HTC Sensation XL hands-on: First look

GSMArena team, 6 October 2011.
Pages: 123

Tags: HTC, Touch UI

UI and benchmarks

As we already mentioned, the HTC Sensation XL comes with the Android Gingerbread and has the latest version of the company's proprietary Sense UI installed on top of it. Changes are evolutionary rather than revolutionary and any previous HTC user will feel at home when using this one.

To find out more about the Sensation XL UI, check out this walkthrough provided by one of the HTC representatives at the launch event.

As you can see everything runs nicely smooth on the 1.5GHz Scorpion CPU, but no one would have expected anything different. We also managed to subject the Sensation XL to a few benchmarks so its could show its true worth.

Amazingly it outdid both the Sensation and the Sensation XE in the browser-based benchmarks. Not only that but the results were quite convincing. At BrowserMark (higher is better) the Sensation XL scored 78750 vs 52019 for the Sensation XE and a mere 39673 for the original Sensation.

The HTC Sensation XL threw another surprise at the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark (lower is better), where it scored another convincing victory against its namesakes. The scores there were 2688 (Sensation XL), 3336 (Sensation XE) and 6428ms (Sensation). Obviously, HTC did some serious optimizations to the JavaScript engine inside this one - there's just no other way to explain those scores.

Luckily we were also able to install Quadrant on the Sensation XL and see how it did there. We didn't have the Sensation XE Quadrant score, so we replaced it with the Samsung Galaxy S II, which is the current leader in this category. The Sensation XL 100% win record was finally shattered as its 1792 score was easily outdone by both the Sensation (2357) and Galaxy S II (3538).

Finally we tried a real-life benchmark on the HTC Sensation XL by testing its Flash playback capabilities. Unfortunately, the smartphone failed to play either 720p or 1080p Flash videos smoothly. In fact the frame rate it could manage was so low that those weren't even watchable.

One of the more interesting bit concerning the Sensation XL software package is the newly introduced HTC Sync client. Launched alongside the smartphone itself, the new client allows easy syncing of your iTunes library on both PC and Mac.

First impressions

So ends our brief encounter with the HTC Sensation XL. We know it's too early to be passing any final verdicts, but our instincts tell us that this one won't be as successful as the Sensation XE.

But that's not because it's a bad device. On the contrary - we really like the big fella, but with a screen this size it will be rejected by many people as too large. Plus many will choose the future-proofing that the dual-core CPU inside the Sensation XE offers. That one comes with the Beats enhancements too, so it's almost looking like a win-win offer.

Except that it isn't quite so simple. Screen estate might be all that the Sensation XL has against the XE, but that's a pretty powerful weapon to have. The difference between 4.3" and 4.7" diagonal might not look huge on paper, but it feels pretty major in real life. Movies, picture and even the UI itself look more impressive on the XL than they do on the XE, despite the higher resolution of the latter.

So, if you don't mind carrying its oversized body around, the HTC Sensation XL might be another smartphone to put on your shortlist for the holiday season. A full review will be required before we find out if it's worth actually forking out the cash, though.

Pages: 123