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HTC Sensation XE Android 4.0.3 Update Review

The HTC Sensation XE, which I reviewed some time ago,  is the latest in the line of handsets to get Ice Cream Sandwich from HTC. It seems like it’s been a long time coming and the question I ask is, was it worth the wait?


The update for my XE came today at around 4pm and I have to say, I was uber excited about it as I has purposely left the handset on full stock and with no data on it at all just to see what the ICS update would bring to the table when it was ready. Note that when I post images the old screenshots from Android 2.3 will be on the left and 4.0 on the right.

The first thing I noticed was the file size of the update; at 282.88MB it was by no means light and without having WiFi it would have taken a massive dent out of those unlucky people who have just 500MB per month. Overall the download to install took about 20 minutes which does seem like a lot however it should be noted that this is a “radical system change” so it should take that long really.

So, now we have the “radical system change” and are finally, after months of waiting, running Android 4.0.3 and sporting the new Sense 4.0 update… what? It’s not 4.0? No that’s right, it’s the pretty poor baby sister – Sense 3.6.

The first thing I noticed was the lock screen, it simply hadn’t changed a bit… well, does switching the camera and messaging icons around count as a change?


Upon unlocking the screen the first thing I noticed was that the launcher was different, there was no longer the curved Sense style but rather a standard stock Android 2.3 looking launcher.

Old LauncherNew Launcher

Next thing I looked at was the App Drawer, nothing had changed in there except we now had the new style for icons like Gmail, Talk, Internet and Messages. The two things that did stick out was that I still had the Android Market icon and that it hadn’t been replaced by Play Store, surely this was a basic update and the fact that they had switched the 4 box menu press layout to a single centred column with the same options.

Old App DrawerNew App Drawer

Going back to the home screen and now looking at using the menu button. The old styled 6 box list of options was now replaced by a single columned list of Personalize, Wallpaper and Settings.

Old MenuNew Menu

Pressing and holding your finger on a blank area of the home screen brought up the Personalize option which has changed quite a bit since Gingerbread (as seen below). There was now an option to rearrange the three tabs at the bottom by pressing and holding your finger on one of them. Personally I cant see the use for this given that there are only three options available.

Old PersonalizeNew Personalize

Looking into the settings menu was my next stop, it has changed quite a bit however it still oozes Sense and not ICS (as seen below). The only thing that screams Android 4.0 is facial unlock from the settings menu.

New SettingsFacial Unlock

Upon closer look at the device itself, a number of things have changed from the internals side of things. Compare the two screenshots below for a second.

Old Info 1Old Info 2New Info 1New Info 2

As you can see, the main changes are, Total Memory Size and that the Open GL GPU version has been updated.

I thought upon seeing these that I would pay some more attention to the Antutu Benchmark test I had just ran to see if there were score differences from the first time I ran this on Android 2.3.4.

Old ScoreNew Score

Now, I’m not sure if you have noticed this or not however it looks like the CPU has now been underclocked. Of course, this does not reflect anywhere else in the device as the Hardware Information screen shows 1.5GHz. So the question remains, why is the device running at a whole 0.4 GHz lower than when it was running Android 2.3?

I will of course be reaching out to HTC on this one for some answers.


The HTC Android 4.0.3 Update for the HTC Sensation XE has by no manner or means lived up to the expectations I had.

I can forgive the fact that there is no Sense 4.0 and almost forgive the fact that there is little to no Android 4.0 look or feel throughout however what I cannot forgive is purposefully clocking the CPU (if this is the case).

I am considerably underwhelmed by the update that would have been just as well being Android 2.3.6 than Android 4.0.3

I welcome any questions or thoughts you might have on this.

About John McKenzie

John is the Editor-in-Chief here and considers himself a connoisseur of all chocolate deep fried (such as the Mars Bar) and Irn Bru. Based just outside of Glasgow in Scotland he is married with 3 young daughters and has always carried a passion for writing technology news since his early days writing as a reviewer and news writer on You can get in touch with John by emailing
  • TonyP_UK

    After the update to 4.0.3, leave the phone to settle for about 15 minutes then turn it off and pull the battery, After 20 seconds pop the battery back in and start the phone as normal. This restored the CPU clock speed on at least 2 Sensation XE’s that I’ve seen.

  • Anyone

     I’m glad I waited. My XE wanted to update this morning, but I dont thtink I will bother now reading the above. Everyone made such a song and dance abouth Android 4.0 as well :

  • Choppermcchop

    I had no problem with the clock speed on my phone. 

    • landofdroid

      It seems to fix itself after a re-boot or factory reset

  • majid

    i have problem and that is wi-fi problem my sensation xe wi-fi after update  doesn’t work

    • Neal

       Same problem for me. I called HTC, removed cache partition and restored to factory settings, still doesn’t work. HTC have offered to take it in to look at it.

      • landofdroid

        watch you dont get whacked with charges :)

      • m3hul

        Hi Neal has HTC managed to find any solution to wifi issue?

  • Natalia2196

    Every time I leave any app. even messages it shows the green HTC logo like it does on starting up and takes about 5 seconds before the home screen shows with all its icons, how can I fix it that ?

    • John McKenzie

      You are not the only person to notice this error

    • Linarik Magenta

      It’s totally annoying.. (( 

    • Zaheer khan

      your memory card is not inserted properly take out your memory card and insert it again

    • Demetris

      i found the solution, settings>develop option>(dont keep activities) diselect it. then restart the phone. it work for me. good luck

  • gavvavlar

    how do I change it back to its orginal 2.3, I’ve tried factory reset

    • John McKenzie

      I’m afraid that unless you root your device and use a custom ROM this is now not possible

  • Roy

    halo, may i know if i upgrade to 4.0, how all my contacts n games? is it like format whole phone or just an update, if its just an update, i think all my records is still there rite?

  • Hyderengland

    My phones alarm clock does not function since the update, HTC sensation xe. any suggestions would be appreciated. thanks

    • Nf12181994

       yea mine isnt working either!!! please help!

      • sba

        I have the same problem. Sudently I have no WiFi and it keeps on trying and eventually it will indicate an error. Also the date and time sometimes goes to 1 of Jan 1970 before setting back to the right date and time after a few min!!

  • Phyzix

    give it a day or two to settle down everything works fine on my sensation, even take the battery out that sorts a few probs out, i got my update yesterday, some of the screen shots are different to mine, my network is o2uk

  • Jsmith23

    My HTC Sensation Z710e seemed to b running slower after the updates had finished. To correct this, In the settings I found a new menu called “Developer Options”. In this menu I was able to limit the number of background processes running to just three and now my phone is running like ‘grease lightning’

  • Mehraneskandari21

    dont update please

  • Amadthompson

    i just dont like it. is there anyway to change it back to the lovely curvey looks?

  • Alireza_salimifard

    Ali reza

  • Alireza_salimifard

    i have problem and that is wi-fi problem my sensation xe wi-fi after update  doesn’t work

  • Alex

    I was unimpressed with 4.0.3 as well
    Almost glad that the motherboard snapped when it fell out my pocket (yes the motherboard really did snap from a 3ft drop)
    Ordered myself a Nexus 4 now