HTC Sensation XL Android phone
HTC Sensation XL review: Is a 4.7in screen too big for a smartphone? HTC is bravely attempting to find out
- Excellent design and build quality
- Beats Audio and included Beats headphones
- Good battery life
- No expandable memory
- Lower resolution screen than competitors
- Exclusive to Vodafone
The HTC Sensation XL is one of the best Android phones of the year. The lack of expandable memory is an issue, but if you can get your head around this, you're left with a phone that has excellent build quality, a huge screen and good battery life. The included Beats headphones only sweeten the deal.
Is a 4.7in screen just too big for a smartphone? HTC has bravely endeavoured to find out with the launch of the Sensation XL Android phone. Available exclusively through Vodafone in Australia, the Sensation XL is also one of the first HTC phones to benefit from the company's strategic partnership with the Beats By Dr. Dre audio company.
HTC Sensation XL: Design and display
The latest smartphones seem to be getting bigger, to the point where it might be difficult to distinguish them from a small tablet. 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. The HTC Sensation XL joins the bigger is better club with a 4.7in screen, the largest on any HTC smartphone to date.
Surprisingly, the HTC Sensation XL's 4.7in screen is not too big. That's because the screen stretches almost to the edges of the phone. The Sensation XL isn't much wider than phones like the Samsung Galaxy S II and the Motorola RAZR, both of which have smaller, 4.3in screens. It can feel uncomfortable to stretch your thumb to the top of sides of the screen if you are holding the Sensation XL with one hand, but the rounded edges makes it easy to grip.
The HTC Sensation XL's screen is large, but it has a lower resolution (800 x 480) compared to the company's original Sensation. This means text isn't as crisp as competing smartphones. However, those with poor eyesight will be pleased as it means text, icons and menu buttons appear significantly larger on the Sensation XL than they do on most other smartphones. The Sensation XL's display is a super LCD panel coated with Gorilla glass for scratch and crack resistance.
The HTC Sensation XL is only 9.9mm thick, so while it may be a large phone, it is certainly thin and light. The sleek, rounded edges and white finish make it one of the best looking HTC phones we've reviewed. It's also superbly constructed: the battery cover is made from aluminium and the external volume buttons and power key are well positioned and easy to press.
HTC Sensation XL: Beats Audio
The HTC Sensation XL is one of the first smartphones to feature Beats Audio qualities. It's a direct result of HTC's "strategic partnership" with the Beats By Dr. Dre audio company. When used with the included Beats headphones, HTC claims the Sensation XL uses a personalised sound profile that results in exceptional audio quality. The real value add here though isn't the Beats Audio profile: its the fact that the Sensation XL comes bundled with a limited edition version of the over-the-ear Beats Solo headphones. These premium headphones match the white colour of the Sensation XL handset and are valued at $299 if they were purchased separately.
Though the white and red Beats headphones may not be to all tastes, they are certainly a very nice inclusion. When combined with the Beats Audio sound profile, which does make a noticeable different on bass-heavy tracks, the Sensation XL is a great option for anyone who regularly listens to music on a mobile phone. Though not all music genres benefit from Beats Audio, we certainly noticed a big difference in music like rap, hip-hop and R&B.
There are three notable issues that detract from the Sensation XL's audio capabilities, however. The Beats Audio profile only works via the headphone jack and not the speakerphone, so the latter offers comparatively poor sound quality. Of more concern is that the Sensation XL only has 16GB of internal memory and no microSD card slot for extra storage. This means there is limited space to store your audio, a disappointing omission on a handset clearly designed for multimedia. Finally, the Beats Audio sound profile can't be edited or adjusted in the form of equaliser customisation. You can't adjust the bass or treble when listening with Beats enabled: the profile is bass-heavy and sometimes sounds like overkill on various genres of music, so it would have been nice to be able to tone it down.
Next page: Software, performance, battery life and availability
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Huawei Mate 9
Acer Swift 7
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Lexar® Portable SSD
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Google Daydream VR headset
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Surface Pro 4
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- Samsung unveils Bixby voice assistant for upcoming Galaxy S8
- BlackBerry readies a more secure version of the Samsung Galaxy S7
- Android device updates: Nougat rollout begins for the Moto Z Play
- ZTE pays US$892M settlement to US over illegal sales to Iran
- Google Assistant learns how to read texts as its prime-time rollout continues
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- LG G6: unboxing, hands on review and detail shots
- Samsung Galaxy A5 2017: unboxing, hands on review and detail shots
- Behind the scenes with Team Walkinshaw at V8 Supercars Melbourne 2017
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- FT.Net Solutions DeveloperSA
- TPDigital Business AnalystNSW
- FTC# (Full Stack) DeveloperNSW
- CCBusiness Analyst - Cyber Security EnvironmentACT
- FTICT Account Manager / ICT Client Services ManagerQLD
- CCMigration EngineerACT
- FTFinancial ERP Customer - Solution Consultant / System AccountantNSW
- CCBusiness AnalystNSW
- CCBusiness Analyst - General InsuranceNSW
- CCChange LeadNSW
- TPJava DeveloperWA
- CCSenior Business Analyst - Forecasting SASNSW
- FTFull Stack DeveloperWA
- CCICT Strategist and AdvisorNSW
- FTSenior IT Test AnalystNSW
- FTDatabase DeveloperQLD
- CCProject LeadNSW
- TPSenior Communications EngineerWA
- CCUnix/Linux Systems AdministratorNSW
- FTEnterprise ArchitectQLD
- FTProject CoordinatorVIC
- FTImplementation LeadVIC
- FTNV1 Cleared Software Engineer - Defence Projects - North Ryde areaNSW
- FTSOE Team LeaderNSW