back to article HTC Sensation XE

HTC’s original Sensation hit the ground running in the spring, bringing with it a dual-core processor - the first time HTC had used one - and one of the firm's best ever cameras. This new version beefs up the processor and adds Beats Audio technology to improve the sound. All that makes for a big old slab of a phone: it's 126 …


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  1. Raithmir


    "The XE runs Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread, as up to date as it gets while Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, now available on the Nexus, is being prepared for other phones."

    Technically not true, latest gingerbread version is 2.3.7

  2. big_D Silver badge

    Latest versions?

    Gingerbread 2.3.7 was released in July...

    htc have released 2 phones already with Sense 3.5...

    Other than that, it looks good. I'm waiting to see what ICS will be like. I have a normal Sensation and the earphones are okay (certainly a lot better fitting than the iPhone ones!), but the Beats look good.

  3. Alan Potter 1

    I have not tested this phone, so can't comment on how ood the sound is, but one thing is worth emphasising - heavy bass does not equal good sound.

    I did try some Dr Dre headphones... and was appalled at how crap they sounded. The bass was vastly - stupidly - over-emphasised. What I heard through the 'phones was nothing like what I would hear in a concert hall or opera house... it was hideously distorted, bass heavy and frankly garbage.

    If you like heavy bass, then fine. But that's not the same as "good sound"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Seems all people want these days is something that sounds loud with lots of treble. So much for accurate reproduction of music.

    2. Brian 6

      @Alan Potter 1

      " What I heard through the 'phones was nothing like what I would hear in a concert hall or opera house..." and what exactly gave u the idea that Dr Dre headphones were supposed to sound like an opera house. Do u even know who Dr Dre is. ??

  4. Paul Shirley

    HTC Watch?

    I thought the stock Market now has movie rental and at the same price as HTC Watch? I'd check but uninstalled the bloated mess the Market app has become!

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Not really as 'up to date as it gets'

    running 2.3.4 if there are 2.3.5 and up out there for phones like the SGSII.

  6. Andrew Hodgkinson

    Camera "not too bad"?

    I really don't know what goes on with El Reg and camera quality comments. Maybe you all have horribly low expectations, but frankly, the sample shots from that HTC are terrible - washed out, colour shifted, heavy-handed noise reduction and over-sharpening. If that's "not bad" I'd hate to see what you classify as "terrible".

    Consider this 5mp shot from the now old iPhone 4, with a camera you didn't seem to think was that good either:

    Check out the clarity of the text at 100% scale on the postbox and the barely visible halo around letters. Then scroll down to the pavement around the postbox and note all the detail in the bricks and road surface. It's probably a bit over-saturated, but at least the postbox itself is red! Now compare to the very new 8mp "not bad" HTC post box:

    It's washed out and the postbox is purple! Despite being 8mp, you can't read most of the text. There's almost no "real" detail in the pavement around the base; just multi-pixel splodges of noise-reduced blur. Scroll up a bit to look at the brick wall mid-left and paving slabs behind and they're just a smoothed out, detail-free expanse of brown and grey.

    Bad light, perhaps? Check out the sky from the HTC in this sunny shot:

    ...and try to find detail in the brickwork. Never mind that, try to find a clear edge to a *brick* that isn't indistinct and blurred. Now look at the old iPhone 4:

    Quite heavy noise on the sky, but notice the uniformity; it hasn't got the deep speckling arising from noise exceeding the noise reduction threshold in the HTC, so noise reduction in e.g. Photoshop will be much more successful. And just look at all the brickwork - clear and detailed, with shadow detail, highlight detail, good colour balance and contrast.

    Unfortunately your reviews lose credibility when you play Emperor's New Clothes with sample shots that show very different results from the review text that purports to describe them.

    1. Audrey S. Thackeray


      Not saying you are wrong or biased but if those were real like-for-like comparisons it would be a lot more convincing.

      Anyone know of any side-by-side phone camera comparisons of this sort?

      1. Andrew Hodgkinson

        Side by side

        Google found:

        Hard to use - you have to hover around the thumbnails to see what they are and the sort order seems a bit random. The 8mp Sensation's in there, though, along with the iPhone 4 and (annoying with the focus set to the wrong place, doh!) the 4S. Viewing the zoomed out image gives a good feel for overall balance. But the devil's in the detail as usual... 4, 4s, Nexus S, Galaxy S2, Sensation full size:

        The iPhone 4S shot is odd - the book's in perfect focus. Looks like it has quite a shallow depth of field in low light compared to other smartphones and where depth of field is an issue with other shots, the focal point is the in-shot-camera's lens, not the book.

        The Nexus S does extremely badly; the Galaxy S2 is probably best. Make sure you're viewing at 100% and look at stuff like noise in the background - uniform for the iPhone and very well controlled on the Galaxy S2, while the Sensation and Nexus S are awful, with big blobs of noise reduced mush. Text on the lens is much harder to read on those too.

        There's a Nikon D80 shot there too for balance (DSLR circa 2006):

        Looking at the depth of field, grain/noise, colour balance and so-on, I'd say both iPhone shots come very close to the same "look". Whether or not you prefer that, though, is of course a matter of personal judgement.

      2. whatdoyoumeanhandle?

        GSMAreana do side by side comparisons:

        It'll only tell you how good they are at taking photos of posters, but it's easy to spot cameras that are low detail, use too much sharpening/noise reduction or are deliberately altering the contrast/colour saturation.

        I'd agree that the XE doesn't have a great camera and that you can get (cheaper) phones with better cameras, but it's a big improvement over the piss poor offerings in the Desire S and Desire HD.

    2. Paul 185

      Just to defend Andrew against anyone claiming an Apple agenda, here's a comparison between the 5mp snapper on a Galaxy Nexus, and the new Sensation:

      The Sensation's fruit shot:

      The Galaxy Nexus:

      As you can see the colours on the nexus are much more crisp and accurate, and check out the money and keychain thing in the background at the top. The camera on the Sensation is horrendous, no doubt about it, and inferior to most 5mp cameras I've seen on phones before.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "They’re in bed with cable and headphone manufacturer Monster"

    "earphones that come supplied with a handset. Custom-made for the Sensation XE - and would retail for £80 if sold separately, HTC claims"

    Yup, those two statements add up ... the better quote would have been "would be worth £80"

  8. Afflicted.John

    Samsung Galaxy Note is faster

    Just saying that's all....

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One suggestion for the reviews

    Please can you tell us how long you used it for?

    1. dotslash

      the reason being HTC's build quality is terrible.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Awww, did diddumsywumsy break his HTC? Naughty naughty boy dotslash!

      2. thehousecat

        What's wrong with HTC build quality?

        i bought a new phone a few months ago. It was a toss up between HTC Sensation and Samsung Galaxy S II. The main reason I went for the HTC was that it felt solid, whereas the Samsung felt flimsy. That and I know a number of people with other HTCs and they all seem pretty robust.

  10. DaveLeeTravis

    Hmm....what did they do to you to take 10% off from the mini review?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    8GB in the box?

    I got 16GB with mine...

    1. Huntsman
      Thumb Up

      Same here...

      and I'm with O2, if that makes any difference.

      I did have one odd problem in that the FM radio app would crash if the Beats headphones were plugged in on initial setup. I tried with a bog standard pair and it worked fine, and it also now works with the Beats. The sound quality seems richer with Beats enabled, but I think you could achieve the same results playing with the EQ settings yourself.

      I'm more than happy with the phone in general though, it's quite an upgrade from my old 3GS.

  12. Gordon861


    "That needn’t be a deal breaker, however, since HTC has said that it should get an update to the new version in 2012."

    Tell that to the HTC Desire owners that have been promised updates to their phone for ages. We were also promised that the Desire would be useable on to allow us to track and backup our phones but that never happened.

    Also, why can they not put a decent amount of RAM in these phones so that if/when they do make updates available the phone still has space to run apps? It can't increase the price that much for just a little more RAM.

  13. Adam Starkey

    Beats Audio

    The Sony MegaBass for a new generation.

  14. Greem


    Does it have CiQ preinstalled?

  15. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    The Phone UI is so sluggish

    The number of times I've accidentally redialled a number after hanging up is just getting silly.

  16. moonoi
    Thumb Up

    Great Phone

    I've had one for a month now, it replaced my Motorola Atrix, and its why better in my opinion.

    I haven't had any problems with the UI being sluggish either, I've now pretty much completely stopped using my company issued iPhone 4 for this one.

    Although the headphones, whilst better than the normal in box set, are still not great. I use m a-Jays four instead, and the sound is awesome through them, nice fat bottom end and crisp highs, even with the Beats Audio enabled

    Highly recommend it.

  17. darklord
    Thumb Down

    Camera quality ??????

    Sorry to say the photo samples look washed out and flat and grainy but nowhere in the article is that emphasised just spouting that great its an 8mp Camera whoop de doo. no good if the quality is this poor which is typical of HTC phones.

    Had two never get another ill wait for the S3 thanks

  18. paulf
    Thumb Down

    "though why you’d want to when Google Navigation already offers this is a mystery"

    I have the Sensation sim free handset and HTC loaded an app on it called Locations. This is pretty useful as it has offline maps available. Regarding Navigation though, when I mount the phone on the HTC car kit cradle it automatically loads the Locations software in navigation mode and demands payment to use it. I select cancel, but its a PITA EVERY time I put the phone in the car cradle.

    I've spoken to a HTC support manager about this and at present there is no way to turn off this behaviour. I certainly couldn't find any way to do so without killing Locations and the offline maps are useful to have.

    HTC promised me that this would be resolved soon as Google Navigation was finishing its Beta period. While Google navigation is in Beta, they consider the HTC Locations software to be the only navigation software of choice on the phone. That's crap as I've found Google navigation perfectly acceptable, and free is cheaper than the HTC equivalent.

    For those wanting to know, the navigation stuff in HTC Locations is provided by TomTom IIRC.


  19. Mike Brown

    high end audio?

    and the headphones cables arnt shielded? WTF?

    MOnster? the same guys who make £99 HDMI cables? Figures.

  20. Robert Caldecott

    Samsung have stolen HTC's thunder

    The camera is frankly appalling if your sample pictures are anything to go by and the Beats tie-in is nothing more than a gimmick. I had a HTC Desire which was a lovely device, especially once I removed all Sense - it eats up RAM and battery life for some reason. But the latest HTC phones seem a little lacking if you ask me.

    Amazing to think that 12 months ago a HTC was *the* Android phone to have. Samsung are the new top dogs in this particular arena and I can't see why you'd choose this device over a Galaxy S2.

    HTC are in for a rough 2012.

  21. PaulR79


    I don't particularly care for anything that came into being by working with Monster. The audio enhancement itself can be installed on some other phones such as my Desire HD. It may not be quite the same but it sure beats getting a new phone for slightly different sound. In addition to that my Desire HD also has SRS and Dobly. I don't see any reason to upgrade any time soon with this apart from the battery.

  22. Matt Bucknall
    Thumb Down

    The eighties called... wants its red paint back.

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