Review: HTC Sensation XL

We’ve spent a lot of time with HTC’s Beats equipped Sensation XE over the holidays, and now we’ve managed to snag its bigger brother, the HTC Sensation XL. Like the XE, the XL offers Beats Audio to the masses, along with a larger, 4.7-inch 480 x 800 pixel screen, albeit with a slower, single core Qualcomm 1.5 GHz Scorpion processor. Is the size difference enough of a motivation to grab one?

One of the most striking physical aspects of the Sensation XL is the overall size of the device. At around 132.5 x 70.7 x 9.9mm, it’s pretty substantial, though it’s not as big as the gigantic Galaxy Note we reviewed a few weeks back. The device sports an all white exterior with an aluminum back, with the relevant Beats Audio branding near the bottom. The volume rocker sits on the right side of the device, with the power button sitting flush against the chassis on top near the 3.5mm jack. Aside from the power/data micro-USB port, the left side of the device sits bare. All of the relevant Android-related navigation is done via the touch-sensitive buttons on the bottom of the device. Imaging duties are handled by an 8-megapixel camera (with dual LED flash) and a smaller, 1.3-megapixel camera at the front. Overall the device is pretty damn solid and feels like a premium device.

Like we said the Sensation XL is powered by a single core Qualcomm 1.5 GHz Scorpion processor, paired with 768 MB of RAM. This means that this particular device is slower than its smaller brethren, the Sensation XE. Worse still is that while the the screen is bigger at around 4.7-inches, the resolution is worse than the XE, which is around 540 x 960. It doesn’t mean that the XL has a bad display – far from it – its just that when compared to the competition (which at this point let’s be honest, it’s the Samsung Galaxy Note) which has a better 800 x 1280 pixel resolution, the XL kinda looks a bit flat.

The device is currently packed with Android 2.3 (with an ICS update coming soon, or so we hope) with the customary HTC Sense UI on top of it. Like we said before, HTC’s Sense UI adds a bunch of added functionality to your device, including the ability to locate your device if it’s ever misplaced, as well as locking and wiping it remotely (as long as you have an active data connection).

The XL also has Beats Audio inside, along with a pair of Beats Audio branded in-ear headphones. We’re not going to get into a more in-depth review about the headphones as you can check out what we said about it in our earlier review of the Sensation XE, suffice to say that they bring decent sound quality to the table (if a bit bassy). Aside from the color (white instead of red and black) the in-ear headphones included with the device is virtually identical to the one in the XE version.

Like any other Android device that passes through the gadgets office, the Sensation XL went through benchmark tests using AnTuTu. Unfortunately, this is where the Sensation XL’s shortcoming really shine through – as the device only posted a score of 3249, which frankly isn’t good. The device’s score only just beats the Google Nexus S, and falls far behind the established scores of its dual-core competitors like the LG Optimus 2X and the Samsung Galaxy S II.

If there’s a silver lining to the Sensation XL’s performance it’d be battery life. And though it pales in comparison performance-wise to its contemporaries, it certainly has more endurance. The Sensation XL lasted a bit more than the XE, lasting about a day and a quarter with moderate use. Then again, we weren’t really using the XL for anything more complicated than browsing, music and the occasional video clip as the XL simply is not as fast as its other competitors.

Probably one of the biggest things going for the XL is the size of the screen – at 4.7-inches, it’s pretty substantial. To be honest, we found that the 5.3-inch screen of the Note too big at times. The 4.7-inch screen of the XL is perfect for folks who want a smartphone with a bigger screen but aren’t keen on getting the absolutely huge 5.3-inch Note.

Which actually puts the XL in a precarious position. It’s certainly not the fastest device currently out in the market, and the Beats Audio branding may not do it for most people who have to swallow its almost Php 30,000 sticker price. But then again, its closest competitor, the Galaxy Note, isn’t something that you’d be able fit in your pocket (well, it’ll fit some pockets, but not all) and the huge 5.3-inch screen may not be for everyone, plus at over Php 30,000 it may be too expensive to justify. Of course, it all boils down to personal preference, and if you’re the type that wants to buy a large smartphone with Beats Audio, well, the Sensation XL might just be for you.


What’s Hot:

Large screen

Comes with Beats Audio in-ear headphones

Solidly built


What’s Not:

Single Core Processor

A bit expensive



The HTC Sensation XE appeals to a very select market, one that wants a large screen but are unwilling to go settle with a device that is more than five inches. If you’re the type that wants a smartphone that has a good set of cans and a large screen, then you might want to give the Sensation XL a try.





Tech Specs:

  • Operating System: Android 2.3 Gingerbread (ICS update to follow)
  • CPU: Qualcomm MSM8255 1.5 GHz Scorpion
  • LCD size: 4.7-inch S-LCD capacitive touchscreen, 480 x 800 resolution
  • Physical Dimensions: 132.5 x 70.7 x 9.9 mm
  • Weight: 162.5
  • Band: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, HSDPA 850 / 900 / 2100
  • Storage: 16GB