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HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II

Posted: , by Daniel P.


HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II

“Pick and choose, people, pick and choose!”, screamed the jester, while juggling with the HTC Sensation, and the Samsung Galaxy S II in front of the crowd about to buy the hottest smartphone of the season.

If there has ever been a tough call between two top-shelf Android handsets, this must be it. Even a glimpse through the spec sheet can’t tell you which one to snag - they are both powered by 1.2GHz dual-core chipsets, allowing them to record Full HD 1080p video at 30fps with their 8MP cameras, have 4.3” displays, and are both running the latest Android 2.3 Gingerbread with the respective homebrew interface overlays – Sense and TouchWiz.

And yet, when you dig deeper, the HTC Sensation and the Samsung Galaxy S II are rather different - the design philosophy is polarizing, screen technology and resolution don't match, the dual-core chipsets are not from the same mother, and the user interface concepts are opposites. Which one will be right for you? Read on, while we jump in to solve this dilemma...


Despite being thicker and heavier that the Samsung Galaxy S II, the HTC Sensation actually feels more ergonomic in the hand. The two handsets have almost the same width and length, but the Galaxy S II comes in a bit edgy, being the anorexic rectangular slab it is, while the added thickness and heft of the HTC Sensation make it feel more solid, and the curvy corners with tapered edges make it palm-friendly. This feeling is then reinforced by the choice of materials for the chassis - aluminum and soft-touch plastic are more pleasant to handle and show-off than black plastic.

However, these are deliberate design approaches - since the first Galaxy S, Samsung prefers to hit where it would count in marketing materials, and it made the Galaxy S II the thinnest and lightest handset with a 4.3” screen, hence the all-plastic design. HTC prefers more sophisticated design materials, and yet it currently strives to achieve a fairly uniform appearance across its Android portfolio, which makes the phones of this brand immediately recognizable, regardless of the market niche they are heading to, and yet a bit unsurprising because of the similar looks.

The HTC Sensation (Left) and the Samsung Galaxy S II (Right) - HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II
The HTC Sensation (Left) and the Samsung Galaxy S II (Right) - HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II
The HTC Sensation (Left) and the Samsung Galaxy S II (Right) - HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II

The HTC Sensation (Left) and the Samsung Galaxy S II (Right)

So which one should you pick based on design and looks alone is entirely subjective - personally we prefer phones with a big screen to be as thin and light as possible, but many others would go for the more sophisticated and distinctive design paradigm of HTC. If you are paying that much money for a phone, you might as well get some aluminum around it, right?

Moreover, it might be the different display technology that has allowed Samsung to make the Galaxy S II so thin - the Super AMOLED Plus screen needs less layers than the Super-LCD in the HTC Sensation. It has other virtues, too, like almost infinite contrast, wide viewing angles, and saturated, vivid colors. The display on the HTC Sensation is able to exhibit lively colors as well, but in a more limited gamut, and when you are halfway through tilting the phone to determine the viewing angles, the colors and brightness start to fade significantly.

The LCD screen on the HTC Sensation appears a tad brighter indoors, but outside under direct sunlight the very low reflectance of the Galaxy S II coating makes the image slightly easier to see. There is one area where the HTC Sensation is ahead, though, the 540x960 qHD resolution, compared to 480x800 pixels in the Galaxy S II's 4.3-incher. Since the Super AMOLED Plus technology gets rid of the PenTile RGBG matrix pixel arrangement, the individual pixels are not distinct as on the Galaxy S, for example, when you bring the phone close to your eyes.

Unlike the Motorola ATRIX 4G, however, with its PenTile qHD screen with RGBW pixel arrangment, the HTC Sensation uses a normal RGB matrix for its qHD resolution. Thus, given the same 4.3” screen sizes, we give the resolution round to HTC’s handset, which has higher pixel density than the Samsung Galaxy S II, making it a tad easier on the eyes when reading smaller text. So, if you do a lot of reading on your smartphone, and a lot of people do nowadays, the HTC Sensation might be a safer bet, but if you watch a lot of movies, the Super AMOLED Plus is better with its jolly colors, and the ability to set the color tone individually. The colors still appear slightly colder, though, like on the first Super AMOLED display.

Looking around the sides, we find the right-mounted power/lock key on the Galaxy S II more suitably placed than the one on the top in the HTC Sensation, which you struggle to reach on such a large handset. We often pressed the side key on the Galaxy S II accidentally, though, which locked the screen mid-flight, so it’s a trade-off.

The sides of the HTC Sensation (top) and the Samsung Galaxy S II (bottom) - HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II
The sides of the HTC Sensation (top) and the Samsung Galaxy S II (bottom) - HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II
The sides of the HTC Sensation (top) and the Samsung Galaxy S II (bottom) - HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II
The sides of the HTC Sensation (top) and the Samsung Galaxy S II (bottom) - HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II

The sides of the HTC Sensation (top) and the Samsung Galaxy S II (bottom)

The glass on top of the HTC Sensation’s display is slightly curved inwards at the edges, recessing the screen in a shallow pit, which is supposedly better to protect it when the phone is placed face-down. The bezel on the Samsung Galaxy S II also sticks out above the display a little, though, which means it never touches a flat surface in that position either. Still, HTC’s solution looks cooler, adding to the overall curvy shape impression of the phone. The capacitive buttons underneath the screen are a bit narrower on the HTC Sensation, and a tad harder to reach and operate with one hand than on the Galaxy S II.

HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II
HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II

Both phones sport the newfangled MHL port, which combines charging, microUSB and HDMI-out capabilities in one place, but you need a separate cable, which both companies sell as an accessory, to mirror your phone’s screen on your HDTV. We like the MHL port placed at the bottom better on the Samsung Galaxy S II, instead of on the left like on the HTC Sensation - it’s a bit less meddling to operate the phone, while plugged-in, but more so when watching movies, so pick your poison.

To wrap up the design portion, we’d say once again that the phones go around housing their big 4.3” screens in a different way. The Galaxy S II is the slimmest and lightest phone with such a display out there, which, combined with the unpretentious black plastic shell, makes it easier to carry around. The HTC Sensation’s more sophisticated shape and solid build with soft-touch plastic and aluminum elements, on the other hand, is more ergonomic to operate, and a pleasure to handle. The choice here will be entirely determined by your personal preferences.

HTC Sensation 360-degrees View:

Samsung Galaxy S II 360-degrees View:

  • Options

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 06:04 2

1. kae (unregistered)

Both of them are very good phones but what about the SAR levels. Which one is lower?

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 06:15 5

2. Cyborg (unregistered)

alas! no mention of iPhone 4. lol

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 08:03 4

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)???

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 08:27 5

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.

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 11:24 3

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

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 13:03 2

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.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 12:11

38. remixfa (Posts: 14604; 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.
SGS2 :)

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 07:10 1

3. protozeloz (Posts: 5396; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)

glad to see this kinds of comparisons between phones, its really nice for a change... keep it up :D

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 07:38 1

4. Winny (unregistered)

Amazing comparison... Really cool..
Thanks to phonearena !!!

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 07:56

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

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 08:34 1

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.

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 09:38 4

9. WirelessCon (Posts: 311; Member since: 11 May 2010)

Phonearena needs more of these Arena Versus comparisons.

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 10:00 1

10. Johnabis (Posts: 58; Member since: 17 Feb 2011)

where is your Evo 3D review? about 6 other sites has there review up already.

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 10:17

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?)

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 10:59 3

15. ph00ny (Posts: 1464; Member since: 26 May 2011)

I can confirm that swype is included in GS II

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 10:44

12. MIP (unregistered)

This comparison, though extensive, overcomplicates the matter; I think the choice is easier than that:

http://www.mobileinfoplanet.com/2011/06/08/samsung -galaxy-s2-vs-htc-sensation-an-easy-decision/

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 10:52

13. Piotrek007 (Posts: 112; Member since: 07 Dec 2010)

GSM Arena also put new comparing between those two ! Its awesome !

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 10:58 1

14. jroc74 (Posts: 6019; 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.

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 11:03 1

16. jroc74 (Posts: 6019; 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...

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 11:30 2

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!!

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 11:41 1

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..

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 13:56

20. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3117; 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.

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 13:59

21. T-imm (unregistered)

The text reflow can be adjusted in the browser's settings...

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 21:56

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.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 12:50

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.

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 14:21 1

22. luis_lopez_351 (Posts: 951; Member since: 18 Nov 2010)

Give it time and Motorola photon will slam the sgs2

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 15:04

24. Allday28 (Posts: 283; Member since: 19 Nov 2010)

Motorola phones are s**tty and laggy. Trust me i know I have one.

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 16:15

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

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 17:24 2

28. jroc74 (Posts: 6019; 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.

posted on 16 Jun 2011, 21:24 2

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

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