HTC Sensation XL Android phone (preview)

HTC Sensation XL preview: When it comes to smartphones, how big is too big?

Smartphones seem to be getting bigger and bigger — Samsung's Galaxy Note has a whopping 5.3in screen that blurs the line between smartphone and tablet, while the recently announced Galaxy Nexus pushes the limits with a 4.65 in display. HTC has joined the bigger is better party with the Sensation XL, an Android phone with a giant 4.7in screen.

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The HTC Sensation XL is the third variation of the Sensation smartphone. Telstra launched the original HTC Sensation in July while HTC announced the Sensation XE — a slightly upgraded version of the original — only a few months later. To distinguish it from its siblings, the Sensation XL gets a coat of glossy white paint.

The HTC Sensation XL has a 4.7 inch screen, the largest on any HTC smartphone to date. The company claims it will provide "the best sound and sight you can get on any mobile device" but we do have concerns that 4.7in may be a little too big. That being said, we can't judge until we get our hands on the phone and according to the dimensions its only 9.9mm thick — pretty impressive for such a large phone. The screen itself is a Super LCD panel coated with Gorilla glass. It has a resolution of 480x800, so it can’t quite match up to the original Sensation's qHD resolution of 540x960.

The sound claim on HTC's marketing spiel is a reference to the Sensation XL's Beats Audio qualities. It's a direct result of HTC's strategic partnership with the Beats By Dr. Dre audio company: the Sensation XL is just the second HTC smartphone to include the feature. When used with the included Beats headphones, HTC claims the Sensation XL uses a personalised sound profile that will result in exceptional audio quality.

The HTC Sensation XL will come bundled with a limited edition version of the over-the-ear Beats headphones. These premium headphones match the white colour of the Sensation XL handset and are valued at $299, according to HTC.

The original Sensation and the Sensation XE both sport a dual-core processor but the Sensation XL only has a single-core, 1.5GHz processor. It also has a slightly smaller battery than the Sensation XE — 1600mAh instead of 1730mAh. A single-core processor should mean less battery drain, but we will be interested to see how the Sensation XE copes with that huge screen. HTC quotes up to 410 minutes of talk time and up to 460 hours of standby time.

Other features of the HTC Sensation XL include an 8-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash, 720p video recording, a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video calls, a healthy 16GB of internal memory (12.64GB of which is user accessible) and 768MB of RAM. Interestingly, the Sensation XL is a multi-band HSDPA phone, so it will work on all Australian 3G networks including Telstra's 850MHz network and the 900/2100MHz networks used by Optus and Vodafone.

The HTC Sensation XL will be available from 9 November exclusively through Vodafone. It will sell for $5 on Vodafone's $59 cap over 24 months (totalling $64 per month), or for $0 on Vodafone's $85 Infinite cap also over 24 months.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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