Battery Life

I generally end up putting battery life details at the end, but to be honest it’s probably one of the most important things on a smartphone, and one of the more important points to explore when talking about the Sensation. This is the second dual core SoC we’ve looked at, and thus the results are even more interesting. Qualcomm’s MSM8260 also differs from NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 in how the SoC scales voltage and frequency. On MSM8x60, each core has its own voltage and frequency plane, meaning that when we’re dealing with a heavy single-threaded workload, the second core can slow down and lower voltage. On Tegra 2, there’s a single voltage and frequency plane across both cores. The latter makes a lot of sense for primarily multi-threaded workloads, since they can be divided across both cores, and voltage is lowered accordingly. Voltage scaling generally wins out in the long run, but right now things in Android have a single-threaded bias. 

First up is our cellular web browsing test, where we load a few dozen pages endlessly with the display set to 200 nits until the phone dies. The Sensation posts a very impressive result here scoring a spot at the top of the Android charts.

Smartphone Web Browsing Battery Life

Next up is WiFi, which is essentially the same thing as our cellular test but connected to an 802.11n AP until the phone dies. Here things strangely aren’t all that great. The Sensation posts a number similar to the cellular test, but compared to other devices doesn’t see a big jump in battery life on WiFi. 

WiFi Web Browsing Battery Life

Third is the call test, which is pretty self explanatory. We have the phone in test call another device, and play music at both ends to simulate a typical voice call. That runs until the phone dies, and the display is off. 

3G Talk Time Battery Life

Finally is our newest test, in which we make the smartphone a hotspot, connect up an 802.11n client, and load four tabs of our page load suite alongside a nonstop 128 Kbps audio stream. This simulates a number of people using the hotspot pretty aggressively and doesn’t let the baseband suspend itself. The display is also off. 

WiFi Hotspot Battery Life Time

Here again we see the Sensation take an impressive top position. The comparison I’m looking at is between the Optimus 2X, G2x, and Sensation. As a reminder, the Optimus 2X/G2x both have a 5.6 Whr battery, and the Sensation has a 5.62 Whr battery. The sensation blows away Android competition in the cellular web browsing test and hotspot test, and delivers middling performance in the WiFi web browsing and call test suite. 

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

I’m pretty impressed with the Sensation. In most ways, it sets a baseline for what we should expect for this upcoming generation of devices - a dual core SoC, fast connectivity, some sort of specialty display (either high PPI or AMOLED), and unique industrial design that makes the device stand out. 

I feel like HTC always is sure to save its best execution for the international version of its handsets, and in this case T-Mobile did the right thing by not messing with it. Beyond the branding on the front and a couple instances of T-Mo purple in the applications list, it really is an international device. Even the band support is the same as the international edition. 

The Sensation impresses all around, and has very few shortcomings. First on that list is the absolutely horrendous speakerphone, which seems to either have something broken or the gain set really low in software, and a much more minor second is the small gap at the top which lets pocket lint intrude. Other than that, the only thing I’d seriously change about the Sensation would be to add penta-band WCDMA support so I could buy one and use it in the USA on AT&T for my personal device. 

If you’re on T-Mobile, the obvious phone to compare with is the LG G2x, which performs very close to the Sensation and has similar overall size. Where the G2x gets edged out is display size plus resolution, and battery life in some areas. There’s also the fact that the Sensation is shipping with Android 2.3, and the G2x still is officially 2.2, though that’s going to change soon.

Internationally, things get a bit more complicated, since the Sensation is up against the Samsung Galaxy S 2, which we still haven’t taken a formal look at. The competition is fierce, and I'm eager to find out (and maybe even settle) the matter of which one is better. 

Camera Analysis: 1080p30 Video and 8MP Stills
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  • StormyParis - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    and I was looking forward to getting the Sensation, especially for its big, high-rez screen.

    I'm thinking of going the Galaxy S 2 route instead:
    - GS2 is much lighter (115 vs 150 grams). Less sagging pants and shirt pockets sound really nice (I currently have a 155g HD2)
    - screen seems better: fewer pixels, but much better contrast and angles
    - Samsung actively supports CM7, I'm not even sure if the Sensation is unlocked (HTC says they're no longer locking, I don't know if originally locked devices get an unlock)
    - everything else seems broadly the same. camera maybe a bit better on the GS2
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    I personally think the HTC Sensation looks much nicer than the Galaxy S II, and it also provides all 4 Android buttons, which is more useful.
    Also, Sense 3 is a genuinely nice addition, so I REALLY don't understand the lust for AOSP based ROMs.
    I know which phone I'll be recommending if people ask me...
    Reply
  • kaworu1986 - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    I actually registered just to post this, and here it goes:
    Sense (and the other skins) just need to DIE: they're bloated, ugly and inefficient (not to mention introduce bugs that stock Android does not have); worse than that, they are way of creating vendor lock-in and force users to upgrade hardware by withholding Android updates (a very clever trick to neuter one of the greatest advantages of Android, its open source nature).
    Why can't OEMs just stick to do their job? People complain about the crapware OEMs install on PCs (which at least you can uninstall or just format) and somehow this is OK? Also, commodization is exactly what makes the PC ecosystem great: customers can shop around for the best price for their performance needs without having to worry about their devices being left without a software upgrade path or features unavailable. And with phone makers locking their bootloaders the last way of getting out of their death grip, custom ROMs, are being taken away from us.
    Finally, I'd much rather rely on software written by a good software company (Apple, MS, Google) with 100s of engineers dedicated to the project than the much smaller team an OEM can afford to put on the job.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    Well, I have a Desire HD, rooted, s-off, I can put whatever the hell I want on it...

    Oh, and I choose to use a sense based ROM with Sense 3. I've had a phone with pure CyanogenMod, it's all well and good, the point is, as long as the phone isn't horribly locked, and xda-dev get their dirty mitts on it, you can have whatever yo uwant!
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    Oh, that said, I don't use the launcher. I use Launcher Pro. Reply
  • Chloiber - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    Exactly the same here, except I'm using a Desire (non-HD). I really like Sense. I rooted the phone about one year ago and was using Stock Android ROMs a lot. I really liked it. Now I returned to a Sense 2.1-3.0 mix and I like it even more. Some things are simply better with Sense. I also replaced the launcher with LauncherPro (also on Stock Android) because it gives you a really nice, smooth experience. In this regard, pretty much every stock browser, be it Sense or stock Android have failed thus far.

    @Brian
    Strange that Brightness, Airplane Mode and Screen Rotation is missing, as it is included in Sense 2.1 (for example Desire S). But you probably already knew that, as you listed exactly the 3 things that are included there... :-)
    Reply
  • shabby - Sunday, July 03, 2011 - link

    Aosp ui is pretty archaic compared to touchwiz/sense, it lacks a lot of features that makes the phone more user friendly to the average person.
    Compare the aosp lockscreen to the sense3 lockscreen, which do you think the average person would want? Compare the widgets from touchwiz4 to the widgets of aosp... oh wait there aren't any in aosp. Catch my drift? Majority of users aren't like you and me that want a plain aosp/cm7 phone, so sense/touchwiz will never die, top selling phones will never be plain google aosp phones because that's not what majority of the public wants.
    Reply
  • JasonInofuentes - Monday, July 04, 2011 - link

    I think it's important to keep in mind that AOSP was designed with UI modifications in mind. It's not like HTC/Moto/Sammy/LG/Lenovo/Sony got their hands on source and went to work altering it against Goog's wishes. They wanted to be supportive of modifications to the OS from corporations and amateurs alike.

    Yes, the course was lost as manufacturers delayed updates in order to implement their UI, and some of the UIs were buggy, but then again lots of popular custom ROMS are buggy and users still love them. The point is, if there's value added, which in the case of Sense 3.0 and, by reports, the new Blur then it might be worth the cost to many. But devs should work with Google to make sure that their skins add without being too deleterious. Where I think all OEM devs should back off is in integrating social media streams; unless your implementation is decidedly better than the best social media apps then it's likely going to be a redundant, unwelcome presence.
    Reply
  • mikehunt80 - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    I don't think I've ever used the search button in previous devices, but I guess that's personal preference.

    I tried out the Sensation before buying the Galaxy S2. There was absolutely no contest. The S2 felt snappier browsing the web (A9 is 25% quicker clock for clock vs. A8/snapdragon), much lighter and nicer to hold without feeling cheap or creaking and I thought the screen on the Sensation was fairly poor in comparison. On top of that the S2 will play absolutely any video you throw at it, I'm told it'll even play 1080p mkvs and my 720p mkv Avatar makes people's jaws drop on the S-Amoled+ screen.

    The Sense launcher is nice, but I use Go Launcher EX, which has most of the features of the Sense and is almost infinitely customizable. The Sense lock widgets screen looks nice, but is useless is you use pattern or pin lock.

    Both great phones, but the S2 to the more rounded device for me.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    Good point on the video compatibility.
    It best bloody play 1080p mkv though, since my dirt cheap chinese tablet (<$200) can play 1080p mkv without any pauses.

    That's one thing a lot of the top tier devices miss, and I agree that that actually swings things in favour of the Galaxy S II..
    Reply

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