HTC Sensation XL: Review of rumours, features, pictures and specs

UPDATE: The HTC Sensation XL: 4.7-inch monster Android phone with Beats has been confirmed. Check out our First Look: HTC Sensation XL review from our time with the device. We've heard that Vodafone, 3 and O2 will be stocking the new HTC Sensation XL in the UK, available from the beginning of November across Europe and Asia. 

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Forget the iPhone 5, the HTC Sensation XL is the next phone to wet your knickers - at least if you're of the Android persuasion. Following the success of the big screen HTC Sensation, the Taiwanese handset manufacturer is looking to take things one step further and really pump the inches out on the diagonal.

Throw in a few design leads from the Windows Phone 7 HTC Titan on top and suddenly we have a pile of HTC Sensation XL rumours to sift through so we can separate Android phone fact from Android phone fiction, and determine what is most likely when the phone launches.

If you don't recognise the moniker, that's because the HTC Sensation XL has picked up more names than Prince, or Love Symbol, or whatever the funky, little man behind the Raspberry Beret is calling himself these days. So, while it is now the HTC Sensation XL, the handset has also been known as HTC Bass and HTC Runnymede, if you were following those rumours in the past.

Now that you're up to speed on that front, here's everything else you need to know about the HTC Sensation XL.

HTC Sensation XL release date

Pinning down an actual release date on the Sensation XL is not easy. As handsets go, this Android smartphone has shown its head above ground here or there, but a change from codename to product name is always a good sign that the launch is getting close.

Last year HTC hit the world with an Autumn release of a new flagship Android smartphone, the HTC Desire HD. We've also had a Windows Phone 7 launch from the company and previously HTC has made a habit of using the same phone chassis twice: once for Windows Phone and then again for Android (as it did with the HD2 and the Desire HD). So, with the WP7 HTC Titan in the shops from early October, it doesn't take a genius to guess that the Sensation XL might not be far behind.

More specifically, Pocketnow reported on 25 September 2011 that the HTC Sensation XL will likely launch alongside the HTC Explorer and HTC Pico as well as possibly even the HTC Ruby and HTC Vigor - even if the phone roundup will end up sounding something like a WWE wrestling team.

On 27 September 2011, the HTC Ruby went official as the HTC Amaze 4G on T-Mobile in the US. It'll be arriving on 12 October but whether or not that means it'll have the Sensation XL and others with it has not been mentioned.

However, one of the HTC Sensation XL pictures that has been leaked shows a date of 4 October (coincidentally the launch date for iPhone 5/4S). We know there is an HTC event scheduled for 6 October, so this strongly points to an early October UK launch for the phone.

HTC Sensation XL features

Rumours surrounding the features of the HTC Sensation XL suggest it will be a new flagship handset for HTC. Thisismynext.com managed to grab the HTC Runnymede spec sheet on 13 September 2011, which contributed to the volume of information on this device.

More recently on 26 September 2011, we reported that the phone looks set to sport a 4.7-inch, 960x540 qHD display and single-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm MSM8255. That might seem a little odd given that the previous HTC Sensation phones have come with ever-fashionable dual core CPUs, although the Titan and the Flyer both offer this chipset. It may be that either the information is inaccurate or that the HTC Sensation XL is not, in fact, a flagship device, although the latter explanation seems less likely. Indeed, it's even possible that Qualcomm might use the handset to launch its next generation of Snapdragon chips at the smaller 28nm size, called Krait, as this was originally scheduled for the end of 2011.

More importantly, it looks as if the Sensation XL specs include an upgrade to the RAM to 1GB - an area where Pocket-lint felt the original's 768MB was not enough to compete with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S II.

As for the form factor, Pocketnow also pointed to the phone being just 9.9mm thick - again in line with the chassis of the HTC Titan - and that it will arrive in multiple SKUs but whether they refer to versions with different memory size, headphones, colours, or carrier exclusives, we'll have to wait and see. What does seem solid is that all of the HTC Sensation XL units will measure 132.5 x 70.7 x 9.9mm in size.

It is also suggested that there will be both 16GB or 32GB forms, giving you plenty of memory to play with when it comes to filling the phone with music and taking advantage of the new Beats Audio technology, but more on that in a moment.

HTC Sensation XL camera

Camera-wise, it looks like the Sensation XL stays true to the Sensation family, featuring a 1.3-megapixel snapper on the front and an 8-megapixel shooter on the back. In fact, it was EXIF data in blurry images that helped begin the new HTC handset rumour fest. The only part that doesn't tie in is from the spec sheet from Thisismynext which indicated 720p video recording capabilities which seems a little odd in the face of the original Sensation and its 1080p ways.

Presuming that it is the same sensor unit as the HTC Titan, the the HTC Sensation XL camera should also arrive with a very tasty F/2.2 aperture lens, which should help some in low light conditions, as well as a CMOS sensor to back it up. There will also be dual LED flashes.

As unexciting as it is, also worth taking a look at is the blurry cam pic that started it all, just to keep the purists happy. 

HTC Sensation XL apps and software

The Sensation XL had previously been rumoured to run Android 2.3.4, however a leaked video showing the software in action (but not the hardware, that's a Desire HD) now points to Android 2.3.5.

Naturally, on top of the standard Android OS, the HTC Sensation XL is expected to come skinned with HTC Sense 3.5. We've seen this on the HTC Rhyme in a sleeker form, but we don't think HTC will abandon their familiar layout (as seen above) and it could include the 5GB Dropbox deal that Pocket-lint has reported on previously.

Apart from the usual look, feel and integration that brings, it's also worth remembering that there'll be a whole bunch of HTC Sense apps for connectivity, social networking and productivity embedded from the off including the HTC Watch movie store and other goodies so far saved for the HTC Sense 3.0 and above devices. 

HTC Sensation XL battery

The HTC Sensation XL battery will be a 1600mAh unit if it's set to be the same as the HTC Titan's, along with the majority of the rest of the handset's internals. As such, it would be a fair bet to presume the Sensation XL will manage around 460hrs in standby and 6.7hrs talk time. 

Then again, there can be discrepancies between Android and Windows Phone 7 setups, even with identical spec sheets. The HTC Desire HD is listed as managing a 490 hour standby whereas the hardware-identical, WP7-powered HD7 manages only 320 hours.

On top of that, there's also the interesting fact that the HTC Sensation XE battery was boosted to 1730mAh from the original's 1520mAh. The result is the XE has a quoted 540 hours standby, something which may be present in the XL too.

HTC Sensation XL accessories and Beats

We now know from leaked press pics that the HTC Sensation XL headphones will be of the Beats Audio brand as will the audio circuitry inside, just like the Sensation XE we posted a hands-on with recently. This also ties into the 6 October event, where Beats Audio branding features highly. 

The other side of the Beats By Dr Dre tie-in is the headphones that come with the handset and it looks as if there'll be two choices here. The first is the in-ear Diddy Beats variety and the second a more expensive special edition with an on-ear pair - most likely the Beats Solo rather than the Beats Pro.

Aside the Beats headphones, you can rest assured that the phone will be supported by a whole bunch of HTC Sensation XL accessories in terms of cases, protectors, car kits and docks from both HTC and third party companies.

The leaked video of the phone in action (below) also shows what looks like a couple of external contact points on the base. We saw similar contacts used on the HTC Rhyme for the dock, so we're guessing that the HTC Sensation XL dock will be announced at launch. 

HTC Sensation XL pictures

The HTC Sensation XL features a slightly different finish to the Sensation and Sensation XE, shipping in what looks like a white and aluminium shell. Leaked photos and video show the phone to have a double piece back, most likely aluminium with a plastic bottom to ensure the internal radios work as HTC have done with previous handsets. The pictures we've seen so far also suggest a white plastic front and white screen border with touch sensitive Android keys. 

HTC Sensation XL price

The HTC Sensation XL demo video shows the handset running on the Vodafone network. This could indicate that it is with Vodafone for testing, or simply that a Vodafone SIM card was inserted by whoever shot the video (on their bedroom floor, using a laptop?). We'll have to wait and see about the HTC Sensation XL price if it is going to be SIM free; the Sensation XE can be yours for £499 SIM free, so we imagine it would be a bump above that. Anyone expecting the HTC Sensation XL free on a contract will probably have to opt for a seriously large bundle.

We reported that the Sensation XL could launch in two separate forms - one with earbuds and the other with over the ear headphones as a "special edition" - and, again, there appears be more memory size SKUs in-between suggesting there will be a range of price points.

HTC Sensation XL review

Expect plenty more coverage as we get closer the release date and a full and thorough HTC Sensation XL review once we've had a chance to get it into the Pocket-lint labs.

Excited about the HTC Sensation XL? Let us know in the comments below...

- HTC Sensation XL vs Samsung Galaxy S II



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