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.

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 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.

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:



62. harryposter unregistered

Who the F gives a damn about battery life? Not me, it's a F-ing phone, not my plasma TV in the tube! I talk about 15mn a month in total and am charged about whatever unlimited... It's a bloody f-ing phone and the HTC does it easy-peasy with a cool and comfy design. The Galaxy is a copy of you know what... cheap plastic and crap, just for the sake of being a lookalike... No thanks

61. bob unregistered

What's an iPhone?

60. calleighL

Posts: 1; Member since: Aug 27, 2011

gyro bowl in stores thanks for the comments, i'm also in the midst of getting either of these phones.

59. lubbalots unregistered

Comparing the same OS with the same OS but different skin. Pathetic!

58. Apple unregistered

What the f**k android ? it willnot lasts

57. MTSMega

Posts: 9; Member since: Jul 18, 2011

Htc sensation is very good

56. still confused unregistered

Which phone would be hands down to buy

55. 3RingBinder unregistered

Great comparison and just in time. Thanks,

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 :-(

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: 3797; Member since: Sep 30, 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


Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 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.

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.

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

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.

42. hellopeople

Posts: 16; Member since: May 10, 2011

iphone blows these 2 away

37. Funmap unregistered

I was always wondering where you are best, and now are finally know it :-) Great comparison!!!

35. oddmanout

Posts: 443; Member since: May 22, 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.

34. pranavmrane

Posts: 1; Member since: Jun 16, 2011

i know that OS is upgradeable on Samsung & HTC phones. is UI also upgradeable? does it cost some amount?

36. oddmanout

Posts: 443; Member since: May 22, 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.

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?

32. ahmedra2ol

Posts: 27; Member since: Mar 01, 2011

Sure SGS2 yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh :D :D

29. LXH unregistered

the biggest difference between sensation and galaxySII is the resolution qHD vs WVGA :D

46. bucky

Posts: 3797; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

qhd isnt that great...super amoled is a definite improvement.

47. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 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.

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 ;)

23. Allday28

Posts: 349; Member since: Nov 19, 2010

What a crappy review.

25. sgogeta4

Posts: 394; Member since: Feb 02, 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.

22. luis_lopez_351

Posts: 951; Member since: Nov 18, 2010

Give it time and Motorola photon will slam the sgs2

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless