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HTC’s big-screened Sensation XL reviewed

By Leigh D. Stark | 12:41 pm 15/12/2011

HTC’s Sensation XL is a super-sized smartphone that, with its huge 4.7 inch screen and bundled set of of Beats headphones, is one of today’s most impressive multimedia handsets.


The second HTC phone to arrive wearing white livery – the other being the HTC ChaCha – it’s clear from the get-go that this handset is not targeting the productivity market, but the entertainment market – one more in tune with tunes, so to speak.

Physically larger than a regular phone, the Sensation XL features  a ginormous (in phone terms) 4.7 inch screen, the biggest display to feature on a phone to date.

Under that screen, HTC has packed in a 1.5GHz single-core processor and Adreno 205 graphics chip, making it more than capable of performing of most tasks you’re likely to throw at it: games, listening to music while browsing several webpage tabs, etc.

Continuing HTC’s tradition of equipping its phones with latest version of Android, the XL runs Google Android 2.3 “Gingerbread”.

Storage is limited to 16GB, with no microSD slot to increase the size of what’s on offer. Meanwhile, the memory is set to 768MB of RAM.

Much like the HTC Rhyme we checked out recently, the XL features HTC’s new Sense 3.5 overlay, offering animated weather, a tabbed menu layout for applications, improved web browser design, and support for the advanced camera functionality.

That camera offers 8 megapixels for still image capture, a dual-LED flash, and face detection. There hardly seems a reason to own a compact camera anymore. Video capture, however, is limited to 720p HD. A front-facing camera is also provided, offering a useful 1.3 megapixels for video calls and conferencing.

Connectivity-wise, it’s all pretty standard fare here: Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, GPS, and a microUSB port for transferring data and charging the handset.

Beats Solo headphones are included in the box.

While the XL’s size is certainly noteworthy, so is the inclusion of headphones with hi-fi cred. The Beats Solo packaged with the HTC Sensation are from the Beats by Dr Dre. range, a line-up of street-cred headphones co-developed by US cable brand Monster and uber-cool (apparently) DJ and producer, Dr Dre.

The Beats Solos come with a remote controller and in-line mic so you can switch tracks and speak on the phone mid-walk. The included Beats software is designed to improve audio quality from the phone.

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Price (RRP)

$No outright price; available from Vodafone

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Big screen; Quality headphones; Latest version of Android and HTC's Sense overlay; Feels excellent, even though it's the biggest phone we've ever seen;

Product Cons

Inadequate resolution for screen size; Word Suggestion feature works effectively only with HTC’s Trace technology, and Trace can be flakey;




Value for money



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