The day that cheap point-and-shoot cameras will be completely redundant and obsolete is coming, and the HTC Amaze 4G would like to help them toward extinction. Does it succeed, and is it any good as a phone? Let's find out.
Why It Matters
The HTC Amaze 4G is almost as much camera as it is phone. Its closest relative is the HTC myTouch 4G Slide (also on T-Mobile), but this time they're attempting to kick it up a notch with more speed (1.5GHz dual-core vs. 1.2GHz dual-core), more RAM (1GB vs 768MB), more storage (16GB vs 4GB onboard), and more controls. This one lacks a slide-out keyboard, which makes it a little bit more svelte (though it's no where near the Droid RAZR in skinniness). Oh yeah, and it's classy as hell.
To hold the Amaze 4G is to love it (as long as you like big phones). Its aluminum body and smooth curves make it both rock solid and beautiful. Of the gazillion Android phones I've man-handled, this one is my favorite to hold. Ever. It's got not one, but two camera buttons: one for photo and one for video. Every phone with a camera should have a camera button. Without exception.
The phone is running Android 2.3 with HTC's Sense UI on top of it. The screen is decent. It's bright and the colors are very warm and vibrant, but blacks aren't nearly as black as they are on a Super AMOLED display. It's not super high res, so those gorgeous pictures you took will look better on a computer than on the phone, but it's not bad. Call quality was standard faire, and data speeds were excellent.
It's the same excellent camera that's on the myTouch 4G slide, complete with HTC's advanced controls (ISO, exposure, etc.) and many custom filters. It also has a ton of modes like panorama, burst, and a couple of very slick modes that make composite photos from several images. It's fast, it's got touch to focus, and it's great. I love the dedicated photo button. I'm not totally convinced we need a dedicated video button, and sometimes I'd accidentally press that instead, but if you want the camera rolling fast, it's not bad to have.
The build quality is superb, as I mentioned before. I absolutely adore it. The data speeds I got were quite good. It averaged 11.38Mbps download and 1.73 upload. You can see how it stacked up to others here. Also, the Amaze 4G features an NFC chip, which will be increasingly important starting next year as the mobile payments industry grows and grows.
Check out full-sized photo and video samples here.
Not to continue to beat a dead horse, but HTC Sense... sigh. It's still really bright and colorful, but it adds minimal functionality, and it's not any easier to use than stock Android. There is some perceptible lag in areas where Sense is present, and that just isn't an issue anywhere else in the phone. The 1.5Ghz dual-core helps power through some of it, but without Sense this thing would absolutely fly. I put Launcher Pro on there as a test, and the homescreen experience was drastically sped up.
Battery life is pretty bad. It's right about on par with 4G LTE devices, which means you're going to want to have a charger handy. And while the camera is very good for a phone, it's not as good as the camera on the iPhone 4S. It gets pretty grainy when it doesn't have enough light, and low-light video is pretty awful. Also, there's a problem with the microphones in video mode: the gain is set way too high. If you talk while shooting something, it will peak and crackle horribly. Same if someone else is talking loudly. Video during daylight is plenty decent, though.
Should I Buy It?
If you're on T-Mobile and you want an Android phone with a kick ass camera, then yes, you should. It's a really good phone. If you're on T-Mobile and prefer to have a keyboard, go with the myTouch 4G Slide (which is $60 cheaper). But yeah, it feels great, the camera is dope, and it generally works really well. It's a very nice phone/camera.
HTC Amaze 4G Specs
Screen: 4.3 inches 540x960 resolution
Processor and RAM: 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon, 1GB RAM
Camera: 8-megapixel stills, 1080p video (rear);
Storage: 16GB internal + up to 32GB SD Storage
OS: Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) + Custom Skin
Battery: 1730 mAh
Price: $260 with two-year contract