HTC Sensation XL review

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

HTC Sensation XL
The HTC Sensation XL is the latest iPhone-rivalling Android smartphone from HTC

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Unlike the HTC Sensation and Sensation XE, the HTC Sensation XL comes with the top-of-the-line HTC Sense 3.5 interface running on top Android 2.3. Its two Sensation brothers are stuck merely with Sense 3.0.

The changes are minimal in Sense 3.5, we must admit, but it's the little additions and tweaks that keep HTC ahead of the game as much as the big renovations.

HTC sensation xl

You still get the seven Home screens, for example, and these can be customised with a plethora of widgets, apps, shortcuts and more, but you can now also choose to have fewer than seven by pinching out into Leap View and dragging a screen to the bottom. You can't have more than seven, still, but it's nice to be able to streamline.

HTC sensation xl

HTC has been showing off a version of Sense 3.5 with the curved buttons as the bottom traded for two small, unobtrusive round buttons for opening your full apps list or bringing up the phone, but this hasn't made it into the Sensation XL – it's the old style here, which means it matches its Sensation brothers.

One minor but noticeable change on the HTC Sensation XL is that the default weather widget has been scaled back to something smaller than what HTC fans are used to. The old style is still there, though, hidden away in the Personalize menu.

Flicking between the Home screens is generally very smooth. We did find it a bit quirky with touch recognition here, though. We're confident it's not the touchscreen itself, because it's fine everywhere else, but seems to be the phone not quite keeping up with itself.

It's like it's so busy keeping the 3D transitions whizzy, it forgets to keep an eye on what your finger's doing. While scrolling from Home screen to Home screen, you can suddenly find that you've been kicked out to Leap View, or that it thinks you've flicked far further than you have, so it spins the Home screen wheel wildly while you watch helplessly.

Certainly, it doesn't happen 100 per cent of the time, but it's often enough to concern us – particularly since Sense is usually so good. Granted, if you tend to live in apps, you'll probably won't encounter it often at all, but those who live in their widgets will find that crops up surprisingly often.

The Lock screen features HTC's ring design for quick access to certain features. There are icons for Phone, Mail, Camera and Messages be default, and by dragging any of them down into the ring (which actually comes out to meet you halfway, which is a nice touch) you can unlock the phone straight to that app if you've got a notification for it that needs seeing to, or if you want to get snapping quickly. To just unlock the phone, you simply drag the ring up.

HTC sensation xl

Notifications are still rather limited in the lock screen, appearing only in the status bar at the top for the most part, but at least you can change what the four apps at the bottom are, if you're a Twitter fiend, for instance, or if you use the Gmail app instead of HTC's Mail app.

Notifications in the main haven't really changed. Pull down from the top to get the notifications tray with lists of what's come in, with a multitasking bar at the top (you can also access an app switcher by holding the Home button).

There's a tab here to switch to a panel that offers access to some quick settings, same as before, and music playback buttons also appear here when they're in use.

Tap the Apps button on the bottom ribbon from any Home screen to get to your full apps list, which is scrolled through in pages. The HTC Sensation XL comes with loads preloaded, and the Market isn't far away for topping up with even more.