By Claire Reilly

HTC may well be the brand to corner the Android smartphone market, thanks to the sheer number of devices it has released. This year has seen the launch of Facebook-flavoured phones, smartphones designed for enjoying media and handsets with nifty accessories.

Following on from the release of the HTC Sensation, the manufacturer yesterday launched two new smartphones for music lovers under the sub-brand – the black HTC Sensation XE and the white Sensation XL.

“As a result of our partnership with Beats by Dr. Dre, the HTC Sensation XL and HTC Sensation XE are poised to take mobile and sound entertainment to a whole new level,” said HTC Australia and New Zealand country manager, Ben Hodgson.

“With superior sound quality never before experienced from a smartphone, HTC is pushing the boundaries once again to deliver optimised audio experience to our consumers. These devices are a classic example of sound-meets-design, developed to meet the growing demand for a richer audio and video experience.”

The smaller device of the two, the XE was described by Hodgson as “HTC’s fastest smartphone ever” and one that builds on the successes of the original Sensation with “a massive improvement on battery life”. This is indicated by the XE’s 1.5 GHz dual core processor – faster than the Sensation’s 1.2 GHz – and its 1730 mAh battery.

The XE features a 4.3-inch touch screen (with qHD display), it runs on the latest incarnation of Android Gingerbread (2.3.5) and uses HTC Sense 3.5. It also offers 1GB of internal memory that can be expanded with the included 8GB microSD card.

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Being a HTC and Beats Audio joint venture, both handsets are bundled with custom-made Beats headphones that are wired with a dedicated HTC remote. The Sensation XE includes black in-ear urBeats headphones that would normally retail for $149, while the XL is bundled with white Solo over-ear headphones that are valued at $299.

When the Beats headphones are used, the handsets automatically switch to the “Beats by Dr. Dre sound profile” which is designed to enhance the listening experience. Hodgson noted that the bundled headphones offered high-quality sound and a unique value proposition to consumers.

“These headsets deliver amazing value to customers,” he said. “Beats is a highly tuned link between the software on the handset and the headset that comes in the box.

“We all have a passion for music, and I think most of us want to listen to our music in its purest form, the way the artist intended it. With the XL and the XE we come very close. There’s a richness, a depth, a clarity – the bass is really big and it never distorts. The vocals are really crisp and everything else in between is clear and beautifully proportioned.”

The white Sensation XL smartphone is pitched above the XE, both in terms of the music experience it offers (with its high-end headphones) and its price point. According to Hodgson, the XL is HTC’s thinnest smartphone ever at 9.9 millimetres, and it offers a larger 4.7-inch screen.

Not quite as powerful as the XE under the hood, the XL features a 1.5GHz single core processor and HTC Sense 3.0. It also includes 16GB of internal memory, but this cannot be expanded. However, both the XL and the XE include enhanced HTC Sync features – the handsets can be synced to an iTunes or Windows Media libray “two or three steps out of the box” and playlists can be easily managed on the phone, according to Hodgson.

Both devices are exclusive to Vodafone, and will be available from November 9. The Sensation XE will be available for $0 upfront on Vodafone’s $59 cap, while the Sensation XL will be available on the same cap with an additional $5 per month for the handset.

The HTC Sensation XE includes black urBeats headphones…

…While the White HTC Sensation XL includes over-ear Solo headphones.