HTC Desire S review: Droid cravings

GSMArena team, 18 April 2011.

Tags: HTC, Android, Touch UI

Eye-candy music player

The standard music library view is the Artists section, but you can easily switch to one of the other six tabs beneath, which are for Albums, All Songs, Playlists, Songs and Connected media (which handles DLNA).

HTC Desire S HTC Desire S HTC Desire S
The music library

The now playing interface is a Cover-Flow-like visualization of the current playlist – you can swipe sideways to skip songs or go back. You can opt to view the full playlist if you need to skip more than a few phones.

HTC Desire S HTC Desire S HTC Desire S HTC Desire S
The new player interface is nice • Equalizer and SRS sound enhancement

The Desire S offers SRS sound enhancement to boost the listening experience. If you plug in headphones, you can change equalizer settings too.

HTC Desire S HTC Desire S
Player controls in the notification area • Cover-flow like browsing

Two shortcuts in the top corners act as toggles for shuffle and repeat. From the context menu, you can share a song (over Bluetooth, email or message) and you can look up the music video on YouTube too.

There’s a music recognition app – SoundHound. It easily recognizes a song from just a short sample. Or you can say the name of the artist and song and SoundHound will find it for you, including lyrics. The free app however only offers a limited number of uses (99).

HTC Desire S
The SoundHoud app

FM radio

The Desire S is also equipped with an FM radio, which has a pretty simple interface. It automatically scans the area for the available stations and allows you to mark some of them as favorite. It also supports RDS and allows loudspeaker playback.

HTC Desire S HTC Desire S HTC Desire S HTC Desire S
The FM radio UI

One thing that annoyed us about the radio is that it takes quite a while to start and stop – about five seconds.

Audio quality is decent

The HTC Desire S did better than the HTC Incredible S in our audio quality test. HTC still has some catching up to do before it matches the best on the market, but the Desire S represents a huge step forward.

The smartphone is quite good when you plug it in an active external amplifier (such as your home or car stereo), save for the higher than average (but hardly disturbing) stereo crosstalk. And given the excellent scores elsewhere and the high volume levels we are willing to let that go.

The good news is that plugging in a pair of headphones doesn't have as disastrous an effect on stereo crosstalk as we have seen on some other smartphones. So even with its relatively low starting position it still ends up decent after the slide. However, the overall impact of the applied resistance is notable with frequency response and loudness both taking a hit, while the intermodulation distortion increases.

Still we feel that the overall performance of the Desire S deserves a good mark.

Check out the table and see for yourself.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
HTC Desire S+0.07, -0.33-90.390.10.0160.044-74.7
HTC Desire S (headphones attached)+0.63, -0.18-90.190.10.0190.444-63.2
HTC Incredible S+0.03, -0.18-82.482.20.0180.058-71.3
HTC Incredible S (headphones attached)+0.61, -0.15-71.771.20.1260.540-59.6
HTC Desire HD+0.09, -0.44-90.690.40.0140.517-92.6
HTC Desire HD (headphones attached)+0.09, -0.44-93.292.90.0200.728-17.9
Samsung I9000 Galaxy S+0.03 -0.04-90.790.60.014 0.019-90.6
Samsung I9000 Galaxy S (headphones attached)+0.40 -0.12-90.790.60.018 0.329-43.3
HTC Aria+0.12, -0.58-84.586.90.0220.172-85.4
HTC Aria (headphones attached)+0.37, -0.15-87.090.40.0260.400-52.3
Apple iPhone 4+0.01, -0.07-90.590.60.00410.011-92.0
Apple iPhone 4 (headphones attached)+0.01, -0.07-90.490.40.00360.092-68.4

HTC Desire S frequency response
HTC Desire S frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

Next Page »