HTC Sensation XE review: The eXtended Edition

GSMArena team, 03 November 2011.
Pages: 123456789»

Tags: HTC, Android, Touch UI

Introduction

No breaking news here. More of a developing story. The HTC Sensation XE is a shiny new release that lets you catch up on the latest from HTC Android lineup. A luxury edition for audiophiles with some extra kick squeezed out of the CPU. Old song to a new tune, if you will. But we wouldn’t frown at the sound of it. After all, it's the sound that counts.

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HTC Sensation XE official photos

Beats Audio is a big part of the deal in the new Sensation XE. HTC have teamed up with Beats by Dr. Dre to boost the phone's credentials to audio purists. There's special sound processing on the inside and a Monster iBeats headset in the box.

The other things they tinkered with are the processor and battery. The two cores are now ticking at 1.5 GHz and the battery's been beefed up to 1730 mAh. The rest is familiar but by no means boring. The HTC Sensation is a dual-core super droid with a massive 4.3 qHD touchscreen, 8MP stills and Full HD video.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM and dual-band 3G support
  • 14.4 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
  • 4.3" 16M-color capacitive LCD touchscreen of qHD resolution (540 x 960 pixels); Gorilla glass
  • Android OS v2.3 Gingerbread with HTC Sense 3.0
  • 1.5 GHz dual Scorpion CPUs, Adreno 220 GPU, Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8260 chipset
  • 768 MB RAM and 1 GB of app storage
  • Beats audio enhancement and premium Monster ibeats headset
  • 8 MP autofocus camera with LED flash; face detection and geotagging
  • 1080p and 720p video recording @ 30fps
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n and DLNA
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • microSD slot up to 32GB (16 GB card included)
  • Accelerometer, proximity and ambient light sensor
  • Front facing camera with video calls
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • microUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v3.0
  • MHL TV-out (requires a MHL-to-HDMI adapter)
  • Smart dialing, voice dialing
  • DivX/XviD video support
  • HTC Locations app
  • HTCSense.com integration
  • HTC Portable Hotspot
  • Ultra-fast boot times (if you don’t remove battery)
  • Office document editor

Main disadvantages

  • Death grip issues for both GSM and Wi-Fi radios
  • Less than impressed with the screen's outdoor performance
  • Unimpressive camera results
  • No dedicated camera key
  • microSD is under the battery cover (you'll lose all wireless signal when open the cover)

Sony Ericsson did it with the Xperia arc S and Samsung must've lost count of the Galaxy S sequels. Why have one flagship when you can have two seems to be the common thinking. The XE is not a replacement of the original Sensation. It's a special edition with very specific targeting. Brand spanking new - yes! Groundbreaking - no! Worth it? Well, we're about to see.

The build and finish are nearly identical to the original model, but for the BeatsAudio logo and red color accents. Those seem to make quite a lot of difference and to us the Sensation XE is the better looking phone. And HTC did well to make it easily recognizable.

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The HTC Sensation XE at ours

So, how will the two flagships get along? This isn't going to be a rivalry we think. The Sensation XE has a very specific target and the original Sensation can only benefit from a price drop - albeit a minor one. There's a six month gap between the two. Too soon for releasing a massive upgrade but enough time for the initial excitement to wane.

It's a sensible move from HTC to try and rekindle the love. And they did well to give the new version a unique selling feature. But is it worth the extra asking price? Always a legitimate question, this one is even more pertinent given HTC's usually steep pricing. To be fair though, the Monster headset alone pretty much offsets the premium.

Well, anyone can do their own math. Now, let's do ours. The usual set of benchmarks, audio and screen tests, and image samples will help us know the Sensation XE better. As usual though, we start with the hardware.

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