As we mentioned in our preview of this handset, the new lock screen is perhaps the biggest (it's certainly the most immediately apparent) change in the Sense UI that comes with the Sensation. HTC describes now describes it as "smart," because it can both serve you with live information, like weather and those all-important stock prices, and also lets you unlock straight into an app by dragging its link into an unlocking circle. Frankly, we used the functionality so much that we almost forgot how to unlock the phone "normally." It's something the Inq Cloud Touch and other lower-end Android devices have previously exhibited, and a feature we really, truly appreciate.
Performance was, as you'd expect from a 1.2GHz dual-core machine, snappy all around, though we still caught some slight lag and insufficient frame rates when the Sensation was dealing with some of those yummy new 3D animations. The higher resolution (960 x 540) screen is a definite upgrade over the 800 x 480 standard that Android devices have been coalescing around and the 4.3-inch size seems like a perfect fit for it. Both the camera app and video playback in the HTC Watch app showed great speed and responsiveness to our input. Those are the things that will really harness the processing power of the Sensation.
Physically, the Sensation somehow manages to feel more compact than its predecessor atop the European jumbo phone throne, the Desire HD. The two phones both have 4.3-inch screens, but the 16:9 screen ratio of the Sensation makes it narrower, while HTC's ingenuity has managed to make the new device marginally thinner too. All in all, a definite upgrade in ergonomics. Aluminum construction is present here as well, however the entire aluminum chunk -- which spans the middle portion of the back, separating two plastic parts (each of which has its own color, giving you a tri-color rear) -- is in the removable cover. This is unlike most of HTC's aluminum "unibody" phones, which make the aluminum piece part of the phone's framework. Hey, at least you get much easier access to what's under the back cover. Delve into the gallery below for more!