Since its announcement in April, the HTC Sensation has become one of the most anticipated phones of 2011 so far. Combining a sleek unibody design with a dual-core CPU and the shiny new HTC Sense 3.0, the Sensation emerged as a seriously desirable piece of hardware. But it isn't the only dual-core Android contender, and competition is tough among high-end smartphones, so the Sensation's success is not a foregone conclusion.
We've spent the past couple of days getting acquainted with HTC's next big thing, and you can check out our initial thoughts and hands-on video after the jump.
From the hardware to the software, it's pretty clear that HTC has gone all-out on the Sensation. Packed inside its stylish chassis is a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon CPU, 768MB of RAM, and a 960x540 (qHD) Super LCD display. You also get the best camera on any HTC phone to date, and video-calling options thanks to the front-facing camera (though, sadly, no bundled video-calling software).
In terms of software, HTC continues to heap on the functionality with the new Sense 3.0. The Sense launcher has gone all 3D on us, and the traditional Sense lockscreen is gone, replaced with more flashy and functional offerings controlled via the personalization menu. The new HTC Watch service is included, bringing TV shows and movies directly to the phone. Let's not forget the gorgeous new weather animations, either.
And, naturally, you get everything from both previous versions of Sense -- the unified contacts system, the HTC Hub, HTCSense.com cloud functionality, social network aggregation, DLNA connectivity. The list goes on. There are some who consider anything other than stock Android to be bloat, but the Sensation doesn't feel sluggish, nor do the extra Sense apps really get in the way if you're not using them.
There are a few niggles, though. The launcher is a little slow with live wallpapers, even with two Snapdragons powering it. In daylight, the camera is among the best we've ever tested, but in low light, quality degrades rapidly. The new "trace" keyboard seems to be a bit of a dud. And there are still question marks over how developer-friendly the Sensation will turn out to be.
Of course, no phone is perfect. But the Sensation offers a tantalizing blend of high-end hardware and one of the best smartphone user experiences available, and we're looking forward to spending more time with it as we prepare our full review.
In the meantime, check the photos below, and be sure to watch the hands-on video above if you haven't already.