HTC Sensation XE – D’ya Feel the Beats?

The HTC Sensation is already a familiar model in the smartphone market. The XE, on the other hand, has yet to prove itself. The first of its kind to bear the Beats logo, it takes advantage of the latest audio technology as well as a slew of other new features. Here we look at the addition of Beats audio processing, and ask whether it’s enough to compel smartphone owners to make the transition to HTC. Can the making of a mobile phone be determined by audio alone? No, is the simple answer, although thankfully the XE has a few other tricks up its sleeve that should make HTC Sensation XE deals even more popular than those for the original model.

As well as beats galore, you see, the XE is packing juice. The handset offers a 1730mAh power pack, truly outdoing the all-consuming battery of its predecessor. The battery is now powering a 1.5GHz dual core processor, to the extent that the previous Sensation’s stuttering internet is now fluid and speedy in comparison. In terms of design, the XE is an edgy little number. It bears the same shape and striped aluminium design as the original Sensation, but a darker chassis and red trim have given it a slight facelift. We’re not complaining; it looks pretty darn smart.

Nice as the aesthetics are, we must return to the beats and specifically to the sound system tailored by Dr Dre himself. Back in August, HTC decided to take a 51% stake in Beats Electronics, paying a reputed $300 million for the pleasure. All this to enhance the sound of a smartphone? Yep, that’s correct. As it would happen, you’ll need a pair of Beats ear buds to make the most of the new audio features, but these are conveniently bundled with the XE handset. Upon plugging your ear buds in, the Beats profile is automatically loaded up, with the relevant icon appearing in your notifications at the top of the screen. From here, you can adjust the sound enhancement to alter the overall sound quality and bass level. Just that, for $300 million? Wow. HTC better hope they can shift a lot of mobile phone contracts to recoup their investment.

The extent to which you’ll appreciate Beats really depends on your taste in music. The sounds are definitely improved, but the bass is altogether debatable. The audio is very – how to put this – vibrant. Expect a multitude of complaints from fellow commuters who take a dim view of your banging dubstep. Whether you’ll be able to hear those complaints with your super-cool and stylish Beats buds in remains to be seen. If you like to feel your music as much as hear it, you’ll love the low vibrations that emanate from the XE. Otherwise, you may find the dynamics to be subdued, with high frequency notes being lost amidst the grimy bass. Dr. Dre, prior to the phone’s launch, said: ‘For Beats…this represents a critical step in our continued mission to clean up the destruction of audio caused by the digital revolution; and reengineer how sound is delivered so that the consumer feels the music the way that the artist intended.’ By the sounds of it then, he’s a fan of the XE. Then again, if you were receiving a commission on every handset sold, you’d also be vociferously repping it to the world.

HTC bought a stake in Dre’s company because of the firm’s audio manipulation technology, and they’ve certainly marketed it as the feature that defines the new Sensation XE. It remains to be said though: do your favourite artists intend for you to burst your eardrums while listening to them? At a shade under £500, perhaps you’d be better jacking the phone altogether and acquiring a ghetto blaster instead. If you’re going to p*** off everyone on the bus, might as well do it in style.