HTC Sensation XL Android phone
HTC Sensation XL review: Is a 4.7in screen too big for a smartphone? HTC is bravely attempting to find out
- Excellent design and build quality
- Beats Audio and included Beats headphones
- Good battery life
- No expandable memory
- Lower resolution screen than competitors
- Exclusive to Vodafone
The HTC Sensation XL is one of the best Android phones of the year. The lack of expandable memory is an issue, but if you can get your head around this, you're left with a phone that has excellent build quality, a huge screen and good battery life. The included Beats headphones only sweeten the deal.
Best Deals (Selling at 2 stores)
Is a 4.7in screen just too big for a smartphone? HTC has bravely endeavoured to find out with the launch of the Sensation XL Android phone. Available exclusively through Vodafone in Australia, the Sensation XL is also one of the first HTC phones to benefit from the company's strategic partnership with the Beats By Dr. Dre audio company.
HTC Sensation XL: Design and display
The latest smartphones seem to be getting bigger, to the point where it might be difficult to distinguish them from a small tablet. Samsung's Galaxy Note has a whopping 5.3in screen that blurs the line between smartphone and tablet, while the recently announced Galaxy Nexus pushes the limits with a 4.65 in display. The HTC Sensation XL joins the bigger is better club with a 4.7in screen, the largest on any HTC smartphone to date.
Surprisingly, the HTC Sensation XL's 4.7in screen is not too big. That's because the screen stretches almost to the edges of the phone. The Sensation XL isn't much wider than phones like the Samsung Galaxy S II and the Motorola RAZR, both of which have smaller, 4.3in screens. It can feel uncomfortable to stretch your thumb to the top of sides of the screen if you are holding the Sensation XL with one hand, but the rounded edges makes it easy to grip.
The HTC Sensation XL's screen is large, but it has a lower resolution (800 x 480) compared to the company's original Sensation. This means text isn't as crisp as competing smartphones. However, those with poor eyesight will be pleased as it means text, icons and menu buttons appear significantly larger on the Sensation XL than they do on most other smartphones. The Sensation XL's display is a super LCD panel coated with Gorilla glass for scratch and crack resistance.
The HTC Sensation XL is only 9.9mm thick, so while it may be a large phone, it is certainly thin and light. The sleek, rounded edges and white finish make it one of the best looking HTC phones we've reviewed. It's also superbly constructed: the battery cover is made from aluminium and the external volume buttons and power key are well positioned and easy to press.
HTC Sensation XL: Beats Audio
The HTC Sensation XL is one of the first smartphones to feature Beats Audio qualities. It's a direct result of HTC's "strategic partnership" with the Beats By Dr. Dre audio company. When used with the included Beats headphones, HTC claims the Sensation XL uses a personalised sound profile that results in exceptional audio quality. The real value add here though isn't the Beats Audio profile: its the fact that the Sensation XL comes bundled with a limited edition version of the over-the-ear Beats Solo headphones. These premium headphones match the white colour of the Sensation XL handset and are valued at $299 if they were purchased separately.
Though the white and red Beats headphones may not be to all tastes, they are certainly a very nice inclusion. When combined with the Beats Audio sound profile, which does make a noticeable different on bass-heavy tracks, the Sensation XL is a great option for anyone who regularly listens to music on a mobile phone. Though not all music genres benefit from Beats Audio, we certainly noticed a big difference in music like rap, hip-hop and R&B.
There are three notable issues that detract from the Sensation XL's audio capabilities, however. The Beats Audio profile only works via the headphone jack and not the speakerphone, so the latter offers comparatively poor sound quality. Of more concern is that the Sensation XL only has 16GB of internal memory and no microSD card slot for extra storage. This means there is limited space to store your audio, a disappointing omission on a handset clearly designed for multimedia. Finally, the Beats Audio sound profile can't be edited or adjusted in the form of equaliser customisation. You can't adjust the bass or treble when listening with Beats enabled: the profile is bass-heavy and sometimes sounds like overkill on various genres of music, so it would have been nice to be able to tone it down.
Next page: Software, performance, battery life and availability
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: Is the world ready for a 4K phone?
- 2 D-Link Taipan AC3200 Ultra tri-band modem-router review
- 3 Dell XPS 13 (2016) review: Making the very best Ultrabook
- 4 Microsoft Surface Book review: The verdict on Microsoft's first notebook
- 5 Telstra Wi-Fi 4GX Advanced III review: Testing the world's first 600Mbps wireless hotspot
Best Deals on PC World
Latest News Articles
- This sticker can wirelessly charge your smartphone or tablet
- Microsoft kills off another chunk of its smartphone activities; lays off 1850 staff
- Google's modular smartphone project sacrificed its original vision to move forward
- Android device updates: HTC 10 is getting stability fixes and preview 3 is headed to Android N
- Google I/O 2016: Every Android app – really – is coming to Chrome
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- FTSenior Developer (.Net)SA
- FTOPEN_ASAP_Network Security AdministratorACT
- CC12 months + 2x12 months | $80/hr | NV1 Project Manager | Large govt departmentACT
- CCProject Manager PMP RMP certified - NV1ACT
- CCApplication Server AdminACT
- CCBusiness Analyst, LifeNSW
- CCIT Assistant (Office Automation/Windows) 160517/ITA/884Asia
- FTStibo PIM Consultant - Permanent OpportunityNSW
- FTBI / Business Intelligence Designer / ArchitectNSW
- CCIT Program ManagerACT
- FTMid-Level Full-Stack Java DeveloperVIC
- CCBI/Information/Data/Solution ArchitectNSW
- CCInfrastructure and Cloud Project ManagerVIC
- CCTechnology Lead / Senior Developer - Java (Urgent)NSW
- CCNetwork Consultant - Bandwidth Assessment | 3 month contract into Defence | NV1+ACT
- CCSenior Business Analyst, Contributions TaxNSW
- CCInteractional Designer-Adobe Creative Cloud, SketchNSW
- CCDeployment Engineer / IT AuditorQLD
- CCSystems Engineer - NV2ACT
- CCSoftware DevelopersACT
- FTGraduate IT Support OfficerNSW
- CCMultiple Oracle Fusion SOA/BPEL Developer OpportunitiesVIC
- FTDelivery Lead- AWSNSW
- CCSkilled Sitecore / .NET DeveloperNSW
- CCICT Fleet and Equipment Audit ResourcesSA