Android This Week: HTC Sensation Here; Quad-Core Tablets; Small Slates Soon

After introducing the HTC Sensation 4G in April, T-Mobile this week finally announced availability for HTC’s latest Android smartphone. The Sensation 4G, which teased us on video last month, arrives on June 15 for $199 after rebate and contract. The phone has the 4G tag, although the mobile broadband radio tops out at 14 Mbps, far slower than T-Mobile’s new 42 Mbps network upgrades. However, the device should appeal due to the large, high resolution display and dual core processor.
Although the phone isn’t available in stores until mid-month, an early review unit just Friday afternoon and I’ve already spent plenty of time with the Android 2.3.3(s goog) smartphone. It’s clearly a contender to replace my aging Nexus One; it’s very much what I would have expected from the sequel to that phone.

I prefer a large display and the Sensation delivers that with 4.3-inches of touchscreen combined with a qHD resolution of 960 x 540 pixels. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon(s qcom) with two 1.2 GHz processing cores, the phone is responsive, but not quite as fast I had expected. Perhaps that’s related to the HTC Sense 3.0 user interface and software.
Sense sees some improvements, the most noticeable being the active lock screen, which can show information, as well as giving shortcuts to frequently used applications. While HTC devices aren’t known for having the best cameras, I see marked improvements in the image output already. The Sensation uses an 8 megapixel sensor with auto-focus and dual LED flashes. In addition to solid still images, the phone records video up to 1080p and the one video I’ve taken so far was quite good in terms of quality.
While I spent time looking at a dual-core smartphone, Nvidia announced a quad-core mobile chip that will power tablets as early as this August. Dubbed “Kal-El,” Nvidia’s(s nvda) new chip pairs four processing cores with a dozen graphics cores on a single chip. A demo game optimized for the chip appeared on video and the images were nothing short of amazing. Turning off two of the four cores — to simulate today’s dual-core chips — resulted in a much reduced frame rate and general choppiness in the game.
While the performance looks good, I question if quad-core tablets and smartphones in the second half of 2011 will cause consumers to wait on a mobile device purchase, given that carrier contracts generally have 24 month terms.
As consumers wait for quad-core devices, a new 7-inch tablet, the first to run Google’s Honeycomb platform, will arrive. ViewSonic unveiled its ViewPad 7x slate at the Computex trade show earlier this week and covered up Android 3.0 with a third-party launcher application. The device weighs in at just 380 grams and looks like it can fit in a back pants pocket or inside jacket pocket, making it quite portable. Unlike the HTC Flyer, another 7-inch tablet with Wi-Fi I recently shared a first-look video on, ViewSonic integrated an HSPA+ mobile broadband radio in the ViewPad 7x, so it can connect to the web wherever there is cellular data coverage.