We see if HTC’s Sensation XE has what it takes to bring down Samsung’s behemoth Galaxy Note
We compare the newly announced HTC Sensation XE to Samsung’s biggest handset yet – the Galaxy Note.
HTC Sensation XE – 126.1×65.4×11.3mm, 151g
Samsung Galaxy Note – 146.9x83x9.7mm, 178g
The Sensation XE uses the same outer shell as its vanilla flavoured cousin. The XE is most assuredly some kind of red flavour with little crimson accents in places, most notably the B logo on the lower rear panel signifying the presence of Dr Dre’s Beats audio technology.
It’s a thin, slinky design with very little unused space round the screen, and even the swirly monochrome panel setup on the rear of the handset looks nice. It’s all tastefully done and this can only be a good thing.
We can imagine some might find the Samsung Galaxy Note’s design bland and simplistic. We can see where this argument comes from with its raw, slab-like appearance and uncompromisingly sharp lines. It’s an unadulterated rectangle, essentially.
That’s not our view though, we think it’s looking pretty good. Given all the legal tomfoolery that’s been going on recently Samsung probably won’t thank us for saying this, but the Note really does look like a giant iPhone, and we mean that in a good way.
It has a nice clean visual style. It’s also considerably thinner than its rival at a mere 9.7mm to the Sensation’s 11.3mm.
We like both designs here, each has a premium feel and is pleasing to the eye, but they’re both very different.
Winner – Draw
The Sensation XE uses a 4.3-inch capacitive S-LCD touchscreen with a resolution of 540×960 pixels and an impressive pixel density of 256 pixels-per-inch (ppi).
The HTC Sense user interface (UI) has been overlaid on the Android operating system and the phone features gyro and accelerometer sensors for screen rotation. The Sensation XE’s display also supports multi-touch input.
Samsung’s Note uses the company’s own Super Amoled display technology combined with reinforced Gorilla Glass for its massive 5.3-inch capacitive touchscreen.
A screen that size deserves a tasty resolution, and the Note doesn’t disappoint at 800 x 1280 pixels. To top it off it’s also got a very high pixel density of 285ppi.
The HTC’s display is well up there and is worthy of some respect, but the Note’s is just something else entirely. It’s approaching the smaller end of tablet territory and with such impressive figures on resolution and pixel density, it’s sure to offer a crystal clear picture on its vast expanse of glass.
Winner – Samsung Galaxy Note
Storage is one of the Sensation’s weaker areas, it actually has 4GB of internal storage but only 1GB is actually accessible by the user.
A microSD card slot allows an extra 32GB to be stored externally and processing power is backed up by 768MB of RAM.
The Note is much better equipped with options for either 16GB or 32GB of internal space and 1GB of RAM. Card support is the same as the Sensation.
The Samsung outperforms HTC’s handset on all fronts here making it the clear victor.
Winner – Samsung Galaxy Note
Both devices are quite similarly specced in the processor department, each is dual core and the Note runs a 1.4GHz block while the Sensation XE packs in a fraction more at 1.5GHz.
In Samsung’s handset you’ve got an ARM Cortex-A9 on the Exynos chipset, featuring a Mali-400MP graphics processing unit (GPU) for some visual flair.
Meanwhile, the HTC sports a Qualcomm MSM 8260 Snapdragon processor with an Adreno 220 GPU.
You’d be hard pushed to find a quicker mobile device right now and we reckon it’d be equally difficult to discern a difference in performance between the two handsets here.
Both will deliver astonishingly fast, smooth and responsive performance consistently whether you’re browsing, multitasking between apps, viewing films or playing games.
Winner – Draw
These are both Android-powered handsets and each runs the most recent build of Google’s operating system, Gingerbread 2.3.
It’s a good system and certainly better than its predecessors but it’s starting to lag behind a little and Ice Cream Sandwich is just round the corner, which both these devices will be eligible for.
There’s nothing to compare the two here so we’ll call it a draw.
Winner – Draw
Again plenty of similarities here, each phone boasts an 8-megapixel primary camera at 3264×2448 pixels and capable of 1080p video capture.
Both feature autofocus, touch focus, face detection and image stabilisation and they support video calling.
The HTC has a dual LED flash and instant capture. It also has stereo sound recording for video and a VGA secondary camera.
Samsung has given the Note an LED flash (though not dual), smile detection, panoramic capture, multi-shot, scene editing tools and a 2-megapixel secondary.
As with the processors, there are distinctive differences here but overall the effect of having a well-equipped 8-megapixel primary is the same.
Both are going to give a highly satisfactory camera experience and are capable of producing some excellent quality images and videos.
At a pinch we’d say the extra features on the Note are a better package but it really is swings and roundabouts here and we doubt many would be unhappy with the Sensation’s arrangement.
Winner – Samsung Galaxy Note (but only just)
These are both astonishing phones, but just when it seemed like someone had stepped up to the plate of challenging the Samsung Galaxy S2, Samsung only went and moved the goalposts with the Note.
Okay, in some areas the Note isn’t quite as good as the S2 but it’s not at all far off and we’d say at least they’re in the same league.
Generally we’d say the HTC Sensation XE is also on this level, though we do find the storage somewhat disappointing and it’s the main thing which pulls it back.
With the Note, not only do you get something very close to the S2 in performance but you get that epic expanse of high-quality screen space which is virtually unparalleled in the smartphone world.