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HTC Sensation XL - Music, Camera and Battery Life

By Edward Chester



Our Score:


Of course, what this handset is really all about is its music playback, and aside from the mediocre music app, the experience is rather good. As well as the aforementioned music player in the notifications drop down, you can also access the player from the lock screen, so it's easy to pause your music or skip a track.

Part of the reason this phone makes a good audiological impression is the included Dr Dre Beats Audio earphones, which are branded urBeats. Now these aren't to our tastes at all as they blast out far too much bass, making everything sound a bit muffled, but if you're a fan of big booming bass – or more specifically the Beats Audio sound – then you'll love them.

Each earpiece is made from metal and does feel reassuringly solid. They're also stylish thanks to a muted combination of gun metal grey and black, and of course the signature red cable. They also come with an inline remote and microphone that allows you to take a call, play/pause music and skip back and forward between tracks. You can also call the last number you entered, which is a mildly useful addition but is a bit too easy to accidently activate.

A version including the more premium Beats headphones will also be available

When you plug in the Beats, or any other, headphones, the Beats audio mode is activated. This applies an EQ setting that boosts the high-end and mid-range to get the best out of the Beats earphones and give the audio a more dynamic sound, which it indeed does. However, we can't help but feel that if the earphones were any good in the first place, they shouldn't need EQing? Nonetheless, as we say, if you're a fan of the Beats bass heavy sound you should be happy.

HTC Sensation XL 8

One area we weren't expecting the XL to excel in was photography. HTC doesn't have a great track record with the cameras on its phones, as the ultimate image quality tended to be worse than other rivals with the same core specs. However, recent models have improved greatly and the 8 megapixel shooter on this phone is very good. Results are crisp and colourful and properly exposed, while the twin LED flash really helps out in the dark. They're certainly not a new benchmark for quality but so long as you don't zoom in too much they're satisfactory.

HTC Sensation XL

HTC Sensation XL 1

What makes the camera quite so nice to use, though, is the interface. You've got a host of settings including things like ISO level and white balance, and there are all sorts of fun filters you can apply to your photos in real time. Once you've taken your shot you can then edit it, applying sharpening and colour enhancement filters, cropping it and rotating it.

HTC Sensation XL

Overall image quality isn't spectacular but about average

HTC Sensation XL

The depth of field mode allows you to pick out a subject from the world around it.

HTC Sensation XL

Various fun effects are available to add some fun to your snaps.

Video is also well catered for. The 1080p footage packs in the detail and comes across smooth and very watchable, while again you can apply real time filters for some fun effects. You can also top and tail (trim) your footage to get rid of shaky bits at the start and end, and it's a cinch to then share it via facebook, youtube, dropbox and many other services.

HTC Sensation XL 2

Coming back to the real basics, we found the phone to deliver good call quality, with the earpiece being loud enough and the noise cancelling microphone delivering clear audio to those on the other end of the line. The speaker is okay, but nothing special. Battery life is also middling with us getting around a day and a half of average use.


We almost like the HTC Sensation XL. It's stylish, easy to use, has a great camera, the large screen has some benefits and the Beat Audio headphones we know will appeal to some. However, you pay for the privilege of getting those headphones, and on most other fronts this phone just doesn't add up. It's screen is low res, it's processor is slower than the competition, and all told other handsets simply offer more for the money. If you want a Beats phone then the HTC Sensation XE is a much better bet. Or you could just get an HTC Sensation and buy some even better headphones.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 9
  • Features 7
  • Camera 9
  • Performance 8
  • Usability 7
  • Value 6
Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

Martin Daler

October 7, 2011, 12:25 pm

ata resolution of 480 x 800 they have simply magnified the screen, rather than fitted more into the screen. I appreciate this may help the older folk amongst us who complain bitterly that text is everywhere too small these days even as they hold things at an ever greater arm's length, but I didn't that that was the target market here.


October 20, 2011, 3:48 am

Well i think this review was very biased and anti HTC !!


October 20, 2011, 11:30 am

This isn't the full review yet but a first impressions based on spending half an hour or so with the handset. It's certainly not biased, just calling it out for what it is.


November 30, 2011, 12:17 am

You just know HTC is in trouble when Google's PR central, I mean Slashgear - who at least don't hide their true colours in their parent company's page - publishes a damning story like this:


I predict we'll see some dramatic changes in their product range.


June 9, 2014, 2:06 pm

why HTC get power off itself while tap to call.


June 9, 2014, 2:09 pm

why HTC get power off itself while tap to call. is this software problem? how to solve?

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