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December 10, 2011

HTC Sensation XL with Beats Audio Review

In the world of smartphones, bigger is better — and that’s what HTC wants you to think when you see the new Sensation XL. To top it all, they’ve also added Beats Audio into the ring. Check out our full review of the HTC Sensation XL after the break.

The Sensation brand under the HTC line-up is growing. From the original HTC Sensation to the improved Sensation XE that came first with Beats Audio and then this bigger Sensation XL (I assume the XL means extra-large). At 4.7-inch, the display on the Sensation XL is among the largest we’ve seen — technically the 3rd one after the 5.3″ of the Galaxy Note and the 5″ of the Dell Streak.

Nevertheless, compared to the usual 4.3-inchers in the market, the display of the Sensation XL isn’t that much larger on the hands. It’s still comfortable to hold with one hand and fairly easy to navigate (typing, scrolling thru the screen or making calls) without being forced to use both hands at the same time (it’s still somewhat relative to the size of your hands though).

The pearly-white finish of the Sensation XL makes it stand out and is easily spotted from afar. The rounded edges and soft corners makes it seem thinner than it actually is at 9.9mm. It’s got a bit of a heft to it too.

I just can’t get over the fact that they painted this handset in pure white with silver accent that wraps around to the back cover. This isn’t the first white handset from HTC but I have this feeling color will fade or be worn-out in time turning it to beige or some dirty-white tone (I’ve seen this happen in older HTC handsets).

There’s not much physical buttons one the Sensation XL — there’s a large power button at the top (along with the 3.5mm audio port), a long strip of metal button on the right for the volume rocker and the micro-USB port on the left side for charging and data transfer. There’s no dedicated camera button here if you’re looking for one.

The front side has a large piece of glass for the display and it almost covers the entire space, leaving very little for the bezel and touch-panel menu at the bottom. Those back-lit touch panel provides the usual Android Menus — Home, Settings, Back and Search. The glass display feels hard, thick and almost bleeds toward the edges of the handset.

The back panel is a combination of matte-silver finish and white, smooth plastic with a rubbery texture. The 8-megapixel camera is on the top corner and is flanked by the dual-LED flash and the phone speaker.

At the bottom corner is a huge Beats logo on a white background. At the bottom side is the other microphone (the mic on the top is for noise-cancellation).

Again, the Super LCD display looks gorgeous and the screen is bright, crisp and great contrast. What got me disappointed is that the screen resolution is just 480 x 800 pixels giving it a pixel-per-inch density of only 199. To think that this is a 4.7-inch handset, you’d wonder why they didn’t even carry over the 540×960 from the original 4.3″ Sensation.

The HTC Sensation XL is definitely an up-sized version of their line-up except for the hardware configuration — it’s still uses a single-core processor and an older graphics chip (same as the year-old HTC Desire HD).

It is possible HTC was positioning the Sensation XL as an upgrade to the Desire HD, polishing it a bit and adding a some fancy accessories like the Beats Audio.

HTC Sensation XL with Beats Audio X315e specs:
4.7-inch S-LCD display @ 480×800 pixels
1.5GHz single-core Scorpion processor
Adreno 205 GPU, Qualcomm MSM8255 chipset
16GB internal storage
768MB RAM
3G / HSDPA 14.4Mbps
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA
Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP
8MP autofocus camera with dual-LED flash
720p video recording
1.3MP front-facing camera
Li-Ion 1600mAh battery
Beats Audio
Beats in-ear earphones
GPS with A-GPS support
HTC Sensation 3.5
Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread

The Quadrant Standard score is 1692 which isn’t bad for a single-core processor. There’s ample memory so multi-tasking is smooth and apps load fairly quick. Performance is actually not any different from the original Sensation and the Sensation XE almost 90% of the time unless of course you’re just using the handset on heavy-duty stuff (like full HD 1080p decoding).

HTC’s new angle lately has been focused on pairing every high-end smartphone with Beats by Dr. Dre. This makes the package look more premium to buyers (plus the cool factor too).

In this case, the Sensation XL comes with a Monster iBeats in-ear earphones. Enabling Beats Sound on the handset and plugging in the iBeats works like a charm in the sound department — great bass, crisp audio, nice even range and sound quality in the entire volume spectrum.

The 8-megapixel camera on the Sensation XL is probably the best camera on any HTC camera phone I’ve ever tried (and I think I’ve tried almost all of the HTC smartphones lately). Really quick shutter speeds, even exposure and contract and sharp images especially on good lighting conditions.

In low-light environments, the shots could get a bit blurry (once you zoom in) but never pixelated or noisy. Note: Thumbnails are linked to the raw images with file sizes up to 2Mb each.

Video recording is only up to 720p HD (blame the single processor?) but is still clear and crisp at 24fps with minimal drop frames. There’s some sort of sharpening filter done on the recorded videos here.

Battery life on this handset is almost the same as under-whelming as the other Sensation handsets before it. With a rating of 1600mAh, you’d be glad if you can last a full day using this unit actively.

What’s really surprising with the Sensation XL is the 16GB internal storage that’s never been seen in any HTC smartphones before. The Sensation XE only had 4GB and the original Sensation only had 1GB. The catch though is that there’s no microSD card expansion on this handset (I’m actually surprised, myself!).

The Sensation XL has its fair share of hits and misses — the low screen resolution, poor battery life and old chipset that will turn off a number of HTC users. The extra-large screen, Monster iBeats and solid design comes to the rescue. That pearl white color makes it look more attractive too.

The HTC Sensation XL has a suggested retail price of Php32,500 and comes with a free Monster iBeats (priced at Php7,000 when sold separately) so it’s not a bad deal at all (that leaves the XL at Php25,500 without the iBeats).

Disclosure: We got this review unit from Top Electronics. Check out their online store for HTC handsets here.

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25 Responses to “HTC Sensation XL with Beats Audio Review”

  1. ocommon says:

    Mahal naman para sa single core smartphone..

  2. Mark Llego
    Twitter: llegomark
    says:

    thank you so much for the info.. nice job ^_^

  3. Mino
    Twitter: minomarimat
    says:

    I’m pretty damn sure, more than half of its price came from the Beats earbuds. Yes?

  4. JmBalicano
    Twitter: JMBalicano
    says:

    Is the low resolution for the large screen really all that noticeable in real life usage? Contemplating getting a Galaxy Note, but I’m worried about it fitting in my pocket, so I’m thinking about getting the XL instead.

  5. paolo
    Twitter: OdeiraOloap
    says:

    They based the Sensation XL on the HTC Titan, Windows Phone Mango device. Hence the 1.5Ghz Qualcomm processor (Windows Phone OS *currently* does not need dual core tech, sufficient na ang single core for the very fast performance of the entire Os.) and the WVGA 480×800 display.

    On Windows Phone (Titan), the specs are more than sufficient for the very smooth operation of the phone.

    On Android (Sensation XL), however, hindi maganda ang magiging end result. Lag. Low pixel density. Somewhat slow operation ng phone (apparently because of the HTC Sense interface innit, ss supposed to the Metro UI *standard issue* sa Titan and other WP devices.)

    That said, the Beats Audio tech is a very nice feature on this phone. :D

  6. Kermit says:

    Overpriced masyado to.

    I never own a beats headset. Why is it priced so high? I mean, it’s just something you put on your ears to listen to music. What’s the difference?

    • manuel says:

      Try one, then ikaw na mismo magsasabi kung bakit mahal ang Beats. Got two beats over-ear headphones here, Solo HD and Studio. Even if you’re not an audiophile you can easily say the difference between the sound quality of Beats from other brands. nailalabas nya ung mga tunog na di nyo naririnig sa ibang headphones. Plus the coolness of the Beats itself! :)

  7. vinz says:

    @kermit: I own beats by dre studio headphone and it is really amazing how it makes your listening like you’re inside the club (upbeat songs) it has an amplifier so it pumps up the volume. the bass is like there’s a horse kicking inside the earcups. But you need to adjust the equalizer for you to experience this. if you own an acer,toshiba,dell laptop and etc, configure first the equalizer otherwise its useless. but once you raise the bass of the equalizer you’ll gonna say this expensive beats by dre is really worth it.

    Android phones have substandard audio quality so don’t pair the beats by dre studio with it.(i dont know with the ibeats for HTC,I haven’t tried it yet). However, the iphone 4 and the ipod touch is definitely a YES! coz it will definitely vibrate your skull! Iphone 4s have a lower volume though so I can’t appreciate it.

  8. Jhay says:

    Tempting! How’s the OS performs on this device? Anyway, good deal with the iBeats. Gotta check out Kimstore! :D

  9. TECHIHUNT says:

    Amazing phone, fantastic Sense 3.5
    interface.

  10. Henry
    Twitter: OurPhilippines
    says:

    Great review for this phone! The phone price is still a bit too high though.

  11. Jhay says:

    Hi Yuga, kinda confuse here, with the price of 25k w/o the iBeats, do I get 16gb internal storage? Kasi kay Kimstore they sell it for about 27k 8GB. TIA

  12. bebskytel
    Twitter: teystweet
    says:

    free on SMART’s all in data plan 2000

  13. jimer says:

    Is this the latest? I believe HTC released a sensation xe with beats version with a dual core 1.5ghz processor with 8g memory for only 27800 cash.

  14. Karlo says:

    Hello guys, available ba din dito sa Philippines yung Limited Edition nito? Yung Solo Bundle? Arghh gusto ko yun please answer me po! And how much. mas ok yung headphones kesa headset eh :))

  15. Karlo says:

    Hello guys, available ba din dito sa Philippines yung Limited Edition nito? Yung Solo Bundle? Arghh gusto ko yun please answer me po! And how much. mas ok yung headphones kesa headset eh :)) Sana may sumagot T.T

    • manuel says:

      According to HTC, the Sensation XL + Beats Solo package is only available in some parts of Europe. The rest would be the Sensation XL + iBeats. But still it is possible to have one because there are internet-based sellers that offers that package. :)

  16. pcso says:

    bakit hindi nalang nilang ginawang dual core ang proc nito? ganda sana kaso old hardware naman

  17. manuel says:

    maybe because once na gawin din nilang dual-core ang XL, its sibling XE would be covered by its shadow and di na mapapansin ng mga tao. that’s why its a single-core, so may choice ang customers which should they take. a single-core with a larger screen (not qHD) and better camera, or a dual-core with a better qHD screen resolution and speaker sound. IMHO lang po. :)

    • pcso says:

      oo nga negosyo talaga hindi talga nila ibibigay ang lahat lahat gusto nila may pag pilian ang tao kahit na kaya naman nilang gandahan ang specs ng isang unit sa murang halaga hindi parin nila ginagawa

  18. ronald says:

    Earlier today i upgraded via wi-fi my htc sensation xl to ics. the file size is 208MB. Now, both my xe and xl have ics.

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