - link

    brian,you have not yet answered my question?

    And pls dont take too much time too review these flagship smartphones.Other websites have already posted the reviews of sensation and sgs2,they even compared them.Instead of waiting for an american version of sgs2,go and get an international version and post the review with in two weeks.Keep in mind that your readers are going to other websites for smartphone reviews.
  • sam46 - Sunday, July 3, 2011 - link

    brian,could you please respond?
  • sam46 - Monday, July 4, 2011 - link

    Brian,please respond.
  • nraudigy2 - Saturday, July 9, 2011 - link

    Sensation will only play 720p flash videos. Only Galaxy S2 plays 1080p. Tegra 2 phones still on 480p.
  • lazn_ - Friday, July 1, 2011 - link

    How can we get the manufactures to understand that we don't want their crappy bloated buggy interface UI spooged all over our screens?

    I have ruled out ever buying a HTC android product because of HTC Sense. I was looking at Motorola since my old Droid is great, but now they smear their Motoblur crap on top of everything they make..

    I mean really, MFGS: You are paying your programmers to make your phones CRAPPIER! How does this make sense?

    Some of us want a clean uncluttered functional phone without having to root the damn thing.

    COME ON! The first Dual Core, Uncluttered Android phone available to buy will be my next phone. Till then YOU ARE NOT GETTING MY MONEY. I'll consider the evil empire (Apple) before going to a "Microsoft Bob" based android phone. (and if you don't get that reference kids, Google it)
  • synaesthetic - Sunday, July 3, 2011 - link

    You'll probably have to wait for the next Nexus/dev phone to get an unobstructed Android experience.
  • aryonoco - Friday, July 1, 2011 - link

    Just wanted to thank you Brian for an awesome review. Such a pleasure to read, and the depth of knowledge really shines. In this age of gadget blogs who don't know what they are talking about, AT is just such a breadth of fresh air.

    The Sensation looks like a nice device. If I was in the market to buy a new phone, it and the SGSII would be at the top of my list. But I think my HTC Desire, running Gingerbread and with a new battery, still has some life left in it. I'll probably give this generation a miss and wait for the new Nexus phone. The rumored 720p resolution (if it is indeed true) would be amazing.
  • iwod - Saturday, July 2, 2011 - link

    Thanks, so it is between 4 to 4.3". Lets just hope Apple introduce a 4.15" display. :P
  • erple2 - Wednesday, July 6, 2011 - link

    I disagree - I like the smaller iPhone screen, and prefer it to these giant Android screens. I think that Apple had the right idea - make the phone as small as possible while still being usable.

    I'm not saying to go Zoolander small, but anything larger than my Samsung Captivate is just too large, IMO. That's a 4" screen, I believe. I'd still like a slightly smaller screen, however.

    The SGS2 appears to be a 4.27" screen - IMO too large. I'm disappointed in that. I'm not sure what my next phone purchase will be, when I finally drop my Captivate against the wall in frustration at it's horrifyingly bad cell antenna not working at all.
  • Trisagion - Saturday, July 2, 2011 - link

    I got tired of waiting for your review and went out and bought the Samsung Galaxy S II. All I can say is ... what a fucking brilliant phone. Without a doubt, the best smart phone available this year - right from the brilliant, crisp display to 16GB on board storage to snappy dual core goodness.

    Sensation? What Sensation?

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now