Two different phones, one similar beat : HTC Sensation XE vs HTC Sensation XL

4/24/2012 9:35:00 AM

We sat down with Wayne Tang, Product Marketing Manager, Southeast Asia of HTC, to get into the groove of HTC’s two Sensations with Beats Audio.

Description: Wayne Tang, Product Marketing Manager, Southeast Asia of HTC

Wayne Tang, Product Marketing Manager, Southeast Asia of HTC

Despite bring, in most parts, Quietly Brilliant, HTC sure knows how to bring the music in. HTC’s acquisition of Beats by Dr. Dre has been the buzz for some time now, and the result that we can see (and listen to) today is the HTC Sensation XE and the HTC Sensation XL. To talk about Beats, the two phones and what we can expect in HTC’s future, here is Wayne Tang, Product Marketing Manager, Southeast Asia, to give us his two, perhaps three, cents.

First of all: What can you tell us about the collaboration with Beats by Dr. Dre?

Today, everybody buys a smartphone and puts music in them. These professional music artists today, unfortunately, aren’t very well heard, in the sense that the device itself is not doing justice to the music and the efforts of the artists behind them. Quality is often lost when playing music, with MP3 compression and whatnot. That was the original reason as to why Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine founded the Beats brand, because they wanted to return the detail lost in music today. In Beats, every single device is tuned by themselves, to ensure that it portrays music in the way the artists intended it.

HTC, being a rising smartphone brand, recognises music as something important – it groups communities together, and goes through different boundaries and language. People often ask me, ‘So, is it only now that HTC realises that music is important?’. I’d tell them, ‘No, we’ve realised that long ago. Bu there’s a difference in realising something, and executing something.’ A lot of manufacturers out there realise that music is important, but they rarely have a complete picture, a complete solution to Music. In HTC, we have a solution – a Master Plan. We recognise the effort and the importance of Beats to music, and that is why we started the collaboration.

Tell us more about the HTC Sensation XE and the HTC Sensation XL

The first thing to note is that the Sensation XE is not a new device; it’s essentially the HTC Sensation with its 4.3-inch qHD display, with the added bonus of the Beats Audio tuning software integrated into the phone. It comes with a Beats headset bundled along, and listening to music with it and the phone will provide and optimised experience only Beats and HTC can give.

The Sensation XL is the next Beats device, which comes with a larger screen – one of the largest screen in the market. That aside, our focus on this device is very much on the camera. We’ve given the camera a larger focus because one of the top three features of a smartphone that people look forward to is the quality and functionality of the camera. The Sensation XL, following the HTC Rhyme, is the second device we have that comes with an improved camera, with a lower aperture size of f2.2 – right now one of the lowest in the market for a normal camera phone. It also comes with a wide 20mm lens and a BSI sensor, which lets you capture better images in darker environments. We also have panorama shot and HDR features.

These phones still come with the HTC Sense 3.0 with bits of improvements and menu fine-tuning, and very much catered for people hoping for a big screen phone for mobile entertainment. You can imagine now, for the Sensation XL – watching a video on the 4.7-inch screen while letting the Beats headset provide you with surround sound and solid music.

Oh, and to add: the Sensation XL comes with the Your Beats Headset, which is very much similar to the iBeats headset, with HTC’s own customisation. We changed the design to white to fit the phone.


Description: HTC Sensation XE vs HTC Sensation XL

HTC Sensation XE vs HTC Sensation XL

Has there been any hardware tweaking to make the phones optimised with Beats Audio?

It’s all software tuning – the hardware bit here are the headsets. It’s the software, the DSP, that is tuned by Beats themselves, which only works optimally with the any Beats headset, even older ones, as the software will identify any Beats headset connected to it to give you an optimal performance.

We notice the HTC Sensation XL still uses a single-core processor, as opposed to the XE’s dual-core one. Why is it so? And how would you foresee consumer perception when it comes to dual-core processor?

It’s really all about number chasing. As a consumer myself, I would always go for the higher number. That’s from the user’s perspective. From HTC’s perspective, however, we have to balance the whole design of the phone and the whole ecosystem of the phone, in the sense that we have to ensure that the phone has value for money. We did a lot of tests and trials and we feel that single-core devices clocked at 1.5GHz is sufficient enough to power the phone to the extent of not experiencing any lag, as compared to a device from a year ago. From our part, we’ll have to educate our consumers – the best way is to let them experience the phone themselves.

Description: HTC Sensation XL

HTC Sensation XL

But of course; there’ll be customers who go for feature-first. The way HTC see this single-core versus dual-core thing, is that it’s really in the positioning of the device. Some are meant for dual-core; some, like the XL with its screen size, would require us to balance the price and cost of the phone. That’s why we’ve decided to go with a single core processor clocked to 1.5GHz, and we can still main the same performance speeds. My positioning of the Sensation XL is that it’s an entertainment device – for music and for videos, which doesn’t require much processing power.

Are both phones powered by Qualcomm processors? Why not explore NVIDIA’s Tegra offerings?

Both phones are powered by Snapdragon processors. We’ve kept to Qualcomm processors due to our long lasting relationship with Qualcomm, as well as with our other collaborators. We still feel that Qualcomm produces good chipsets, and Qualcomm still gives us a lot of edge in terms of processing and software tuning, as our software is tuned to Qualcomm’s processors. And moreover, Qualcomm processors gives us good energy-saving and power management.

So, what can we see next from the next Beats Audio integrated devices?

Of course, there’ll be lots of exciting device coming out in 2012. Beats will be part of the DNA on the devices. After all, we spent a lot of effort trying to build the whole Beats brand and form this collaboration, so we’ll definitely bring the best out of it. We recognise the importance of music and we want to drive this whole Music Story out so we will have a lot of things going on for Beats. I will call it as part of the whole DNA of the next 2012 devices. High end devices will see Beats, and it will not be like a sub-genre of devices, or something super-premium. It will still be part of the whole HTC ecosystem, but more towards the more high-end devices.

The second step is to bring out the whole complete ecosystem. Everything is very much into services right now. You have music, you have hardware, and the next thing that people want would be good music content. That’s the reason why we’re working with one of out online services called the HTC Listen, something similar to HTC Watch. We want it so that once you put music into your phone and plug in headset, you get a good Music Story, a good musical feel. That is something we want to drive to our customers.

Ca we expect to see Beats Audio devices in the mid-range market?

I can’t really comment on that, but we have plans to bring Beats out as much as possible, into as much handsets as we can – it only makes more sense to our customers if we do so. We want them to think of HTC when they think of Music – that’s where we want to go in, and there’s where we want to grow stronger. We want it so that when people think of HTC, they think of Music. They think of Entertainment.

Android 4.0. Ice Cream Sandwich. Can we expect to see that soon?

I can’t officially comment on that, but judging from HTC’s history, we’ve always ensured that our high-end devices come wit the latest version of Android. Rest assured: it’s coming.

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