Built on Android "Gingerbread" 2.3.3 (upgradeable to 2.3.4) the Sensation employs HTC’s Sense 3.0 interface. The changes over normal Android are present in all parts of the OS but a noteworthy highlight is the lock screen. Here we can either drag the virtual grey ring across the screen to unlock or we can drop it to one of the icons above in order to jump straight to that app. This sounds like a small addition but it’s surprisingly useful, regularly saving precious seconds. It is also possible to change the four apps to those of our choosing.
The Sense 3.0 User Interface makes a great first impression is generally smooth, responsive and aesthetically pleasing.
Navigation between the 7 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 us to the right-most one, while skipping in a single direction too quickly pulls our view back, exposes the full carousel, and gives it a rapid spin in that direction. Unlocking the phone in the conventional way spins our homescreen into view in a similar fashion. While purely cosmetic it does give an indication of the underlying power of the CPU and GPU used by HTC.
The HTC Sensation also offers connection to HTCSense.com, a portal that allows control of the phone remotely. Basic tasks such as forwarding all calls and text to another number can be performed. It is also possible to ring the phone as loud as possible so even misplace and on silent the phone can be located. We are also able to send a message to the phone or lock it remotely and most importantly there’s the remote wipe option.
Pre-loaded apps will vary however on our unlocked handset they were:
Adobe Reader, calculator, calendar, dice, eBook reader, Facebook, flashlight, FM radio, Friend Stream, Gmail, Google search, HTC Hub, HTC likes, internet, latitude, locations, mail, maps, market, messages, mirror, navigation, news, news and weather, twitter, Polaris office, reader, soundhound, stocks, task manager, teeter, voice recorder, watch, weather, Wi-Fi hotspot, YouTube.
Overall this is a good selection which ensures the HTC Sensation has a wide range of functionality out of the box to combine with the camera, video, web, email and message apps.
The onscreen keyboard is also worthy of special mention. Not only is the layout excellent but the predictive texting is very accurate and among the best we have ever seen. An experience that is also helped by the spacious expanse and responsiveness of the phone’s screen.