HTC Sensation XE - Rock to the Beat

Launch SRP: S$868

Multimedia, Battery Performance & Conclusion

Multimedia Performance

The Sensation XE, like its top-end peers, comes armed with an 8-megapixel sensor and a pair of LED flash. This setup is similarly found on the Sensation, and unsurprisingly, the results are pretty much the same here. Images turned out average at best; wonky white balancing issues, flat color reproduction and loss of details are revisiting issues on the device. Images tend to veer towards having a high level of noise when it comes to night photography.


Apart from its almost below average imaging performance, the phone's 4.3-inch qHD S-LCD screen is optimal for watching videos and indulging in games as colors were brilliantly reproduced with crisp details. Of course, the Sensation XE comes with a unique audio edge as mentioned,  and this is shown not only in the bundled HTC urBeats in-ear headphones but also in the pre-installed music player. The Beats Audio sound profile can be easily found under the Sound Enhancing mode. How did these additions fare? Let's find out:-



Generally speaking, the  HTC urBeats in-ear headphones by Dr Dre are capable of a strong and punchy response on their own. Unfortunately, the monitors can be a little overwhelming from the mid to lower frequencies with slight clouding tendencies to the treble range. The highs are sterile enough on tracks with minimal bass, but lacks a definitive crispness especially with percussive instruments. The HTC Sensation XE also comes with a Beats Audio optimizer feature which we believe was tuned for bass-heads mostly - unsurprisingly of course, since the Dr Dre line is well-known for its bass.

The Sensation XE comes preloaded with Sense 3.0 UI (yes, and not the latest Sense 3.5 UI that is found on the newly-released HTC Rhyme and HTC Explorer) that is found on both HTC Flyer and HTC Sensation.

Battery Performance

The final test we performed on the Sensation XE was to check on its battery stamina with a selected group of devices chosen based on their similarities across battery capacities, display sizes, resolution and processing power. Our testing methodology involves test video with a 480 x 800 pixels resolution looping under the following conditions:

  • Screen brightness and volume at 100%
     
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connection active
     
  • Constant data stream via email and Twitter

To ascertain how well its dual-core processor will handle its power management and battery mileage, we compared it to other similar dual-core Android devices such as the HTC Sensation, Samsung Galaxy S II, and Motorola Atrix.

Specifications/Device HTC Sensation XE HTC Sensation Samsung Galaxy S II Motorola Atrix
Processor
  • Dual-core 1.5GHz
  • Dual-core 1.2GHz
  • Dual-core 1.2GHz
  • Dual-core 1GHz
Display Size
  • 4.3-inch
  • 4.3-inch
  • 4.27-inch
  • 4.0-inch
Display Type
  • S-LCD
  • S-LCD
  • Super AMOLED Plus
  • TFT-LCD
Display Resolution
  • 540 x 960 pixels
  • 540 x 960 pixels
  • 480 x 800 pixels
  • 540 x 960 pixels
Dimensions
  • 126.1 x 65.4 x
    11.3 mm
  • 126.1 x 65.4 x 11.3 mm
  • 125.3 x 66.1 x 8.5 mm
  • 117.8 x 63.5 x 11 mm
Weight
  • 151g
  • 148g
  • 116g
  • 135g
Battery
  • 1730mAh
  • 1520mAh
  • 1650mAh
  • 1930mAh

 


 

As listed in the specifications, the HTC Sensation XE comes with a higher 1730mAh battery capacity, slightly higher than the original Sensation's 1520mAh. This results in a 26-minute advantage as shown in our battery test, which isn't exactly spectacular. The smartphone's battery life is still roughly half of the Samsung Galaxy S II, which is unsurprising, given that the smartphone remains greatly unchanged from its predecessor. The Sensation XE's higher battery capacity offsets its higher level of power consumption due to its more powerful (hence, more battery-consuming) 1.5GHz dual-core processor which explains why its power consumption is slightly higher at 1.56W compared to the Sensation. Due to its higher battery life and almost identical volume and weight (the Sensation XE is only 3g heavier than the Sensation), the smartphone gains an upper hand over its predecessor in the portability index. However, comparing it to the other dual-core smartphones in the line-up, the Sensation XE falls short like the Sensation due to its heavier body and bigger girth.

While rationing the phone for normal day-to-day operations, the phone could last for at least a full working day.
 

Conclusion - Sensory Beats

The Sensation performed admirably in our review as we mentioned in the opening lines of this review - it's a capable, value for money high-end smartphone that comes with a perfect balance between features and performance. With the exception of its underwhelming battery performance, we would readily recommend it to anyone needing a large touchscreen dual-core smartphone that has all the features you'll ever need. The same can definitely be said of the Sensation XE, which comes with an even more powerful processor, higher battery life and audio perks like free urBeats in-ears and Beats Audio software. However, like the recently reviewed Sony Ericsson Arc S, the Sensation XE isn't what we would call a great upgrade from the original Sensation. More accurately, it's just a HTC Sensation with added frills to help sustain its value proposition since the benchmark results and its battery performance deviate only slightly from its original form. However, if you are looking to get the Sensation, skip it and go straight for the newer Sensation XE. Priced at just S$30 more (with an SRP of S$868), you definitely get more bang for buck (plus, it saves you the effort and cash spent on sourcing out for a capable pair of in-ear headphones). While its bass-crazy sound profile might not be for everyone, it can be easily disabled as shown above. 

The Sensation XE still remains a capable smartphone at heart especially if you consider the powerful hardware and software that's available (the attractive and smart HTC Sense 3.0 UI) on it. However, if you are looking for a lighter phone with a better battery life, your best bet will be the Samsung Galaxy S II, followed by the Motorola Atrix or the upcoming iPhone 4S.

9.0
Design
8.5
Features
9
User-Friendliness
9
Performance
8.5
Value
9
The Good
Solid build quality and funky exterior
Bundled Audio Beats in-ears
Smooth performance
Affordable
The Bad
Low battery mileage
Lack of portability due to weight
Average imaging quality