HTC Sensation vs. Samsung Galaxy S II: Smartphone showdown

Which is the better smartphone – HTC's Sensation or Samsung's Galaxy S II?

2011 is set to be the year of the dual-core powered Android phone and two of the biggest upcoming releases in Australia are the Samsung Galaxy S II and the HTC Sensation.

Read our detailed previews of the Samsung Galaxy S II and the HTC Sensation, and check out our roundup of the best upcoming smartphones in 2011.

Both of these Android phones have similar specifications — the HTC Sensation sports a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, a 4.3in qHD display, an 8-megapixel camera and wraps it in a unibody aluminium design.

The Samsung Galaxy S II on the other hand also has a 4.3in display, but uses Super AMOLED Plus display technology. It matches the Sensation's 8-megapixel camera and 1080p HD video recorder, but the Galaxy S II's most desirable feature is its design: the handset is just 8.49mm thick, making it thinner than the iPhone 4 and likely the thinnest smartphone in the world.

So how does the HTC Sensation compare against the Samsung Galaxy S II when it comes to specifications?

HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II: Specifications

Feature HTC Sensation Samsung Galaxy S II Verdict?
Operating system (OS) Google Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) Google Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) Draw
Display size 4.3in 4.3in Draw
Display technology Capacitive S-LCD Capacitive Super AMOLED Plus Galaxy S II
Display resolution 540x960 pixels (qHD) 480x800 pixels HTC Sensation
Multitouch Yes Yes Draw
Camera 8 megapixels, dual-LED flash, autofocus, geotagging, image stabilisation, face detection 8 megapixels, LED flash, autofocus, geotagging, image stabilisation, face and smile detection Draw
FM radio Yes Yes Draw
GPS Yes Yes Draw
Internal memory 1GB 16GB or 32GB Galaxy S II
Expandable memory microSD card slot microSD card slot Draw
Dimensions 126.1 x 65.4 x 11.3mm 125.3 x 66.1 x 8.5mm Galaxy S II
Weight 148g 116g Galaxy S II
Application store Google Android Market Google Android Market Draw
Processor Qualcomm MSM 8260 dual-core (1.2GHz) ARM Cortex A9 dual-core (1.2GHz) Draw
3G networks HSDPA 900/1900/2100 HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100 Galaxy S II
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 802.11a/b/g/n Galaxy S II
Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP 3.0 with A2DP Draw
NFC (Near Field Communication) No Yes Galaxy S II
HDMI-out Yes (via MHL) Yes (via MHL) Draw
Quoted talk time Up to 6 hours 40 minutes Unknown Unknown
Quoted standby time Up to 400 hours Unknown Unknown
Adobe Flash support Yes Yes Draw

HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II: Design

One of the most lauded features of the Sensation is HTC's unibody aluminium design, which has also been used on a number of HTC's other Android phones including the original Desire, the Desire HD, the Legend and the recently launched Incredible S. The HTC's unibody casing is constructed from a single piece of aluminium. If HTC's other Android phones are anything to go by, the Sensation will look and feel every bit a premium piece of industrial design, and the finish won't be easy to scratch or mark.

HTC Sensation The HTC Sensation Android phone uses a unibody aluminium design that is constructed from a single piece of aluminium.

The Samsung Galaxy S II on the other hand is an entirely different proposition. It is just 8.49mm thick, making it likely the thinnest smartphone in the world (at least until another competitor trumps it). The Samsung Galaxy S II has an attractive carbon-like finish on its rear battery cover, and although it is constructed from plastic rather than metal, it felt well built during our brief hands-on with the phone.

Samsung deserves a huge amount of credit for managing to make the Galaxy S II so thin, but we can't help but award the winner here to the HTC Sensation. Its aluminium unibody design means it will more than likely feel like a premium handset should. Although the Sensation is thicker than the Galaxy S II, the extra girth is a trade-off we would be willing to make for the durability of the unibody design.

Samsung Galaxy S II The Samsung Galaxy S II measures just 8.49mm thick, which makes it likely the thinnest smartphone in the world.

Page Break

HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II: Display

The HTC Sensation has a large 4.3in super LCD display but the big draw card here is its resolution. The Sensation's 540x960 pixel resolution makes it a quarter HD (qHD) screen. In general, the higher resolution the better, as it increases the pixels per inch on the display. The Sensation's qHD screens means you will see more of a website at once, and will also benefit video playback and mobile gaming.

The Samsung Galaxy S II on the other hand has the same sized 4.3in display as the HTC Sensation, but uses Super AMOLED Plus screen technology. Samsung's Super AMOLED Plus is a refinement of the original Galaxy S' Super AMOLED technology and promises a clearer and brighter image, as well as better battery life. The Galaxy S II's screen has a resolution of 480x800.

The HTC Sensation's qHD SLCD display may sound impressive on paper, but the vibrancy and brightness of the Galaxy S II's Super AMOLED Plus screen is going to be tough to beat; especially if the regular Super AMOLED display of the original Samsung Galaxy S is anything to go by.

HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II: Software

The HTC Sensation runs the latest 2.3 Gingerbread version of Google's Android operating system. Version 2.3 of Android means the Sensation has a revamped keyboard, better copy and paste, improved power management, and a slicker user interface compared to previous versions of Google's mobile platform.

The Sensation also includes the latest version of HTC's Sense UI overlay, 3.0. New features include customisable lock screens, 3D transitions between screens, an improved weather app with more vibrant animations and a video-on-demand service called 'HTC Watch'.

HTC Sensation The HTC Sensation includes the latest version of HTC's Sense UI overlay, which includes customisable lock screens, 3D transitions between screens, and an improved weather app.

The Samsung Galaxy S II Android phone runs the 2.3 Gingerbread version of Google's Android platform, and features Samsung's TouchWiz 4.0 UI overlay. Samsung-exclusive features include Social Hub, Readers Hub, Game Hub and Music Hub, while enhanced corporate and security functions include the implementation of Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, on-device encryption and Cisco's AnyConnect VPN client.

Although both of these smartphones run the Google’s Android 'Gingerbread' operating system, each has a different UI overlay that is intended to enhance the user experience. HTC's Sense seems a little more involved than but both look appealing in their own way and will more than likely come down to personal preference.

HTC Sensation vs. Samsung Galaxy S II: Other features

Neither the HTC Sensation or the Samsung Galaxy S II come with a HDMI-out port but both phones include something better: a new connection technology called Mobile High-definition Link (MHL). The on-board MHL technology uses the standard micro-USB port on each device for outputting 1080p HD video and audio via HDMI. You'll need an optional microUSB to HDMI MHL connector to enable this feature, but the beauty of MHL means it can also be used with a USB adapter, meaning both the HTC Sensation and the Samsung Galaxy S II can utilise USB on-the-go functionality like the Nokia N8. Along with DLNA connectivity for wirelessly sharing media content, both the Sensation and the Galaxy S II are well equipped for multimedia sharing.

Samsung Galaxy S II The Samsung Galaxy S II comes with on-board MHL technology that uses the standard micro-USB port to output 1080p HD video and audio via HDMI

The HTC Sensation and the Samsung Galaxy S II also have very similar specifications in other areas. Both phones have 8-megapixel cameras with geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, and image stabilization, but the Sensation has a dual-LED flash compared to the Galaxy S II's single LED, and also boasts a feature called instant capture. According to HTC, the instant capture feature eliminates shutter lag; the moment you press the button is the same moment the photo is captured.

One feature the Samsung Galaxy S II may over the HTC Sensation is an integrated Near Field Communications (NFC) chip. NFC is a short-range wireless communication technology; the same used in many new credit cards, whereby the card can be simply swiped across a smartchip to make a purchase. This technology is rumoured to be an inclusion on the upcoming iPhone 5, but we've seen conflicting reports of its inclusion across the world. Samsung says it will ship two versions of the Galaxy S II, one with NFC and one without. The latter is what the company has started shipping in Europe, while the Korean version of the Galaxy S II includes the NFC chip. It is not yet known if the Australian version of the Galaxy S II will include NFC.

Another point worth noting is the fact that the Samsung Galaxy S II is a quad-band HSDPA phone, so it will work across all Australian networks including Telstra's Next G network. The HTC Sensation on the other hand is only a dual-band 900/2100 phone, so it will only work on the Optus and Vodafone networks in Australia. There may be a separate model that will work on Telstra's Next G network (which runs on the 850MHz 3G spectrum) but this is yet to be confirmed.

The HTC Sensation is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, has 768MB of RAM and comes with a microSD card slot for extra storage. It is expected to be available in Australia in the second half of 2011, though pricing and availability has yet to be announced.

The Samsung Galaxy S II is powered by a 1.2GHz ARM Cortex A9 dual-core processor, has 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory, along with a microSD card slot for extra storage. It is likely to launch in Australia in May, and will be available through all Australian carriers — Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. Pricing has yet to be announced.

What do you think about the HTC Sensation and the Samsung Galaxy S II? Tell us in the comments below!