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Hands on with the HTC Sensation XE aka HTC Beats

Last week, HTC launched their new ‘Beats’ line of smartphone composed of the HTC Sensation XE and the Sensation XL. Main difference of both is that the XE comes with a 4.3″ screen while the XL comes in a hybrid 4.7″ form factor. I have the XE version at home so here’s a quick unboxing and weekend first impressions.

The release of HTC’s ‘Beats’ is exciting as these phones come bundled with a pair of Beats by Dr. Dre in-ear earphones which are some of the best in the industry.

HTC Sensation vs HTC Sensation XE
Here’s a side by side — the one on the left is the “standard” HTC Sensation while the one on the left is the XE version. Form factor wise, they’re exactly alike. There are three main differences: (1) the XE model distinguishes itself with the red “Beats” flaire of Dr. Dre as you can see from the front and back. (2) Internally, the Sensation XE is also more powerful, sporting a 1.5GHz dual core processor. (3) Last but definitely not the least, the Beats XE comes with a highly coveted pair of Beats in-ear earphones. When you plug in the earphones into the XE’s audio jack, it will automatically detect that you’re using Beats by Dr. Dre and will activate a special sound profile just for that pair. I’ve tried the earphones with other devices and even though you get superb audio (as expected), “mas buo ang tunog” with the HTC Sensation XE + Beats combo.

Main takeaway from this is that there really is a difference between the Sensation and the Sensation XE. If you think that buying a pair of Dr. Dre Beats and using them with your current Sensation will give you the exact same experience, you won’t — if you’re an audiophile. And yes, the XE model is also faster with its dual core internals.

The HTC Beats Audio XE comes with Android 2.3 installed. Other specs include:
1.5GHz Dual Core Qualcomm Snapdragon Processor
4.3″ screen (540 x 960 resolution)
4 GB (1 GB user available)
768 MB RAM
1730 mAh lithium ion battery

Beats by Dr. Dre

I really have to give it to Monster and HTC for this really amazing packaging. Apart from the smartphone, the in-ears come with a high quality carrying case and flavor text that reaffirms that you just purchased something world-class.

There really isn’t anything more to add after reading the text above — although you can download custom sound profiles from the HTC Hub, Beats is already the fullest — the bass, mid and highs are all very distinguishable and clear, and surround. Plug and play. HTC Beats comes with a custom version of the iBeats, lacking a volume control on the earphones and comes with a plastic finish (the iBeats that retail for PHP 7,000.00 come with a metallic finish) If you want to learn more about Monster’s Beats by Dr. Dre, hop on over to his website.

The HTC Beats Audio syncs with iTunes using HTC Sync. This is a sensible and welcome addition and it seems like this is not an exclusive feature for Beats Audio but something available for future HTC smartphones. Download HTC Sync here (Windows support). No Mac version yet so if you’re using a OS X, you can do a manual transfer of songs using the miniUSB cable or use File Expert transfer via WiFi (thanks @franky for the tip).

Pricing
The HTC Sensation XE is exclusively available at Data Plan 2000 with SMART Communications. There is an exclusive partnership between HTC and SMART which means that you will not be able to get an HTC bundle with other telcos.

Pros:
– super great deal at Plan 2000
– best audio experience in any smartphone bundle
– syncs with iTunes
– compatible with SmartNet (aka Netphone suite)

Cons:
– dual core processor not as powerful as Samsung’s S II
– internal RAM though acceptable seems inadequate

By Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast, EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.

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