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Review - HTC Sensation XL

  • Big 4.7" screen
  • Speedy processor
  • Offers good boom; also shakes the room
Written by Adam Wajnberg
10/02/2012

Times change. When the iPhone was introduced as the first (“Ahem. Second” says the LG Prada) full touchscreen phone in 2007, many laughed. Phones had been shrinking down in recent years, to the extent that the phenomenon was the frequent butt of many Dilbert jokes. To release a wallet sized brick right at the start of the skinny jeans revolution seemed like folly. Folly!

Cut to several years and hundreds of billions of dollars later, and the Shiny Black Rectangle (SBR) is to phone as 4 wheels are to car. In fact, that 3.5” screen, once considered comically outsized, might now be thought of as a little cramped.
Enter HTC’s Sensation XL. An update to the Sensation, HTC’s media powerhouse, the XL boasts a 4.7” screen that doesn’t sound like a big difference on paper – unless we add a graphic to that paper. Note: this is actual size:

iPhone fans may scoff, but when the iPad was denounced as “a big iPod touch”, many responded with “and…?” Size does matter when it comes to screens- books become comfortably readable, web browsing feels normal, and for those with near-sightedness, the extra space is a huge sigh of relief. Amongst the massive spread of HTC phones with questionable names, the Sensation XL, with its movie and music branding, might actually be the best unit for seniors.

But for the hip youngsters, this phone is all about the media. All smartphones today are quite adept at playing movies and music, but the XL boasts a snappy 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor that eliminates Android’s sometimes choppy performance. Movie and music menus are smooth and fun, the speakers are loud and impressively bass-y, thanks to some clever software mixing, courtesy of Dr. Dre, who seems to hold his doctorate in audio engineering. And games are made a lot more enjoyable on the bigger screen.

In a crowded market, the XL stands out for its size and speedy processor - and that might be enough. With the recent announcement that the XL will be offered for $5 on Vodafone’s $29 plan (free on the $49), it’s easily one of the best Android handsets available at such a low price.

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