HTC Admits Sense UI Became Too Bloated – Takes Things Down A Notch With Sense 4


Sense UI. Love it or hate it, it’s not going anywhere. The complaint most people have with Sense is it’s simply too bloated and can hinder performance on any phone with it’s flashy UI and countless features. The good news? HTC knows this. And they’re going to make thing right.

In an interview with Pocketlint, HTC’s chief product officer Kouji Kodera, said he believes HTC Sense started off fine but over time, with each new Sense version, the UI became too cluttered. We’d agree.

“From the original Sense up to Sense 3.5 we added too many things. The original concept was that it had to be simple and it had to be easy to use and we had that philosophy, but over time it got cluttered. There where too many things in there. Even on the home screen we had four or five icons before consumers got a chance to add things themselves. For the HTC One range we have taken it down to Sense 2 again.”

I guess the bad news here is the only devices that will reap the benefit of this all new and improved UI seem to be the HTC One line — possibly only the One X and One S which use Sense 4.0 — the One V uses an older Sense 3.6. It’s unclear which version we’ll see on HTC’s current dual-core Gingerbread devices but I’m crossing my fingers for Sense 4.0, which, according to Koujira, is more of a theme than the complete Android overhaul like in previous versions.

“What we’ve done right now is a good mixture of keeping Sense and Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich element in a good balance. We haven’t tried to change everything here. We have kept a lot of the ICS element but still added the Sense flavor on top of it.”

HTC’s simpler design philosophy carries over to their product portfolio as well. The One line features no removable batter or SD card slot. Can’t get simpler than that. Koujira also reiterated the company’s stance of releasing less products this year, focusing solely on the One line. “You will start hearing less from us as we are going to be focusing on less number of products.” Focus is good. Especially if it results in more timely updates, a feather in the hat of any Android OEM that can provide them.


Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. Why don’t they just de-bloat, focus on making good phones and releasing ICS stock?

    1. well the tmobile one x might have stock if those rumors are true. they cant do it with every phone but theres ur chance if they do

  2. no removable battery is not a simplification step. it is called stupidity!

    1. Well the non removeable battery is so far only with the AT&T version…Noone knows what the other carriers will require for their version so its not certain all will have a non removeable battery.

      As far as Sense goes, Im not a big sense guy, I switch back and forth but there is a huge difference between 4.0 and the previous versions. Its not as bloated. But something people need to question HTC on. They are making a stock android version for T-Mobile. I hope that they will give sprint a stock android version as well. That would be awesome.

      1. Actually It is non removable for all of the One series and on all companies that is what HTC has confirmed

      2.  I like having a removable battery. However, technology progresses that may become unnecessary. I am old enough to remember when the Japanese removed the kickstart from their road motorcycles. I thought that was insanity and swore “I would never own a bike without a kickstart lever.” Over the last 5 years my SV1000 had never failed to start. Technological progress made that extra 10-15LBS of levers and gears, etc., totally unnecessary.

    2. actually it is.. 

    3. Do you realize that the battery is actually Lithium Polymer instead of Lithium Ion? Do you realize Tegra 3 has DIDIM technology which can save up to 40% of power usage of an LCD screen (One X has LCD2). Do you take the fifth companion core into account? Have you tested the battery? If not, then please wait for the actual reviews of the device before releasing troll comments.

      1.  Regardless of what tech it is, or how ‘slowly’ it’ll drain.. the fact is without a removable battery, you have no option in an emergency, nor any option 6 months down the road when heavy usage makes that battery only last an hour :(  I highly doubt ANY phone at the end of the 2yr contract will hold a charge even half as well as it did on day 1.  That’s the real issue for me, 1x charge per day = fine with me.  6 months of usage of my phone… sorry cannot accept that.

  3. This still isn’t as good as stock android.

    1. The camera is better than stock.

      1. Which is why HTC does what they do. They look to improve boring old stock Android by adding software enhancements. 
        Granted, there isn’t much to improve on ICS (unlike Froyo and Gingerbread in the past) so they have less to work on =p

        1. Right. Personally I think the previous stock android OSs have been ugly as dirt without some type of custom launcher. Thats why I was drawn to HTC off the bat. Thank God Google finally realized this with ICS.

      2. Why does a camera app have to be bundled up with a bunch of os changes?  if its so good, just put it in the market and make it available to HTC phones only.  Then you can get all the features you want, but still get the timely updates that stock brings.

  4. Any Sense is too much.

    1. That’s just NonSense.  Where’s the common Sense?

      1. With the common customer.

  5. As much as I hate to admit it, Sense is downright sexy compared to the 1.x and 2.x versions of stock Android.  Glad to see that HTC is taking a step back now that ICS isn’t fugly like the previous Android iterations. 

  6. … HTC ONE X/Tegra3 in white with stock ICS, pleeaassseee

  7. Do these companies (Samsung/HTC/Motorola) make money off of using their skins over stock android?  What is the point of having them? (serious question)

    1. To differentiate themselves. Offering added features and enhancements on top of Android, and giving their phones a unique “feel.”

      If every devices in the entire world released with stock Android, there would be no competition aside from body style. Carriers also like to hear new features on what a phone can do that another one can’t. 

      1. Correct. But a lot of times these “enhancements” are not needed, never used, and affect the device’s performance. It’s a good thing HTC is acknowledging the problem.

        1. It might seem like they are never used to you, but the casual smartphone user probably uses them. The fact that people still buy these skinned phones is a testament to the fact that people like them.

          1. or that their options are limited. You Sir see only that which supports your beliefs. I bought a sense phone twice because it offered the best specs at the time, not because of the skin or added features that were extremely gimmicky. Stock android is very limited and would be welcomed, my opinion, by many. I suggest that manufacturers simply offer apps that add functionality instead of cumbersome skins.

    2. Its product differentiation. Marketing 101.

    3. The Galaxy S II is the best selling Android phone because everyone loves Touch Wiz.  lol At least that’s what Samsung would like to believe.

      I can’t imagine any profit from a manufacturer skin.

      1. i actually like touchwiz on my gs2 but 4.0 only 3.0 was terrible. i prefer stock but i dont mind touchwiz cuz it really has good features that stock gingerbread didnt have and its light unlike sense

  8. while i prefer stock ICS myself, i understand why oem’s use UI’s. i don’t mind them IF they don’t hinder performance. You can always install a custom launcher if you don’t like it (ie LP on GB or NOVA on ICS). 

    how else are OEM’s supposed to set their products apart? For the AVERAGE consumer (NOT US, probs 75% or more of android users) they don’t understand what is under the hood, so why choose an HTC over a Samsung over a Motorola over an LG?  If they go to more of a ‘theme style’ ui, with a touch of added functionality, and without hurting performance, what is wrong with a UI?

    From the previews i have seen of OEM’s new UI’s with 4.0 i like what i see. Sense 4.0 is looking pretty ok, the new Blur actually looks ok too (just icons and a splash of color here and widget there?). the only one im not impressed with is the leaks of Touchwiz for the E4GT. that looks JUST LIKE GB (though not a final product)

    So quit getting butt hurt over custom UI’s….dont like them? buy a nexus! (which i have)

    1. I suppose I’m in the minority along with many other posters who believe that there is no need to differentiate a phone via software (e.g. skins), if you make a phone with good hardware and stock ICS, people will prefer it over the competition.  Just look at all the buzz the new Nokia phone is getting (note: I think it is a bit disingenuous when they don’t mention specifically that noise reduction and full digital zoom can’t be used at the same time – obvious to the technical, but probably not to the masses).  All phones should have stock ICS and any missing features should be discussed on open forums and added to the trunk.  Then all phones can be  compared the way they should be – as hardware.

      1. Then Andriod will be as boring as Windows Phone. The point of Android is to have variety. There are options for Android purists in the Nexus line (or through rooting). The average consumer could care less about having a particular UI as long as the one they have is functional and pleasing to them.

        Sometimes we forget that we tech lovers are in the minority. Sales of the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon alone (compared to other Verizon phones) show that not everyone is crazy about having stock Android on their phones.

        I love stock Android, but I think it is necessary to have different skins in order to promote variety. 

        1. causation vs. correlation. It is not known what is keeping people from buying the Galaxy Nexus. I do not buy the nexus because it is on Verizon and it is not a significant upgrade from my Sprint SGSII. Size could be an issue, the carrier could be the issue, the release time, the manufacturer, or even the fact that Verizon does very little to promote the phone. The UI, stock vs. skinned, could have very little to do with sales. Written FYI Mr. Kem.

          1.  I found the look of the OS on the Gnex unimpressive.  I think many women find it un-enticing also. much was made about Google hiring the designer who did webOS to revamp Android. Not sure how much of ICS is his work, but for me it was, Meh.

          2. Well one example, my sister bought a Razr Maxx instead.
            You probably already know why. Battery life. That’s all. Maybe she’s the only one that way, but I too would have given the razr much more consideration if the maxx version was out when i got my Nexus. 
            I really hate having to have 15 chargers.

        2.  I did not by a Gnex becuase its not on my carrier and by the time it hits my carrier it will be outdated. I have the Sprint GS2 and its not really and upgrade for me. I did not like the processor, but I assure you stock ICS was not the reason I do not have one.

          Im no Android purist. I like to change things up every now and again. Sense prevents that in a major way. Sometimes I like pure stock, sometimes I like blur sometimes I like Touch Wiz, some times I like sense, launceher pro, SPB, Go Launceher, Regina.

          Only thing I ask is to be able to turn it off or uninstall it when I am done. How much battery does Sense devour? Id like to turn it off to see the difference.

          Thats coming from a guy who would not have tried Android if it wasn’t for HTC. Came from a Touch Pro2 (Which let you turn sense off for a stock Windows Mobile UI) and several sense devices prior dating back to the PPC 6700 with touch flow 3D. We just need an off switch. Maybe Ill buy another HTC.

      2. Why should all phones have stock ICS? Because you say so? Ever think some people may like sense or blur. Damn, you people are so simple minded to think your way is the only way. The average buyer wouldn’t know a skin from stock ICS and wouldn’t care

        1. What would satisfy everyone would be a disabling option in the settings. Sell them with Sense, Touchwiz, Blur, etc, but provide an option to disable most or all of the customization made by the OEM. I know it isn’t impossible. Asus does it for the notification panel customizations on ICS for the Transformer.

          I also think offering usb updates to more recent OS updates withouth custom skins should be offered if the custom skin is the reason the device can’t be updated. Both HTC and Samsung have had issues with Touchwiz and Sense being bloated enough toprevent updates. It would keep the techie guys happy and those are pretty valuable people since we are the ones often recommending phones.

          1. Agreed. The LG Shine Plus allowed the user, upon first activating the phone, to choose between the LG launcher or vanilla Android. The Shine Plus also had the “with Google” branding, which, I believe, allowed this option. In any case, it can’t be that difficult to give the option.

      3.  Henry ford had it right, “you can have it in any color you want, as long as it’s black”. I wonder why that policy changed?

      4. I still feel that it would be better for consumers if all Android phones are capable of running stock OS and that this option is always made available.  But I worded my comment badly implying I wanted to shove stock down people’s throats.  Obviously I don’t care if there is a skin that is an option on top of that for those who want it.  Personally I think tying such skins with the manufacturer is dumb – maybe people like a particular skin, but why should they be tied with a particular set of hardware if this is the case.  If you are that into Sense, wouldn’t you rather be able to use Sense on any phone?  If all skins were just apps (perhaps this requires changes to the OS design to make this possible).  People say Android is all about choice, true, but it is also all about getting away from walled gardens – why would I want to decide on Sense, Blur, Touch Wiz, whatever, and then be stuck with a particular vendor.  The current situation is still messed up – maybe it will be fixed by Jelly Bean.

        As for me, I didn’t get a Galaxy Nexus because a) I’m not on Verizon and I’m too annoyed to pay full price with no reduction of monthly payment (yes AT&T sucks, I know), and b) I’m not happy with some of the hardware design choices (mainly the lack of an SD card and a camera that is not competitive with the Galaxy SII).

        If Sense 4.0 really is as light weight as they say, there is no reason they can’t make it possible to disable.

    2. mistaken… for the average consumer, they don’t CARE what’s under the hood.   They want a phone that can take pictures, check facebook, answer calls, send messages, show friends some crappy youtube videos they found and do an occasional search.     That’s the reason why Apple appeals to a lot of consumers.  Apple commercials show the simplicity of an iphone in multiple settings instead of showing how thin a phone is using robots.

      All of these companies need to start marketing more smartly and quit trying to force sexy like a Michael Bay crapfest.

      1.  Yep. I can only assume that the marketing research tells them this is the way to go, but my un-emprical studies says these adds miss the female 50% of the population.

  9. As much as many of us don’t like manufacturer UIs, they’re never going away. Their custom UIs is how they differentiate their phones from the competition. HTC wants their Android phones to look and be different than Samsung’s and Moto’s, and vice versa. If we want stock Android, we’ll either have to buy a Nexus phone, or root and flash an AOSP ROM.

    1. or u could go with the g series from tmobile those were always stock. supposedly the one x will be stock

    2. I would say that you are mistaken young man. I did not buy any of the phones in my collection because of the UI differentiation factor. I bought the phones because they had stand out features such as a better camera, better processor, more memory, better battery life, an SD card slot. The skin had so little to do with it that I do not understand why this argument persists. The UI typically adds so little that simply offering a better product than the other manufacturers should be what separates them. Awesome battery and great reception/radios is synonymous with Motorola, while Samsung was associated with speed and smoothness while lacking in the radio dept, and there are so many areas that manufacturers  could do to separate themselves from the others.

      1.  Yes, but here you are hanging out on a phone blog able to discuss components and bench marks. I submit that 85% of phone purchases are made by which one looks nice to the customer and feels right at first touch. Obvious lag might lose a customer, but UI’s have a lot to do with what “looks nice”. For example some people find Sense attractive, and that initial image decides for them. Others don’t, and that sends them to a different brand. What phone geeks want in a phone has little bearing on what the masses want.

  10. @ryan rochford
     Great point about the average consumer.

  11. After using a Gnex from release day I have to agree with HTC. There is way to much missing from the stock interface of even ICS. I would much prefer Google just take a little time to complete their product but I’ve gotta admit I miss a lot of features Sense provides.

  12. I’ve disliked the Sense on my HTC Sensation so much, I don’t think I’ll buy another HTC device unless it comes with stock Android. My HTC built Nexus One was awesome, so I know HTC can do excellent hardware, but Sense is just horrible.

  13. The problem with Sense is that it’s not just a launcher. I’ve put AWS on my HTC Sense, but I’m still stuck with HTC Sense calendar, contacts, phone, and bloatware that connects to Facebook, etc.

  14. Well, HTC might as well change it’s logo to a piece of fruit. Their philosophy has changed from “Quietly Brilliant” to “You want what we say you want.” Not including a SD slot or a removable battery is not brilliant. It is a sleazy tactic to save money knowing most layman consumers wont realize they’re missing it until it’s too late. I guess I’m shopping for a new manufacturer.

    1. Losing SD slot isn’t that big of a deal. However, no removable battery is a huge deal breaker. SD cards can get corrupted and can mess up system files – not to mention the loss of data for whatever was on the card to begin with. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to buy it.

      1. I’m of the opposite mindset. A removable battery isn’t as big of a deal for me as SD slot since I usually have a charger nearby. It’s easy for me to top off every chance I get to stay near 100. Storage, for me anyway, is a premium. I have my 32 gb full of pictures, home movies, Titanium and Nandroid backups, and my favorite songs. I’m constantly having to reduce my music to make room for a new video or pictures. Once 64 gb cards come out I can keep my music library on one and my favorite tv shows on another. 32 gb onboard would be perfect for my pictures and home videos. I wont be happy until phones come standard with terabytes of storage. Neither should you.

        1. I don’t use much space at all. I have a 32GB C4 Sandisk that hasn’t dipped below 25 free. That’s probably why it isn’t a big deal to me.

  15. Changing the dock bar alone makes a world of difference.  I dig the LauncherPro look.

  16. I’ve always liked sense. I don’t like the idea of no removable battery unless It’s high capacity like the droid razr maxx. No sd card isn’t good either but I should be able to live with 32 gbs . They should keep the curved dock and put a kickstand on them as well. Less bloat is good

  17. At least they are attempting to compromise between what the customers want and what they believes gives them a competitive edge, as far as skins go. I’ts a start.

  18. I have had the pleasure of owning A HTC Magic (Stock 1.6) Desire (Sense), S2 (Touchwiz) and now a Galaxy Nexus. ICS is so far in front of previous versions of Android it’s amazing!!!!! I understand why HTC Samsung etc need to differentiate to stand out a bit but i honestly think that could do this battery life, camera and design. 

    Focus on the hardware, that’s enough, leave the software alone.

  19. Let’s be clear about one thing… The only people crying about Sense are a few hundred maybe a few thousand hardcore Android enthusiasts. Even in that demographic its split down the middle. I can GUARANTEE you if you hand a Sense skinned Android to a casual consumer and also hand them a stock Android they will choose the Sense skinned device 9 out of 10 times. Bottom line is HTC is giving their customers what they want. The thing you guys don’t understand is YOU aren’t their customers.

    1. That may have been true before ICS was released but now that it has? Screw sense.

      1. ICS changed everything. 

        1. I’m sorry but ICS on the nexus is still sometimes laggy…
          Touchwiz4 on the other hand however (it might look like wank) does not lag!
          I’ve had my Galaxy s II for nearly a year now. I don’t go cm because of this.

          1. Good news! You’ll have ICS pretty soon.

    2. A lot of people hate Android because of the custom UI’s like Sense. I know plenty of HTC owners who do nothing but complain about how laggy some things are (specifically the launcher). Only the hardcore Android enthusiests really know the difference. As far as the masses are concerned Sense, Touchwiz, Blur (remember that) is all just Android. There’s no line.

      Regardless, Sense does affect performance. Ever use a MT4G? The UI is crap and its not the phone because rooted with CM7 (even underclocked) is smoother.

      1. Hopefully with HTC’s new version of Sense, and these more powerful processors, Sense wont bog down these devices anymore. 

        *fingers crossed*

    3.  Agreed. I like sense. ICS look is less than I expected.

    4. If what you say is true why have so users many defected from HTC. They know their UI sux hence the released statement. In the beginning it was cool to have sense I loved it. Now I wont buy a phone because I am tired of buying essentially the same exact phone over and over agian.

      Coming from sense on Winmo Sense was a good training wheel on Android. Now it just bogs the system down. Hence again the HTC statment. HTC is trying to claw back to the top. Samsung has proved your UI can look like crap as long as the hardware is good people will buy it.

      We dont need a Sense less phone just a simple option to completely turn off all elements except the widgets. Sense would be fine if it were just widgets. Hence the purist look of sense 4.0.

      1.  “If what you say is true why have so users many defected from HTC. ”

        Simple. Underpowered specs. Compare HTC screen with Samsung and Samsung wins every time.

        1. Aaaand.. That’s about it. HTC’s dual core phones do not perform as well as other company’s offerings because of their bloated software.

          1. Aaaaaand install LauncherPro, ADW Ex, etc. Problem solved.

            Sense on my Sensation is not slow or bloated. It’s a huge waste of screen real estate. Bling over function.

            Edit: I know that it’s more than a launcher. But if you don’t use it, it’s just wasted storage.

            I think the claims of bloat and slowness are due to early versions of Sense being both bloated and slow. But it’s neither on modern phones. I just think it’s a poor UI. All chrome and bling. Demo ware. Looks good at places like MWC where first impressions are more important than long term usability.

          2. Sense is much deeper than just the launcher.

    5. Customers may not realize it’s actually Sense causing the slowdowns but they can tell that the phone isn’t as responsive as others. Still doesn’t mean that HTC shouldn’t optimize their software. In fact, they should be thanking us tech geeks for being able to identify one problem in their slowed growth

    6. No, your looking at it all wrong.  HTC Sense is awesome, looks great, works great.  BUT running all the gadgets makes ur phone last only a few hours cuz its always running using up power and data usage then starts to become jittery from working the processor too hard.  Also takes up entire pages on your phone with no room for other things.  Customers don’t know what they want.  They want all the new gadgets and tricks and to look slick to show it off and expect their phone to last for days on end with no hiccups.  Even technology has limits.  By simplifying it, you can get cool features you can acutally use while still running efficiently on your phone.  This will provide for a longer term satisfaction of the product and want them to go back to HTC when their upgrade comes around.

  20. Yeah yeah, whatever.  Let me know when I’m allowed to UNINSTALL Sense.

    1. When you are in the majority, you’ll probably be allowed to uninstall sense :)

  21. The “Sense flavor” makes me want to vomit. I will never buy a non-Nexus type Android phone again.

  22. a battery under 2,000 and its non-removable? Don’t these people learn? HTC phones are known to be sucky on battery life…Thats all ive had is HTC phones until I bought the Galaxy Note..
    No sdcard? are you crazy? Cloud this and cloud that sucks when all the carriers are raping us for data and when they arent raping us they are throttle our speeds to dial up..

    1. I thought a removable batter was important until I got my droid razr maxx…I can leave 4g on and go all day.  3G? forget about.  I had the mytouch 3g…the battery life on that phone was simply awful. I went to the Galaxy S4g, and it was better, but i bought that phone without doing my homework.  It was a cheapified galaxy S (less internal storage than the Vibrant).  So far my Razr Maxx is awesome.  Fast dual core. Great battery.  absolutely no need for a removable battery.  

      1. This is no MAXX though and the battery size isnt the same..

        Apples to oranges

  23. Well, they are going the right direction.  Now if they’d just add *nothing* and “differentiate” by being the fastest to put out new OS versions and support phones the longest, I’d go back to being an HTC customer.

  24. Choice in launcher is the same as choice in manufacturer. Don’t want Sense? Don’t buy HTC. Nothing is “perfect” in the ever growing world of cell phones.

  25. Sense > every other UI including stock.

  26. Take it down a few more notches HTC, and allow users to uninstall some of this stuff(stocks,teeter) and/or install features from the market.

  27. Hopefully they don’t make a habit of not having removable batteries and sd slots, cause that’s a no go for me.  

  28. HTC has been able to back Sense 4.0 down to being less intrusive because ICS incorporated so much of Sense into itself that Sense is becoming more of a theme.  This is a good thing because Sense was what made Android usable up until ICS.

  29. Two of the best things about Android phones, removable SD cards and batteries, seem to be going the way of the Dodo. This sucks.

  30. I have HTC Desire HD for a long while and I have to admit I am not going to touch another HTC device if I will get that experience. My cheek keeps opening apps when I talk, I got lags all the time.
    I recommend HTC just to drop this crap.

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