Expert Review of HTC Sensation XL
HTC Sensation XL, an elder sibling of the very popular smartphone, HTC Sensation, by the Taiwanese giant smartphones and tablets manufacturer, HTC, is packed with Beats Audio feature to give a blast to the music lovers. Bestowed with HTC Sense user interface on top of Android Ice Cream Sandwich platform is what makes the device very desirable in the market. It is coupled with SRS surround sound, while Beats Audio provides an astounding multimedia experience at the footsteps of the users. This smartphone has dual microphones that helps in cancelling out the unwanted noise while recording a multimedia file. This phone bears a lot of resemblance in terms of hardware as well as software, to HTC Titan, which is a Windows Phone 7 device. It is believed that the phone bears XL name as it has an extra large screen as compared to its earlier kinfolks. Since it is a music handset so the headphone, that comes along with the device, too have some unique operations. The headset comes with three chrome plated music controls whereas the universal headphones available in the market carry only a single button. The central button amongst the trio works as a call key too. Though it is not a device that belongs to the slim smartphones category but it makes sure that will give a premium look and comfortable carrying to its users. It is a compactable device that comes packed in a size of 132.5mm x 70.7mm x 9.9mm and bears 162.5 grams of weight. It is a well built handset that has aluminium plate at the back that wraps around the sides also and this covering gives it a royal touch. In terms of its body design, it has the same candy bar form factor like its earlier siblings where the front holds a capacitive touchscreen with four Android touch sensitive buttons below it. These buttons are for Home, Menu, Back and Search and respond even to a slightest touch. There is a secondary 1.3 megapixels shooter also in front that helps in shooting self portraits and also allows the users to have live video chats with family and friends. The front has an Accelerometer, Gyro, G-Sensor, Digital Compass, Proximity, and Ambient light sensors too that adds more usage to the device. Accelerometer sensor helps in detecting the orientation of the phone whereas the Gyro sensor adds an additional dimension to the information supplied by the accelerometer by tracking rotation or twist. G-Sensor is a kind of Accelerometer that measures the force and datalog lateral and longitudinal acceleration continuously. Digital compass provides orientation to the smartphone with respect to Earth's magnetic field. Proximity Sensor is useful in detecting towers and any POI in the nearby field without having any physical contact. Ambient Light sensor automatically adjusts the brightness of the screen and helps in saving the battery of the mobile phone. It also makes the screen clearly visible even if the sun is on the head. The left side of the device hosts a microUSB port that also acts as a charging port for the smartphone whereas the right portion is the home for a big thin bar shaped volume rocker that also helps in the zoom in and zoom out function when the camera application is on. The top has a 3.5mm universal headphone jack that also acts as an A/V connector for the device, a secondary microphone for active noise cancellation and a small capsule shaped power/lock button. The bottom has nothing but a primary mouthpiece along with a battery cover notch. Coming to the back, this smartphone holds an 8 megapixels camera sensor that is sandwiched between dual LED flash duplet and a loudspeaker grill. Since the camera buldges out a little bit so one should be careful while putting down the phone with back side downwards as it might hamper the camera lens. Under the cover resides a battery and a microSIM card slot. What is absent here is a dedicated slot for microSD card that helps in increasing the external memory of the device. HTC Sensation XL has a built in GPS receiver that determines the current location, time and velocity of the users, so if you are lost and needs a rough idea of your current location, that is within 150 meters, then by using the Cell-ID and Wi-Fi network lock you can have full information within seconds. Google Maps offers a navigation that is guided simply by voice and with this feature one can plan routes, search the nearby POIs and can opt for the street view of a location. This smartphone is laden with HTC Locations also that helps is dowloading a country map free of any charge and with this feature you can also cache maps as you browse and can evaluate new routes even when one is offline. HTC Locations comes in a regular 3D as well as 2D view that is very appropriate as it provides a better view of the things ahead. Pinch to zoom feature is enabled in 2D as well as 3D view along with compass mode turn on. This phone is brimmed with HTCSense.com application that offers quite premium features to its users free of cost. The phone locator feature in this application helps in locating out the phone when it is stolen and you can even lock the device or erase all the data from it. This application will also provides a backup for the messages and phone book entries, so you are never away from your contacts. Some other useful features include ring phone, that locates the phone when one has lost it in his room and is unable to find it, toggles for call and message forwarding. This site also enable the users to edit and view messages and contacts and also lets you to compose an SMS or MMS message. HTCSense.Com also allows one to view their as well as their friends' footprints. HTC Hub helps in browsing and marking the games and applications on the computer that makes it easy to locate them on the phone later. The device do comes with an instant image capturing camera that captures the front scene, the moment the shutter button is pressed. In fact the lockscreen has been modified also when compared to the earlier saplings by HTC in the same product line. The lockscreen has been transformed into a window that carries all the updates regarding your friends' status,your portfolio and more. This smartphone provides a rich web browsing experience with multi-window browsing, a latest Adobe Flash back up for smooth video playback and a quick look up tool for directly switching the window to Wikipedia. Its users can also check the current weather reports accurately and actually feel the sun's rays or the rain droplets on the amazing and brilliant screen. This smartphone has been made unique from the other lot of smartphones available in the market. It comes with a specially tailor made headset that offers unparalleled audio experience. This headset is specifically engineered to deliver extraordinary sound. Another plus point for this device is its huge screen where watching videos is an ultimate fun. an ultimately the last but not the least feature of this smartphone, that also plays a vital role in turning the heads on, is its 8 megapixels camera that is capable of taking wide angles while taking a snapshot. The camera has BSI CMOS camera lens with aperture 2.2, 28mm lens that lets its users to take great looking wide angle shots with sharp view.
User Interface and UI functionality
HTC Sensation XL is blessed with a very huge 4.7 inches wide S-LCD display that has capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 480 X 800 pixels with different vibrant color combinations made from 16M colors. The pixel density of 199 ppi makes the screen more crisp, sharp and rich with light coming out from each pixel and from each angle. The display supports multi touch facility so one can give multiple commands using the capacitive touchscreen at one time. Below the screen one will find four touch sensitive Android controls – Home, Menu, Back and Search, that helps in dealing with the mobile phone easily and smartly. The device has got the gift of HTC Sense UI v.3.6 on top of the Android latest v.4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, which creates a magic for the handset. This UI is multi-functional that performs various unique functions, which can easily drop the jaws of the users with amazement. This UI comes with HTC proprietary Scenes, mostly the six customizable homescreen panels (Work, Travel, Social, etc.). Each scene brings changes in the set of widgets and the wallpaper also. Like the Stocks widget is found in Work Scene whereas the Twitter widget is in the Social Scene. These widgets as well as the Scenes are very much customizable. More scenes are available in the HTC Hub. Another personalized option in HTC Sense UI is Skins that helps in changing the look and feel of the on screen buttons, options menus, application screens and other items. This Skin application also has unique wallpaper and provides different colors for numerous interface elements. The lockscreen, standard dock and widget frames with personalize touch can be replaced or can change the shape even. A complete screen with new items will pop up when a personalize button is tapped, to choose either from the display in terms of scenes, wallpapers and skin, the homescreen in terms of widgets, shortcuts, folders, etc. or from the sounds in respect of ringtones, alarms, notifications and Sound set. This UI brings seven customizable homescreens where the users can drop, remove, drag or even add widgets as well as icons as per their needs and usage. There are plenty of widgets in the widgets section where both type of widgets are available – Custom HTC and stock Android, and these widgets are present on the same page. One can also download more widgets from the Android market or from the HTC Hub. Some widgets have two styles so when one choose a widget they might have to select between the several versions. For instance, there are 13 different type of clocks available in the clock widget. The notification area features a wide list of applications that are opened recently. There is a tab for the notification area whereas the second tab has toggles for WLAN, Bluetooth, GPS, cellular data or the Wi-Fi hotspot. The full list of settings has a shortcut too and the last line in the notification area shows used or free memory. Apart from the standard task switcher there is a task manager also which is very simple to use as each running application shows how much RAM it is using. Users can cancel a single application from a hub of opened applications and they can also terminate all the applications by using the kill all button that instantly close all the running applications. The default homescreen just shows the ring, four shortcuts, the time and the homescreen wallpaper. The lockscreen of HTC is very functional and customizable. It comes with four shortcuts and a ring at the bottom, by default. To unlock the device, the users need to drag the ring towards the center of the screen or they can drag any of the shortcuts into the ring to unlock the phone and launch the corresponding application. The users can assign four applications to the lockscreen as per their wish. The device is running on Android v.4.0 ICS operating system and is powered by 1.5 GHz Scorpion processor that helps in the smooth running of the heavy applications too and the Qualcomm MSM8255 chipset along with Adreno 205 works together to improve the graphics performance and to make every pixel work.
HTC Sensation XL is a complete multimedia device as it comes loaded with Beat Audio with SRS surround sound feature. It is blessed with a music player that makes sure that the user gets to listen to his/her favorite music tracks that can be heard through the loudspeakers or through the earphones that can be attached to the device with the help of a 3.5mm universal jack. There is a video player that allows the user to watch videos with remarkable quality. The video player is compatible with the formats .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .m4v and .wmv (Windows Media Video 9 and VC-1) for video playback and for video recording .mp4, .and 3gp formats is supported whereas the aural player is supported by the formats .m4a, .mp3, .mid, .ogg, .wav and .wma (Windows Media Audio 9). The users can also enjoy the full 24 x 7 time stereo FM radio on this device which can be connected using the 3.5mm headphone that works as an antenna for the radio connectivity. This radio has RDS feature also that automatically detects the name of the radio station to which the user is tuned into. The 3.5mm jack also enable the users of this device to attach speakers or woofers with this smartphone to have music at a very large tone. Videos and images saved in numerous folders appear in various sub-galleries that automatically get the name of the folder, which provides an adequate file management solution. The users can also select the folders which the gallery should display.
Pictures and Video quality
HTC Sensation XL comes with an 8 megapixels auto focus snapper with dual LED flash function that makes sure that the users can click pictures with clarity and ease. The camera captures images in a resolution of 3264 x 2448 pixels and offers various amazing and useful features like auto focus, dual-LED flash, Geo-tagging, face detection, touch focus, HDR and auto-upload. The LED flash makes sure that the user can click pictures with clarity and ease even when the ambiance has dull light conditions. There is also the facility of video recording that makes sure that the user can watch videos with remarkable quality and ease. The videos are recorded within a resolution of 720p where one can also record slow motion videos with 2x optical zoom. There is also a secondary camera of 1.3 megapixels in the front that captures self portraits as well as plays a vital role in video chats and calls. The camera has BSI sensor also that is there for better low-light captures. With HTC Sensation XL sharing a photo with friends and social groups is very straightforward and easy where you just need to tap the share button, pick your preferred sharing method and select one or multiple photos and videos , which are to be shared. The users can share using a Bluetooth or e-mail, for posting on Facebook, Twitter or photo sharing sites like Picasa Integration and Flickr. One can upload the videos straightly on the YouTube or use DLNA to push photos to the DLNA compatible TV too.
HTC Sensation XL provides Internet supporting connections such as Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Wi-Fi hotspot via WLAN network, GPRS of class 12 with a speed of 32 - 48 kbps, EDGE of class 12 and 3G with HSPA+ speed. For nearby connectivity one can depend upon Bluetooth v3.0 with A2DP, microUSB v2.0 port and DLNA connections that transfer data with an amazing fast speed within seconds. The user can also access all the popular social networking sites including Facebook and Twitter. It comes pre-loaded with WAP 2.0/xHTML, HTML and Adobe Flash browsers that opens the web pages instantly and also makes it easy to navigate from one web page to another within seconds. There is a URL bar on every homescreen that allows the users to directly access the Google search feature. This browser also supports double tap zooming and text reflow, which makes even longer texts extremely easy to read on the phone's display. The Adobe Flash supports YouTube videos up to 480p size that can run very smoothly.
Internal and External Memory
HTC Sensation XL comes with an internal storage capacity of 16GB that makes sure that the users gets to store numerous amount of information which include audio files, videos files, games, messages, phone book contacts, images, and much more. The 768MB space for RAM makes sure that the users can have access to all the resources of the system at a very fast pace. There is no provision for a microSD card slot hence the users cannot expand the external memory of the device beyond 16GB. But such a huge internal memory is sufficient enough to save a very large amount of data and no need will arise to increase the external storage capacity of the device.
Applications and Gaming
HTC Sensation XL comes with a support for loads and loads of games that are Java supported too and applications that makes sure that the users will remain entertained and engaged all the time. The device is running on the Android OS, v.4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich platform that allows its users to run all the applications that are available in the Android market. You can download applications from the HTC Hub also that offers various useful and entertaining features at the users' end. Numerous Google based applications and other applications such as Google Search, Google Maps, Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, YouTube, Facebook, Picasa Integration, Twitter integration, etc. are pre-installed on this smartphone to make it useful in every way.
HTC Sensation XL get its power from a very strong battery that is capable of keeping the device alive for long durations. It has a standard Li-Ion 1,600 mAh battery that allows a talk time of up to 11 hours 50 minutes on 2G and up to 6 hours 50 minutes on 3G along with a standby time of up to 360 hours on 2G network and up to 460 hours on 3G. You can also enjoy long hours of music playback as well as video playback along with web browsing over Wi-Fi connectivity.
HTC Sensation XL comes with loads of data connectivity features like GPRS and EDGE technology. The GPRS feature makes sure that the user gets to keep track of their desired location without any problems. There is also the facility of bluetooth that allows the user to connect the device with other devices and transfer data to that device or receive data from it. There is also the USB port that makes sure that the user can connect the device with their computers and exchange data with it where the data exchanged may include music files, videos, games and images. The Wi-Fi feature allows the user to connect with the web and download data including music files, games, songs and pictures. HTC Sensation XL supports GSM network for 2G and 3G bands at a frequency of 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz and 850 / 900 / 2100 MHz, respectively. The data transferring speed on 3G network is very fast. It downloads a file at an HSDPA speed of 14.4 Mbps and uploads a data at an HSUPA speed of 5.76 Mbps.
HTC Sensation XL as compared to Samsung Galaxy S II has a bigger screen of 4.7 inches. Samsung Galaxy S II has a screen of size 4.27 inch. Both the devices have a primary camera of 8 megapixels so there is not much to choose based on this criteria. The battery of both devices is also very much identical where Samsung Galaxy S II features a Li-Ion 1,650 mAh battery as compared to Li-Ion 1,600 mAh in HTC Sensation XL. It is a very amazing smartphone that has Beats Audio surround sound system that makes this device the best amongst the current lot in terms of music output. Other smartphones that can give a tough neck to neck competition to HTC Sensation XL are HTC One X, Apple iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, HTC Rhyme, Sony Xperia S, Samsung Galaxy Note, Sony Xperia Arc S, Apple iPhone 3GS and many more.