No sooner had HTC announced its rebooted Sensation XE, we got the chance to have a play with the finished model.
As you may suspect sound quality was a marked improvement, with the ability to switch the Beats sound profile on and off demonstrating the difference. We were using a pair of Beats Audio cans, though the Sensation XE will arrive with a pair of in-ear buds - Beats by Dr. Dre, naturally.
The pair that come bundles also have an inline remote - something of a rarity on Android headphones sets - whilst all Beats headphones will activate a special sound profile. We thought this was a nice touch if you’re not a things-in-your-ear type of music fan.
Having had enough time to navigate around the phone, and get the tour, we found that the processor speed bump had improved some of the lagging and stutteriness that we found on the original HTC Sensation.
The HTC Sense 3.0 overlay is here (not Sense 3.5) with the handy lockscreen shortcuts in attendance, alongside the visually rich weather and social widgets. HTC mentioned that the next generation of HTC Sense - which is allegedly already doing the rounds on the web - is still under development, and looks set to roll back the Sense interface, with a clearer toolbar at the bottom.
The Sensation XE also features a larger battery, which on paper promises an additional 25 minutes or so of talk time. Could make all the difference if you're waiting on that call to close an important deal, or you want to listen to another Yes song on the train ride home.
More seriously, this should help salve any complaints people had about the short battery life of the meaty dual-core original.
Apart from these minor spec boosts, it’s business as usual here; there’s still a Gorilla Glass-covered 4.3-inch screen, that reassuringly sassy unibody shell, VGA front-facing camera and dual-flash on the rear-facing 8-megapixel camera.
We’re expecting a review model to arrive in the next few weeks, until then click on for a few more shots. And ignore the Black Eyed Peas - it wasn't our choice.
Update: we've since had some more hands-on with the HTC Sensation XE since our original hands-on pics. While the exterior hasn't changed at all, we found the overall user experience to be a little smoother than before and so have adjusted the text to reflect this.
Original article by Mat Smith, with additional editing by Thomas Newton.
The metallic unibody frame now has a slight brushed effect that not only helped us grip the phone a little better, but also obscure greasy fingerprints.
The Beats Audio branding pervades the hardware design, with little red flourishes on the speaker grill and camera bezel. The Android command keys along the bottom are also backlit in red.
You can see from the reflection that the Sensation XE will also have the subtle curved touchscreen found on its predecessor, a sublte convex pillow across, with edges that curve upwards at the sides to avoid damage when its flat on its front.
You can enable (or disable) the improved Beats Audio sound profile from within the drop-down notification menu. We're not sure why you'd want to disable it though, unless perhaps you were listening to songs through an Android music player with a virtual EQ.
Another look at the Beats Audio enabled/disable toggle, accessed by pulling down on the notification bar. Witness the cherry red colouring of the speaker grill in all its glory.
When you plug in the iBeats headphones, the HTC Sensation XE automatically recognises the cans and switches to the custom audio profile, optimised for playing music through these specific headphones.
As well as an audio profile for the iBeats headphones, HTC told us that there's a separate profile for Beats Audio's Solo range of over-ear headphones, which start at £149.99.
Aside from the BEats Audio branding, the Sensation XE is pretty much the same as the Sensation on the outside. Same pillow glass cover on the screen, same streamlined HTC design.
Naturally HTC Sense 3.0 returns, along with that customisable shortcut lock screen.
We've never been able to look at the back of a Sensation ever since we saw one get sanded down and stripped bare. We know what's lurking underneath that brushed finish; shiny gleaming metal.
The Sensation XE's 8-megapixel camera with the dual LED flash, sitting pretty next to the external speaker grill. As well as listening to music through the iBeats headphones we also blasted out music through the speakers, which was suitably loud.
The Micro USB connection over there on the right, adjacent to the lovely Beats Audio branding. The micro USB is full of MHL goodness should you want to connect the Sensation XE to a big screen display via HDMI - you'll need to buy an adapter though.
In case you can't get enough of that Beats Audio logo, here's another shot of the Sensation XE's behind.
The light pours out of me... the HTC Sensation XE's left hand side (when the phone is held upright) where the micro USB and the volume rocker live.
That curved glass screen still has a habit of catching the light at odd angles sometimes, but its rarely so annoying that it makes reading articles on the web a struggle.
Legibility and colour fidelity at extreme viewing angles is still an issue though. That said, we're not in the habit of browsing the web on our phones while holding them at forty five degree angles.
The HTC Sensation XE still feels as great and solid in the hand as the original Sensation.
The iBeats in ear headphones come included with a number of rubber buds designed for ears or all sizes.