HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II
Both phones sport the newest versions of their Android interface skins - TouchWiz 4.0 and HTC Sense 3.0 – click on the links for our walkthroughs. While TouchWiz can still be called a skin or overlay on top of the default Android 2.3 Gingerbread user interface, Sense UI goes deeper and entirely changes the whole Android feel to a trademark HTC experience. You can’t have anything like it if you go to the competition, and that’s the whole idea behind branding, right?
On a more pragmatic level, let’s start from the lock screen. It’s dynamic on the Samsung Galaxy S II, since it displays notifications for certain events like missed calls or unread messages, and you can swipe to the respective app in charge directly from the lock screen itself, similar to what Apple will offer in its fall iOS 5 collection. Sense 3.0 on the HTC Sensation does that too, but it also allows you quick access to applications of your choosing straight from the lock screen, similar to Nokia Bubbles, for instance.
Both handsets sport certain gestures that are supposed to add to the experience. The Samsung Galaxy S II lets you place widgets with one hand, or tap its top to speak voice commands, while the HTC Sensation “senses” when it is in a purse, and rings louder, for example, with the ringer volume diminishing when you take it out. None of these are necessities, but they are cool and helpful at times.
Moving on to phone and contacts, both handsets support smart dialing for quickly displaying who you are trying to find by keying in just 2-3 letters of their name, but Sense on the HTC Sensation makes for a prettier picture, with its rich visuals, stemming from a generous use of transparent backgrounds and animations. Moreover, the abilities to visually change the appearance of Sense UI are breathtaking, with whole theme packages called Scenes directly accessible from the home screen. One thing we preferred on the Samsung Galaxy S II was the virtual keyboard. Its clear-cut keys are spaced out a bit more, and it is easier to hit the right letter quickly.
Some find this ability to customize Sense a bit over the top, and prefer the simpler overlays like TouchWiz, or stock Android. These manufacturers’ overlays bring a lot of additional functionality, though, like social networking integration in your contacts list, and, as long as it doesn’t slow things down, the beauty of Sense UI is welcome, compared to a few pretty widgets and simple wallpapers that the Samsung Galaxy S II sports. Just wait until the live wallpaper starts changing in sync with the weather outside, and you’ll know what we mean.
Sense 3.0 does slow things down at places, however, like in the main menu. It’s paginated, so scrolling feels like you are flipping through a slide show, stopping at page breaks. Even when you switch to list view of the apps, the movement is still choppy, compared to the furious uninterrupted inertia on the Samsung Galaxy S II. The main menu is about the only nuisance in terms of scrolling, however - in the homescreens, widgets and system apps Sense 3.0 is smooth as silk. We don’t know if it’s the chipset that plays a role here, or Sense UI just needs to be tweaked for faster, more fluid scrolling in the main menu. We had a similar issue with the HTC Desire HD, which has a weaker processor than the Sensation, so the culprit should be the Sense overlay.
Speaking of chipsets, we have dual-core ones in both handsets, clocked at 1.2GHz. Samsung’s homemade Exynos with its ARM Cortex-A9 cores, however, is more powerful than the third generation Qualcomm Snapdragon in the HTC Sensation with its customized, but still Cortex-A8 Scorpion cores. We also have 1GB RAM on the Galaxy S II, whereas the HTC Sensation comes with 768MB of RAM. The Galaxy S II beats in internal memory, too – 16GB of flash storage, versus an 8GB microSD card with the Sensation.
The advantages of Exynos are clearly visible in synthetic benchmark tests where the Galaxy S II scores much higher, while the Sensation reaches NVIDIA Tegra 2-level performance, and barely. Of course, there aren’t many apps out there that can fully stress both Exynos and Snapdragon the 3rd, and in tasks that do unleash their potential, like browsing and 1080p video recording both handsets perform on par, so it’s unlikely that the typical user will notice or even care about the difference in horse power.
Internet, Connectivity and Software:
The synthetic BrowserMark test we ran clocked much higher scores for the Samsung Galaxy S II on multiple occasions. In everyday browsing, however, the HTC Sensation performs admirably, with page loading and response times as fast as we would expect from a dual-core handset. It even had the upper hand in text reflow, handily reformatting the written words to fit the screen in a reading-friendly size upon double-tap. Yes, browsing on Android handsets, especially dual-core ones, is magical, especially when you throw in the full Adobe Flash support, which allows you to watch videos outside of the most popular sites. And both the Samsung Galaxy S II and the HTC Sensation perform all aspects of it admirably.
One area directly connected with browsing, where the Samsung Galaxy S II has an advantage, is HSPA+ connectivity. Its radio supports 21Mbps download speeds, whereas the HTC Sensation goes to 14.4Mbps.
Thanks to Sense UI, however, the HTC Sensation has the upper hand in offline navigation. Through its partnership with TomTom for the software, and Route 66 for the maps, HTC includes the ability to download very detailed country maps on your handset directly from the Locations app, and use them to navigate your way through the city or highway maze, without incurring data charges. You have to pay a small amount if you want voice-guidance as well, but Locations in Sense UI is the closest you can come to free offline navigation on Android.
As we mentioned, both handsets sport the MHL port, which looks like a regular microUSB one, but besides a microUSB cable for charging and syncing, you can also plug in an MHL-to-HDMI adapter cable, which will allow you to mirror your phone’s display to an HDTV, and pump out Full HD 1080p video with surround sound at that. If you have an MHL-enabled TV you can also charge the phone during playback, but those are just coming this year, so it will take some time for wider adoption.
The so-called Wi-Fi “death grip” issue on the HTC Sensation is indeed present when you cup the top of the phone - signal bars drop down to the minimum sometimes, which would slow YouTube video loading to a crawl, for instance, so don’t cup the top when you are holding it in landscape mode. The Galaxy S II had no connectivity problems whatsoever, plus it sports some extras like Bluetooth 3.0HS and Wi-Fi Direct, which you can only use full speed with other Galaxy S IIs. Hopefully these will come to other handsets in the future, making them more useful. Even before we add the USB-on-the-go capability that allows you to connect memory sticks directly to your phone, Samsung's handset easily wins the connectivity round.
As far as preinstalled apps go, both phones have covered all the basics – there are file browsers, email clients, office document viewers and picture and video editors on both. Moreover, the much-hyped HTC Watch and Music multimedia stores have their equivalent in Samsung's Media and Music Hubs, with similar pricing. The design of the apps on the HTC Sensation is prettier and more refined, but the video editor is much more capable on the Galaxy S II, for example, so we can call it a draw.
1. kae (unregistered)
Both of them are very good phones but what about the SAR levels. Which one is lower?
2. Cyborg (unregistered)
alas! no mention of iPhone 4. lol
6. Sevule (unregistered)
Alas Cyborg you are wrong.
"and you can swipe to the respective app in charge directly from the lock screen itself, similar to what Apple will offer in its fall iOS 5 collection." Now I see why there are allegations that Phonearena is paid by Apple to promote their products. Pray tell what the relationship is between a feature available now in android and what would be available in ios 4/5 months from now? And what is the relevance of mentioning this unavailable ios feature in an article comparing the 2 top android phones(that have the feature)???
7. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)
LOL i know its like they cant write an article without the word apple in it...they will mention apple regardless if its relevant in which this case its not. also iphonearena did not make a big fuss about accessing notifications such as messages and miss calls directly from the lockscreen on the galaxy s2 but now that iphone will get it in like 4/5 months time its all of a sudden a big deal..would not be surprised if there job is to promote apple and its products.
17. medalaster1 (unregistered)
Guys guys know something the original apple iphone in 2007 was a revolution that everyone on earth wanted to get their hands on, back then android didn't even exist,its a legend and phone arena is really fans of what had happened in 2007 and android only matches ios from froyo or eclair may be, before that android had no chance and hundreds of android devices come out every year both Samsung, htc and others release hundreds of android mobiles before you are proud of your android device their will be an another android device with better specs and great benchmark scores, but iphone comes only onse a year and still the comparators try to keep up with hundreds of models
41. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)
yes it was revolution back in 2007 and cant argue with you there and yes android probz would not exist in the way it is now but would have existed in some form but this is 2011 and apple is no longer and has not been for a while ''revolutionary'' as you like to say. have you seen ios5 lol you call the a revolution or is it kust catching up to android who has had most of those features for a AGES. yes android has plenty of hardware, it gives people CHOICE. with apple you have no choice, if you want ios and the latest hardware you have to get iphone 4 whether you like the design or not. but to be honest the iphone is one of the best looking handset if not the best lol thats why i got the iphone 4 for its look. you cannot say giving consumers a choice is a negative.
38. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
and just for reference, there has been an app on the market for months now that adds shortcuts to your lock screen.
Also, beautiful widgets has had the weather changing background for like what.. a year or 2 now.
give me power, battery life, viewing beauty, and extra connectivity over some use of tin and a highly animated overlay.
3. protozeloz (Posts: 5394; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)
glad to see this kinds of comparisons between phones, its really nice for a change... keep it up :D
4. Winny (unregistered)
Amazing comparison... Really cool..
Thanks to phonearena !!!
5. uzair (unregistered)
hey i wanted to ask you guys that if i download some other offline maps on galaxy s 2 would i be able to use as we can use it on sensation
8. AndroidTroll (Posts: 359; Member since: 05 Mar 2011)
Great article that will be very helpful for many. I wish writers would pay more attention to storage read/write speeds. I want to know what class microsd card the Sensation ships with? I would imagine it would have to have a 6 in order to do 1080p video.
9. WirelessCon (Posts: 309; Member since: 11 May 2010)
Phonearena needs more of these Arena Versus comparisons.
10. Johnabis (Posts: 57; Member since: 17 Feb 2011)
where is your Evo 3D review? about 6 other sites has there review up already.
11. RushFan2112 (unregistered)
Will both phones have Swype capability? The current Galaxy S does and I imagine the Galaxy S II also does (can you confirm?)
15. ph00ny (Posts: 988; Member since: 26 May 2011)
I can confirm that swype is included in GS II
12. MIP (unregistered)
This comparison, though extensive, overcomplicates the matter; I think the choice is easier than that:
13. Piotrek007 (Posts: 110; Member since: 07 Dec 2010)
GSM Arena also put new comparing between those two ! Its awesome !
14. jroc74 (Posts: 5833; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)
2 days of light use is nice for the Sensation.....it will get overshadowed by the 62 hours of light use in the GS2 tho.
16. jroc74 (Posts: 5833; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)
Like I mentioned in another article, the rated talk times give a good indication of overall battery life.
The Sensation having 2 hours less talk time than the GS2...for some reason battery life isnt one of HTC's strong points.
And I'm a function over form guy.....thats why I would pick Android again any day over other phones in the market...
18. GALAXY-S (Posts: 701; Member since: 07 Jun 2011)
Nice comparison i like!! i may get the sensation for a bit untill the sgs2 comes out then move up!!
19. anirudhshirsat97 (Posts: 408; Member since: 24 May 2011)
i cudnt choose the winner until he said hat galaxy s2 was like a bmw z4 and sensation was more of merc e-class......im going for the sportier one..
20. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3101; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)
I can see phonearena start having to do what phonedog does in all their videos. Instead of promoting best buy phonearena will promote apple.
21. T-imm (unregistered)
The text reflow can be adjusted in the browser's settings...
31. Junior in Jamaica (unregistered)
I wondered because the text on the Samsung looked way too small to be useful.
But it is worth noting the Sensation does it out the box without need for tweaking so it still has the upper hand there. But good to note.
39. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)
well i would not call it tweaking if its part of the phone. its the same as changing screen brightness but i know what you mean, that not everyone will know but once you go in the setting you cannot miss it to be honest. hopefully they bring automatic text reflow in an update.
22. luis_lopez_351 (Posts: 951; Member since: 18 Nov 2010)
Give it time and Motorola photon will slam the sgs2
24. Allday28 (Posts: 283; Member since: 19 Nov 2010)
Motorola phones are s**tty and laggy. Trust me i know I have one.
27. GALAXY-S (Posts: 701; Member since: 07 Jun 2011)
yea the best android phones i have used are htc and samsung.. motorolas tend to be slow and glichy alot
28. jroc74 (Posts: 5833; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)
Change the launcher and lock screen and my Droid X before GB would disagree. My Droid X with GB definitely disagrees, even with stock launcher and lock screen.
My Droid 1 with Froyo would disagree also, also after changing the stock launcher.
That said, I think the GS2 will be the phone to beat. With some Motorola phone being a close 2nd, just like last year.
30. luis_lopez_351 (Posts: 951; Member since: 18 Nov 2010)
None of you havent even tried its new and improved UI so why all the hate and Bull sh_t
40. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)
@luis_lopez_351 agree with you but thats the idea motorola have given people with motoblur., you cant really fault there hardware. its the same with samsung and how people say they never update there when infact they release update quicker than others in the UK. galaxy s or already has gingerbread where as phones such as desire still dont. they have already released 3 updates for the s2 but just like moto have given the impression of being laggy, samsung have the same problem with people thinking they dont support new updates. i think its a problem with the US carriers to be honest.
45. bucky (Posts: 2277; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)
I sold my atrix and it wasnt that bad if you are coming from an iphone. I come from nexus 1/desire/desire z/hd2 and the locked bootloader coupled with motoblur brutal. Its almost like they want it suck.
Using the GS2 now and it has no faults-not even battery.
25. sgogeta4 (Posts: 394; Member since: 02 Feb 2011)
If you're going to make such a useless comment, at least post your reasoning so that you don't look like a complete tool.
26. root (unregistered)
Been owning both,sgs2 is the one to get.
I cashed the sensation though so in 6 months time its bye bye and hello new nexus ( I hope) . And 6 months after that time to chose from sgs3 and newest HTC hehe.
The cycle of androids continues ;)
29. LXH (unregistered)
the biggest difference between sensation and galaxySII is the resolution
qHD vs WVGA :D
46. bucky (Posts: 2277; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)
qhd isnt that great...super amoled is a definite improvement.
47. jroc74 (Posts: 5833; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)
Even tho I do like Moto phones the best and all the new ones seem to have qHD...if I had to choose a screen right now it would be Super Amoled +.
Samsung learned from complaints last year about their Amoled screens and made adjustments to the new ones this year.
32. ahmedra2ol (Posts: 27; Member since: 01 Mar 2011)
Sure SGS2 yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh :D :D
33. don (unregistered)
i know that the OS can be upgraded in htc & samsung phones. BUt can the UI also be upgraded? is it usually free?
34. pranavmrane (Posts: 1; Member since: 16 Jun 2011)
i know that OS is upgradeable on Samsung & HTC phones. is UI also upgradeable? does it cost some amount?
36. oddmanout (Posts: 442; Member since: 22 May 2009)
Don't worry bro. Updates never cost money. Aside from android being free and open source, the main reason for updates is to improve the functionality/performance of a phone. A good carrier and manufacturer will do there best to keep their products up to date with the latest version of software to please there buyers and attract more customers.
35. oddmanout (Posts: 442; Member since: 22 May 2009)
You mentioned in the video that HTC Sense couldn't aggregate facebook functions without jumping in the map but you can. All you had to do was scroll to the different icons on the bottom of the contacts page and you can see wall posts, pictures, and other information just as you can on the SGS II.
37. Funmap (unregistered)
I was always wondering where you are best, and now are finally know it :-)
43. TyDeL (unregistered)
I've been beating myself up over this decision for weeks now. This comparison hasn't helped much. ;)
I much rather prefer the heavier, aluminum form factor and higher res screen of the Sensation. HTC also has a better track record as a cell phone company. But seems like the SGS2 is better where it really counts with faster download speeds, faster processor, noise canceling microphone and better battery life.
If HTC doesn't hurry up with an unlocking bootloader solution, this will make my decision really easy though.
44. Pissed (unregistered)
Why the HELL did t-mobile have to go and put the crappiest software! TELENAV on a phone that was coming with TOM TOM enabled HTC Locations! I wonder what other sense 3.0 goodies we wont get because t-mobile is to dense to realize which phones are their best....see article on "exibit" being the marketing focus for summer! Redicuous
49. tmcr (unregistered)
Aluminum would make the phone heavier, and would therefore generate more impact upon dropping it to the ground. The result would be a broken phone in just a number of drops. Aside from that, the extraction of aluminum as raw materials creates more negative impacts to the environment. Is it worth destroying mountains of ecological areas for aluminum just to produce a so-called premium build material phone that easily breaks?
And one more thing: Death grip. HTC and iPhone4 has it. Both use aluminum.
50. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3101; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)
I'm amazed by how narrow the EVO 3D and Sensation are. The EVO, Thunderbolt, Desire HD, Inspire are all much wider screens. I wonder if it is because of the qhd pixels or a new trend for HTC. HTC has always been known for their large and wide displays. The SGS2 looks much larger as far as screen size goes.
Still, this could make the phone easier to handle.
51. HTC needs displays (unregistered)
I'm almost certain that if HTC could come out with better displays, they would kill the other android devices. The only clear advantage Samsung has here is its display. Granted it's a big one. I just don't understand how one can compare Sense UI to TouchWiz....
52. guest89 (unregistered)
htc build quality and sense software with samsungs SAMOLED+ screen, innards such as camera and speaker would be the perfect device for me.
53. bucky (Posts: 2277; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)
that soft finish htc have on their phones actually comes off with the slightest knick. I have the sgs2 and the plastic holds off scratches better than my old desire z
54. DG (unregistered)
The GS2 can reflow text if zoomed in then you double tap the text I wonder if iphonearena even know how to use the phones they review :-(
55. 3RingBinder (unregistered)
Great comparison and just in time. Thanks,
56. still confused (unregistered)
Which phone would be hands down to buy
58. Apple (unregistered)
What the f**k android ? it willnot lasts
59. lubbalots (unregistered)
Comparing the same OS with the same OS but different skin. Pathetic!
60. calleighL (Posts: 1; Member since: 27 Aug 2011)
gyro bowl in stores
thanks for the comments, i'm also in the midst of getting either of these phones.
61. bob (unregistered)
What's an iPhone?