Mobile World Congress 2012 [EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE]


About the MWC 2012 :

MWC is redefining “mobile”.  No longer limited only to communications, mobile is now a force transforming our world in an unprecedented way. Mobile connects, entertains, informs and inspires us, ultimately changing how we live and who we are.

Mobile World Congress is the global epicenter of this redefinition as our participants enable, lead and accelerate it. Join it in Redefining Mobile at Mobile World Congress 2012, which will be held 27 February to 1 March at Fira Montjuïc in Barcelona, Spain.

 Surf the below for detailed View:

The First Facebook Phone:


AT&T just announced that it will carry the first Facebook phone ever, the HTC Status.

It has a special Facebook button below its keyboard which gives users access to deep integration with Facebook Chat, photo uploads, check-ins, status updates, and more.

You’ll even be able to tap the Facebook button while you’re listening to music to immediately post what you’re listening to, and you’ll be able to share a link to the website you’re browsing with a touch of the Facebook button.

When a friend calls, you’ll see their status and Facebook picture right on your phone’s screen.

The phone’s hardware is surprisingly impressive for a phone that looks this cheap. It has an 800 Mhz processor, 512MB of RAM, a front facing camera for video chat (as well as a 5 MP rear-facing camera), and Android 2.3Gingerbread with HTC Sense UI layered on top.

We’re not convinced the 2.6-inch screen is big enough anymore, but the Facebook features alone will be worth checking out when the phone launches.

No word yet on a release date or price, but we’ll bet the Status launches for around $99.99 when the time comes.

Don’t Miss: The HTC Sensation Is The Best Android Phone We’ve Ever Used

Here’s the full announcement from HTC:

“HTC Status brings a Facebook experience to people who want to share their experiences with their friends faster and easier than ever before,” said Jason Mackenzie, President, HTC Americas. “With a dedicated Facebook share button combined with the hallmark HTC Sense experience, HTC Status makes it easy for people to stay connected to the things that are important to them.”

Dedicated Facebook share button

  • One touch to share- Press the Facebook share button from your home screen to instantly post on your wall.
  • Snap, shoot, share- Take a picture or shoot a video and share it instantly with a press of the Facebook share button. You can even post pictures automatically as you’re taking them..
  • Quick-on-the-draw check-in- Just long press the Facebook share button to check in your location with Facebook Places.
  • Be first with the news- See something cool on the web? Share your latest find with a quick press of the Facebook share button.
  • Post to your wall – or a friend’s wall – From the home screen, a quick tap of the Facebook HTC share button makes sharing anything on your mind quick and easy.
  • Share what you’re listening to- The Facebook share button glows when you’re listening to music, to let you know you can share. Let your friends in on the music you love with the push of a button.

Lock screen shortcuts

Instead of a barrier, the HTC shortcut lock screen just became a launch pad to what you want to do now! Open your favorite apps by just dragging their shortcut icons into the lock screen ring.

See what’s happening before you pick up

Every time you get or make a call, you see your friend’s profile picture and latest status update right on the call screen. If it’s their birthday that week, you’ll see that, too.

Special effects for photos and videos

Anyone can be an artist. Use camera effects to make your photos and videos look like they’ve been taken through special lenses and filters—like Sepia for an old-fashioned look, or Aqua for a touch of cool. Apply effects right in the viewfinder, or apply them afterwards in the Gallery.

Front and back cameras

Take a spontaneous self-portrait or a quick cheek-to-cheek pic with your best pal on the VGA front-facing camera—or just double-check your hair with the Mirror app. With the 5.0 MP main camera with LED flash, you can capture every moment, with pictures or high-quality video.

A smarter ringer

The “Quiet ring on pickup” setting reduces the ring volume when you pick the phone up. The “Pocket mode” setting increases ring volume when your phone is in a pocket or bag, and then returns the volume to a reasonable level when you take it out.

Tech Specs

  • Platform: Android™ 2.3 + HTC Sense
  • Display: 2.6-inch touch screen with 480 x 320 resolution
  • Network: Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 UMTS/HSDPA 850/1900
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM, 512 MB ROM
  • Processor: MSM7227, 800 MHz
  • Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery, 1250 mAh
  • Camera resolution: 5 MP main camera with autofocus, VGA  front-facing camera.

-(via BI)

HTC Sensation [Review] :


A hotly anticipated smartphone with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, a “Super” 4.3-inch screen, and a manufacturer-skinned version of Android 2.3 — we must be talking about the Samsung Galaxy S II, right? Not on this occasion, squire. Today we’re taking a gander at HTC’s Sensation, a handset that’s just begun shipping in Europe under a short-term Vodafone exclusive and which should be making its way to T-Mobile in the USA early next month. By beating its stablemate the EVO 3D and Moto’s Droid X2 to the market, the Sensation becomes the world’s first 4.3-inch smartphone with qHD resolution, while also serving as the debut phone for HTC’s Watch movie streaming service and Sense 3.0 UI customization’s.

Hands On with HTC Sensation [VIDEO] :

Hardware:

Before delving into the minutiae of the Sensation’s construction, let’s take a moment to address its most outstanding physical asset: it feels small. 4.3-inch smartphones, starting with HTC’s own HD2, have always been impressive beasts, but beasts is what they were — ungainly, crude, and occasionally harder to handle than an angry carp. Not so with the Sensation. This handset is only 6mm taller, a single millimeter wider, and — at 11.3mm — actually slightly thinner than the 4-inch HTC Incredible S. Putting aside the measuring tape and grappling with the pair confirms what those numbers suggest: the 4.3-inch Sensation is nigh indistinguishable from its more modest family mate.

That’s been achieved with a shrinking of the top and bottom bezels framing the screen and few other changes. You’ll still find an extra-large volume rocker on the Sensation’s left side, as you would on the Incredible S, accompanied by a micro-USB input a little further down. The bottom of each phone is home to a microphone and a notch for opening up the back cover, the right sides are left barren, and the tops feature headphone jacks and power / lock buttons. Also functionally identical are the rear layouts, with an 8 megapixel autofocus camera sat next to a dual LED flash and a single loudspeaker grille. All these design similarities are hardly coincidental, HTC sees that arrangement and styling as a winning combination and we have to agree.

 –(via Engadget)

The Sensation is a simple and untainted joy in the hand. Its 148g (5.22 ounce) weight is perfectly balanced, the curvature that starts at the sides and rolls all the way through the back is spot on, and there are almost no issues of fit and finish. Almost. Our review handset had a small crevice in its lower left side that allowed the backlight intended for the capacitive Android keys to leak out. This is a problem that will only matter to you if you’re actively looking for it, but it does detract from the phone’s otherwise sterling build quality.

Features :

Praise is due for the aluminum frame that HTC has wrapped around the sides, back, and even a small portion of the Sensation’s front. It’s rigid, shaped from a single slab of metal, and makes this a sturdy and creak-free handset. A pair of soft-touch plastic inserts take up a third of the rear cover each, with the upper one protruding a little bit in front of the camera lens and LEDs, lending them an extra bit of protection. You should be mindful that that also creates a niche where dust and debris can snuggle up. Speaking of snuggling, the very design of the Sensation’s wraparound enclosure makes it a bit of a pest to pry open. Nothing quite so maddening as what HTC served up with the Inspire 4G (then again, what is?), but this is definitely not the case for you if you’re inclined to perform quick and dirty SIM swaps between your phones. A microSD card slot also lurks under the Sensation’s skin, and it’s filled by default with an 8GB unit, which augments the 1GB of onboard storage. It’s accessible without removing the battery from its silo, though the SIM card slot is not.

 –(via Engadget)
We’d be remiss not to compare the Sensation against the most clear and present danger to its quest for smartphone supremacy: Samsung’s Galaxy S II. The latter is clearly a stupendously thin device, whose admittedly plastic construction left us with few complaints. Still, when faced with the question of which phone we’d trust to last us the full 24 months of a typical contract, we have to hand it to the Sensation. It isn’t flawless, but its aluminum shell is sturdier, and we found its curves more ergonomic and natural, which should help make accidental drops that extra bit less likely.

Battery life:

                                                                                                                                                                                                 -(via Engadget)

As is true of all battery-powered devices, your time away from the wall plug with the Sensation will be determined by what you use the handset for. We found recording 1080p video to be particularly taxing, closely followed by shooting still photographs. An hour’s walk through London intermixing the two ate up a third of the Sensation’s 1520mAh charge. Angry Birds gaming sessions, on the other hand, are handled with no greater difficulty than casual web browsing — neither caused any significant dent in our battery reserves. What really stands out about the Sensation is its energy frugality when left to idle. We left our Gmail and Twitter updates to push themselves to the phone as and when they were available, but in spite of that activity the Sensation barely uses any juice at all when not in our hands and doing awesome, futuristic things. This is a major asset that turns it into more than just a plaything for power users. Folks that don’t care to recharge their phone every single night can buy the Sensation safe in the knowledge that it’ll last for a good couple of days of casual use, while those who want to squeeze all the power out of it can do their thing as well, accepting the relevant diminution in endurance.

We’ll get to the Sensation’s performance further on in the review, but suffice it to say that what you’re getting here is an extremely versatile handset. Neither the 4.3-inch screen size nor the dual-core processor pose challenges to using the Sensation as your daily phone, but they do expand on what you can do with it when the fancy strikes you. The Galaxy S II is again the obvious competitor here, and it too acquitted itself well in our battery tests. Our testing, however, showed the Sensation to be more efficient when not actively in use — which, even for intensive smartphone users, tends to be the majority of the time — granting it a higher ceiling for battery life. The Super LCD on board also seems to be consuming energy with restraint, making that frankly average 1520mAh cell look very good indeed. If battery life is an important consideration in your spec-for-spec comparison with the Galaxy S II, score this as a win for the Sensation.

Display :

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.

(via Engadget)

Video is where the second big advantage of qHD emerges. 960 x 540 pixels provide a native 16:9 screen ratio and thereby sends those pesky black bars off into oblivion. You’ll be able to watch both content you’ve downloaded and recorded yourself in full screen without resorting to any compromises such as zooming the picture in and cutting off the widest portions. And if you’re really a lover of the widescreen experience, there’s an option in the camera app to let you shoot 16:9 as well. That’ll help keep your content optimized for a vast range of desktop monitors and the great majority of HDTVs. Small considerations, perhaps, but good to have nonetheless.

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.

Oh, we almost forgot to mention the peculiar contouring that HTC has applied to the edges of the glass screen. They’re ever so slightly higher than the rest of display, with a tiny little slope lending the whole screen a subtle concavity. As a result, most of the glass never makes contact with surfaces when the phone is laid face down, adding a smidgen extra protection against scuffs and the like. Not that you’re terribly likely to mar this expansive screen, which has been given the Gorilla Glass treatment just like the rest of HTC’s recent line. Needless to say, that’s a marked improvement from last year’s Nexus One, which HTC had the gall to claim wasn’t supposed to go into pockets.

Reception, earpiece and loudspeaker:

Calls on the Sensation were for the most part clear and competently handled. HTC has an extra microphone on the back of the handset, whose job we presume is to analyze external noise and nullify its effects. In voice calls, the other party heard us even on a busy street where we had our own struggles keeping up with what they were saying to us. The earpiece is neither excellent nor poor, it just does the job. Its position at the very top of the phone means that you’ll generally place the sound source up above (rather than next to) your ear when taking a call, but then it’s not like HTC had a lot of flexibility as to where to put it. Guess this is just the price we have to pay for the aggressively thin bezels on this handset.

(via Engadget)

Moseying through our usual testing area revealed no aberrant behavior from the Sensation’s 2G and 3G radios and reception was on par with what we would generally expect. This phone can actually reach HSPA+ speeds of 14.4Mbps down and 5.76Mbps up (hence why it’ll be known as the Sensation 4G in the US), but we didn’t have the requisite network to test it out. The Sensation’s antenna is built into the plastic parts of its rear cover, a recurring trend in HTC’s recent handsets.

As to aural performance, the loudspeaker on the back does a decent job and output to headphones is particularly pleasing. The solo speaker doesn’t lose much when the Sensation is put down on a flat surface and though a stray finger pressed against its opening will muffle a large proportion of the sound, those aforementioned microphone holes help to leak it out of the case. Overall, it’s an aspect of the phone that we consider simply satisfactory, it’s not going to be the thing that sways your decision in either direction. HTC’s bundled earphones are attractively styled, but generally disappointing. They were a poor fit for us, offered next to no sound isolation (an asset when trying to listen to music on the move), and their in-line remote control is the very definition of cheap plastic. The latter’s also susceptible to recognizing accidental bumps as input, adding to our impression that you should keep the headset in its wrapping, just in case you decide to resell the handset down the line — yes, the maintenance of resale value is the best thing we can say about these earphones.

If you plug-in your own set of ear blasters, on the other hand, you’ll be treated to some very nice output indeed. SRS virtual surround sound enhancements baked into the phone make a tangible difference by widening the sound stage and creating a more intimate feel to whatever you’re listening to. For a smartphone that aspires to woo customers with top tier multimedia performance, getting audio right is a big deal and the Sensation thankfully delivers. Top marks on that, HTC, but if you can’t bundle good headphones of your own, just don’t bother next time. We’ll take stickers instead.

Camera:

The unnecessarily capitalized feature that HTC is introducing with the Sensation’s camera software is a little something dubbed Instant Capture. It’s not a setting that you can toggle; HTC rightly presumes that you’ll always want to minimize lag between telling the phone to snap a photo and the actual capture, and it works almost quickly enough to justify its name. Low light conditions will slow you down some as the autofocus isn’t as fast, plus the flash might need to pop on and do its job, but responsiveness on the whole is very impressive indeed. We thought the Galaxy S II was fast to shoot and reload, but the Sensation isat least as quick.

Also helpful is a little preview window in the bottom left corner (when the phone’s held in landscape mode), which shows the last photograph taken. This isn’t a novelty for Android, but it wasn’t available on the recent Incredible S and Desire S and makes particularly good use of the increased visual detail afforded by the size and pixel density of the Sensation’s display. You can obtain enough information about a captured image from it to disable full screen image review after snapping a shot, leaving the camera free and ready to record another masterpiece. A sweet shrinking animation transitions taken photos into the smaller window and gives a visual clue to newbies that they’ll find their photographic archives by tapping on it.

                            –(via Engadget)

Image quality, the meat and potatoes of camera work, is usually high on the Sensation, though some software irregularities do undermine the evident strength of the hardware on board. What you see above is a 100 percent crop from this image, exhibiting a great deal of sharpness given the full 8 megapixel size at which the Sensation records its images, but also an unsightly blotch of blurriness right in the middle of the flower. The latter is caused by HTC’s penchant for applying noise-reducing blur — essentially melting neighboring areas of like color into one so as to reduce graininess.

Even with the company’s auto-enhance option turned off (our whole sample gallery was shot this way), the software will automatically choose where to blur things out to deliver more visually appealing imagery at lower resolutions. That’s the key, really. Looking at the pictures in our sample gallery, you’ll be hard pressed to pick out any softness, because they’ve been shrunken down to a mere 800 x 600 pixels in size, a situation that’s mirrored when viewing pictures on the phone, so you can definitely see HTC’s motivation for optimizing its software to make things look good at lower resolutions. It’s just that photography purists (and just people who expect 8 megapixels to mean 8 megapixels) will scoff at the idea that full-size quality should be sacrified for improvements at lower resolution.

Another issue caused by the software is that it’ll occasionally get its color balance pretty badly wrong. Perusing our gallery, you’ll find London buses looking slightly pink and black fencing shading toward a dark (deep?) purple. Thankfully, there’s a decent selection of tweaks you can play around with, including exposure, contrast, saturation, sharpness, and a set of white balance presets.

The predictably limited dynamic range of the Sensation’s camera does mean that in high contrast situations you’ll end up with either blown-out skies or overcast landscapes, depending on what you choose to focus on and how the camera meters the available light, but that needn’t be a tragedy — it can lead to more artsy and interesting imagery. Overall, we reckon the Sensation is equipped with a mighty fine imager that might require you to be just a little more hands-on in controlling its settings in order to obtain the best results.

We must commend HTC for the intelligently designed dual LED flash. It’s bright enough to illuminate group portrait shots and yet subtle enough not to whitewash a subject that’s placed immediately in front of the camera lens. The front-facing VGA camera, on the other hand, didn’t impress us much. It produced murky and grainy results and continues to be a tool primarily intended for video calls.

Video recording on the Sensation is simply effortless. Thirty frames of glorious 1080p can be filled each second and it seems to be done with utter ease. The camcorder’s ability to keep up with motion on screen is markedly superior to what we’re used to as well. There’s a fluidity to the Sensation’s output that’s rare to find. Make no mistake about it, folks, this is where your dual-core processor will run circles, squares, and trapezoids around the competition. Though performance is sublime, we must note that actual visual quality of the Sensation’s video leaves some room for improvement. HTC again seems to be fiddling with the recording — by blurring some parts and sharpening others for a more uniform look — which can sometimes deliver unnatural-looking results.

Sound is recorded in stereo, another feather in the Sensation’s multimedia hat, though we found the phone unusually prone to picking up wind noise. In our estimation, this is owing to the position of the microphone used for voice calls, which unfortunately gets exposed directly to oncoming wind when the phone’s held horizontally to shoot movies. Aside from that, quality of sound recording was pretty much middle of the road; it’s certainly a far cry from the tinny stuff the HTC Flyer recently treated us to.

Software:

Many of you might gaze upon the HTC Sensation and see your ideal hacking phone — tons of hardware potential, great ergonomics, and an almost spotless bill of physical health. All you need now is a nice community-built ROM for it and you’ll be flying… but oh wait, that’s right, HTC developed a weird allergy to custom Android ROM installations this year and has been locking down the bootloaders on its 2011 phones to prevent such chicanery.

Company CEO Peter Chou announced yesterday that this unpopular policy will be done away with in the future — a welcome decision that may be enacted with retroactive effect and lead to the full unleashing of the Sensation — but as it stands today, this lovely new handset’s only option is HTC’s Sense-tweaked Android 2.3.3 install. You can polish it up by overlaying custom app launchers or UI skins from the Android Market, but customization purists will have to look elsewhere.

Sense 3.0:

With such an introduction, you might surmise that HTC’s latest version of Sense, 3.0, hasn’t treated us quite the way it should and you’d be right. It isn’t that the user experience suffers from any glaring flaws or omissions — it is generally smooth, responsive and pleasing to the eye — but we’re left disappointed by the indolent pace of innovation that HTC has exhibited with this supposedly major new release. Unfortunately, the Sense 3.0 tweaks have proven to be mostly superficial and there’s little in the way of added functionality over and above what you can obtain on a Gingerbread-sporting Incredible S.

Let’s start off with the bright spots. The overhauled lockscreen is by far and away the biggest and handiest improvement in the latest Sense. It now offers four customizable app shortcuts, which can be dragged into a so-called activation ring and thereby unlock the phone straight into the app. Above the shortcuts, you can have some spectacularly animated weather animations signifying the current weather, or stock updates, or a floating array of your pictures, which too can be dragged into that ring for a closer look. On the whole, it takes the previously dormant, borderline nuisance of a screen and it turns it into a much more dynamic and useful part of the user interface. We like the way that selecting an app shortcut creates an outline of it inside the activation ring, which in itself moves up from the bottom of the screen and closer to the app. These subtle visual clues, along with other hints and animations, help newcomers to smartphones find their way around with little difficulty.

There’s no denying the fact that, superficially, Sense 3.0 is a clear step ahead of its predecessors. Navigation between homescreens is executed with a three-dimensional animation, implying a carousel arrangement, and there are tons of little visual tweaks suggesting depth in, around, and behind UI elements. Moving left of the left-most homescreen sends you to the right-most one, while skipping in a single direction too quickly pulls your view back, exposes the full carousel, and gives it a rapid spin in that direction. Unlocking the phone in the conventional way spins your first homescreen into view in a similar fashion. This is all well and good, and it certainly makes for a good exhibition of the underlying graphical prowess, but it’s purely cosmetic. There’s no utilitarian reason for why you’d want to send your homescreens into a washing machine cycle — that actually takes control of the phone away from you, whereas we’d have thought the whole point of customizing Android was to improve and enhance it, not make it more unwieldy.

(via Engadget)

HTC’s obsession with weather follows the same path. The Sensation comes with a set of splendid visuals for the common weather conditions, which are actually accompanied by fitting sound effects as well (yes, there are small audio recordings for sunny, windy, and rainy weather). Alas, those get annoying very quickly indeed and you’ll soon find yourself trying to either turn them off or disposing with the offending widgets. HTC’s weather widget will allow you to mute the sound, but the expansive animations aren’t optional. For all its glitz and glamor, the weather app on the Sensation is actually rather dumb. It allows you to cycle through a number of cities while still on the homescreen, but it’s pretty much a matter of luck whether tapping on your selected city will bring its weather up. Sometimes the app reloads itself and sends you to the correct metropolis, but on other occasions it just loads up the last city you were on. Ergo, tapping on Paris doesn’t guarantee you won’t get sent to Tokyo. Similarly, attempting to see weather for upcoming days by tapping on them on the home widget just brings you to conditions for the current day.

Overall, the new Sense UI is designed to make a great first impression, but scratch below the surface and you’ll find little substance. We still aren’t great fans of the onscreen keyboard, in spite of the extra room on this larger-display handset, and though HTC explicitly promised to improve its input prediction algorithms, we weren’t struck by any great improvements there either. Precise text selection and cursor placements are also uniquely challenging on HTC devices, with the execution being arguably worse than on the default Android Gingerbread software. Finally, the move to a more graphically intensive UI does occasionally take its toll on the phone’s otherwise exemplary responsiveness, with detectable traces of lag cropping up here and there.

Having said that, let’s also give an approving nod to HTC’s integration of a Quick Settings menu in the drop-down Android menu (it sits alongside the usual Notifications area) and the nice app switcher that appears when you hold down the Home button. Moreover, the company does a good job of juggling resource use by background tasks, a valuable trait. The reason we’re not more enthused about these items is that they’re also present and accounted for in the company’s other Gingerbread handsets, making the Sensation just another in a succession of phones rather than the singular and outstanding device that its former codename of Pyramid suggested.

Performance:

We’ve danced around and hinted at the Sensation’s performance long enough, now how about we address it head on? As already pointed out in the camera section, this handset’s biggest struggle is in finding things that can challenge it. Dragging the camera icon into the unlocking ring on the lockscreen and taking your first snapshot is a spectacularly quick affair, certainly faster than on the 1.5GHz Flyer, HTC’s only other Sense 3.0 device so far. Google Maps and the web browser are almost dripping with lubricant, they’re so slick. Flash videos embedded online load up as quickly on the Sensation as we’ve seen on any other smartphone. The limits to this handset’s abilities are found when trying to play back 1080p Flash video — it turns into a slideshow — but 720p is no problem at all.

HTC Watch, the company’s newly launched online movie store / rental kiosk, is available on the Sensation, having made its debut on the Flyer. It works on a progressive download basis that’s practically indiscernible from streaming, you just end up with the trailer, TV episode, or movie fully downloaded on your phone after you’ve watched it. There’s a small buffering delay before you can start playback, but again, that’s part for the streaming course. Although we aren’t sure of the actual resolution at which movies are played on the Sensation, they look (and yes, we’ve been saving this adjective for just the right moment) sensational. That 16:9 screen ratio and the processing power within the phone pair up to deliver a supreme movie-watching experience. If you weren’t convinced smartphones were big or good enough to make films enjoyable, you owe it to yourself to check out what HTC has to offer here.

App launching in general is nearly instantaneous. HTC claims opening apps is now twice as fast as on its previous handsets, but we ran a little side-by-side test with the Sensation and Incredible S and would argue that “twice” is an overly ambitious thing to say. The fact is that a number of recent Android phones, including those from HTC’s own stable, have reached a very high level of responsiveness, so differentiating from them is hard. The Sensation definitely comes out ahead of all bar the Galaxy S II, just don’t expect it to be a mindblowing improvement on the currently high standard.

Naturally, you’ll be wanting some benchmarks to go with your serving of hands-on impressions. We ran the Sensation through the usual gauntlet, however our usual warning about screen resolution affecting scores must be reiterated here. Quadrant’s 3D graphics tests are done at native resolution, which as we mentioned above is a 35 percent more intensive workload for the qHD Sensation than it is for, say, the WVGA Galaxy S II. Don’t be shocked, therefore, to hear that the Sensation’s scores coalesced around 2,000. Linpack typically gave us around 46MFLOPS, matching the Galaxy S II. Other graphical tests were hamstrung by a 60fps cap, giving us average scores of 58fps in Neocore and 42fps in Nenamark. Needless to say, the full power of that Adreno 220 GPU will need some nice and intensive new games to push it to its limits. It’ll still be a good long while, however, before there’s anything on Android capable of choking up the hardware inside the Sensation.

Sum-up:

The HTC Sensation is an extremely accomplished device, but there’s no getting around the feeling that it underwhelmed. While it is indeed a dual-core speed demon like the Samsung Galaxy S II, HTC’s latest doesn’t exhibit quite the same level of UI responsiveness and is furthermore saddled with a signed boot loader that prevents users from improving things themselves. Our biggest issue is with Sense, whose fancy new graphics and improved lock screen utility can’t hide the fact that the core UX hasn’t materially changed from the days of the Hero.

In terms of design language, HTC is a monoglot and proud of it. The Sensation doesn’t break with the company’s established styling, yet its subtle physical refinements add up to make it a veritable pleasure to hold and to operate. Combining these excellent ergonomics with the phone’s superior battery efficiency and generous qHD display resolution makes the Sensation a formidable foe for Samsung’s celebrated new flagship. Given the choice between the two, we’d opt for the Galaxy S II for its brilliant display and snappier performance, but that’s just a matter of preference. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide what it is you value most in your Android super phone and pick the one that fits those needs best.

HTC Merge (review) :


(Check our facebook page for more updates : Click here)

 

Slim, sleek and ready to do business — that’s how we’d describe the HTC Merge. The Merge (aka the Lexikon — and both of those names are subject to change, by the way) on Verizon looks to be the Android smartphone you worldwide travelers have been waiting for. Take the best HTC has to offer — hardware, build quality, physical keyboard, user interface — toss it atop Android 2.2 and slap on a global SIM card. That’s the Verizon HTC Merge.

More on the Merge :
OK, let’s preface this hands-on with a couple of things: The device we took a look at feels pretty solid. But the phone hasn’t even been announced yet, so specs and details are subject to change. And, yes, Verizon has put Bing on it. For the purposes of this hands-on, we all need to get over it. Or maybe we won’t. read on.

The hardware :

So what we have here is a horizontal slider with a four-row physical keyboard. And let’s start with that keyboard. If you had to pick one thing that HTC excels at, it’d be keyboard design. And they’ve pretty much knocked it out of the park here. The keys a near-perfect size. They’re clicky and responsive and very well spaced. They’re flat with rounded edges — like the Sprint Epic 4G, but better, with not nearly as many crammed into such a little space.

The slider mechanism is a true slider, in and out. No weird hinge action. It’s stiff, without much play that might otherwise leave you worried about it breaking down over time. Again, though, that’s something we’ll want to revisit with a production unit.

In addition to the usual letters and numbers, you get a home button, a menu button and an oversized FN button for secondary functions. And the FN button’s size is nice — no pecking around for it.

There’s also a user-defined “API button.” Note to all you budding designers out there: Never, EVER put the letters API out in front of your customers. Let’s hope that’s just a pre-production thing and that the button will get a more friendly stencil come go-time.

The secondary functions — punctuation and numbers and the like — are stenciled the Verizon red. Not sure if it was our unfamiliarity with them or if it was the color, but we had a hard time picking them out. And if you’re color-blind, well … But that’s a small thing. The color fits with dark red highlights, and we’re OK with that.

The shell of the phone is done in a charcoal gray. It’s just a tad plasticy, and the phone has a great balance to it. It’s just weighty enough, but you don’t worry about taking off a toe, like you might if you drop the Motorola Droid.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The HTC Merge camera is your basic 5-megapixel shooter. It can record video in 720p resolution.

The top of the phone is home to the power button and 3.5mm headphone jack, like you’d expect. The volume rocker and microUSB port are on the left-hand bezel, and the right-hand bezel is free and clear.

The screen — we’ll assume for the sake of argument that it’s SLCD — appears to be about 3.7 inches in diagonal, same as the Droid 2 and Droid Incredible. We’ve said it before about screen types — unless you have a half-dozen phones in front of you, you’ll never notice. And the Merge’s screen looks just fine to us.
The Merge feels just a tad thicker than the Motorola Droid 2, but mostly they’re about the same size. The Merge is pocketable and fits nicely in the hand.

Under the Merge :

The Android System Info app lists max processor speed at 800MHz, so that’s what we’re going with here. Max internal memory was listed at about 1.3GB, and there were about 363MB of RAM available to the user. (That’s you.) Benchmark tests list the Linpack score at about the same as the Nexus One, and Quadrant has it above the Nexus One with Android 2.2.

The battery cover off to reveal, well, the battery and MicroSD card. The extra storage can be swapped out without first having to remove the battery, but it’s held in place by a little piece of plastic that you have to depress while sliding out the card. It’s a little tricky, but you get better at it with practice.

One feature that sets the Merge apart from just every other Android phone is that it’s a “World phone.” That means it also has a SIM card slot. Traditional CDMA (that’s Sprint and Verizon) phones don’t have SIM cards, little wafers of info that contain your phone’s fingerprint and can be easily swapped from one GSM device to another. A “World phone” is a Sprint or Verizon phone with a SIM card, so it can work on GSM networks. But that’s not to say you’ll be using the Merge on AT&T or T-Mobile. No, it’s intended for use overseas. And then you’ll likely be tied down to some sort of Verizon (or Vodafone, more likely) roaming plan. But the upside is you get to use your phone. And hackers have cracked open this sort of thing before.

Android 2.2 is on board out of the box, so no waiting for a pesky Froyo upgrade. (And, really, that’s the way it should be at this point.) HTC Sense is the user interface of choice, naturally. It’s not the newer version that we’re seeing on the Europen HTC Desire HD and Desire Z, and that’s a shame, what with its quick-hibernation restore and UI improvements. Here’s to hoping the Merge will get an update. Otherwise, we’re looking at the usual Sense experience. There’s also Verizon’s 3G Mobile hot spot app, so you can tether at home, if you pay, of course. (Will that work overseas on GSM?)

The ROM on the device appears to be the same as what we saw from that leaked RUU a few weeks ago. That means it’s looking pretty unlikely this will get the Droid branding.

The HTC Merge is a phone that we can’t wait to get into our hands in its final form. It’s coming at a slightly odd time, as we all pretty much expect and know that Verizon is launching its LTE service later this year, though we’re not expecting any smartphones to take advantage of it for some time. But the Merge very much feels — even in this unannounced, unreleased version — that it should have some real staying power. Hats off to HTC.