The Epic Battle Begins
There have been many close battles in the struggle for dominance, but the HTC Sensation versus the Samsung Galaxy S2 may be among the closest, hard fought battles between two powerful smartphones. From a high level view, the Sensation and Galaxy S2 look extremely similar, both packing powerful dual core 1.2 GHz processors, both capable of 1080p HD video recording on their 8 megapixel cameras, both have beautiful 4.3 inch displays and both run Android 2.3. With the specifications laid out, it seems the Sensation and Galaxy S2 are pretty much neck and neck. However, you must take a closer look to see the small intricacies that differentiate the two smartphones. This battle goes deeper into the details to pit the HTC Sensation against the Samsung Galaxy S2.
Design and Display
The Sensation and Galaxy S2 each take different approaches to design and display. The HTC Sensation takes its design cues from its predecessors, with the rounded corners and palm friendly design. It also looks a bit more sophisticated, adding varying shades of grey on the back of the smartphone, a silver speaker grill above the display and an LED notification light. The Galaxy S2 takes the opposite approach, aiming for a very simplistic and square design with black being the prominent color, both front and back. When placed side by side, the Galaxy S2 easily looks more sleek and modern while the Sensation looks, well, like an HTC smartphone. It's understandable as to why HTC wants to have a consistent design, but at the same time, the consistency does cause a bit of boredom.
The Samsung Galaxy S2 is also slimmer than the HTC Sensation, mostly due to the technology it uses. The Galaxy S2 opts to go with a 4.3 inch Super AMOLED Plus display, allowing it to pack a beautiful screen into a slimmer package. The HTC Sensation stays with a 4.3 inch Super LCD display, which adds to the bulk, but they did opt to go with qHD, giving it a 540 x 960 pixel resolution. What this means is that the Galaxy S2 has a better viewing angle, brighter display and absolutely fantastic contrast, while the HTC Sensation has better resolution and pixel density, meaning small text comes out crisper and clearer.
It truly is a coin toss when it comes to design and display as the two have gone in opposite directions with the design and the technology behind the display. In this case, going in the opposite direction is not a bad thing, it's just a different approach, but both directions lead to solid design and display decisions. If you're a fan of slimmer handsets and enjoy watching movies, the Galaxy S2 beats out the Sensation, but if you're a fan of more ergonomic handsets, enjoy reading on your smartphone and the LED notification is key, the Sensation comes out on top of the Galaxy S2. In this case, it really is too close to call and so we'll call it a draw.
Winner – Tie
The performance factor in the Sensation and Galaxy S2 is also where the differences begin to make their appearance. While both have extremely powerful 1.2 GHz dual core processors, they have chosen different manufacturers to create the chipsets. Samsung has decided to go in-house, using their own resources to build the Exynos with its ARM Cortex A9 cores while HTC has used the third generation Qualcomm Snapdragon and its Cortex A8 cores which means the Galaxy S2 processor is slightly more powerful than the Sensation processor. In addition, Samsung has opted to include 1 GB of of RAM while the Sensation opts for 768 MB of RAM, once again giving the power tip off to the Galaxy S2.
Call quality on both smartphones was crisp and clear with no static, echo or distortions interrupting the call for both incoming and outgoing calls. Speaker phones for both smartphones were also decent, though not many smartphones have excellent speaker phones, not even the HTC Surround. When it comes to battery life, the Galaxy S2 does have the larger battery with 1650 mAh, while the Sensation packs a smaller 1520 mAh battery. On one charge, the Galaxy S2 was able to last almost 3 days with light usage while the Sensation petered out a little into the second day.
When it comes to performance, the Samsung Galaxy S2 inches out the win with its slightly more powerful processor, RAM and battery.
Winner – Samsung Galaxy S2
Like the design and display arena of the battle between the Sensation and Galaxy S2, the
user interface arena takes another delve into opposite directions. Both HTC and Samsung are known for including their third party proprietary overlay over Android, and this is no exception. The HTC Sensation comes with HTC Sense 3.0 while the Samsung Galaxy S2 comes with TouchWiz 4.0.
Samsung's approach to a third party overlay has positioned TouchWiz 4.0 as a graphical enhancement more than anything. Oddly enough, ever since TouchWiz 3.0, they've avoided enhancing the 'Android' experience and have rather given their Android powered smartphones a more 'iOS' feel. It's no surprise that Apple has gone after them specifically in their lawsuits. TouchWiz 4.0 enhances the graphical interface a bit more by ridding the black backgrounds and instead, adding more transparent backgrounds, giving the whole phone a more sleek feel. In addition, TouchWiz 4.0 adds a small bit of functionality to enhance the user experience. One welcome addition is turn over, which stops the phone from bothering you once you turn it over. Another helpful addition is the double tap feature, which allows you to switch over to voice commands when you double tap the screen.
HTC's approach to a third party overlay has positioned HTC Sense 3.0 as a user enhancement tool. They really integrated Sense into Android, thus branding their Sensation as an HTC smartphone. They customized the lock screen so that you can unlock straight into an application or back to where you were when the screen locked. They've added a revolving carousel system, which means your 7 home screens revolve and don't technically end. Once you reach the last screen, it flips on over back to the beginning. HTC Sense also allows for quite a bit of customization, though some would call it overkill.
When it comes to user interface, strangely enough the more integrated experience that the HTC Sensation provides is a much simpler and more beautiful interface to use than the Galaxy S2.
Winner – HTC Sensation 4G
The HTC Sensation and the Samsung Galaxy S2 come with some premium features. They both start off with 8 megapixel cameras that are capable of recording 1080p HD video. Both are more than capable of replacing your current digital camera, as the pictures came out crisp and clean. The Sensation did have a bit more of a darker output than the Galaxy S2, but it was still very high quality. The video for both also came out clean and smooth, with the Sensation, once again, having a slightly darker output. The Sensation's camera is actually slightly better, as you can use the zoom features in 1080p while the Galaxy S2 only allows zoom options at 720p. It also features a tap to focus feature in video recording, which really helps with quickly focusing while recording video.
Beyond the camera, both smartphones have the usual slew of connectivity features such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but the Galaxy S2 enhances that by upgrading the Wi-Fi by adding Wi-Fi Direct and including Bluetooth 3.0 + HS. In addition, the Galaxy S2 also offers USB on the go support, meaning you can plug in a USB device to the Galaxy S2. That's a huge addition to the smartphone and people have been adding not just storage devices but keyboards and mice as well, effectively making the Galaxy S2 a mini-computer of sorts.
The HTC Sensation isn't one to easily back down, however, as it beats out the Galaxy S2 in offline support for navigation. HTC has struck a deal with TomTom. HTC is using TomTom's software and Route 66 maps that can be downloaded directly into the Locations application, which means the Sensation can be used for navigation even if you don't have connectivity. Voice guidance is something you have to pay for, but if you plan on going out of the country and don't know the area well, you can easily download the map onto the Sensation and use it outside of the country.
The feature set on the HTC Sensation and the Samsung Galaxy S2 is very comparable and both try to one up each other in different areas. This is a tough area to judge but the technological enhancements to connectivity give the Samsung Galaxy S2 the slight bump and the win in the features arena of the battle.
Winner – Samsung Galaxy S2
And the Winner is…
It has been a tough battle, but edging out the win, 2 to 1, is the Samsung Galaxy S2. Even if it had
tied in the features, or if the HTC Sensation had won in design, the Samsung Galaxy S2 still would've edged out the win in a tie situation. The Samsung Galaxy S2 has small enhancements that place it ever so slightly above the HTC Sensation, with one example that wasn't touched on in the battle, being storage. The Samsung Galaxy S2 comes with 16 GB of internal storage while the Sensation is stuck with 1 GB. The Samsung Galaxy S2 is an extremely well polished and powerful smartphone and will most likely dominate the new generation of high end smartphones being released to the market.
That doesn't mean the HTC Sensation is a pushover. The Sensation is still an extremely powerful and worthy contender in the high end smartphone market and can hold its own against the powerful Galaxy S2. It's the slight enhancements that allowed the Galaxy S2 to win over. The decision to put the Galaxy S2 as the winner was not an easy one as the Sensation is an incredible smartphone as well. In the end, many of the areas come down to preference, whether you like the small technological enhancements or whether you like the familiarity that HTC provides. However, for this particular battle between the HTC Sensation and the Samsung Galaxy S2, the Galaxy S2 edges out the win.
The Winner – Samsung Galaxy S2
- Source: Author's own experience.
- Image Credit: Samsung, https://www.samsung.com/global/microsite/galaxys2/html/photos.html
- Image Credit: HTC, https://www.htc.com/www/product/sensation/overview.html