HTC Desire S review: Droid cravings

GSMArena team, 18 April 2011.

Tags: HTC, Android, Touch UI

Mediocre 5 megapixel snapper

The HTC Desire S packs a 5MP camera for stills of up to 2592x1952 pixel resolution. The phone does 720p videos @ 30fps too. There’s a single-LED flash, which can also be used as video light.

The camera interface is very space efficient. Most of the controls are on the right side of the viewfinder, with the virtual shutter in the center. There’s a virtual zoom slider on the left.

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HTC Desire S HTC Desire S
HTC Desire S camera interface

The HTC Desire S features touch focus and face detection; geotagging is enabled too.

Continuous autofocus lets the camera focus as you reframe – quite useful given the Desire S doesn’t have a proper shutter key and you can’t do that with the virtual shutter key either. The camera supports face detection too. It’s enabled in self-portrait mode too – you can set it to focus on 1 or 2 faces.

Unfortunately, we won't be able to properly judge the the HTC Desire S camera image quality as our unit has got a defective camera even though we snatched it off the retail chain. It's probably the lens that's faulty – parts of all photos came out soft and smudgy and most interestingly, the blurry bits moved from one shot to the other. The defect is less prominent at close range as you'll see in the photo compare tool but it's still there.

Other than that, the color rendering and contrast are good save for the somewhat visible noise.

You can check out the camera samples below.

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HTC Desire S HTC Desire S HTC Desire S HTC Desire S
HTC Desire S camera samples

Photo quality comparison

The HTC Desire S enters our Photo Compare Tool to join the other 5MP shooters. The tool’s page will give you enough info on how to use it and what to look for.

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HTC Desire S in our Photo Compare Tool

Very good HD videos

The interface of the camcorder is similar to the still camera’s and there are lots of customizable options. You can set the video resolution, recording limit and add effects.

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The new camcorder interface

Autofocus works here too, but only before you start shooting – then the focus is locked and won’t change even if you get closer or move back. Still, the Desire S had no problems focusing at even very close distances.

Videos are stored in 3GP format which isn't the ideal container for HD video. We were surprised though by the video quality – there is plenty of detail and good contrast. Colors are a bit over saturated and there are noticeable duplicated frames. We guess the hardware is struggling with the frame rate at times.

The frame rate of the videos is partly diasappointing. It's supposed to be 30 fps or so, but we found it to consistently be around 22fps. In action-packed scenes that produces jerkiness. Most of the cases you should be fine though.

Here goes an untouched 720p@30fps video clip (18MB).

And here’s a video uploaded to YouTube for convenience.

Video quality comparison

Here’s how the HTC Desire S did in our Video Compare Tool database.

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HTC Desire S in the Video Compare Tool

Connectivity

The HTC Desire S has a complete connectivity set. There’s quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and blazing fast dual-band 3G: 14.4Mbps downlink and 5.76Mbps uplink thanks to HSPA.

The local wireless connectivity has Wi-Fi b/g/n and full DLNA support (both client and server, for images, videos and music) and Bluetooth 2.1. The Desire S has some Wi-Fi issues though. You will lose nearly 80% of your signal strength if you hold the phone around the camera lens. We did experience this “death grip” issue only in landscape mode with a hand over the camera lens plating, but this is not much of an excuse. So you need to be careful if your Wi-Fi signal is weak and you are using the Desire S in landscape mode.

The Connected media app handles all sorts of DLNA connections – it plays media to and from devices on the network with just a couple of clicks. Apps like the gallery have such functionality built in too.

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The Connected media app flexes the Desire S DLNA muscles

When you plug in the microUSB cable you’re presented with a long list of options - Charge only, Disk drive (mass storage), HTC Sync, USB tethering (use the phone as a modem) and Internet pass-through (the phone uses the computers Internet connection).

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Selecting a USB connection type • Starting the personal Wi-Fi hotspot

Last but not least is the HTC Portable Hotspot. It can support 1 to 8 devices (default Froyo app maxes out at 5), you can WEP, WPA or WPA2 encrypt the hotspot and you can enable only “allowed users” to connect or leave it open for anything (unsecure, but the quickest setup).

The app can be set to power off automatically after 5 or 10 minutes of inactivity, saving your battery in case you forget to switch it off manually.

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