HTC Sensation Review

By on June 20, 2011
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The HTC Sensation arrives to challenge the Samsung Galaxy S II.

Good: Hi-res screen, great construction quality, Sense UI 3.0
Bad: A bit heavy, Camera is just ok
Price: AED 2,599
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

It has barely been a couple of weeks since we pronounced the Samsung Galaxy S II the king of Android Smartphones and we already have a challenger in the form of HTC Sensation. Like the Galaxy S II, this Superphone has a big screen with all the latest high-end technology crammed into it but can it displace Samsung’s baby from the top spot? That’s what we are here to find out.

Since the HTC Sensation is a direct challenger to the Samsung Galaxy S II, I though I’d start the review by giving you a quick comparison between the two before we get into the full review:

HTC Sensation Samsung Galaxy S II
OS Android 2.3.3 + SenseUI 3.0 Android 2.3.3 + TouchWiz UI 4.0
CPU Dual Core 1.2GHz Dual Core 1.2GHz
Storage 1GB + 8GB MicroSD Card included 16GB/32GB Internal + MicroSD slot
Display 4.3″ SuperLCD 4.3″ Super AMOLED Plus
Display Resolution 540×960 pixels qHD 480×800 pixels WVGA
Camera(s) 8MP with LED Flash
Video recording: 1080p
8MP with LED Flash + 2MP Front Facing
Video recording: 720p
Connectivity 14.4Mbps 3G
802.11b/g/n WiFi
Bluetooth 3.0
21Mbps HSDPA
802.11a/b/g/n WiFi
Bluetooth 3.0
Battery 1520mAH 1650mAH
Dimensions 126.1 x 65.4 x 11.3 mm 125.3 x 66.1 x 8.5 mm
Weight 148g 116g
Price AED 2.599 AED 2,599

Unlike HTC’s traditional white box design, the Sensation comes in a black box giving you the idea to expect something different. Sadly, there isn’t anything that is different other than the color of the box and inside you still find the same USB cable, a charging plug and a headset with media and call controls that are found in other HTC phones.

The HTC Sensation looks very much like a bigger version of the Desire S with it’s unibody design and impeccable form and finish. The unit reeks of quality and the premium finish has to be held to be appreciated. However, with the measurement of 126.1mm x 65.4mm x 11.3mm and weighing 148grams, the Sensation feels quite a bit big and heavy in your hands compared to the Samsung Galaxy S II which, as you can see from the table above, is quite a bit thinner and lighter.

Previous HTC phones with Unibody designs had the lower part of their back snap out to reveal the battery and the SIM card but on the Sensation, the entire back comes out giving the phone an exposed look. While that looks pretty cool to a geek like me, I could easily see the average Joe getting a bit intimidated. One problem this design creates is that the sharp edges of the screen can be felt if you glide your finger along the screen boundaries.

Like the Desire S, the HTC Sensation has a volume rocker along with a USB port on the left  while a 3.5mm audio connector and power button sit on top. The front has the gigantic 4.3” screen with four touch buttons below it and the ear-piece with an LED inside it. Because of the large size of the device, it becomes a bit inconvenient to move between the top power button and the bottom four buttons on the HTC Sensation. I have big hands but I found myself sliding them continuously to move from the bottom to the top of the device. Finally,  the back has the 8MP camera with dual LED flash. Sadly, there is no cover on the camera and I can easily see it collecting dust over time.

Coming to the specs, as you saw from the table above, the HTC Sensation matches up reasonable well to the Samsung Galaxy S II. Like the Galaxy S, the HTC Sensation has a dual core 1.2GHz CPU but by Qualcomm instead of Samsung and slightly less 768MB RAM. Though there is very little built-in storage (1GB), HTC equips the Sensation with an 8GB MicroSD card. Lets find out how well the HTC Sensation does in out Sun Spider Javascript benchmark that tests web browsing performance of devices.

Smartphone (OS Version) SunSpider JavaScript 0.9.1 Test (Lower is better)
HTC Sensation 5253
Samsung Galaxy S II (Android 2.3.3) 3416
Google Nexus One (Android 2.2) 5632
HTC Desire S (Android 2.3.3) 5840
Apple iPhone 4 (iOS 4.2) 10263

I repeated the tests a couple of times but the results were pretty much the same- a bit unusual. The dual core 1.2GHz CPU on the HTC Sensation should provide faster results than what it is posting. Going by the benchmark numbers alone, the Samsung Galaxy S II would appear to be a lot faster than the Sensation, however, the Sensation is no slouch in any way and feels pretty zippy for everyday use so I’m not sure what is going on here.

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Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

  • Colaxs

    hi Abbas

    nice review. it’s tough to choose, but the SAMOLED display does it for me :)

    One thing I want to know is, do you get access to the android market with the Sensation and the Galaxy SII? I know the market wasn’t loaded on the original galaxy, and only got the market on my motorola milestone with the Froyo update.. That’s why..

    • Abbas Jaffar Ali

      Glad you enjoyed the review. Android Market is available across all new handsets but is restricted to free apps only

  • Mansoor

    damn this is so hard to decide now between both phones.. i love the HTC UI, but have not tried Galaxy SII yet not hit the shelves yet.. lets see 

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  • Dxbdoctor

    Arabic support is the key for me. By the way, last time I checked Desire S did not have full Arabic support. It only displays disjointed Arabic letters.

    • Abbas Jaffar Ali

      Was your Desire S a regional Middle Eastern unit? I have Arabic working without any issues (reading and writing)

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