HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II vs LG Optimus 2X

The arrival of the HTC Sensation, or HTC Pyramid as it used to be known, has firmly formed a trio of superphones in the Android world. With dual-core processors all round, seriously big screens and plenty of pedigree in the ways of Google mobile, it joins the Samsung Galaxy S II and LG Optimus 2X as the ones to consider if you’ve plenty of cash in your pocket and a phone contract that’s starting to run short. The tricky part, is which should you choose?

Fortunately, good old Pocket-lint is here to help with that decision making process and, from a gander of the spec sheets combined with a little of our hands-on experience, the news is that they all look pretty good. All the same, read on to find out which gets our provisional vote as the king of the Android superphones for 2011.

Form Factor

1st: Galaxy S II
125.3 x 66.1 x 8.49mm, 116g

2nd: Sensation
126.1 x 63.2 x 11.3mm, 148g

3rd: Optimus 2X
123.9 x 63.2 x 10.9mm, 139g


LG might feel it’s been hard done by to come in third place behind the HTC Sensation. The Sensation is a little heavier and a touch fatter too by a matter of millimetres, but, given that form factor is more than just a matter of measurement, we’ve also taken into account the premium materials used in the construction of the HTC phone. The Sensation is the only one of the three made of a solid piece of aluminium. The other two are both largely plastic and you will notice the difference once in hand. All the same, it’s not enough to push the Samsung Galaxy S II off top spot as it's probably the thinnest smartphone you’ll find anywhere and one of the lightest given its large size as well. Of course, the danger is that a lack of density means that the Galaxy S II will feel cheap to the touch but from our hands-on time, it just about manages to pass that test.


Display

1st: Galaxy S II
4.3”, 800x480, Super AMOLED Plus

2nd: Sensation
4.3”, 960x540, Super LCD

3rd: Optimus 2X
4”, 800x480, LCD


On paper, the right winner in this category would appear to be the HTC Sensation. It’s got more pixels than any of the others and it’s got the largest screen size (along with the Samsung). The problem, however, seems to be when the theory becomes the practice. The advantage that both LG and Samsung has over HTC is that they’ve got years and years of panel building experience behind them from the AV world and, from our limited time with the Sensation, it shows.

According to our man on the scene, the screen doesn’t quite have that same punch and colour fidelity as the other two. That said, we’re still going to put the HTC into second place because, at small screen sizes, it’s the sheer amount of space that counts. You might have the best picture ever but it counts for nothing if it’s only the size of a postage stamp. All the same, it has to be the Samsung Galaxy S II that takes top spot once again. It doesn’t quite have the pixel density of the HTC but the screen technology does seem to be superior. The Super AMOLED Plus offers excellent results even if the colour authenticity is slightly short of what you’ll find on the Optimus 2X. What we're saying here is that if you're consuming content on these phones, this is the order of preference that you'd want to do so.


Engine Room

1st: Sensation
1.2GHz Snap. MSM8260, 768MB

2nd: Galaxy S II
1.2GHz Tegra 2, 1GB

3rd: Optimus 2X
1GHz Tegra 2, 512MB


All of these three superphones come with dual core processors running the show which sticks them head and shoulders above almost anything else available. All the same, there is enough difference between the three to allow us to pick a clear winner. It’s not been confirmed that it’ll be the Tegra 2 system-on-a-chip at the heart of Samsung Galaxy S II but, even if it is, it’s not going to be as powerful graphically as the Snapdragon chipset on the Sensation which tends to bench higher thanks to that Adreno 220 GPU. So, despite losing out on the RAM front by a couple of hundred MB, it’s HTC that claims the prize. Meanwhile, it’s the LG Optimus 2X that brings up the rear once again owing to the surprising lack of memory and a shade of processor speed.

 

Imaging

1st= Sensation
8MP rear, 2MP front, 1080p video

1st= Optimus 2X
8MP rear, 1.3MP front, 1080p video

1st= Galaxy S II
8MP rear, 2MP front, 1080p video


One can quibble about the odd difference here and there but until we’ve had a really good play with all three camera set ups on these phones, we’ll have to call this one a draw. Each of them will shoot Full HD and we’re not going to start complaining about the missing 0.7 megapixels on the LG Optimus 2X.

What we like about the HTC is that you get a dual LED flash as well as touch to focus. What we like about the LG is that there’s touch to focus there as well as the ability to change the ISO, and what we like about the Samsung is that there’s a button you can press to maximise the screen brightness while in camera mode to get the best possible performance while trying to shoot in the sunshine. The moral of the story here is that none of this lot are going to leave you short on imaging and, if you still feel like you want more, then try the Nokia N8, or a DSLR.


Software

1st: Sensation
Android 2.3 + Sense 3.0

2nd: Galaxy S II
Android 2.3 + TouchWiz 4.0

3rd: Optimus 2X
Android 2.2 + LG UI


It’s a close call category in the software department. It’s easy enough to put the LG Optimus 2X in last place as it ships with Android 2.2, aka Froyo, although LG is committed to upgrading to Gingerbread at some point. It also comes with a fairly low impact user-interface. As for the Galaxy S II and HTC Sensation, all that separates these two is also the UI. While we know that HTC Sense 3.0 is a good skin for Android and has proved so time and time again, TouchWiz has rarely impressed the reviews team here at Pocket-lint. We await a full few sessions with the Samsung Galaxy S II to make sure that this is still the case but, while the jury’s out, we’re going to hand this one to HTC.


Storage

1st: Galaxy S II
16/32GB + microSD

2nd: Optimus 2X
8GB + microSD

3rd: Sensation
1GB + microSD


LG might have thought it had done enough by offering a whole 8GB of internal phone storage on top of a microSD slot capable of a further 32GB, but the Samsung Galaxy S II rather blows the competition out of the water with a maximum potential of 64GB in total. What’s more important is that, despite the Froyo update, you still can’t store all your apps on the SD card. So, in other words, the internal portion of the equation is much more useful. The more of that that you can get, the better. So, while it represents a big win for the Galaxy S II, it’s also a big loss for the HTC Sensation. Once you’ve thrown HD video files into the mix as well as all that software and all that data, you’re going to need as much space as you can get. After all, presumably you’re planning on watching a fair amount of TV and films if you’re in the market for a phone with a 4-inch plus screen.


Battery

1st: Galaxy S II
1650mAh

2nd= Sensation
1520mAh

2nd= Optimus 2X
1500mAh


With very similar screens sizes, similar numbers of pixels to drive and a similar internal spec churning through the power, for once, the battery specs are fairly comparable. While it’s not worth taking issue over 20mAh, the figures on the Samsung Galaxy S II suggest that you might just be able to eke a little bit more juice when it comes to the crunch. No promises here until we’ve put them to the test but it’s certainly worth mentioning.


Connectivity

1st: Galaxy S II
NFC

2nd= Sensation
no NFC

2nd= Optimus 2X
no NFC


With each of these superphones seriously stacked in the connectivity department, it’s easier to separate them by what they don’t have rather than what they do, and the only way to tell the sheep from the goats on this occasion appears to be the near field communication technology on the Samsung Galaxy S II. That aside, all of the phones come with Bluetooth 3.0, HDMI-out, DLNA and n-Wi-Fi among all the other regulars. You’ll even find 4G in all of the US versions. Interestingly, Android 2.3 itself leaves space for NFC compatibility but it’s debatable as to whether it’ll come in useful in this phone cycle. Perhaps an issue worth taking up in 2 years’ time instead.

 

Price

Sensation
Unknown

Optimus 2X
£430

Galaxy S II
Unknown


Sadly, we’ll have to wait for the release to call our judgement on this one but, if we were a betting website, which we’re not as you might have noticed, we’d reckon that both the HTC Sensation and Samsung Galaxy S II will work out at just over the £500 mark, SIM-free and unlocked. For the time being though, we won’t take this category into account for the final verdict.

 

Conclusion

1st: Galaxy S II

2nd: Sensation

3rd: Optimus 2X


It's a fairly close run contest for these three Android superphones and it's rather pleasing that we can confidently say that the moment you decide to buy any of them, you've already won. All the same, there have to be winners and losers and the clearest decision is that it's the LG Optimus 2X that comes in third. While it's got a good quality display, healthy camera set and ample amount of internal storage, it just gets edged in each of the categories and, indeed, never manages to claim one all of its own.

The top spot is a trickier matter. On paper, we'd definitely call it for the Samsung Galaxy S II. It has the better screen, the finer form, bags of storage power and the odd bonus in the form of NFC. That said, the killer phone is a matter of killer specs as well as a killer experience and that tried and tested HTC Sense UI might prove the difference. But for that kind of look and feel evaluation, we'll need to wait for the full reviews. Stay tuned and we'll bring you the final chapter in good time.

So that's the way it looks on paper but what do you think? Which is the Android superphone that you'd most like to pop in your pocket?