HTC Sensation XL with Beats audio review

Is the inclusion of Beats audio reason enough to buy the HTC's Sensation XL?

Reasons to buy
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    Beats Audio

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    Sleek Design

  • +

    Strong Camera

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Charging Port

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    Inbuilt Speaker

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    Macro Mode

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Beats audio, a 1.5GHz CPU, 8-megapixel camera with 720p HD video recording capabilities, the impressive specs of an impressive and XL Android handset

The third device in HTC's latest flagship range of Sensation branded smartphones the HTC Sensation XL is only the second handset to come brandishing the newly acquired Beats by Dr.Dre audio technology pairing the premium audio output with a host of other high-end innards.

HTC Sensation XL Design

XL by name, XL by nature, a 4.7-inch display means the latest Sensation is large in the hand and massively impressive on the eye thanks to its 800 x 480p WVGA touchscreen offering. Despite its size, 9.9mm thick and a somewhat hefty but well balanced 162grams in weight, the device is by no means obtrusive in the hand.

There are issues with its design, however, with a number of design characteristics detracting from the sleek lines and subtle curves. Whilst its smooth brushed aluminium back means that at times the handset feels slippery, offering little grip or security within the hand, giving the USB charging port a metal frame has drawn unnecessary and unwanted attention to the form afflicting hole.

The angular nature of the 3.5mm audio jack connector also makes the blemish on the smooth finish appear oversized again highlighting a design aspect that sound be overlooked.

HTC Sensation XL Features

Unlike its dual-core Sensation siblings the XL features a 1.5GHz Qualcomm single-core processor which, despite its lack of the in-trend second core, is supremely zippy and more than capable of handling any task thrown at it.

Paired with 768MB of RAM the XL's snappy CPU ensures that transitions between homescreens and menus are seamless whilst opening applications and switching between programs is covered off with little fuss or unnecessary fanfare.

Sticking with a good thing and making it only better the latest Sense UI lands on the Sensation XL and is even more impeccably premed than ever before. The usual gratifying transitions between homescreens are further bolstered by the ability to unlock the phone directly into desired applications meaning quick access to the likes of the camera app can ensure you don't miss out on that one chance snap.

On the camera and the XL's 8-megapixel offering with dual LED flash is a largely impressive number. Whilst the inbuilt snapper offers predominantly strong colour management even in challenging light conditions the sensor falters slightly with blacks, struggling to display the broad range of hues on show. Elsewhere issues with the macro mode abilities are overlooked thanks to the handset's rapid focus and fast shutter speeds.

HTC Sensation XL Audio

One of the key selling points of the XL, HTC's integration of Beats audio has been further expanded through the inclusion of the pair of urBeats in-ear headphones that come boxed with the Android 2.3 device. Asides from playing host to an abysmally low grade and plasticy inline mic and audio control panel the silicon tipped buds offer a premium audio experience with impressive noise isolation and deep, bass heavy tones.

Whilst the handset's inbuilt speaker is shockingly weak lacking higher range volume, poor clarity or any substation bass paired with the packed headphones and the XL is in a league of its own for smartphone sound quality.

Impressive from the off activating the optional Beats Audio enhancements offering provides an instant hit of premium audio output with impressive bass levels pairs with the usual high grade clarity and ability to pick out previously imperceptible notes associated to the Beats brand.

HTC Sensation XL Verdict

An all-round impressive offering from HTC the Sensation XL is a leader on the audio front a barely a half step behind the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S II, iPhone 4S and its dual-core siblings in terms of overall performance. The latest powerhouse to enter the smartphone fray, the brand associated with Beats audio is sure to see the XL become a massive hit and rightly so.