We got hands-on and touchy-feely with the HTC Sensation this afternoon. As leaked just this morning, HTC's latest flagship is a dual-core smartie packing a brand new HTC Sense interface and Android 2.3 Gingerbread.
First impressions? Very, very good. Posed as 'the true multimedia superphone' when introduced by HTC bigwigs Florian Seiche and Phil Blair, the 4.3-inch smartphone giant is fronted by a bright, clear SLCD screen that apparently packs 35% more pixels than an LCD screen, with a 960x540 resolution display that manages a true 16:9 widescreen ratio for all those movies you'll be watching on it.
Like the HTC Flyer, preloaded is HTC Watch, the movie download and streaming service. We're quite impressed with the newish and/or cool-oldies launch titles, with prices coming in at £1.99 to buy, or 99p to rent. If you've downloaded flicks to your phone, you'll be able to watch in full HD by hooking up the device with a TV via an HDMI port.
Made of aluminium unibody chassis with the same rubber covers at the top and bottom like the HTC Desire S, the Sensation feels cool and well made in the hand – in fact, we'd hazard it feels like HTC's best quality build yet. Though it clocks in at 123x68x11.8mm, it feels quite streamlined in the hand. Rounded glass edges protect the screen, and give the phone a classier heft, while the capacitive touch-screen feels faster and more responsive than in previous HTC phones.
The haptic buzz has now been muted to a soft blip, making typing on the virtual keyboard nicer than ever – in our quick play, it seemed to stand up to the iPhone's in terms of accuracy and responsiveness, but we'll certainly be giving it the full test when we get our hands on a review sample.
That new HTC Sense interface makes its debut on a phone, with a brand new unlock screen that involves pulling a ring upwards to the centre of the screen. We loved the click-saving feature that lets you pull one of four shortcuts on the unlock screen into the screen to head directly into the app. You can customise which apps these shortcuts lead to.
We've also got some new weather cuteness – you can choose from a few different weather clocks, while the animation that plays depending on current climes is more detailed than ever, with tons of swipey, 3D-esque swooshing. In fact, the home screens rotate too, almost like sides on a cube.
It's hard to say for certain that the dual-core 1GHz Qualcomm processor and 956MB of RAM makes things noticeably faster, but swiping between home screens and pinching-and-zooming felt very, very smooth. According to HTC, the speedier chip will result in app processing that's twice as fast, zippier web browsing and smoother multitasking.
There's an eight-megapixel camera with a dual LED flash and 1080p video recording. On the front is a 1.3-megapixel camera for video calls - and you can use it to talk to Facebook friends face twice, though there still isn't a native app, and the biggie, Skype, doesn't support it for Android. You'll have to download the less popular Tango or Fring, for instance.
The camera features an 'instant capture' shutter than should put an end to blurry photos when pesky subjects move before you're done. Our quick test had the shutter snapping immediately, with clear results, though we're not sure HTC's colour issues with its camera has been sorted. We'll have more in the full review.
The HTC Sensation launches exclusive on Vodafone in mid-May, but will be available across Europe from mid-June.
The UK's Three network has already announced it will stock the behemoth at some point.
Click here to see a video of the HTC Sensation in action.