HTC Sensation XE: Smash Hit

HTC Sensation XE Review - Dialaphone

    We Liked

  • Beats Audio Technology
  • Design
  • Faster CPU
  • We Disliked

  • Lack Of Internal Storage Space
  • Rating

  • 4.5 out of 5 4.5 out of 5 4.5 out of 5 4.5 out of 5 4.5 out of 5

It’s not often that we’re treated to second helpings of a smartphone, but HTC surprised us all when it unveiled the HTC Sensation XE, a souped-up version of its popular Sensation handset and the first device to feature Beats Audio technology.

The tech world may not have given it the warmest of welcomes, as many were expecting a brand new device to showcase HTC’s musical acquisition rather than a buffed-up version of an existing handset. However, the Taiwanese manufacturer has set the XE apart from original Sensation with a few carefully chosen improvements. Are these added extras enough to give it an edge though? Read on to find out…


The HTC Sensation XE is almost identical to its older sibling as it rocks the same aluminium unibody and keeps its 126.1 x 65.4 x 11.3 mm dimensions. However, HTC has given the XE a splash of colour in the form of red touch-sensitive nav buttons, a red speaker grill and Beats Audio logo on the back, all of which make the XE stand out from the crowd.

Whilst externally the device looks strikingly similar to the handset that preceded it, the Sensation XE is a weightier 151 grams compared to the original’s 148 grams. It’s hardly noticeable when in hand and the additional weight doesn’t appear without reason – a larger 1730mAh battery is in situ, said by the manufacturer to increase talk time by 25 minutes. A necessary evil then, but credit must be given to HTC for addressing the battery life problem that plagued the earlier incarnate of the Sensation.

The display is the same 4.3-inch Super LCD offering found on the Sensation but we must admit that we’d have loved  to have seen an AMOLED number on board to put the XE in the same league as the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S II. That said, the screen’s high qHD resolution of 540 x 960 pixels more than makes up for this and produces a fantastic picture.

Power and Operating System

The HTC Sensation XE ships with Android 2.3.4 and is complemented by HTC’s Sense user interface, replete with animated weather forecasts and customisable lock screen.

All this is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, a step-up from the 1.2GHz CPU found on the original version, alongside 768MB of RAM. As you would expect from one of the fastest processors found on a handset right now, transitions are lightning quick and lag-free and resource-heavy multitasking presents no problems, something that’s particularly important if you want to listen to music whilst doing other things on your device. Speaking of which, just how good are the Sensation XE’s Beats assets?

Beats by Dr Dre

The HTC Sensation XE’s musical prowess is its biggest feature and since the manufacturer has utilised the expertise of hip-hop mogul and producer extraordinaire Dr Dre to improve the audio performance offered by its handsets, we were expecting nothing but the best. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint.

The XE comes with a pair of Beats by Dr Dre in-ear buds so you won’t need to fork out any extra cash to tune into the impressive audio experience. It’s really easy to enjoy everything the Beats tech has to offer as the XE automatically fires up an enhanced audio profile as soon as you plug the headphones in. The technology has been designed to replicate studio-quality sound and that it does, with just the right levels of bottom end and resonance combining to produce crystalline, sharp sound (bass is significantly deeper and vocals clearer compared to when the profile is turned off). The profile will still work even if you chose to use your own headphones, but we noticed the Beats headphones do play a major part in showing off the fantastic sound quality. We’re confident in saying that the Beats tech created the best sound we’ve heard from a mobile device to date.

Camera: The Sensation XE packs an 8 megapixel camera which comes with all the trimmings including autofocus, dual-LED flash and HD video recording capabilities at 1080p. The screens offers the perfect platform to view your pictures and videos on, plus you can take advantage of the front-facing VGA camera for video calling.

Other tech specs:

  • Music player – Supports MP3, AAC+, WAV and WMA files
  • Video player – Supports XviD, MP4, H.264, H.263 and WMV files
  • 4GB internal memory (1GB user available)
  • microSD card slot that supports cards up to 32GB
  • 3G
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • DLNA
  • microUSB port
  • A-GPS
  • 7 hours 20 minutes talk time (3G)

Any downsides?

HTC has definitely managed to better the Sensation XE but whilst we’ve seen improvements in the power and battery sections, it would have been nice to see an AMOLED display on offer, especially if HTC really wants to put the pressure on its rivals. The XE could’ve done with more than 1GB of storage considering that it’s aimed at music fans, and we’d expect many will be disgruntled at having to purchase an SDcard to expand storage space to get the best out of the device.


Even though HTC didn’t at first capture the tech world’s imagination by announcing a regurgitated version of the original Sensation, the firm has managed to improve what was already a capable hanset. It’s great to see that the Taiwanese tech giants have listened to user feedback and made necessary improvements and the Beats technology really does put the Sensation XE in a league of its own when it comes to audio. If we had to pick between the original Sensation and Sensation XE, it’d be a no brainer – XE all the way.



5 thoughts on “HTC Sensation XE: Smash Hit

  1. Hi! I’m thinking to buy this phone as a replacement to my iPod touch + sennheiser cx 300 ii precision, my question is: is this phone capable to play like an ipod or iphone and are dr. dre beats better earphones than sennheiser cx 300 ii precision?

    • Hi, Sebastian

      HTC’s handset has a full range of audio capabilities and works well as a music player, with the Beats Audio enhancements providing some of the best sound quality available. HTC no longer supplies free Beats Audio headphones with its handsets, but the technology will make a difference when used with any pair of headphones.

      Do you have any other questions about the device?


      Chris, Dialaphone

  2. I bought this phone in November 2011. I very nearly didn’t thanks to seeing one review mention the ‘grip of death’. A friend said that was rubbish, so I went ahead and bought what is now my 3rd HTC. Glad I took his advice – it is a SUPERB phone! It boots up in a matter of a few seconds, I have never lost a call by holding the phone, it is super fast with Apps etc. I use it for work (with a Vodafone Sure Signal device at home). I linked the phone with the office’s server in a matter of minutes and emails and attachments are all clear – as are the 3 other email accounts I have set up on the phone. Browsing is super fast too.

    OK it has been upgraded for the XE, but I have been most surprised by how well the battery lasts – even when I browse the web / check my work emails between calls.

    The music player is great too. I have lost patience with iTunes and the fact that I cannot download my library to my handset, so all my music is now Windows Music Player not iTunes. Great quality player and headphones. My iPod has been donated to the kids.

    A super piece of kit – it does it all brilliantly.

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