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HTC Source | January 20, 2018

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Video: Oops… death grip takes hold of the HTC Sensation

Video: Oops… death grip takes hold of the HTC Sensation

The iPhone 4 death grip issues, will go down in history as the biggest hardware debacle of all time, and yet it did not harm sales or uptake of the Apple product, Go Figure? Then there was the fateful quote from Steve Jobs “Just don’t hold it like that”. What did come to light though was the fact that the same design flaw, could be demonstrated with other handsets,

“every phone has these areas of sensitivity, depending on the location of the antenna. Some phones even ship with labels warning customers to not cover certain areas with their hands.”  – Steve Jobs

SO to see the problem arise again, was probably inevitable, but you wouldn’t expect it to be with HTC’s 2011 Android flagship device, the HTC Sensation. The reports have just started to emerge, but as the video from PocketNow demonstrates below, the Sensation has a rather curious design. Even though it appears to conform to that familiar HTC form factor that we have come to love, it seems the phone fit’s together with a new twist for HTC.

There’s more than that though, seems people are reporting that the radio signal drops if the top and bottom sections of the phone are bridged, whilst being held flat on the palm of the hand. HTC has a habit, of placing the antenna in plastic inserts in it’s unibody design aluminium handsets, you can see similarities in my previous video, upgrading the memory in the HTC HD7.

The image above from MobileCrunch, shows the antenna contacts inside the disassembled Sensation, I know with the Mozart, if the battery cover is not firmly in place, you can have signal issues, could this be the same as people are having trouble with the way the device assembles, or is their actually a short being created if the two portions if the cover are connected by human skin, which is electrically conductive. As of now, it appears it is affecting Bluetooth and Wifi, but examples of network connectivity, ie connecting to the phone wireless network have not come to light.

The problem seems to be stemming from the phone’s back cover, according to Nordic Hardware’s tests. The purported unibody design is actually a glorified removable battery cover, made mostly of metal with a few plastic patches that act as antennae. If one of those patches is covered by your hand, the radio units within the device perform at a much lower level, particularly the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios.

It’s hard to say if this is a limited problem, one bad handset delivered to a reviewer, or if it a general fault, that will be seen across all of the Sensations built. I would think it’s an anomaly on the test device that Nordic Hardware received. The signal attenuation for Bluetooth seems dramatic, while all wifi connectivity is not lost. The one thing that most have thought, and coveted about the Sensation, that it was a one piece aluminium unibody design, has also been busted big time. Let’s hope this is a fairly random occurrence, and not the norm.

About Peter Murphy

Peter is an avid gadget hound and owns a Tech focused site called Peterskitchen. Based in Australia Peter has a huge love of HTC devices, and has had one ever since he had the Axim x50 back in 2004. Axim x51, HTC Tytn II, HTC Touch Diamond 2, HTC HD2, HTC Desire, and now the HTC 7 Mozart and HTC HD7


  1. Darren

    Went to phones4u UK earlier for a play with the Sensation (unbranded)

    Tried to replicate all the issues talked about, fast swiping menus worked fine, unlocking quickly worked fine and tried holding the phone many different ways to get the bluetooth and wifi to mess up but didn’t falter (couldn’t test 3g signal as no sim card).

    Perhaps it was a faulty batch?


  2. Darren I’m not completely convinced, but I would say, the highlighted contacts in the image in the post, may not always seat properly, and that could be the cause of the problem. When I was researching this, I did find a couple, not many, of other videos displaying the same issue. It may not be a common occurrence, or it may be caused by users unused to the way the phone fits together, causing damage. Either way, I haven’t seen this escalate, so it is probably a few faulty handsets 😉

  3. Darren

    Yes, i know what you mean about the connections on the back.
    The guy in the shop had to ask his manager to open the phone up to put the battery in because he couldn’t work out how to do it 🙂

    Strange design where the whole screen comes out but feels very nice and solid in the hand once put back together.

    Fingers crossed it is just a few as I will hopefully be getting mine in the next 2 weeks!

  4. Jim

    There are definately issues with the wifi and with the bluetooth.

    WIFI: While NOT holding the Sensation in my hnad….The signal is always about 10dBm below my laptop and iPhone when in the same location. Installing a wifi finder reveals that access points are present one moment and gone the next unless they have the strongest signal. The iPhone and the PC see 10+ access points and the Sensation can only see two of the three in my house. If you install a signal analyzer it reveals that the Sensation shows the signal varying wildly while the PC and iPhone show a steady signal.

    BLUETOOTH: While playing audio the signal fades and the music skips unless the Sensation is within 2 feet of my Motorol S9 headset. if I put it in a sweathshirt pocket I get skips. If I put the sensation on my pants pocket the audio cuts out 50% of the time.

    All this joy after the first phone died in less than 24 hours and could not be turned on again. The battery meter just kept dropping even though it was pluged in and the charger and cable were good.

  5. Rich

    death grip is also a problem with mobile data and calls on the HTC Sensation. I compared it side by side with my wifes blackberry Storm 2 on the same network, the Storm always has a better signal in weaker areas and if you touch the bottom of the HTC it can finish off up to 3 bars of signal.
    Sent mine back for a refund. looking for a phone to replace it now, may have to be a Galaxy S2 which was my second choice – they look and feel crap compared to htc sensation though, payasyougo till I make my mind up.