HTC Sensation XL vs HTC Sensation XE vs HTC Sensation


The HTC Sensation, Sensation XE and Sensation XL – a triumvirate of Gigantosaurus-screened handsets poses a serious shopping dilemma as to which version to opt for. Each is an Android phone and each one described as a flagship handset by Peter Chou the his team from Taiwan.
With different processors, accessories, colour schemes and all sorts of other bits and bobs to choose from it’s difficult to decide which to go for. It’s even a bit of a challenge trying to work out which is which. As ever, Pocket-lint has done the difficult part for you and laid each one bear and clear for you to see against the the other. So, here to help out is the HTC Sensation XL vs HTC Sensation XE vs HTC Sensation. The words have lost all meaning.

Form Factor

1st: Sensation XL
132.5 x 70.7 x 9.9 mm, 163g

2nd: Sensation XE
126.1 x 63.2 x 11.3mm, 148g

3rd: Sensation
126.1 x 63.2 x 11.3mm, 148g

The good news from the off is that all three of these phones look and feel good when you’ve got them in your hand. Traditionally, that’s been the HTC way as long as the company has been knocking out Android smartphones. Each of these sensational devils is machined from a solid block of aluminium making them reassuringly heavy and just a bit lush.

The HTC Sensation and Sensation XE are more or less identical. Measurements-wise, they’re identicalc but you get the red Beats branding on the black back of the XE plus a ring of the same colour around the camera lens. It’s a matter of taste really but we reckon the majority of folk will prefer the limited edition look of the XE.

But the one that beats (pun, partially intended) them both is the HTC Sensation XL. On the stats side, it’s significantly thinner than the other two, making it seem more premium as well as allowing it to fit more snugly against the line of your clothing. On top of that, it also comes in a two-tone silver and white, and that makes it pretty tasty.


Tie: Sensation
4.3-inch, 960×540, Super LCD, 256ppi

Tie: Sensation XE
4.3-inch, 960×540, Super LCD, 256ppi

Tie: Sensation XL
4.7-inch, 800x480px, LCD, 199ppi

It’s really impossible to sort this category out, and we had all three devices in front of us when we were thinking about it.
Ultimately, the big screen HTC Sensation XL is very impressive. 0.4 inches on the diagonal might not seem like much on paper but to behold there’s quite a staggering difference. The XL hits you in the face with its super-large display in a way which the other two just don’t and the lower resolution and pixel density don’t really come across. What does seem lacking is all down to the screen technology itself. While the XE and straight Sensation get the benefit of HTC’s Super LCD power, the XL doesn’t and, as a result, the last of the three here is just a little less impressive as far as colour punch goes; about 10 per cent less colourful if we had to try and put a figure to it. So, this one all comes down to what you’d prefer – a bigger hit or a more colourful one.

Engine Room

1st: Sensation XE
1.5GHz Snapdragon MSM8260

2nd: Sensation
1.2GHz Snapdragon MSM8260

3rd: Sensation XL
1.5GHz Snapdragon MSM8255

Why does the Sensation and its MSM8255 system-on-a-chip come bottom of the pile? Because it runs a single core processor rather than the dual-core units sitting in the Snapdragon set ups on the smaller two devices. Now, it’s arguable at the moment as to how much the Android software can really use a second core but if a touch of speed here and there combined with the promise of potential isn’t enough for you, then there’s always the graphics to consider.

The Snapdragon MSM8260 contains an Adreno 220 GPU rather then the Adreno 205 in the HTC Sensation XL. In real terms, what that means is that the XL is considerably out-striped on the graphics front. It’ll render HD videos and games more smoothly now but, more importantly, it’ll still be good enough towards the end of your contract when developers have moved on to games that have really started to push your hardware to its limits. We’re not so sure how well the Adreno 205 will be doing at the end of 24 months.

Oh, and for your records, all three phones come with 768MB of RAM.


1st= Sensation
8MP rear, 0.3MP front, 1080p video capture

1st= Sensation XE
8MP rear, 0.3MP front, 1080p video capture

3rd: Sensation XL
8MP rear, 1.3MP front, 720p video

If you asked most people whether they’d prefer Full HD video recording or a little more resolution on the webcam, the answer, for most, will be the 1080p; not all, but most. The tricky part is that HTC has gone to some detail to describe the snapper on the XL in a way that the Taiwanese mobile maker just hasn’t with the other two.
The XL’s rear camera, with its very wide (for a mobile) f/2.2 aperture potential and back-illuminated sensor, both of which combine for better results in low light conditions, sounds like an excellent piece of kit but for quite how much of a difference it makes in terms of image quality, we’ll have to wait for the full HTC Sensation XL review. It’s quite possible it will turn out with the best rear-facing camera of the lot.


1st= Sensation
Wi-Fi, BT 3.0, DLNA, Wi-Fi tethering, HDMI-out

1st= Sensation XE
Wi-Fi, BT 3.0, DLNA, Wi-Fi tethering, HDMI-out

3rd: Sensation XL
Wi-Fi, BT 3.0, DLNA, Wi-Fi tethering

It’s arguable if HDMI-out is quite so relevant these days as more and more devices become DLNA certified for you to stream you media to without wires. However, TVs tend to sit in our homes for a long time and there are probably more out there without Wi-Fi modules in them than with. So, the inability to hard wire the HTC Sensation XL to your TV and get all your HD content on the big screen is going to grate every now and then. Not so much a win for the HTC Sensation and Sensation XE but a loss for anyone that opts for the XL.

Battery Life

1st: Sensation XL
1600mAh, up to 710 mins talk time

2nd: Sensation XE:
1730mAh, 550 mins talk time

3rd: Sensation
1520mAh, up to 500 mins talk time

Thee Sensation XL offers quite a big advantage in terms of battery life over the straight HTC Sensation and Sensation XE depsite not having as big a battery pack as the last of the three. The difference is likely to be down to having a less power-hungry system-on-a-chip as well as having fewer pixels push and possibly to do with the nature of the screen technology as well. Whatever the reason, though, the result is that if you’re deeply concerned about not getting enough juice out of your handset, you might want to seriously consider the HTC Sensation XL over the others.


1st: Sensation XL
Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread + Sense 3.5 + Beats

2nd: Sensation XE
Android 2.3.4 + Sense 3.0 + Beats

3rd: Sensation
Android 2.3.3 + Sense 3.0

We’re not going to sit here and tell you that the difference in secondary decimal places of Android versions is that important but having the latest issue of Sense as well as the Beats audio software and hardware additions is quite a bonus. Sense 3.5 has largely identical functionality to 3.0 but it’s a smoother fit and finish.

The Beats by Dr Dre tie-in means that your audio is going to sound better on both the XE and XL to the normal Sensation, particularly if you use the Beats branded headphones that come in the box.


1st: Sensation XL

2nd: Sensation XE
1GB + 8/16GB microSD in-box

3rd: Sensation
1GB + microSD

Yes, both the HTC Sensation and Sensation XE have larger storage potential thanks to the obvious addition of a microSD port but phone memory is both more useful and easy to manage on Android than anything removable. One of the problems is that you can’t store every app on microSD and, with just 1GB of internal to play with, it’s not going to take many stubborn developers before you fill up your quota on the two smaller screen devices.


1st: Sensation XL
iBeats/Beats Solo headphones

2nd: Sensation XE
iBeats in-ear headphones + 8/16GB microSD

3rd: Sensation
4GB microSD (if lucky)

The inclusion of the Beats in-ear headphones in the boxes of both the XE and XL phones is a good one. Pocket-lint would always normally advise leaving the free-with-the-phone headphones in the box that they came in but getting the pair approved by Dr Dre bundled means you don’t have to turf out another £60+ on top of your mobile purchase.
The super extra is if you choose to go with the limited edition white HTC Sensation XL which comes with the Beats Solo on-ear headphones as part of the package. For the record, the Solos, pound for pound, are possible the best quality Beats in the entire range. They also happen to be relatively portable.


1st: Sensation

2nd: Sensation XE

3rd: Sensation XL

No prices just yet for the HTC Sensation XL, so not a lot we can say about this round for the time being but expect this big screen phone to be pricier than both of the 4.3-inch models. The real shocker is how much extra you have to pay for the HTC Sensation XE now that the straight Sensation is old enough to have had a significant price drop. When you’re talking about some headphones and a touch more on the CPU clock, that’s quite a price hike.


1st HTC Sensation xl

2nd: HTC Sensation

3rd: HTC Sensation XE

It’s a horrible decision to have to make. You’d probably feel most proud brandishing an HTC Sensation XL about you as you go about your life but that terrible hollow insecurity that your phone’s a weakling on the inside might be a little too much for some people to bear.

If you’re more about browsing the web than watching videos or playing games, then the XL is probably still the best one to go for, so long as that missing Full HD video recording doesn’t bite too much. It’s stylish, it’s got a nice big screen, it’s super thin and the Beats inside mean your music listening gets a little kick too. There’s also the healthy whack of storage to enjoy

On the other hand, if you’re a keen video watcher and are into your imaging, you might prefer the straight Sensation. Sure it doesn’t have the Beats branding and headphones of the XE but that £115 margin would buy you a better quality pair than those iBeats anyway and probably wind you up with a better audio experience. And, if you happen to own your own decent headphones already, then it’s really no contest.

Oddly enough, it’s the only Sensation XE that we’d tell you to steer clear of at the time of writing. Despite still being a very good handset in its own right, for now, it just doesn’t offer enough to make you choose it over either of the other two.

When it really, really comes down to it, if money is not particularly an issue, then we’d have to say that the HTC Sensation XL is the one to go for. Yep, there’s no dual-core processor, yep, there’s only 720p HD video and, yes, there really ought to be more pixels than there are but we don’t reckon you’ll really notice that stuff too much. What you will notice is a good looking phone, with a really usable big screen, a nice fat internal flash drive, a super-smooth UI and that somehow doesn’t seem to run out of power when you really need it.


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