Although phones running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and even Android 4.2 Jelly Bean have started to line shelves here in the UK, the HTC One XL arrives running Google's Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) operating system.
Still, you'd barely know it's Android 4.0 ICS onboard, as HTC has furnished the phone with its heavily customised Sense user interface.
While HTC has toned down the amount of bloatware found on its older smartphones such as the Sensation, we still find HTC Sense a bit overwhelming. For example, there are a bunch of apps onboard that we didn't take a second glance at, and HTC has stuffed the One XL full of custom widgets. HTC Friendstream is one of these, an app that aggregates your Facebook and Twitter accounts into one frustrating to handle stream.
There are some things we like about HTC's Sense user interface though, one of these being its custom lock screen that offers a unique way to quickly display open apps. Its camera user interface is also great, offering many more options than those found on the stock Android camera app.
Another nice, non-cosmetic addition to the One XL is the Beats Audio software, although it's worth noting that the phone doesn't come equipped with Beats by Dr Dre headphones included in the box. Still, sound quality is noticeably better than on the Iphone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3 - if you're a fan of loud bass music, that is.
Up until now the HTC One XL has been on a par with its older sibling, the One X, with regard to specifications. However, HTC has decided to equip the One XL handset with a downgraded dual-core 1.5GHz chip. According to HTC, this is because the phone's LTE radio won't work properly with its quad-core processor.
When using the two handsets side by side, the HTC One XL is noticeably slower - but that's not to say that this handset is slow. Although it takes a little longer to open apps or swipe through home screens, this processor switch is barely noticeable. When playing Angry Birds, for example, it's just as smooth as the HTC One X. This is probably because only a handful of apps are optimised to work with quad-core chips.
Next: Camera, battery and storage
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