Samsung Galaxy S II vs. HTC Sensation – Which is best?

The Samsung Galaxy S2 is the most popular phone in Samsung's Android lineupThe two hottest smartphones announced this year are the Samsung Galaxy S II, and the HTC Sensation. Both devices have fantastic specs and a huge 4.3″ screen. But at the end of the day, which one performs best? Which one should you buy? Read on for a full comparison, including a color-coded table showing where each phone wins in specifications.

The Samsung Galaxy S II has been confirmed to be released on 1st May this year in the UK. It is currently available for pre-order from Clove, Handtec, or several other online stores.

The HTC Sensation was announced on 12th April, to be released some time mid-May in the UK.

This table lists the complete phone specifications in a side-by-side comparison. Where one phone wins hands-down, I’ve highlighted it in green. Where there are differences, but not a clear winner, I’ve highlighted the cell orange. You can find my final verdict at the bottom of the page.

Samsung Galaxy S II vs. HTC Sensation – Feature Comparison

The HTC Sensations is the latest Android device from HTC
HTC Sensation
The Samsung Galaxy S2 is the most popular phone in Samsung's Android lineup
Samsung Galaxy S II i9100 (16GB)
Release date
May 1st
Price Unconfirmed £440.00 from Clove
SIM Free & Unlocked Yes Yes
Operating System Android Android
Version 2.3 (Gingerbread) 2.3 (Gingerbread)
Custom Skin HTC Sense 3.0 TouchWiz
Speed 1.2GHz Dual Core 1.2GHz Dual Core
Make/Model Qualcomm Snapdragon
(Cortex A8)
Samsung Dual-Core Exynos CPU
(Cortex A9)
Expansion Slot Yes Yes
Type MicroSDHC MicroSDHC
Max. Capacity 32GB 32GB
RAM 768 MB 1GB
Internal Storage Yes Yes
Capacity 1GB 16GB
Touchscreen Yes Yes
Size 4.3 4.3
Type Super-LCD Super AMOLED Plus
Resolution qHD 540 x 960 WVGA 480 x 800
Other Gorilla Glass Gorilla Glass
Frequencies 850/900/1800/1900 MHz 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
Speed GPRS Up to 114 Kbps downloading, EDGE Up to 560 Kbps GPRS Up to 114 Kbps downloading, EDGE Up to 560 Kbps
3G/HSPA Yes Yes
Frequencies 900/2100 Mhz 850/900/1900/2100 (Quad band)
Speed Up to 14.4 Mbps download speed, Up to 5.76 Mbps upload speed Up to 21 Mbps download speed
Bluetooth Yes Yes
Version 3.0 3.0 HS
Functions A2DP for wireless stereo headsets, FTP and OPP (object push) for file transfer, PBAP for phonebook access from the car kit, Other supported profiles: AVRCP, GAP, GOEP, HFP, HID, HSP, MAP, SPP, SDAP up to 24Mbps data transfer
WiFi Yes Yes
Version IEEE 802.11 b/g/n IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n
DLNA Yes Yes
Data/Power MicroUSB Micro USB
Audio 3.5mm 3.5mm jack
Video Out MHL via MicroUSB MHL via MicroUSB
GPS Yes Yes
A-GPS Yes Yes
Camera Yes Yes
Megapixels 8 8
Flash Auto focus and dual LED flash + Stereo sound Auto focus w/ LED Flash
Camera Lens
Front Facing Camera 1.3 MP 2MP
G-Sensor Yes Yes
Proximity Sensor Yes Yes
Light Sensor Yes Yes
Formats .aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma (Windows Media Audio 9) MP3, OGG, AAC, eAAC , AMR-NB, AMR-WB, WMA, WAV, MID, AC3, IMY, FLAC, XMF
Formats .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv (Windows Media Video 9), .avi (MP4 ASP and MP3), .xvid (MP4 ASP and MP3) MPEG4, H.264, H.263, WMV, DivX, Xvid, VC-1
Recording 1080p @ 30 fps 1080p @ 30 fps
Near Field Communication No Yes
FM Radio Yes Yes
Battery 1520 mAh 1650 mAh
Dimensions 126.1mm x 65.4mm x 11.3mm 125.3 x 66.1 x 8.49 mm
Weight 148g with battery 116 grams
Software Google services Document Viewer / Editor, SWYPE, Android Brower, RSS Reader
Other USB & WiFi Tethering Fully integrated Social Media Hub, Music Hub, Games Hub and Readers Hub
Build Aluminium Unibody Plastic

The verdict? Out of 15 feature comparisons, Samsung Galaxy S II wins 12 hands down, leaving only 3 for the HTC Sensation. The main areas where HTC comes out ahead are in the screen resolution, and build quality (although the latter is somewhat a matter of personal taste).

The Samsung Galaxy S II is certainly the better phone by features, and the Exynos CPU provides some extra native HD video processing features which might put it ahead as well. The extra RAM and Internal Storage will be appreciated by power-users or gamers. However, the HTC Sensation also offers an excellent package with higher screen resolution and build quality, plus stereo sound recording and dual flash.

Both phones are excellent devices, but I’ll be putting my money on the Samsung Galaxy S II. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.

Update: It has been pointed out in the comments that the Samsung Galaxy S II actually has a Cortex A9 CPU, which puts it ahead of the Sensation’s Cortex A8. According to some analysis, the CPU inside the Sensation is actually closer to an A9 than A8. However, the Galaxy S2 is actually an improved A9, so I guess it’s another win for the Galaxy. I’ve updated the table to reflect this – thanks Will!

  • Compare the Galaxy S2 Camera with the HTC Desire HD (also an 8MP camera, HTC’s latest phone that has been tested).

    Have a look at the center of the flower. The camera on the Samsung Galaxy S2 is phenomenally better the HTC Desire HD, despite the fact that both claim “8MP”. Looks like Samsung is a winner in this department too.

    • Your link is much appreciated….  it will stay in my bookmarks for as long as they keep that site up.

      If HTC was just a little over on the red tones, I wouldn’t mind too much, but if you focus on the pink flower in the top middle image, it really makes the HTC resolution look terrible…  must be a cheaper, smaller size 8MP sensor.

      I added the Sony Arc for the third window, and it looks only slightly better than HTC, not even close to the Samsung. I would have expected Sony to get a little closer, but they cheesed out on components once again. Sony has great engineers, but the bean counters seem to always win out there. Sony either lacks Samsung’s drive to be #1, or they hope they can fix it by fogging everybody with advertising later.

      To me, the Galaxy i9100 even beats Samsung’s own 12MP Pixon, when I swapped that in for comparison.  You can see the Pixon has more resolution, but again, the new Galaxy seems to have the larger sensor, providing less color noise. At least to me personally, lower color noise beats out higher resolution – up to a point or course…

      I don’t think Samsung is just electronic noise reduction either. I’ve never seen that work without screwing up sharpness and tonality.

      While I’m just deducing here, I’d bet if someone digs into what sensor hardware Samsung, HTC or Sony are using, that should explain 80% of the difference.

    • Vegasstalker

      Seems a little pointless to compare a camera on a phone that is a year old with one that is new, everyone but idiots realise that mega pixels on a camera mean absolutely nothing, its all to do with the lense quality, and like most technology it improves greatly over a 12 month period, wouldn’t it make more sense to compare it to the incredible s camera

      • True, the technology does improve over time and it’s very dependent on the sensor. The HTC Desire HD was just the best phone available for comparison at the time of writing. 🙂 It’s still significantly better than some of the other phones in the list as well. Hopefully as some of HTC’s newer devices come out they’ll be added too and we can make a fair comparison then.

        • Phone Time

          Just to let you know, gsmareahave now added the htc sensation to the drop down boxes. it’s camera is inferior to the samsung galaxy s2 in my opinion.

      • Anonymous

        Uunfortunately, incredible s’ sensor is crap as well. Thanks for the link David, it helped me a lot.

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  • Thanks for the nice, detailed comparison.

    The Samsung also has more extensive WIFI functionality, including direct WIFI and being able to serve as a hotspot for other devices.

    I would love it though, if quality of support and updates could be included in such a comparison.

    I don’t know how HTC is on that – but I do know that Samsung looks at the sale of a phone like a one-night-stand:  “don’t come looking for us later on; when we release another phone in the fall, we won’t lift a finger for this one anymore.”

    • Nick

      My year old HTC Legend can act as a hotspot – that’s pretty standard on Android phones that have been properly updated to 2.2 or above.

    • The Galaxy S is being upgraded to 2.3. So they are still updating it. But it only seems to be on their flagship devices so I see what you mean there

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  • Carl UK

     How do the speakers on each phone compare for loudness and sound quality?  The speakers on HTC phones until now (for example on my Desire Z) are typically rubbish – have HTC improved on this with the Sensation?  Has anyone tried both phones and compared the speakers?

  • Carl UK

     How do the speakers on each phone compare for loudness and sound
    quality?  The speakers on HTC phones until now (for example on my Desire
    Z) are typically rubbish – have HTC improved on this with the
    Sensation?  Has anyone tried both phones and compared the speakers?

    • I have the Samsung Galaxy SII and the speaker on it is amazing! I definately cannot fault it in the slightest. I can’t say on the Sensation though, when I had the HTC Desire, the speaker was a little quiet. I hope it helps

  • Mahdi Varzadar

    thanks I am going to buy galaxy s2

  • I would change the dimensions and the screen type because everyone wants a different size and only non real pictures look better on the AMOLED normal real pictures look like crap so that is also an opinion not a fact.

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  • JetLife

    Try this out if you aren’t good at development

  • Sakthidevi06

    wat s the difference between s2 speakers and htc incredible s