Compared to the elaborate messaging options we've seen on some smartphones, such as the BlackBerry Torch 9860, the HTC Sensation XL is relatively sedate.

Out of the box, what you're really looking at is text messaging, email and Facebook chat built in, though Friend Stream is on-hand to offer some basic social networking messaging options.

The Messages app is fairly typical for its type – the inbox presents you with a list of conversation, arranged by recipient, and you tap through to see your conversation thread. It's the usual stuff: your words in speech boxes on the right, theirs on the left.

HTC sensation xl

You can tap on the picture at the top to open a list of other options for that contact, including calling them or sending an email.

It's easy to attach something to a message, including locations, appointment, audio pictures and video.

For email, you've got HTC's Mail app as well as Google's Gmail app. Gmail is the same as it usually is, offering very simple navigation through lists, but the text is nice and big on the HTC Sensation XL's large screen. You've got all your Gmail-centric options too, such as starring emails.

HTC's app offers a little more flexibility, making it easy to set up Exchange, Gmail, Yahoo! and Hotmail accounts, or to set one up yourself with your IMAP/POP setttings.

The Mail app is also simply designed, with your choice of account at the top, your inbox list in middle, and a choice of view options (Received, Thread, Favourites) at the bottom.

HTC sensation xl

Open an images and all media is displayed, though the way it reflows the message to fit the screen might mean that some images are slightly cut off. There are clear buttons from there to reply, forward and so on.

The sheer size of the HTC Sensations XL means there's lots of space for the keyboard – in fact, HTC has added on a set of curser arrow keys to the keyboard used on the HTC Sensation XE.

HTC sensation xl

While this is undoubtedly a handy addition if you're going to write something longer (especially since touch-based cursor control is pretty iffy), it does shunt the rest of the keyboard over slightly when typing in landscape orientation. We found that this meant we were hitting the full stop a lot instead of the space bar. It's something you can get used to, but was definitely annoying.

Typing in portrait we found great, although we found that typing on the far side of the keyboard was right at the limit of being comfortable for our large hands, so anyone with smaller fingers might not find it so good. The phone is a little difficult to balance comfortably in one hand, we have to say, but the keyboard is excellent.

HTC sensation xl

That's thanks in no small part to the great autocorrection system. It's excellent at stepping in to fix common mistakes, and it's easy to follow along with what it's doing thanks to the bar that comes up above the keyboard.

The Facebook chat app is pretty basic, offering just a simple text platform with no other amenities. However, it ties into Facebook as seamlessly as you'd hope, quickly letting you know who's online.

Friend Stream sort of serves a social network messaging app, but it's not a patch on what you can get elsewhere, particularly in BlackBerry OS 7 on the Bold 9900 or Torch 9810.

HTC sensation xl

For example, though it's fine with Twitter mentions and DMs (even if we're not keen with how sparse the interface is, hiding away all the useful options behind the Menu key), it lacks access to your Facebook messages. Though it does a reasonable job of aggregating your social network feeds, you're better of with the dedicated apps when it comes to messaging.