HTC Sensation XL review: HTC Sensation XL

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Colours really pop, especially when the photos are taken under natural light.
(Credit: CBSi)

We were impressed with the sharpness and the colour in these photos, and it's only when you inspect these pics up close that you can see any noisiness in the way it blends pixels to make the image.

The Sensation brothers take photos of a similar quality, although the XL has a wider angle lens.
(Credit: CBSi)

Video quality is the only letdown, if this is important to you. The 8-megapixel shooter transforms into an HD camera shooting at 720p@30fps, which is a nice spec to have in your smartphone, although, in reality, the videos we shot do flicker quite a bit during playback. It uses the phone's two microphones to record stereo audio while shooting, which, again, is nice to say you have, but the effect of this is hard to measure.

Compared to

Samsung Galaxy S II Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S HTC Sensation XL Motorola Razr
Android 2.3 with TouchWiz Android 2.3 Android 2.3.5 with HTC Sense Android 2.3.5
4.3-inch
480x800 pixels
4.2-inch
480x800 pixels
4.7-inch
480x800 pixels
4.3-inch
540x960 pixels
Samsung Exynos, dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm, 1.4GHz Qualcomm, 1.5GHz TI OMAP, dual-core 1.2GHz
1GB RAM 512MB RAM 768MB RAM 1GB RAM
16GB storage 9GB storage 16GB storage 8GB storage

Beats Audio

Inside the box with the Sensation XL handset is something much more exciting than just the standard USB cable and charging pack; you also get a pair of over-the-ear Beats Audio Solo headphones, worth RRP AU$299 — not a bad added extra. We've been using these cans almost as much as we've been using the phone itself, and we've been pretty impressed with the quality of the sound we've gotten out of them so far.

The only drawback is that the headphones sound best when Beats Audio software is activated on the phone, and this only happens when you launch the default music player. If you prefer a third-party music player, like DoubleTwist, or if you're playing games with headphones on, the audio won't be as impressive. In fact, we've found that the sound without the Beats equaliser is a bit muddy, with mid tones being crushed by bass-heavy amplification.

Overall

As it did with the Desire HD this time last year, HTC proves again that bigger is better. The 4.7-inch display makes everything bigger, easier to touch and better to read, without the screen showing its pixels and looking fuzzy. The camera is a corker, and the everyday user experience is excellent.

The Beats Audio Solo headphones are also good if you're committed to using the default HTC Sense music player, but it is a shame that the Beats Audio Profile isn't just a switch that you can flick on in the menus.

We also hope to see HTC embracing multimedia a little differently next year. Out of the box, the Sensation XL only supports a handful of media codecs, and to connect the handset to your TV you'll need to pay about AU$50 to buy a separate MHL adapter, when this same functionality is included out of the box with handsets from Motorola and Sony Ericsson.