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HTC Sensation XL review

HTC's created a big Sensation with this 4.7-inch beast

HTC sensation xl

When first got our hands on the HTC Sensation XL, we weren't really sure what to make of it. After giving it a good going over… we aren't sure what to make of it. At least, not in the way it fits into the Sensation product line. You have the original HTC Sensation, which then got a spec bump with the HTC Sensation XE. It's a clear step up.

With the Sensation XL, though, you get a downgrade in horsepower and screen resolution, but an upgrade in software (from Sense 3.0 to 3.5) and a bigger screen size (up to 4.7 inches). You swap a microSD card slot for 16GB of internal memory.

When it comes down to it, this is a tweaked HTC Titan, and it shows. We're honestly not sure why HTC made this part of the Sensation product range rather than giving it a separate name.

But we can't let that colour our judgement too much, because while the XL may not excel in they way the other Sensation handsets do, it's clearly a very good phone in its own right.

We liked

The screen is vibrant, bright and clear. It's even nice and crisp, despite being pretty big with a lower resolution than its Sensation siblings, and video looks great on it.

HTC Sense 3.5 is a nice little upgrade (though nothing to get too excited about) to an already excellent Android overlay. The Dropbox deal is great, and the Notes app is an understated marvel.

Despite being a 'mere' single-core processor, this is generally a phone that responds quickly and smoothly. The speed tweaks to the camera are also very welcome.

In fact, the stills camera is rather good overall. The backside illumination pays off well, and we got lots of nice, crisp images from it. We did some head-to-head tests, and the iPhone 4S beats it for detail with the flash off, but it's still hugely impressive, and better than just about every other phone.

And the Beat audio integration is a great addition, and one that makes the phone stand out. Music sounds really, really good, and that's what counts here.

We disliked

As we said above, the phone is fast and responsive for the most part, but it does stumble here and there, and often enough for us to bring it up again here. We're not talking about catastrophic crashes or anything, but it's frustrating when all you want to do is flick to the next Home screen and the carousel goes whizzing away.

And as we mentioned in our review, there can be a disconnect between HTC's apps and what else is there. You've got two email apps, and Friend Stream and Twitter/Facebook often clash and confuse, and there are plenty of other duplicate options. It's not what we'd call crystal clear from a user's point of view.

It's a real shame to have 16GB of built-in storage as the only option – why not an SD card slot as well? Similarly, it's a shame there's no FLAC lossless support for music files, since this is such a music-focused phone.

The video recording was absolutely terrible, which is even more of a shame when you look at the quality of the stills camera. It's also an eyebrow-raiser that this doesn't do 1080p when the Sensation and Sensation XE both do, even though this is MORE expensive.

Final verdict

Speaking of which, the price is the biggest stumbling block for Sensation XL as it stands. As a mid-range, big-screen handset, HTC would be onto a genuine winner here. But the price puts it in the firing line of the Sensation XE, the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the iPhone 4S. And, frankly, it comes out at the bottom of that list.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Built-in Memory16 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotNo
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyHSDPA, HSUPA, GPRS, EDGE
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationNo
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilySensation XL
Cellular Generation3G
Cellular Network SupportedWCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 2100, GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution8 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Phone StyleBar
ColourWhite
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameHTC
Battery Talk Time11.80 Hour
Screen Size11.9 cm (4.7")
Screen Resolution480 x 800
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)162.5 g
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 3.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 2.3 Gingerbread
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Pixel Density199 ppi
Height132.5 mm
Width70.7 mm
Depth9.9 mm
Radio TunerYes
Battery Standby Time360 Hour
ManufacturerHigh Tech Computer Corp
Product NameSensation XL Smartphone
Processor Speed1.50 GHz
Product LineSensation XL
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Proximity Sensor, Digital Compass, Gyro Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor
Manufacturer Part Number99HPJ001-00
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.europe.htc.com
Marketing InformationFeel every single beat

When it comes to doing music justice, you're way ahead of the crowd with the HTC Sensation XL with Beats Audio and its superb, in-box customized Beats headset. Now your audio experience sounds just like the artist intended. You'll also enjoy the large 4.7 inch screen and 9.9mm sleek premium design. And record amazing HD quality video to complement your audio experience with this incredible superphone. It's the BEST sound and sight you can get on any mobile device.

Instant capture camera

Remember that time you pressed the shutter button and had to wait while your camera phone finished taking the picture? With the instant capture camera, the moment you press the button is the same moment the photo is captured. Never let a great shot slip away.

Package Contents
  • Sensation XL Smartphone
  • Beats Headphones
  • Battery
  • USB Cable
  • Power Adapter
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Safety and Regulatory Guide
Limited Warranty1 Year