It’s not often that we’re treated to second helpings of a smartphone, but HTC surprised us all when it unveiled the HTC Sensation XE, a souped-up version of its popular Sensation handset and the first device to feature Beats Audio technology.
The tech world may not have given it the warmest of welcomes, as many were expecting a brand new device to showcase HTC’s musical acquisition rather than a buffed-up version of an existing handset. However, the Taiwanese manufacturer has set the XE apart from original Sensation with a few carefully chosen improvements. Are these added extras enough to give it an edge though? Read on to find out…
The HTC Sensation XE is almost identical to its older sibling as it rocks the same aluminium unibody and keeps its 126.1 x 65.4 x 11.3 mm dimensions. However, HTC has given the XE a splash of colour in the form of red touch-sensitive nav buttons, a red speaker grill and Beats Audio logo on the back, all of which make the XE stand out from the crowd.
Whilst externally the device looks strikingly similar to the handset that preceded it, the Sensation XE is a weightier 151 grams compared to the original’s 148 grams. It’s hardly noticeable when in hand and the additional weight doesn’t appear without reason – a larger 1730mAh battery is in situ, said by the manufacturer to increase talk time by 25 minutes. A necessary evil then, but credit must be given to HTC for addressing the battery life problem that plagued the earlier incarnate of the Sensation.
The display is the same 4.3-inch Super LCD offering found on the Sensation but we must admit that we’d have loved to have seen an AMOLED number on board to put the XE in the same league as the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S II. That said, the screen’s high qHD resolution of 540 x 960 pixels more than makes up for this and produces a fantastic picture.
Power and Operating System
The HTC Sensation XE ships with Android 2.3.4 and is complemented by HTC’s Sense user interface, replete with animated weather forecasts and customisable lock screen.
All this is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, a step-up from the 1.2GHz CPU found on the original version, alongside 768MB of RAM. As you would expect from one of the fastest processors found on a handset right now, transitions are lightning quick and lag-free and resource-heavy multitasking presents no problems, something that’s particularly important if you want to listen to music whilst doing other things on your device. Speaking of which, just how good are the Sensation XE’s Beats assets?
Beats by Dr Dre
The HTC Sensation XE’s musical prowess is its biggest feature and since the manufacturer has utilised the expertise of hip-hop mogul and producer extraordinaire Dr Dre to improve the audio performance offered by its handsets, we were expecting nothing but the best. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint.
The XE comes with a pair of Beats by Dr Dre in-ear buds so you won’t need to fork out any extra cash to tune into the impressive audio experience. It’s really easy to enjoy everything the Beats tech has to offer as the XE automatically fires up an enhanced audio profile as soon as you plug the headphones in. The technology has been designed to replicate studio-quality sound and that it does, with just the right levels of bottom end and resonance combining to produce crystalline, sharp sound (bass is significantly deeper and vocals clearer compared to when the profile is turned off). The profile will still work even if you chose to use your own headphones, but we noticed the Beats headphones do play a major part in showing off the fantastic sound quality. We’re confident in saying that the Beats tech created the best sound we’ve heard from a mobile device to date.
Camera: The Sensation XE packs an 8 megapixel camera which comes with all the trimmings including autofocus, dual-LED flash and HD video recording capabilities at 1080p. The screens offers the perfect platform to view your pictures and videos on, plus you can take advantage of the front-facing VGA camera for video calling.
Other tech specs:
- Music player – Supports MP3, AAC+, WAV and WMA files
- Video player – Supports XviD, MP4, H.264, H.263 and WMV files
- 4GB internal memory (1GB user available)
- microSD card slot that supports cards up to 32GB
- Bluetooth 3.0
- microUSB port
- 7 hours 20 minutes talk time (3G)
HTC has definitely managed to better the Sensation XE but whilst we’ve seen improvements in the power and battery sections, it would have been nice to see an AMOLED display on offer, especially if HTC really wants to put the pressure on its rivals. The XE could’ve done with more than 1GB of storage considering that it’s aimed at music fans, and we’d expect many will be disgruntled at having to purchase an SDcard to expand storage space to get the best out of the device.
Even though HTC didn’t at first capture the tech world’s imagination by announcing a regurgitated version of the original Sensation, the firm has managed to improve what was already a capable hanset. It’s great to see that the Taiwanese tech giants have listened to user feedback and made necessary improvements and the Beats technology really does put the Sensation XE in a league of its own when it comes to audio. If we had to pick between the original Sensation and Sensation XE, it’d be a no brainer – XE all the way.