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

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  • User Reviews (7)
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HTC Sensation XL
  • HTC Sensation XL
  • HTC Sensation XL
  • HTC Sensation XL
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5
  • User Rating

    3.00 / 5 (of 7 Reviews)

Pros

  • Excellent design and build quality
  • Beats Audio and included Beats headphones
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • No expandable memory
  • Lower resolution screen than competitors
  • Exclusive to Vodafone

Bottom Line

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.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    TBA (AUD)

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 review
HTC Sensation XE preview

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

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Jermaine William

1

HTC wants to find out if 4.7 inches is to big for a smart phone. I think not however why on earth would you make such a device, obviously you want people to listen to music,watch movies etc, but you limit them in terms of external storage and ram in addition to putting a single core processor.I love HTC but you guys need to do better than that and to think I sold my previous phone to buy this without looking at the specifications was just waiting for a big screen. Disappointed in you HTC.

Tim

2

I totally disagree, If you bought this phone before checking it's specification, it is your fault, depending on what you use it for, i think it's a winner, I have an ipod touch that I use for music, You should be thinking of doing the same. Best Phone on the market.

bjn

3

tim your comments border on the ridiculous two devices in your pockets is too much hence why apple invented the iphone you nong jermaine is right more thought should have gone into this phone and noone likes itunes unless you like being ripped off so get with the times tim and put your music with your phone calls and stop sounding like an eighty year old man

mick

4

worst phone ever, screen stuffed up in two weeks, vodaphone replaced it with new one, turned itself off in middle of phone calls. Vodaphone replaced it, same problem turning itself off middle phone call. Never again, now have Samsung Galaxy express, no problems.

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Jamila

3.0

1

Pros
Quality headphones
Cons
Battery life, camera
• • •

Most phone features were pretty okay for me with the calls, messages etc. The camera however was a disappointment personally. The front camera isn't as good and if you wanted to use this phone for concerts, most of the lights from the stage are emphasised therefore blocking the people on stage. Photos at concerts again are mostly light and you have to keep still to get a good photo otherwise you get a blur, which is pretty hard to do when you're squished among thousands of people. Sound quality of videos were alright though. Most of the battery life is taken from the screen itself, I found. It's an ok phone, but I'd rather something else personally.

Shirley

2.5

2

Pros
Great Features
Cons
Fragile Screen
• • •

The screen is fragile compared to other large screen phones. If your clumsy, this phone's screen will shatter badly, a 300 dollar fee to fix.

petet

4.0

3

Pros
not jermaine
Cons
• • •

Not very smart jermaine.... why would u buy anything without looking at tye specs?!??

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