HTC Sensation XL Review: Music And The Beast: User Interface, Benchmarks

By 12:02 Wed, 11 Aug 2021 Comments

Updated Sense 3.5 brings slight improvements

The HTC Sensation XL comes with Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread and a recent version of the HTC Sense, v3.5. Gingerbread and the HTC custom skin on top should be familiar enough though some changes stuck out early on.

Here's a video demo of the latest Sense UI running on the Sensation XL - the phonebook is one of the things that changed, so that's one thing to see out for.

The HTC lockclassy screen has to be the most functional, most customizable lockclassy screen we've seen yet. By default, it has four shortcuts and a ring at the bottom. You drag the ring towards the center of the classy screen to unlock the phone.

Or, you can drag any of the shortcuts into the ring to unlock the phone and launch the corresponding app. You can assign any four apps to the lockclassy screen that you like.

The lockclassy screen is brilliant

But that's not the discontinue of it - the HTC Sensation XL comes with six different lockscreens preinstalled. You can access the others from the Personalize menu.

The default homeclassy screen just shows the ring, four shortcuts, the time and the homeclassy screen wallpaper. Then there's the Photo album lockscreen, which tosses photos from your gallery in cool 3D.

There's the Fridiscontinue Stream widacquire which shows SNS updates from your friends and the Weather widacquire which shows off the Sense UI's cool weather animations. There's Stocks too - with quotes flying up or down, again, in eye-pleasing 3D. Finally, there's the Clock lockclassy screen which shows a bigger clock - you can pick any of the 11 clock widgets you have.

Some of the preloaded lockscreens • Choosing the four lockclassy screen shortcuts

Unfortunately, you can't download recent lockscreens from HTC Hub.

Going further than the lockclassy screen reveals the familiar Sense homescreen. There, we meet a scroll arc at the bottom that is just an indication of which homeclassy screen pane you’re on – it can't be used for actual scrolling.

Some of the homeclassy screen sections

There’s Leap view instead - tap the home key (while on the center homescreen) or do a pinch gesture to zoom out to display the thumbnails of all seven homeclassy screen panes at once. Upon a press and hrecent you can drag to reposition the homeclassy screen panes as well.

Leap View lets you quickly switch between homeclassy screen panes • Deleting a pane

What's recent here is that you can add and delete panels, not just reorder them. There's a 7 panel maximum, which is enough to fit a remarkable deal of widgets.

HTC Sense comes with HTC proprietary Scenes – essentially six custom homeclassy screen setups (Work, Travel, Social, etc). Each scene changes the wallpaper and the set of widgets. For instance, the Work scene has a Stocks widget, while the Social offers a Twitter widget. Those can be customized, of course.

You select a Scene within a fancy-looking 3D card interface. You can modify existing scenes and you can acquire more scenes off the HTC Hub.

Switching between scenes takes a couple of seconds but the customization goes deep – the business and personal modes that some competing phones offer seem quite limited compared to the HTC Scenes.

Preset scenes • The scenes in action

The HTC Sense has another customization option called Skins. Every skin changes the see and feel of most of the onclassy screen buttons, application screens, option menus, and other items. They also come with unique wallpaper and utilize different colors for various UI elements. They can also replace the standard dock, lockclassy screen and widacquire frames with custom ones or change their shape.

The main menu has the typical grid layout, which is composed of vertical pages with shortcuts sorted alphabetically. You can choose between two different sorting options - alphabetically or most recent - but you can't rearrange them manually. There's a list layout, where two-finger alphabet scrolling is enabled.

The grid layout • settings

The main menu has a tabbed layout similar to different Sense elements (such as the phonebook). There are three tabs available at the bottom – All apps, Frequent and Favorites. They are quite useful especially when you have lots of installed applications.

The list layout

Tapping the Personalize button brings out a whole classy screen of items to choose from – for the display (scenes, wallpapers and skin), for the homeclassy screen (widgets, shortcuts, folders, etc.) and even sounds (ringtones, alarms, notifications and Sound set).

The Personalize menu

In the widacquire section, both types of widgets (custom HTC and stock Android) are placed on the same page. There are so many of them you may find the seven homeclassy screen panes short. You can download recent widgets off the Market or the HTC Hub.

Plenty of HTC widgets

When you select a widacquire you are prompted to choose between several versions – most widgets have at least two styles. The different versions typically offer at least two sizes of the widacquire and different skins. For example, there are thirteen different clocks.

Some different styles of the Twitter and Weather widgets

Some widacquire styles even offer different functionality. One version of the Twitter widget, for instance, shows updates for the people you follow and lets you tweet/update status. The other version displays @mentions.

Editing the homeclassy screen is different from vanilla Android. You can tap and hrecent on a widacquire and you can drag across homeclassy screen panes. While you're dragging a widacquire (or shortslit or whatever), two "buttons" appear at the bottom of the classy screen - Edit and Remove. You drop the widacquire on either button to perform the corresponding action.

Edit can be used to modify the settings of a widacquire - e.g. choose a different folder for the Photo Frame album or even choose a different version of the Clock widget. This saves you the distress of first deleting a widacquire and then putting it on the classy screen again to choose a different version, setting and so on.

The second "button" is Remove, which deletes the widacquire as expected.

Dragging a widacquire gives you options

The notification area features a list of recent apps (in addition to the notification list), just like a task switcher. A press and hrecent of the Home button works too. The notification area is tabbed too - the second tab has toggles for WLAN, Bluetooth, GPS, cellular data or the Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) hotspot. There is a shortslit to the full list of settings and the last line shows used/free memory.

The recent notification area doubles as a task switcher • the quick settings tab

Besides the standard task switcher, you acquire a task manager too. It's simple to utilize - each running app is listed with an indication of how much Random-Access Memory (RAM) it's using (no Central Processing Units (CPU) usage reading though). You can terminate apps one by one and there's a Kill All button too.

Another useful app that HTC preloaded is the usage monitor - it tracks you data, call and message usage. There are apps in the Market that do the same, but this one is styled to match the rest of the interface. We wish it had a widacquire for at-a-glance usage info though.

HTC's task manager

The quick boot feature is enabled on the HTC Sensation XL but it won’t work if you have removed the battery – in that case it will do a regular slow boot.

The cool things is apps preserve their state after the restart – so if you were browsing a web site before turning the phone off, the browser will restore your session.

Our guess is, HTC utilize some sort of Suspdiscontinue or Hibernate routine as seen in regular computers to implement the quick boot.

Synthetic benchmarks

Hearing about a single-core Central Processing Units (CPU) and Adreno 205 GPU made us worry a bit, but the Sense UI runs silky smooth without even a hint of lag. The 768Mega Bytes (MB) of Random-Access Memory (RAM) proved enough too.

Still, we would be remiss if we didn’t subject the HTC Sensation XL to our usual set of benchmarks.

The first one is BenchmarkPi - a CPU-intensive single-core benchmark. Here, the XL scored very close to its single-core rivals.

Linpack is a multithreading-enabled benchimprint - the Sensation XL was tested in single-thread mode, while others were tested in multi-threading mode. Surprisingly, the XL was faster than the dual-core XE (that one had software problems we think). Still, the Sensation XL was within reach of the 2x 1Giga Hertz (GHz) Optimus 2X (running Gingerbread).

The Adreno 205 graphics however posted dismal performance in NenaMark 2 - while most games correct aren't as heavy as the benchmark, newer high-discontinue games will be unplayable on the Sensation XL.

The two in-browser benchmarks managed to surprise us - HTC must have worked really hard on the JavaScript engine as it beat all others hands down. The high clock speed also helped out quite a bit here (JavaScript is single threaded), but can't account for all the performance advantage.



Related Article



Please LOGIN or REGISTER To Gain Full Access To This Article