HTC Sensation XL Review

Introduction and Design

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:

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