I was recently invited along to an awesome Event in Edinburgh hosted by o2 and supported by HTC where I had the privilege of trying out the HTC Rhyme, XE and XL.
O2 were kind enough to let me take the XE away for a quick review however you can pick up the HTC Sensation XE with Beats Audio via o2 HERE
It’s been a fairly long time since I reviewed an HTC handset and there is good reason for this too. Whilst others will disagree, I feel HTC have been churning out way too many handsets and way too quickly too which caused a decline in the quality of their devices and user support making HTC become the complete opposite of how they started out, a user orientated brand.
The Sensation XE was launched by HTC back in September and was considered the upgrade to the very popular HTC Sensation.
In comparison to to the original Sensation users would get an additional .2 GHz on the Dual Core CPU, an additional 230 mAh on the battery life and Beats Audio.
Is the Sensation XE really worth more money than the Sensation considering the upgrades to the internals seem so minimal? Were my thoughts about HTC and their direction wrong? Read the rest of the review to find out.
- 4.3 inch Super LCD Capacitive Touchscreen (540 x 960 pixels) (256ppi)
- Dual-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm MSM8260 Snapdragon
- Qualcomm Adreno 220
- 768 MB RAM
- 4 GB (1 GB user available) (32GB via MicroSD)
- 8MP Rear Facing Camera with Dual LED, 1.2 MP Front Facing Camera
- 2.3.4 upgradeable to 2.3.6
- 1730 mAh Battery
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- Bluetooth v3.0 supports A2DP for headset, FTP/OPP for file transfer, PBAP
- GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, HSDPA 900 / 1700 / 2100
- 126.1 x 65.4 x 11.3 mm
Screen Super LCD is nothing new and in terms of the Sensation XE it has no difference to the original Sensation however with that being said the screen is crystal clear and I would say that they got the ppi spot on with the Sensation and Sensation XE.
The touchscreen itself had no dead spots which was a plus (though they are quite rare) and strangely I did quite like the curvature of the glass at either side of the handset.
The one grumble I would have is that when set in default “auto brightness” mode the device struggles to stop flickering making it rather annoying to use, best that you switch this off and set your own optimum brightness.
Processor The Qualcomm MSM8260 Snapdragon CPU is no stranger to handsets and infact is still being used now in handset like the Sony Xperia S and Huawei Mediapad.
Whilst not the best 1.5 GHz Dual Core processor on the market in my opinion, it does exactly what is needed for everyday useage and not once did I have any lag.
In terms of the benchmark tests, the Sensation XE scored mid card on pretty much all of them and considering the fact that it has a 1.5 Dual Core CPU I feel it could do a lot better and certainly isn’t worth any praise.
Camera When it comes to camera’s on a mobile we should always remember that it’s not jut about how many MP’s the camera has, the optics play a huge part in how good a picture the device can take (lets not forget how good the Nokia N95 was in lit conditions).
The 8MP Camera on the Sensation XE is slightly above average at best and the 1.2 MP front facing camera is nothing short of grainy, though it should be pointed out that I am yet to find a front facing camera that impresses me.
Battery Life The charging time to full on the Sensation XE is just over 2 1/2 hours on mains and almost 4 1/2 on USB. For that length of time you get yourself 2 days of battery life on average day to day use of checking Twitter and Facebook and under a day of performing one of it’s main features, playing music.
Admittedly whilst playing music I was streaming it on Google Music using WiFi which itself is a big drain.
Having used the phone just for Music and Social networking (and occasional photo) I found that I could get just over 6 hours which considering it’s suggested battery life of between 7 and 9 hours is not too bad.
Hardware Design In terms of design this is one pretty smart looking handset. Particularly for me I loved the hints of red on the camera lens, front ear speaker grill and capacitive backlit buttons at the bottom of the phone. Being the light geek I am, I loved that the notification LED was hidden under the front grill (though this is fairly common).
The build quality overall is pretty solid though heavier than it should be considering its so close in specs to the Sensation which is lighter.
Port positions are spot on though I much prefer the volume rockers on the right hand side of the phone.
If I had a grumble to make then it would be with the back cover, removal of it is horrible and I often felt like I was fighting to get it off and fearful of causing damage either to the screen or the casing itself.
Infact, now that I am in the grumbling mood, I really dislike the fact that this is a music orientated handset with no dedicated music buttons anywhere on the device and even on the OS itself, there is little fuss made of this.
Don’t even get me started on the lack of dedicated camera button – though I think I am now just being pedantic rather than constructive.
OS Launched with and still on Android 2.3.4 and Sense 3.0, the Desire XE is in much need of an upgrade to its OS which is good news as HTC have confirmed that the device will receive an Android 4.0 upgrade later this year and with it we can expect a Sense update too.
Not being a big gamer I struggle with this part of the review though I did manage to have a shot of Sonic 4™ Episode I which played great with no lag at all and the screen size was ample for the on screen controls.
IN THE BOX
It’s difficult to say what’s in the box as it was a pre-retail version I had however inside the box I had was:
- HTC Sensation XE Handset
- 1730 mAh Battery
- Beats Headset (in red)
- USB Charge / Sync Cable
- 3 pin UK Mains Charging Adapter
- Leaflets etc…
After spending almost a week with the Sensation XE I would say that I am more impressed with the Headphones than the handset itself. Yes, the phone is great however what we have is essentially an HTC Sensation made to look better and with the tiny updates in specification’s the only noteworthy thing this handset has gained is weight over its younger sibling. Going back to my initial points on the review, yes, HTC have proven once again that they throw too many handsets out and too soon however with that being said they have taken a leap in the right direction in terms of build quality and focusing on the users needs by including a great set of headphones (which might I add are a great balanced sound on all levels). Would I recommend this handset, absolutely! Yes, I have my issues with it and its not much better than the original Sensation however if you decide to go for the Sensation over the XE then be prepared for a quicker end of life and the chance of non official ICS upgrades. I would have added the headphones in this part however they are purchasable separately.
RATING: 4 droids (out of 5)
You can view my HTC Sensation XE with Beats Audio Screenshot Album By Clicking Below