HTC Sensation XL Review

We have a new entrant in the Sensation line of HTC phones, people, and it comes with Beats Audio as well. The HTC Sensation XL differs from its other peers in the lineup with the huge 4.7” LCD display, and the lower hardware specs. HTC made it with a single-core chipset, no memory card slot, and lower screen resolution than the other models.

This should have helped to keep costs down, but can big screen lovers settle with less than stellar hardware? Read on to find out…

The HTC Sensation XL is not expected to be offerd from any US carrier and you can only get it SIM-free. It's compatible with the AT&T network, and you can use it on T-Mobile without 3G connectivity.


If we had a say on how large can a smartphone screen go before it gets unwieldy, we’d say it depends on the bezel. The HTC Sensation XL is graced with a 4.7” display, but has a quite narrow side bezel, and the space above the display is very thin, too, making the handset shorter than a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, for example, which has a huge 4.65” screen in itself. The phone is also 0.4” (10mm) thin, which seems to be the threshold for scoring the adjective “slim” on the smartphone catwalk these days.

You can compare the HTC Sensation XL with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Because of those design achievements, in large hands the HTC Sensation XL fits pretty well,  although there’s still about a quarter of the screen your thumb can’t reach with one-handed use. The phone allows for a comfortable grip, as the corners are rounded, and the chassis shell is tapered towards the edges.

We just wish we had the soft-touch plastic that is characteristic for the Sensation line on the rear, instead of the regular one on the XL, since most of the back is an aluminum plate, which is pretty slippery in itself. That's why it's good that the phone has a very even weight balance distribution on both ends – it doesn't try to tip over when you operate it with one hand as many others big phones do.

The huge screen is unfortunately with a run-of-the-mill for large handsets 480x800 pixels of resolution, instead of qHD or HD, which the high-ends of HTC sport now. When combined with the size, this resolution returns ~200ppi density, which makes text appear a tad jagged. Just for  comparison, the XE has a smaller 4.3” screen, and larger 540x960 pixels resolution, or 256 ppi density.

On the other hand, the Super LCD screen has good viewing angles and rich colors, plus it is adequately visible outside - something we  don’t usually associate with HTC’s smartphones. 

Both the power/lock button at the top, and the volume rocker on the right side, are too flush with the edges, and hard to feel and press. We'd prefer a better rocker on a music-centric phone, to easily adjust the volume while the handset is in our pocket.

HTC Sensation XL 360-degrees View:



1. Thomas5.3

Posts: 37; Member since: Oct 30, 2011

this design in combination with the rezound specs would be perfect for me.

2. u-suck-more

Posts: 529; Member since: Aug 26, 2011

At first glance, the front of this phone looks like the LG Optimus Black white color

3. arcq12

Posts: 733; Member since: Oct 13, 2011

PROS: Good looking, Great Design, Better Screen Size............................ CONS: Everything else...................

4. buggerrer

Posts: 306; Member since: Sep 21, 2011

how is the screen ? if you comare it to Super AMOLED plus ?

5. arcq12

Posts: 733; Member since: Oct 13, 2011

it's super lcd 800x480.. it's like an EVO 4G screen, streched to 4.7".

8. buggerrer

Posts: 306; Member since: Sep 21, 2011

I know its a SLCD .. but many people said it got a gorgeous screen .. its like they developed the SLCD technology and made it brighter and more colorful like the Super AMOLED

6. som

Posts: 768; Member since: Nov 10, 2009

Giant phone Galaxy Note is better than HTC XL.

7. arcq12

Posts: 733; Member since: Oct 13, 2011

not even worth the comparison..

9. mico85

Posts: 4; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

Hi, there I really don´t understand this guys who reviewed the Htc Sensation Xl. How is it possible the with the given specs of the 8mp cam with betters lens and sensor be so awful at taking photos, even inferior to the 8mp cam of the Sensation Xe without the upgraded lens and sensor?!? What´s even more mysterious, is that in any other review of the Htc Sensation Xl, all reviewers state that the camera is top notch, only the guys here in phonearena think otherwise. Just read the recent review from "Recombu" and is completely different from the one posted today from Phonearena with such negative aspects of the phone. Can someone enlighten me? Wich reviews are right or wrong? Is it true that the Htc Sensation Xl camara is weaker than the one in Htc Sensation Xe? Can anyone confirm Phonearena claims? Because I would like to have this phone, and if this is true, i may prefer swapping it for an Htc Sensation XE!!!

15. PhoneArena Team

Posts: 258; Member since: Jun 27, 2006

We have included full-size, untouched photos, straight from the XL's camera. We don't even add our watermark logo, so they are not edited in any way. All samples are taken in "full auto" unless mentioned Let you be the judge.

10. Galaxys2...R

Posts: 46; Member since: Oct 04, 2011

I have played with this phone today for a while and depsite the screen resolution it really isnt that bad tbh and I am getting this phone over the XE version because I like the the big screen its nice.

11. mico85

Posts: 4; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

I like it too, very much, the build quality, best htc phone to date, with the Solo Beats Bundle, very nice, great screen for its size, but if phonearena claims about photo quality are reliable, thats very annoying for me, because I can overlook the fact that the resolution is low and dont have micro sd slot, but if the camera is weak too and video footage is mediocre compared with the Sensation XE, I really prefer the second, which is good looking too, do you understand my point of view " Galaxys2...R ?!?

12. rayjones09

Posts: 149; Member since: Dec 16, 2010

Where is the Titan review if you don't mind me asking? And with this and the Titan being almost the same, would you all please do a comparison video with them?

13. mico85

Posts: 4; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

Spec wise, Xl and Titan are the same, even more in the camera department, maybe Phonearena should explain why the review unit of the sensation xl, they claim in the review as a retail one, how on heart can produce so bad quality photos and video capture? Cos the photos are all washed out, full of noise, video also the same, and as Htc said when of the announcement of the Sensation Xl, that is was their best camera ever produced to date, so this seem all weird. Maybe phonearena messed up with the configuration of the camera, but the fact is that the results are worse than the one in Sensation XL based on the review of Phonearena!!! I don´t understand how and why can this be possible!!!

14. username

Posts: 25; Member since: Nov 05, 2011

bring it stateside, and you got yourself a deal!

16. mico85

Posts: 4; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

Phonearena, I compared your review on the Sensation Xl with the one on Sensation Xl, and I must say now that some photos in the XE are worse than the one´s on Xl based in the two reviews you have made on both handsets, but I think Is a bold claim, saying the Xl cam is medicore, when I see poor results either in the XE review, and the 1080p footage of the XE is even jerkier than the one presented in the review of the XL. You claim in the Xe review that the camera could be better, when I see poor results either like the XL, even worse in some photos, and than when we come across the Xl review, you say Cam is mediocre, Video is medicore, you\'re overreacting. I urge you, to test another retail model, tune the configurations a bit, and take photos again, because i saw in other reviews with factual proof as well, that the quality is not the one presented in your reviews, is way better. Maybe the unit you tested has some sort of defect, I think you must me sure of your claims regarding the camera, because that can mislead many buyers who are eager to buy this new beautiful machine, I just want the truth, nothing more.

17. HTCiscool

Posts: 449; Member since: Jul 16, 2011

Instead of releasing a new phone every week with a slightly different feature, why not release them altogether in one package? I mean in the last like 5 weeks there have been the; 1. HTC Amaze 4G - Great camera 2. HTC Sensation XE - Nice design and colours 3. HTC Sensation XL - Nice big screen and good looks 4. HTC Rhyme - Thunderbolt for the ladies 5. HTC Design 4G - Ok midranger which no one cares about 6. HTC Vivid - Nice video recording! 7. HTC Rezound- Great screen but played out design If you guys pay attention you will notice that HTC is releasing their phones in only 2 form factors, like a Sensation 4G (Amaze, Sensation XE/XL) or like an EVO 3D (Rhyme, Design 4G, Vivid and Rezound. I really don't see the need to release either the Rhyme, Design 4G, Vivid, or Sensation XL. This thing is the exact same as the XE but more feminine, with a bigger screen but lowly single-core processor. 4.3'' is enough for anyone if you think about it it is 84% of the size of this screen (I calculated) And WVGA? wtf they can release phones with 720p screens and this one is WVGA? They could have at least made it qHD. This thing has a ppi of around 200 which is really poor for a hign-end handset. On the good side this looks as if it can do photos pretty well, hurray! .

18. bubble

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 13, 2011

Check out my early review of this phone on my blog: Lots of info and pictures :) Thanks

19. adzadz

Posts: 3; Member since: Aug 08, 2011

I only just recently added this phone to my budding collection :) The only things that I could add to this review (which is pretty spot on) is that some international markets are not getting the phone with the in-ear earbuds but Solo Beats by Dr. Dre, which is what I recieved - these are a completely different beast to the in-ear buds you guys reviewed. Also I was sure that I read somewhere that the Beats customisation was not just Software based - but was also mixed with hardware more deeply than the XE??? Overall I'm quite happy with the sounds produced - using it as more of a music/multimedia player while my GSII remains my main phone

21. chaki-

Posts: 1; Member since: Mar 10, 2012

Well, i wanna car that can cook, do laundry, do bl**jobs and etc..... Guys come on! Thats a phone. If you like it you buy it. I had nokia N8, Iphone 4, SE Vivaz and many others. For android i was excited and took the time to see everything thats on the market. Well at first wanted to byu a Samsung Galaxy S2, but there where countless software boundries that i didnt like. Always was some problem that occured. Yes the HTC Sens XL is not the best but hey they are like laptops, every month comes something new out. For pics i have digital camera, for video i have pc and for fun on the way i have the HTC. Playing games on big screen is superb. Watching TV stream, great. Listen to great music when do exercise, excellent! If i listen to all the reviwes i will never find something good. And probably never buy a smartphone.......
Sensation XL
  • Display 4.7" 480 x 800 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.3 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S2, Single core, 1500 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB
  • Battery 1600 mAh(6.83h 3G talk time)

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