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HTC Sensation XE review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £375
inc VAT

A capable, fast smartphone with above-average headphones at a good price


Android 2.3, 4.3in 540×960 display

The XE is the second Beats Audio-branded smartphone we’ve seen, after the HTC Sensation XL. The HTC Sensation XE is a far more powerful beast, though, with a dual-core 1.5GHz processor rather than the XL’s single-core chip. It’s also a Beats-branded handset, and so has a stylish black and red colour scheme and comes with a pair of Beats-branded in-ear headphones.

HTC Sensation XE

The headphones are the Monster iBeats model, which would be £64 from if you bought them separately. They have a built-in microphone and inline remote control, and while they no doubt sound better than the headphones you normally get with a phone, they’re not brilliant. When the Beats headphones are plugged in, by default HTC’s music player gives you the option of having Beats Audio switched on or off. With Beats turned on, music has bass and treble turned up to the max, and while this works reasonably well with most tracks, it drowns out the midrange and can be tiring to listen to. We preferred the warmer sound we got when we turned Beats off.

When we plugged in a different set of headphones we had the choice of enabling Beats Audio or using HTC enhancer. Beats Audio gave us a very bright sound as before, but HTC enhancer just had loads of bass, which rather overwhelmed the rest of the sound. We got the best sound from both sets of headphones just by using the Android version of Winamp, which made our music sound less processed overall.

HTC Sensation XE

As a phone rather than a music player, the Sensation XE is great. The fast dual-core processor helps it speed along, and battery life is a reasonable seven hours and 20 minutes, which compares well with other Android smartphones but isn’t a patch on the iPhone 4S’s 12-hour life.

The screen is also impressive. Its high 540×960 (qHD) resolution makes text and images sharp, and there’s plenty of contrast. The screen is also so bright that we found the middle brightness setting more than adequate for general use.

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Price £375
Rating *****


Main display size 4.3in
Native resolution 540×960
CCD effective megapixels 8-megapixel
Flash dual LED
Video recording format 3GP
Connectivity Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB
GPS yes
Internal memory 1024MB
Memory card support microSDHC
Memory card included 16384MB
Operating frequencies GSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 900/1700/2100
Wireless data EDGE, HSPA, WCDMA
Size 126x65x11mm
Weight 151g


Operating system Android 2.3
Microsoft Office compatibility Word/Excel/PowerPoint editors, PDF viewer
Email client POP3/IMAP/Exchange
Audio format support MP3, AAC, AMR, WMA, MIDI, WAV, OGG, M4A
Video playback formats 3GP, 3G2, MP4, WMV, AVI, Xvid
FM Radio yes
Web Browser Webkit
Accessories headphones, data cable, charger
Talk time 7.4 hours
Standby time 12.9 days

Buying Information

SIM-free price £395
Price on contract £31-per-month 18-month contract
SIM-free supplier
Contract/prepay supplier

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