Name: HTC Amaze 4G
Price: $260 (w/two-year contract)
The Back Story: T-Mobile has put together an amazing smartphone lineup this year, with HTC’s handsets topping the list. It’s been four months since we had our hands on the manufacturer’s last premium device, the myTouch 4G Slide, and we crowned it the smartphone with the best camera on the market. Riding the high wave of success, HTC has started rolling out its holiday season entries and is sticking to the script by introducing another deluxe handset catered towards shutterbugs: the Amaze 4G.
Repackaging a majority of the highlights found on its last great mobile device, while integrating a more powerful processor and jumping on the carrier’s new HSPA+ 42 high-speed network, HTC is looking to end the year on a high note. So does the Amaze 4G live up to its moniker? And is it really T-Mobile's best camera phone?
• Faster 4G speeds: T-Mobile's 4G network has been slammed over the past year for not really being a 4G network. And while the myTouch Slide 4G produced speedier results, the Amaze 4G stands out as the carrier’s first true 4G-enabled handset. At one point we found ourselves downloading five apps from the Android Market, simultaneously, in 35 seconds. Single app downloads clocked in at about five to seven seconds. Our Speedtest.net analysis had data speeds peaking at 14Mbps throughout most of New York City and New Jersey as well. That might seem slow when compared to Verizon's lightening quick LTE network, but it's still an impressive benchmark for T-Mobile standards.
• Great camera: T-Mobile once proclaimed the myTouch 4G Slide as having the “most advanced camera of any smartphone,” which we co-signed in our review. It’s making the same claim once again with the Amaze 4G. A lot of the same features can be found on both handsets such as a dedicated camera button and the ability to take photos without unlocking the phone, but shutterbugs might be keen to snatch up the more recent HTC model because of its robust photo software. New features like SweepShot let photogs to take panoramic shots by moving the camera horizontally across, while BurstShot shoots multiple images in a quick fashion. The 8MP camera does take crisp and vibrant photos in bright environments and video recording captures gorgeous 1080p high-def clips.
• High-powered CPU and tons of memory: Like the Galaxy S II, the Amaze comes equipped with Qualcomm’s 1.5GHz Snapdragon S3 dual-core processor. So you can expect the same lag-free and killer multitasking performance. Web pages and applications launch super fast, one-touch commands are responsive, and homescreen and menu navigation runs smoothly. The CPU also does an exceptional job of rendering highly detailed images and gaming graphics, plus it plays media files (primarily videos) without any hiccups. Along with a strong processor comes 12GB of internal memory, 1GB of RAM, and a microSD card slot that allows you to tack on a 32GB card for extra storage.
• Sense 3.0 and all-purpose bloatware: Even though Samsung has made great progress with its latest TouchWiz interface, we’re still big on HTC’s enhanced UI. Still intact is the customizable unlock screen that provides shortcuts to four predetermined programs, as well as the 3D carousel-like homescreen. There are over 30 widgets present with the usual suspects accounted for (Facebook, YouTube, Weather, etc.), as well as some useful T-Mobile utility apps like My Device and My Account. But we found the Lookout Security app to be the coolest addition, as it allows users to remotely track and wipe their device via website. Other notable applications include 411 & More for emergency assistance and Connected Media for wireless media sharing.
• Good voice clarity: Call quality was much better than we anticipated, as voices sounded crisp and full on both ends. The speakerphone boasted loud volumes and made for clearer conversations. Signal reception was strong throughout our entire trail run and resulted in little-to-no dropped calls.
• T-Mobile's most expensive Android phone: Even though it's one of two phones running on the carrier's HSPA+ 4G network, you can get similar data speeds and hardware performance from the Galaxy S II at $30 less. It also offers the same camera experience as the myTouch Slide 4G, which runs for $60 cheaper. You do the math.
• Heavy and bulky: At 6.1 oz. and 0.46 inches thick, the Amaze 4G is one of the thickest and overweight handsets on the market.
• Battery killer: With a 1730 mAh battery under the hood, you'd expect a good eight hours of continuous talk time, as well as 10+ hours on standby. Instead, we pulled a meager five hours on moderate use. Recommendation: pick up PowerSkin's Amaze 4G power case for that extra energy boost.
Final Say: HTC heads into the holiday season strong with the Amaze 4G leading the pack (for now, at least). The Qualcomm 1.5GHz dual-core was built to handle heavy-duty multitasking and media playback with ease. The 4.3-inch qHD super LCD display delivers great visuals and viewing angles, too. Subscribers can also stop whining about the carrier’s lackluster speeds as the Amaze 4G is proof of T-Mobile’s upgraded 4G network. The phone bundles some amazing photo editing software and takes remarkable shots, but the myTouch still stands as the superior camera phone. From a consumer’s perspective, between the hefty price tag and battery life troubles, it’s easy to lean towards HTC’s last device, or jump on the Galaxy S II bandwagon. Just saying... Still in all, the Amaze 4G’s powerful and faster execution makes it a worthy standout.