T-Mobile HTC Amaze 4G Review

Intro

The Amaze 4G from T-Mobile aka the “Ruby” has landed and is a wonderful follow up to its little brother, the Sensation 4G. However, this HTC experience is a little more geared to the “point and shoot” crowd wanting to capture photos and videos  in an instant.  If you haven’t checked out the unboxing and quick hands-on yet, you can do so here.  The device focuses more on being quick on the draw for capturing moments that matter most by placing dedicated camera and video recording buttons on the device, offering you the ability to be in those applications regardless of the state the phone is currently in.  By simply pressing down for about a second, you’re instantly thrusted into camera or video mode.  In addition, HTC has added the ability to offer point and shoot pics with near zero shutter lag for taking rapid shots when needed.  But we’ll discuss that more in the camera portion of the review.  The device offers a 4.3” qHD Super LCD display which renders beautifully indoors and out.  Further specs include an 8-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash, 1080p video capture , a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon CPU (S3), Gingerbread 2.3.4, NFC and T-Mobile’s HSPA+ connectivity at 42 mp/s.  This is one of two phones currently on the network capable of capturing such theoretical speeds.  The other being the T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S II.  

Design

Anyone who’s been in the biz for a while or has loved smartphones in general knows that HTC knows how to design a phone.  And the HTC Amaze 4G is no exception to their lineup.  The device continues the legacy of sexy handsets with an all out curved industrial design steering away from any blocked slate out there.  Corners are soft and round for optimal placement and fitting in the hand.  The aesthetics are wonderful as I personal just love staring at the phone.  The backside offers a two-tone battery door much like the HTC Sensation.  The one major aspect worth noting with this device is its weight.  Most HTC devices tend to be heavy all around so we’re a bit used to that however, the Amaze 4G seems to be a bit heavier than most.  However, despite the weight it still felt comfortable in the hand.  If you have small hands you might want to keep the device’s size and weight in mind when making your purchase.  We highly recommend you head into your nearest T-Mobile retail store and give it a try first.

Battery

As most of us know, HTC devices are not noted for their extensive and long lasting battery life.  However, for a device running a dual-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm chip set I was rather impressed with battery life.  Thanks to its large 1730 mAH battery, on average I could get through almost a full day without requiring a charge.  And this was after visiting around 15-20 different web pages, receiving enormous amounts of push email and Gmail throughout the day, watching several YouTube videos around 5-10 min each, taking several phone calls throughout the day one of which lasted close to an hour and used Google Nav to get somewhere for about 15 min total.  After all of that I still had battery life to spare with about 25% left on the device before plugging it in.  This is mostly due in part to HTC and Qualcomm adding power management algorithms which help with the overall heavy daily use.  Battery life is getting better and better these days and it’s nice to see HTC And Qualcomm focusing their efforts on this front.

Call Quality & Speaker Phone:

Call quality on the device was surprising well and clear.  In my experience, with the majority of HTC devices I’ve owned, in support for the multitude of specs and features, the phone portion of the device usually tends to take a back seat in the priority wagon.  However, it would seem that HTC has one up’d us on this device as calls with family members came in crystal clear.  In addition, when my Bluetooth headset is not available I tend to default to the speaker phone since I’m not a big fan of holding phones to my ear (who does that anyway?)  I was expecting an extremely less than par speakerphone experience however, HTC proved me wrong yet again.  The speakerphone worked extremely well and in addition to that, playing music on the device was a pleasure as the speakers held their own during playback.  Note the small speaker outlet on the back of the device while yet still producing incredible output.

Performance

One thing I always pegged an HTC device running Sense UI on it was its performance.  On previous devices it was clear that Sense UI is an extremely CPU intensive skin which tends to cause lag here and there along with jitter and skipping.  I was expecting a similar experience here with the Amaze 4G.  However, this device was anything but lagging.  The dual-core 1.5 GHz makes its presence known on the device and like some models I’ve used on the network, a task killer/manager was not required.  I decided to use this device as is, no extra skins, no task killers (other than the built in one from HTC) and no third party launchers.  The device has produced no lag whatsoever and transitioned smoothly from screen to screen.  This device has caused me to take back every negative comment I’ve said regarding Sense.  Sense 3.0 was actually a pleasure to use and I highly considered switching to the platform after spending several days with it.  I think HTC hit the hammer on the nail with its latest version of the skin.  However, like most consumers, we’d still like to see a feature where we can turn it off if we want.  The unlock screen is a wonder and comes in handy for times when you want to jump directly into an application from the lock screen.  Graphics were a great and welcomed addition, eliminating any “cartoonish” feel to the device.  And with HTC’s multiple customization options, you’ll never ever get bored of designing various aspects of the OS subsequently altering your experience with the device each and every time.

Software

The device is sporting Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread with HTC’s custom Sense UI overlay complementing the OS ever so slightly.  HTC is using Sense 3.0 unlike the HTC Rhyme’s Sense 3.5 version.  No word as of yet whether or not the device is in-line to receive the new version anytime soon, but we suspect it will.  Lets also not forget that HTC made statements via their Facebook page that they’ll be upgrading several of their devices to Ice Cream Sandwich.  In addition, the device offers a plethora of other software applications such as:

  • Adobe Flash
  • HTC Watch
  • HTC Weather
  • HTC Music
  • HTC Friendstream
  • TeleNav
  • T-Mobile TV
  • Polaris Office
  • Slacker Radio
  • Adobe Reader
  • Standard Google Android Applications

Camera & Camcorder

As we mentioned in the intro, the device is sporting camera functionality like no other.  If you’re considering purchasing the device, it’s more than likely you’re a camera-centric person.  Camera specs include a front facing 2 meg camera and a powerful 8 meg camera on the rear with a dual-LED flash.  The device is capable of capture 1080p video and playback and offers zero shutter lag when snapping photos.  Check out the sample shots below taken with the Amaze.  The day was a bit overcast but the shots still rendered nicely.  The camera was able to reproduce the natural colors with ease and details are fairly clear.  Focusing comes with great ease thanks to the camera’s sensitive auto-focus capabilities.  And while I didn’t have time to get shots of the device capturing anything in macro mode, I can assure you it works fine and captured every necessary detail on day one when I began playing working with the device.  In addition, the dual-LED flash worked incredibly well on the handset almost brightening the entire room on some casual inside shots with family.  Likewise, the video camera was excellent as HTC has added beautifully the ability to get instant access to it immediately just by holding the dedicated camcorder button down for a second.  With 1080p capture, videos were incredible and of course the device has the ability to play all videos and pics on the big screen with the addition of an HDMI cable (not sold with the device).

Sample shots with the Amaze 4G:

Closing:

Quick Likes – High end specs, the camera is “amazing”, the device is of good build quality and sturdy.   Sense UI 3.0 was a pleasure to use and the customization options are a welcomed addition. Furthermore, this is one of two devices that support T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 megs/s.  The device also sports the popular and widely spreading NFC (Near Field Communication) technology which is a welcomed addition as well, especially with the rapid roll out of merchants showing support for the new functionality.  Battery life is great as well thanks to the 1730 mAh battery accompanying the device.  And lastly, the device comes with support for a plethora of avenues for entertainment.  Between movies, music and applications one will never grow bored or run out of entertainment with this device in hand.

Quick Dislikes – The device is a bit on the heavy side.  In addition, HTC went back to their old ways by opting out of using the standard micro USB port and instead choosing a slightly larger and more proprietary port (see pic below). Meaning, you’ll have to purchase a whole new set of accessories for the device such as wall & car chargers.  The only other thing we found to be a negative is the fact that T-Mobile veered from its nice typical $199.99 for high-end devices.  The carrier slapped a $259.99 price tag on the device.

As you can see, the likes definitely outweigh the dislikes.  We highly recommend the handset if you’re looking for an HTC device with high end specs, a pleasant UI, and some extra features to get you through a tedious day.  The device is available on T-Mobile now for $259.99 with a new 2 yr agreement.  Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.  And don’t forget to check out the gallery below where you can see some shots of the device being compared to the T-Mobile G2X, the original dual-core device for perspective.

» See more articles by Joe Sirianni


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  • http://mondegreen2.blogspot.com/ Erik Neu

    I have read a bunch of reviews for the Amaze, and this is the first one that mentions the absence of standard micro USB for charging. To me that is a showstopper! I have 5 family members, and lots of devices, and we are inching toward having *everything* micro USB. It is SO nice, now, for not every family member to have to remember to bring their own charger, and then fight for plugs in cars and hotel rooms, and cry if you forget to bring your charger or leave it in a hotel.

    I returned a nice auxiliary battery because it was mini USB. No WAY am I going to accept something totally non-standard. This is just stupid.

    • Joe Sirianni

      Erik.

      Believe me, I was just as disappointed.

  • JGreen1280

    Thanks for the review!

    As for the Micro USB, they do work!! Although it is a different connecter, the old one still works just fine.
    I will say, if you are watching a movie or moving the device around while charging, the new connector with the supplied cable is wonderfully sturdy! No worries of damaging the charging port if you use that cable. It is longer, and has that U shape to it which makes it seat deeper into the device and ultra snug.

    All my current micro USB accessories and chargers still work fine.

    To add, if you look closely at the inside of the connector on the phone, the new connector has an additional 6 pins (3 on each side), on the part of the connector that is deeper within the port. My guess, future accessories!

  • http://t-mobileblackfriday2011.com/ tmobile black friday 2011

    I am looking for information about the tmobile and very glad to find your web page. It is useful for me.

  • RodB

    Micro USB cables also fit in the socket too and can charge the phone.  But I much prefer the snug fit of HTC’s own cable.  My wife’s LG has a micro USB that constantly comes loose leaving you without a charge.

  • http://www.abercrombielondonsale.co.uk Abercrombie

    The_Miz is complete moron if you are really the miz or not.

    if the judgment passes against HTC, Apple can be smart and collect
    licence fees on those patents like Microsoft is doing with all android
    manufactures, in that case everybody wins and Apple can make more money
    since that’s what it wants the most.

  • http://www.reviewsexpert.net/ Reviews Expert

    I hate to be the guy whining about scores, but with the phrase “BUT ITS BATTERY LIFE IS AWFUL” in big orange letters and the battery consumption described as ” among the worst I’ve seen on recent smartphones.” how does the phone score a “6” for battery on this verge-o-meter scale?
    does the “Verge Battery Test” also apply to phones?
    “Afwul” + “among the worst” = slightly better than half way?

  • dabudd

    I have an Amaze, and after not having a cell phone for about 3 or so years I am truly impressed w/what this thing can do. Machines r taking over