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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  • iwod - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    It looks like in Browser Benchmark, iPhone 4 with iOS 5.0 will properly rise to the top. And it is great to see after a year of its introduction, iPhone 4 is still playing very well with it competitors.

    About Screen Size, Brian would you and Anand makes notes which size of screen you prefer.

    For iPhone 3.5", I think a lot of us want a bigger screen. But what size? 4", 4.3" or even larger?

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

    I think 4.3" is really the upper limit for smartphone displays. I've got the Infuse 4G here beside me, which is 4.5", and that already is almost challenging to hold sometimes, and occasionally awkward to type on. Factor in the fact that it has just a WVGA display, and those pixels are positively gigantic.

    Personally, I prefer 4 or 4.3". Anything above that is starting to just get excessive. I can only imagine what that rumored 4.7" HTC WP7 device is going to look like.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • Chaser - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    After an iPhone 3G, Droid, Evo, Galaxy S and G2x this phone finally gets it right in so many ways, It never ceases to impress me.

    Sense 3.0 with Gingerbread makes it perfect!

    Reply
  • dtomilson - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    Being a tech blog I have always found Anandtech to publish articles on the same phone is the same phone is the same phone (Android). Any updates coming on the beta of Mango that has been released? How smooth it is and how much better it performs given the lower specced hardware the current-gen devices use.. Reply
  • karnovaran - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    Brian, there has been much debate on XDA about screen quality differences resulting from the Sensation panels being manufactured by two different companies: Sharp and AUO (Acer). I'd love to know which panel you were reviewing.

    Can you tell us which panel you have? The way to check is by downloading terminal emulator from the market and running the following command: dmesg That will spit out a bunch of information, just hit menu and email it to yourself then search for "panel". Thanks.
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    I always run dmesg on devices just so I can see a bunch of different things/hardware ;)

    Just grepped out panel and found the type:

    <6>[ 1.603759] mipi_novatek_panel_type_detect: panel_type=PANEL_ID_PYD_SHARP

    -Brian
    Reply
  • quiksilvr - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    Ahh T-Mobile. It's almost tragic. They have awesome phones but...what's the point? Once the merger happens you have to change the phones and there isn't a full guarantee that our prices will remain the same for monthly bills. Reply
  • Conficio - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    So apparently the T-Mobile phone does not yet have the boot lock removed and knowbody knows if that will be some software update.

    Hence question what are then the "unlocked" HTC sensation phones that float around in on EBay etc.?

    I ask, because I'm about to get an HTC Sensation (buying it outright) but I want to be able to operate the phone with other carriers SIMs (internationally). So is the T-Mobile phone locked to their network?
    Reply
  • Conficio - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    How much of the htcsense.com features work over Wifi. Does remote Wipe or location tracking work?

    In other words, does the location get determined by the phone and sent back to htcsense.org or is it determined by the carrier?
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    I don't know about location, but I'm assuming that if it uses the Android location framework, it will work. Remote wipe and lock does indeed work over just WiFi, in addition to just cellular.

    -Brian
    Reply

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