HTC sensation xe ice cream sandwich review

There's no two ways about, it the HTC Sensation XE grabs media with both hands and won't let go. The Beats Audio logo plastered on the back of the handset makes the clear statement that the Sensation XE is a device capable of doing much more than making the odd call and sending a few texts.

In the box you'll find a bundled set of Beats by Dr Dre earphones. Now these aren't the normal below-par offerings mobile manufactures chuck in the box as a cheap after thought, they're the real deal.

HTC sensation xe ice cream sandwich review

The headphones are well made and even come with a little pouch to keep them safe. The only downside is the disappointing in-line remote for call and music control, which feels cheap thanks to the use of plastic.

Stick the buds into the Sensation XE and you'll notice a little red Beats Audio logo show up in the notification bar. Drag the bar down and you have the option to enable and disable the technology – allowing you to hear the difference it makes to tracks while they are playing.

HTC sensation xe ice cream sandwich review

We spent some time listening to tracks with the Beats Audio technology turned on and off and we can report that it really does work. Songs sound clearer, with more definition across the spectrum of notes. The biggest enhancements come when listening to bass heavy tracks and We Speak No Americano literally thumped into our head.

A word of warning though, the Beats Audio technology only works when you have Beats branded headphones plugged in, so don't mess around with others.

HTC sensation xe ice cream sandwich review

The music player itself is pretty standard, with a bit of HTC Sense spice sprinkled over it, to keep it in line with the rest of the Sensation XE. You can easily create playlists, share songs and simply stream to other Wi-Fi or Bluetooth devices from within the app.

The 4.3-inch qHD screen means that video playback is of a high quality, with colours bright and movement smooth. Thanks to the curved rubberised back of the Sensation XE, the handset is comfortable to hold in the hand, even for extended viewing.

HTC sensation xe ice cream sandwich review

As seems to be common on a lot of Android phones there is no dedicated video app pre-installed on the HTC Sensation XE. All videos are stored in the gallery which is slightly frustrating, but a quick trip to Google Play (Android Market) and a free video app download, such as mvideoplayer or Google's own Play Movies app, rectifies this without too much fuss.

HTC sensation xe ice cream sandwich review

The photo gallery is well laid out and the large screen allows you to easily review your snaps. HTC has included editing options in the gallery, allowing you to add various effects to your pictures.

The Sensation XE comes pre-installed with HTC's connected media app, which allows you to easily stream music, video or images to another wireless device – be that a TV, laptop or tablet.

HTC Watch service is also included, which enables you to download movies to the Sensation XE to watch on your travels. It's not iTunes, but to be fair, it has only been going since the launch of the original Sensation last year, so will need time to grow. Having said that, there's already a fairly broad selection there.

Prices are on a par with other services (£9.99 for a download and £3.49 for a rental) and all in all, it's a good service.

HTC sensation xe ice cream sandwich review

If you prefer a more classical form of entertainment then the Sensation XE offers a Kobo powered ereader app. There are eight books pre-installed, ready for you to read including Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Dracula.

If you're not a fan of the Kobo ebook system then head over to Google Play and download Amazon's Kindle app or Google's own Play Books app.

There is also a FM radio which allows you to easily tune into your favourite station and set presets so you can quickly jump to that acid-jazz frequency you love.


Phones, Tablets and Wearables UK Editor

John (Twitter, Google+) got his first phone aged 12 and since then he's been fixated on all things mobile, churning his way through a multitude of handsets, tablets and wearables. Signalling his arrival at TechRadar by becoming a Guinness World Record holder in his first week, John hasn't looked back since.