HTC's Beats-equipped Sensation XL is a gargantuan smartphone, sporting a 4.7-inch display and a 1.5GHz processor
Editor's Review of the Sensation XL
The Sensation XL is the second of HTC's phones to come equipped with Beats Audio technology, following in the footsteps of the Sensation XE. Arguably, with its larger 4.7-inch screen the Sensation XL should be the pinnacle of HTC's multimedia range - but with its downgraded processor and lesser-res screen, have HTC's cutbacks ruined the handset's chances of succeeding?
Design & Build
The HTC Sensation XL, as its name would suggest, has one of the largest screens on the mobile market - second to only the 5.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Note. It's a 4.7-inch Super LCD display with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels, which disappointingly, is a lower resolution than the Sensation XE's qHD effort. Still, colours are impressively vibrant and the contrast is deep, although its simply not a match for the AMOLED screen of the Galaxy S2.
This giant screen is housed within the handset's svelte 9.9mm thick casing, which although not as skinny as its main competition, feels fairly comfortable when sitting in the hand. We did find issues with its design, however, as its brushed aluminium back panel - although nice to look at - made the handset often difficult to grip.
Under the hood of the Sensation XL you'll find a 1.5GHz single-core processor, despite the smaller Sensation XE packing a 1.2GHz dual-core chipset. Still, although the handset's nothing to get excited about on the speed-front, the processor seemed capable of handling any task that was thrown at it.
OS & Interface
The handset arrives running Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread), which comes skinned with HTC's new Sense 3.5 interface. Along with the usual active lockscreen and plethora of widgets, HTC brings its exclusive apps to the Sensation XL, including FriendStream social networking integration and it's HTC Watch video on-demand service.
As we noted in our review of the HTC Rhyme, the most notable improvement delivered with Sense 3.5 is the redesigned homescreen widget, which brings with it a virtual row of easy-to-access app shortcuts and a brand-new weather widget.
Multimedia & Storage
Of course, the Sensation XL's main USP is its integrated Beats Audio technology, which consists of bundled Beats By Dre in-ear headphones and custom audio processing software. Music quality - both through the earphones and built-in speaker - is noticeably better than on your average mobile phone, delivering heavy bass and super-clear vocals. However, it's clear than Beats Audio is catered to work best with hip hop, dance and electronic music, so this might not be the phone for you if your an avid One Direction fan.
The handset's multimedia smarts don't stop at audio. On the rear of the phone, you'll find an 8 megapixel camera with dual-LED flash, auto-focus and BSI sensor for - according to HTC - 'better low-light captures'. Shutter speed on the Sensation XL is impressively speedy, and stills, when shot in with plenty of light, are full of detail. The dual-LED flash however is prone to washing out images, and darker shots often prove noisy without it. The camera is also capable of shooting 720p HD video, which also seems dependant on good lighting.
We were a bit disappointed to discover that the handset comes with 16GB of built-in storage (more like 12GB user available), with no room to expand via microSD. Given this phone's focus on music, a bit more storage would have been a good idea.
We knew the 4.7-inch screen was good for something - and that's browsing. The onboard browser, when coupled with the phone's HSDPA and WiFi connectivity, is fast to load pages, and thanks to the handset's extra screen-space, you can read full-size websites without straining your eyes.
Finally, battery life. A large screen often means bad things for a smartphone's battery life, but the Sensation XL managed to last a full day of average-heavy usage, although it will have to be charged overnight.
If you're into hip hop and electronic music, you will be won over with the Sensation XL's fantastic sound quality - the only potential downside being the phone's lack of storage space. However, despite its high-end price-tag, the Sensation XL lacks top-tier appeal, and we'd recommend checking out the Sensation XE instead.
HTC Sensation XL News
HTC has announced that it has began rolling-out Ice Cream Sandwich to the HTC Sensation and Sensation XE. “As for timing, we‚??re in the early stages of rolling out Android 4.0 for the HTC Sensation and HTC Sensation XE and upgrades will be more widely available in the next few weeks,” HTC’s global community manager, [...]
In somewhat of a surprise move Vodafone has revealed that it plans to discontinue the newly-released HTC Sensation XL, hinting that the network could be making room for the Taiwanese firm’s upcoming flagship. We’re somewhat shocked by Vodafone’s decision, as HTC recently confirmed that the device would be upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich. Still, this [...]
HTC has confirmed that Android 4.0 ICS will roll-out to its Sensation branded handsets ‘before the end of March’, although it’s not such news for Desire owners. In a post on its official Facebook page, the company said:¬†”HTC has been working hard to get its Ice Cream Sandwich upgrades ready, and we’re excited to announce [...]
HTC has confirmed that it’ll be bringing Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) to a small number of handsets in Q1 2012, following the firm’s vague announcement last month. In a post on its official Facebook page, the Taiwanese firm has revealed:¬†”HTC knows how excited our fans are to get their hands on Google’s latest version [...]
Vodafone has just informed us that it’s now started selling the HTC Sensation XL, following in the footsteps of rival network Three. Over at Vodafone, you can bag yourself a free HTC Sensation XL on a two-year-long £41 tariff, which’ll also get you 1200 minutes, unlimited texts, and 750MB of data. Of course, Vodafone Test [...]
Two new handsets have this week joined Three’s already-stellar Android line-up: the Samsung Galaxy W and the HTC Sensation XL. Samsung’s Galaxy W, the cheapest of the two handsets, is available on the network from just £22 per month, including 100 minutes, 5000 texts and 500MB of mobile data. However, bump this up to a [...]
HTC Sensation XL Specifications
132.5mm x 70.7mm x 9.9mm
Full capacitive touch screen
Type: Super LCD
Size: 4.7 inches
Resolution: 480 x 800
Interface: HTC Sense 3.5 UI
A-GPS with maps
Up to 14.4 Mbps download speed
Up to 5.76 Mbps upload speed
Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
Audio: 3.5mm stereo jack
Data: Standard microUSB
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
A2DP for wireless stereo headsets
8.0 megapixel camera
Auto Focus and Dual LED Flash
720p Video Recording
At 30 fps
Front facing camera with video calling
Battery Capacity: 1600 mAh
Talk Time: 710 minutes
Standby Time: 460 hours
Radio: FM with RDS
Audio supported formats
Playback: MP3, eAAC+, WMA, WAV
Video supported formats
Playback: MP4, H.263, H.264, WMV