HTC One S review: Onederful

GSMArena team, 11 April 2012.
Pages: 123456789»

Tags: HTC, Android, Touch UI

Introduction

The HTC One S is the middle child of the One family but it just might be the brightest and best looking too. Inside the slender metal case is a treasure chest of new technology - the brains behind the beauty in this piece of smartphone alchemy.

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HTC One S official photos

HTC use not one but two advanced processes to create the metal shell of the One S. The micro arc oxidation uses 10,000V of electricity to turn the aluminum surface into ceramic, which is said to be five times stronger than aerospace aluminum or stainless steel. That creates the black finish of the phone.

The second option is a more traditional anodized aluminum, but with a twist - it has a unique, subtle gradient from medium to dark grey.

Whichever bodywork you choose, the 7.8mm of thickness is even throughout - no cheating with bumps on the back. The HTC One S feels startlingly thin in the hand.

There was no compromise with the internals either - the two Krait cores in the new Snapdragon S4 chipset promise much more power than the old Scorpion cores. Early benchmarks show it could even rival a quad Cortex-A9 CPU.

Going by specs alone, HTC have created a true wonder phone with the One S. Here are the pros and cons, if you can take your eyes off the pictures.

Key features

  • Stunningly thin at 7.8mm, ceramic or anodized aluminum finish
  • Quad-band GSM and dual-band 3G support
  • 4.3" 16M-color capacitive Super AMOLED touchscreen of qHD resolution (540 x 960 pixels); Gorilla glass
  • Android OS v4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with HTC Sense 4.0
  • 1.5 GHz dual core Krait CPU, Adreno 225 GPU, Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8260A chipset
  • 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage
  • Beats audio enhancement
  • 8 MP autofocus camera with LED flash; face detection, geotagging and continuous shooting
  • 1080p video recording @ 30fps; Snapping photos while recording video
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n and DLNA
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • Accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity and ambient light sensors
  • Front facing camera with video calls
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • microUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v4.0
  • MHL TV-out (requires a MHL-to-HDMI adapter)
  • Smart dialing, voice dialing
  • DivX/XviD video support
  • HTC Locations app
  • HTCSense.com integration
  • HTC Portable Hotspot
  • Splendid audio quality
  • Office document editor
  • 1650mAh battery
  • 25GB of free Dropbox storage for the first two years

Main disadvantages

  • Pentile display
  • Non-expandable memory, just a single internal storage option
  • No dedicated camera key
  • microSIM only
  • Battery not user replaceable
  • Camera interface makes framing videos pretty hard
  • Incapable of 3G video calls without a 3rd party app

The non-expandable memory is either a non-issue (you get 2GB for apps and 10GB for storage) or a deal-breaker, depending on how you use the phone. You do get 25GB of free Dropbox storage for 2 years though.

With the Beats logo on its back, you'd think the One S would attract music buffs. But then, there's no Beats headset included in the box and those are rather pricey to buy separately. You still get the Beats audio equalizer software, but you get a standard headset, so you might want to get your own.

Still, with the latest Android version, a much improved Sense UI, an 8MP camera that does 1080p video and full-res photos simultaneously (plus, it has continuous shooting and other cool stuff), the HTC One S is one of the best-equipped Android handsets we've laid our hands on lately.

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The HTC One S at ours

Let's pop open the box and see what's inside before going back to the hardware. There's a lot to be said about the software too, so let's not waste any more time and jump straight in.

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