Ross Catanzariti PC World
The HTC Sensation XE is by no means a bad Android phone, but none of its features blew us away. We love the red and black design and the urBeats headphones are a nice inclusion, but average battery life and less than stellar performance detract from its appeal. Ultimately, the HTC Sensation XE is a very good smartphone but not a great one.
HTC Sensation XE review: The original HTC Sensation gets a splash of red paint and an endorsement from Dr.Dre
Take the original HTC Sensation, add a splash of black and red paint and a Beats Audio logo and you end up with the HTC Sensation XE. Best described as a minor upgrade to its predecessor, the HTC Sensation XE represents decent value for money but doesn't manage to blow away the original model.
HTC Sensation XE: Design and display
The HTC Sensation XE is a near identical phone to the original Sensation. It has the same unibody chassis, an identical 4.3in qHD display and the same 8-megapixel camera. However, the HTC Sensation XE is black instead of silver and the touch-sensitive Android buttons now light up red instead of white. The Sensation XE has a Beats Audio logo emblazoned on the rear, while the edge of the camera lens and the grille covering the earpiece also get a splash of red paint.
The HTC Sensation XE's unibody casing is constructed from a single piece of aluminium. Though it feels well built, the rear battery case does creak when pressed towards the edges of the phone. The Sensation XE has a slightly thicker design than many of its competitors, but the extra girth is a trade-off we think many users would be willing to make for the added durability of an aluminium frame.
The HTC Sensation XE's 4.3in super LCD screen displays crisper text, and more natural looking colours than the However, the screen simply can't match the vibrancy, brightness and viewing angles of the Galaxy S II's Super AMOLED Plus display. The Sensation is also hard to see in direct sunlight and the extra glossy surface doesn't feel as smooth as we'd like.
We do like how the edges of the glass curve upward toward the edge of the screen. This means the screen doesn't actually come into contact with surfaces when the phone is placed face down on a desk or table, preventing everyday scratches and marks.
HTC Sensation XE: Beats Audio
The HTC Sensation XE is one of the first smartphones to feature Beats Audio qualities. It's a direct result of HTC's "strategic partnership" with the Beats By Dr. Dre audio company. When used with the included Beats headphones, HTC claims the Sensation XE uses a personalised sound profile that results in exceptional audio quality. The real value add here though isn't the Beats Audio profile: its the fact that the Sensation XE comes bundled with a version of the in-ear, urBeats headphones. These premium headphones match the black and red colour of the Sensation XE handset and are valued at $149 if they were purchased separately.
When combined with the Beats Audio sound profile, which does make a noticeable different on bass-heavy tracks, the Sensation XE is a good option for anyone who regularly listens to music on a mobile phone. Though not all music genres benefit from Beats Audio, we certainly noticed a big difference in music like rap, hip-hop and R&B.
There are two notable issues that detract from the Sensation XE's audio capabilities, though. The Beats Audio profile only works via the headphone jack and not the speakerphone, so the latter offers comparatively poor sound quality. Of more concern is that the Beats Audio sound profile can't be edited or adjusted in the form of EQ customisation. As an example, you can't adjust the bass or treble when listening with the Beats Audio profile: as the profile is bass-heavy, it sometimes sounds like overkill on various genres of music.
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