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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  • Brian Klug - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    We're still waiting for an SGS2, hopefully we will get one soon from Samsung USA and be able to compare it in its final form.

    Take care,
    Brian
    Reply
  • sam46 - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    brian,
    this is one of the few reviews which have praised sensation.but in my view your review is the best.
    i am saying this because i believe that unlike other reviewers you not only test mobile phones in your lab but also use them as in daytoday life as a normal user.this gives a better impression of the devices which you review.
    many reviewers have given more praises to sgs2 than sensation.they have based their views with the limited time which they had with the devices that too in their testing labs.but i believe that in real world usage sensation makes more sense than sgs2.and this has happened before with their older brothers that is desire and sgs.the reviewers had given more praises to the sgs but the actual users prefered desire over sgs.
    though samsung devices looks great on paper,users get frustated with their handsets.
    apart from htc in my view hp makes better handsets.lately they are catching up with the hardware but their design sucks.for example take pre3,may be its design makes more sense while handling and using it,but its looks are not good enough to make a good impression.now that they are putting single core1.4ghz processor in pre3,but still they are behind the competition of dualcores.but i do believe that pre3 will give a tough competition to all the dual core phones in terms of speed and performance because of a very light os that is the webos. webos is unarguably the best os out there which is slick and fast,easy to use interface,better management of memory,provides true multitasking,provides a great
    feature like just type, and a best notification system.webos is very very light when compare to ios and android,so i think it doesnt need a dual core processor and 1gb of ram.it can perform better than ios and android even with a single core processor and 512mb ram.but hp needs to work on better designs to give a better impression of their devices.

    by the way,congratulations brian for this great article.pls tell me what do you think of the observations i made above.
    Reply
  • StormyParis - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    You need to be specific: what hidden drawbacks do Samsung's phones have ? and what hidden qualities, HTC's ?

    Disclaimer: my current HTC HD2 is the first phone I'm happy with in ages. I had junk from Motorola, LG, and Nokia before that had serious design flaws, plenty of bugs, bad support... or rather, all of the above. My HTC just worked from day one, now it's started a second life under CM7, and I'm very happy with it 2 yrs on.

    I was looking foward to buying a Sensation. But the lighter weight, on the whole, better screen, and better moddability f the GS2 are on the verge of convincing me to buy that, instead.
    Reply
  • sam46 - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    Read the review of droid charge by brian klug.He clearly mentioned that samoled+ has some serious problems such as overheating,yellowish tint and oversaturated colours.It is the slimmest smartphone in the world,but according to many users sensation is better to handle.Due to its wait and built quality it feels solid in the hand.And also remember that sgs2 is made of plastic.

    To know what drawbacks samsung phones have you need to do some googling.Just search for
    defects of sgs and sgs2.
    Reply
  • bigboxes - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    Please capitalize your sentences. It was quite the chore trying to read your post. If you want to be taken seriously you need to remember to correctly use those writing rules you learned in school. Reply
  • sam46 - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    sorry,i am from a non english speaking country.despite that i can write pretty good english,isn't it? Reply
  • SimKill - Monday, July 04, 2011 - link

    Do you still not capitalize stuff in your language? I'm a non-native English speaker too, and my language doesn't even have capital and small letters. I still make an effort to write well so that I can convey my message as clearly as possible. Reply
  • sam46 - Monday, July 04, 2011 - link

    I will :) Reply
  • Speed3mon - Sunday, July 03, 2011 - link

    bigboxes... gAy Reply
  • Visual - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    Wait, what? Having white appear as red is accurate color now?
    BTW the Galaxy S II gives users a few choices of color calibration even with stock FW. And just wait and see what the hacked ones do...
    Reply

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