HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II

Interface and Functionality:

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?

[img full [[92773,92774,92771,92772]]:"The HTC Sensation runs HTC Sense 3.0 on top of Gingerbread " /]

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.





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61 Comments

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: May 03, 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: May 03, 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: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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 :)

3. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 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: Mar 05, 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: 311; Member since: May 11, 2010

Phonearena needs more of these Arena Versus comparisons.

10. Johnabis

Posts: 61; Member since: Feb 17, 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: 2031; Member since: May 26, 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: http://www.mobileinfoplanet.com/2011/06/08/samsung -galaxy-s2-vs-htc-sensation-an-easy-decision/

13. Piotrek007

Posts: 119; Member since: Dec 07, 2010

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

14. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 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: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 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: Jun 07, 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: May 24, 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: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 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: May 03, 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: Nov 18, 2010

Give it time and Motorola photon will slam the sgs2

24. Allday28

Posts: 337; Member since: Nov 19, 2010

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

27. GALAXY-S

Posts: 701; Member since: Jun 07, 2011

yea the best android phones i have used are htc and samsung.. motorolas tend to be slow and glichy alot

28. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 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: Nov 18, 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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