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.
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HTC Sensation XL: Software and performance
The HTC Sensation XL runs the Android 2.3 'Gingerbread' operating system, but its HTC's Sense UI overlay that's the real star of the show. The latest version is Sense 3.5 and once again HTC has added some minor features, mostly centered around the look and feel.
You can remove home screens on the HTC Sensation XL if you don't use them (there are seven by default) and the lock screen comes with four customisable shortcuts, along with the ability to chose clock, stocks, weather, friend stream or a photo album to display in the centre of the screen. The Sensation XL also makes use of a 3D rotating effect when scrolling between home screens, and has an updated weather app with new animations and sounds: thankfully, the latter can be turned off. Existing Sense features like your eight most recently opened applications, quick settings toggles and a link to all phone settings all remain at the top of the notifications panel.
HTC has also added some enhancements to the camera app: you can now snap images with face recognition and burst mode. You can also use live effects to see the effect on the screen before the photo is taken. The camera itself has been upgraded compared to previous HTC models: it has a backside-illuminated sensor that promises better low light photos. We found the dual-LED flash washed out many of our photos, but colour reproduction is a highlight. The camera app starts almost instantly and is quick to snap successive photos. It also doubles as a 720p video recorder.
The HTC Sensation XL may only have a single-core, 1.5GHz processor but performance is excellent: the XL is a fast and slick phone and the software is responsive. As it's a Sense 3.5 Android phone, the HTC Sensation XL will also work with the company's new HTC Sync software. It's now compatible with Macs for the first time and will sync music playlists from iTunes, along with your contacts, calendar, photos, documents, videos and Web browser bookmarks.
HTC Sensation XL: Battery life and availability
The HTC Sensation XL's single-core processor seems to have done wonders for its battery life. Its one of the best performing Android phones in this area: the phone easily lasts a full day and will often stretch into a day and a half with light use. Considering the battery is powering a 4.7in screen, this is a very impressive result.
The HTC Sensation XL is available exclusively through Vodafone for $5 on Vodafone's $59 cap over 24 months (totalling $64 per month), or for $0 on Vodafone's $85 Infinite cap over 24 months.
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GGG Evaluation Team
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