HTC Sensation XL - Super Sized Phone

Launch SRP: S$908

Introduction, Design and Features

Super Sized Sensation

HTC appears to be aggressively building up the Sensation portfolio with the debut of three Sensation-branded devices within four months. The first member of the Sensation family, the HTC Sensation arrived on our shores in July, sporting a dual-core 1.2 GHz processor, HTC Sense 3.0 interface and a 4.3-inch display. Three months later, the partnership with Dr. Dre spawned the second member, HTC Sensation XE which saw some splashes of red on its chassis and a speed bump to 1.5GHz. What does the third member, the HTC Sensation XL has that sets it apart? 

 HTC Sensation XL with Beats Audio

Key highlights of the HTC Sensation XL with Beats Audio

  • Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread OS with HTC Sense 3.5 interface
  • 4.7-inch S-LCD capacitive touchscreen / 480 x 800 pixels
  • 1.5GHz single-core processor 
  • 768MB RAM
  • Bundled HTC urBeats in-ear headphones by Dr Dre +
    Beats Audio Sound Profile
  • 8-megapixel camera with f/2.2, 28mm wide angle lens / dual-LED flash
  • 1600 mAh battery
  • 132.5 x 70.7 x 9.9mm
  • 162.5g

The HTC Sensation XL is the third member of the Sensation family. Is it as powerful as the other two Sensations?

White Beauty

Is white in trend now or is HTC taking a potshot at Apple for having problems manufacturing white iPhones? Whatever the case, the Sensation XL is not the first white phone from the company (HTC Radar is also clad in white), the sheer size of the device amplifies the pristine white chassis which makes it visually pleasing. It is not too exaggerating to claim that the Sensation XL can give the white Apple iPhone 4S a run for its money. The only concern is its tendency to be dirtied easily by stains and unwanted smudges, which are even more obvious on a white chassis.

HTC integrated a flashing LED light (left) for notifications such as missed calls, text messages, emails, reminders and alarms. On the right, you will find the 1.3-megapixel front camera for video calls.

The standard four navigation touch buttons (Home, Menu, Back and Search) are located just below the display. Unlike the red glow on the keys of the Sensation XE, the keys on the Sensation XL have a faint white glow.

You can find the microUSB port on the left of the HTC Sensation XL. It can be used for charging and data transfer.

On the top of the HTC Sensation XL is the 3.5mm audio jack and Power button. We would prefer a slightly bigger button that is raised as we had difficulties accessing the button at times.

The volume controls are represented by a single strip metal button. We liked the feel of the button as it is slightly raised, increasing its accessibility and ease of use.

To access the battery, you would have to depress the catch at the bottom center of the phone to remove the back cover.

The striking red logo of Beats by Dr. Dre stands out on the white chassis of the HTC Sensation XL. Near the top, you can find the 8-megapixel camera which is flanked by the dual-LED flash on the left and speaker grille on the right.

Removing the back cover of the phone is a cinch. Do note that the HTC Sensation XL has no memory card slot.The phone comes with internal storage of 16GB, with only 12GB of available storage space.

One of the most important factors when you are considering to get the HTC Sensation XL is no doubt the aspect of handling its large display. Having a 4.7-inch monster display is no kid's play. However, credit should be given to HTC for streamlining the Sensation XL to a mere 9.9mm thin, which most of us should have no problems fitting it into our pockets. As a matter of fact, we've even tried fitting a 5.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Note with success. Back to the HTC Sensation XL, its weight (162.5g) is also acceptable for a device of such dimensions. The problem arises only when you try navigating the screen with your fingers, especially with one hand only. Be sure to give it a try at your preferred retailer and not just gaze at the phone's huge screen.

The HTC Sensation XL feels comfortable in our hands (left) although we prefer a more secure grip along the sides. Stretching our fingers across the screen (center) horizontally is no issue for those with big hands but it would pose a problem for those with smaller hands. The challenge comes in only when you want to access apps that are at the top or bottom end of the screen (right).


HTC Sense 3.5 - Incremental Improvements 

First seen on the Rhyme, the HTC Sense 3.5 sees some incremental improvements over Sense 3.0. Among its new features are:

  • more HTC widgets
  • redesigned browser
  • cosmetic changes to Gallery
  • consolidated messaging in the People menu
  • streamlined Weather widget on the home screen
  • ability to remove home screen panels 

From left to right: removing home screen panels, a more streamlined Weather widget, redesigned Gallery

The browser has a slight redesign with the addition of a Back icon on the left. The People app (center) now combines all your messages (text, email and call history) into one tab instead of separate tabs in earlier Sense versions. A new widget, Notes (right) makes its debut on HTC Sense 3.5, which is in essence, the Timemark recording feature from the HTC Flyer.

Similar to its Beat-Audio sibling, the HTC Sensation XL comes bundled with a custom-made HTC urBeats earphones by Dr. Dre. It also has a remote control for easy music controls and answering calls.

 The custom-made HTC urbeats earphones by Dr. Dre sports white ear plugs to match the HTC Sensation XL.

The Good
Impressive image quality
Refined HTC Sense 3.5
Attractive white chassis
The Bad
Terrible battery life
Single-core processor