The HTC Sensation XL is the second phone, with the HTC Sensation XE being the first, to come with the Beats Audio branding. And is targeting an even more unique demographic – one that doesn’t want a traditional smartphone with a 4-inch display, and neither do they want the mammoth 5.3-inch goodness of the Samsung Galaxy Note. How successful that approach will be, only time will tell. But we should state this straightaway – the bigger the display, the more convenient it is to use a touchscreen.
Look & Feel
It is a big phone, and quite clearly feels that way. HTC have smartly thinned the bezel on the right and left side of the display, to shave off that precious mm that could make all the difference between comfortable and unwieldy. Below the display are four touch sensitive keys – Home, Options, Return and Search. While a lot of phone manufacturers are doing away with the dedicated Search key, HTC retains that. And we believe that is a convenience thing we wouldn’t want to let go of. Flip the phone over, and there is a dual toned finish – silver combines with the white flowing over from the rest of the phone. The Beats Audio logo clearly gives away its alliances. Battery opening mechanism is simple, thanks to the press to flip up mechanism. However, be careful to not press the power button while doing that. There is the 1,600 mAh battery sitting there, and so is the SIM card slot. No memory expansion though – you will have to be happy with the 13GB of the 16GB internal storage available to you. While it is plastic all through, the build quality is just okay. It doesn’t have the premium feel that the black and red finish of the slightly smaller Sensation XE offered. But doesn’t feel flimsy or badly made in any way.
Features & Performance
The HTC Sensation XL is powered by a single core 1.5GHz Scorpion processor, and is teamed up with 768MB of RAM. Whichever way you look at it, this isn’t a speed monster. What you should expect is basic performance, which surprisingly handles app load quite well. Despite having multiple apps open in the background, we didn’t feel the phone slowed down as much as we expected. HTC Sense is surprisingly nimble. When you compare the benchmark scores head to head with the Galaxy Note (or most newer dual-core smartphones in the same price bracket for that matter), the Sensation XL does take a beating. That is simply because of the inferior power train that HTC has inexplicably put in a phone as expensive as this. We at least expected a dual core processor (even if a slightly older generation one) and at least 1GB of RAM. However, benchmarks aren’t the true indicator of this phone’s real-life performance.
HTC sent this phone into the world with Android v2.3 on-board. And this phone is on the list of phones to get the Android ICS update sometime in the first half of this year. While we don’t understand the logic of that, we’ll keep out fingers crossed about the update arriving a bit late, but not never.
The HTC Sense 3.5 that we get with the Sensation XL is the same as the one on the Sensation XE. We particularly like the active lock screens – weather, social updates, stocks etc. The lock screens have 4 customizable app shortcuts, and dragging the icon of the app into the semi-circle ring at the bottom takes you directly to that app. This is particularly useful for messages, mails and IM clients. Unlock the display, and this is where you appreciate the full glory of the widgets and the UI in general – on the bigger display. Most Android phone UI’s face the issue of different widget sizes that always don’t blend in well on the screen. HTC has, on the other hand, always managed that very well. The variety of widgets is the widest we have seen across multiple Android devices, and is a cherry on top of the delicious UI cake.
The 4.7-inch Super LCD display is definitely one of the biggest, and one of the best ones around. While it isn’t as vivid as the Super AMOLED family, the colour depth is still amazing. The crispness of the text helps a lot when reading mails or an article in the web browser. While we don’t believe phones are the best devices for reading ebooks or watching movies, the combination of colour depth and sufficient inherent sharpness means both activities will be comfortable and enjoyable