HTC Corp.’s HTC Sensation 4G is a beauty and a beast with a rock-solid build quality and fast dual-core performance.

HTC Sensation 4G

The HTC Sensation 4G is a flagship device for T-Mobile Inc. that is finally able to compete against rival carrier devices like Motorola Mobility’s Inc.’s Atrix 4G for Verizon or HTC’s own EVO 3D for Sprint Nextel Corp, the latter of which has near on-par specifications sans 3D functionality.

The HTC Sensation 4G is equipped with a 1.2GHz Dual-Core Qualcomm CPU and 768MB RAM that yields snappy performance against all Android apps, from web browsing to Angry Birds to first-person shooter titles.

The 4.3-inch Super LCD qHD screen relays a very sharp and still image at 540 x 960 resolution. Colors are natural, balanced, and don’t strain the eye. The contrast, while not as vibrant as Samsung Group’s AMOLED technology, has decent viewing angles but washes out in direct sunlight. Movie trailers like the included Battle: Los Angeles pop with deep black colors and bright orange explosions.

Another trademark feature is the impressive 8MP camera, which can produce sharp images with a quick shutter speed and up to 1080p high-definition video. The dual-led flash can instantly illuminate any dark room, and a tap focus feature works to concentrate on a particular item. The front-facing camera is standard at .3MP for video calls, though the included Qik video calling app performed poorly despite both users in 4G areas.

HTC Sensation Camera Photo

T-Mobile HSPA+ technology relays 4G speeds in prime locations. In a standard test in Las Vegas, the HTC Sensation 4G zipped in complex web page loads, Android app downloads, and video streaming via Slingbox, despite a theoretical 14.4Mbps data peak. Indoor locations without a decent signal will set the device back to 2G speeds.

Call quality is decent, though unremarkable. A nice function is the auto-speakerphone functionality when the device is placed facedown.

The HTC Sensation 4G includes the new HTC Sense 3.0 software, which provides a high-quality overlay of useful widgets and functionality to the included Android 2.3.3. OS. The best new function is a new lock-screen that allows users to drag one of four customizable app icons to an unlock ring to beam directly to the app.

In addition, the Sense browser is fantastic with Flash-functionality and super fast text reflow to zoom and reformat any text instantly.

A downside to Sense 3.0 is that it can damper the dual-core CPU with some lag. A 3D effect transition between pages or web pages with a lot of Flash can initiate slower performance.

The HTC Sensation 4G is a stunning beauty of engineering that is wrapped in an aluminum case with rubber accents on the back top and bottom. The device is svelte, thin, and pocket-able compared to rival 4.3-inch hardware. The entire case itself detaches from the phone innards to reveal the 1520 mAh battery, SIM card, and 8GB micro SD card. The Gorilla Glass face thoughtfully tapers in at the edges to avoid facedown scratches.

Battery life is very impressive with standard use. With medium browsing, push functionality from Twitter and Facebook, some games, and a little Slingbox, the battery sustained for 15 hours with 10 percent to spare. The device performs particularly well in battery conservation when idle, while anything with video can drain it quickly.

The HTC Sensation 4G is the best phone for T-Mobile to date. From power to form to functionality, the device easily lives up its name.

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