HTC One S review: Onederful

GSMArena team, 11 April 2012.
Pages: 123456789

Tags: HTC, Android, Touch UI

Connectivity without death grip

The HTC One S offers quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and tri-band 3G with HSDPA and HSUPA, but unfortunately HTC didn't see fit to quote exact data speeds.

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 4.0.

We tested the phone for death-grip and we didn't find any problems - Wi-Fi signal drops if you completely cover the top plastic panel on the back, but the reception still remains quite strong. Cell signal didn't budge.

You have a long list of options for connecting to a PC - Charge only, Disk drive (mass storage), HTC Sync, USB tethering (use the phone as a modem) and Internet pass-through (the phone uses the computer's Internet connection). The Charge only and Disk Drive have big, thumbable icons, which is great since they are most often used.

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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 up to 8 devices, you can WEP, WPA or WPA2 encrypt the hotspot and you can enable "allowed users" only to connect or leave it open for all (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.

The HTC One S comes with an MHL port, so if you plug a MHL dongle in, you can output HD video over a standard HDMI connection. The phone's UI is mirrored on the TV - the qHD resolution has the perfect 16:9 aspect ratio for connecting to HDTVs.

Capable ICS browser

The HTC One S comes with the latest Android web browser, a high-res screen and plenty of processing power. Since this is Ice Cream Sandwich, you can also install Chrome for Android.

Anyway, the browser's interface keeps mostly out of sight, which leaves the entire screen to the web page. You get the standard Menu dropdown on the right, but HTC have thrown in some extra buttons at the bottom of the screen (you have to pan to reveal them, which is a little annoying).

They let you save a page in your bookmarks or reading list, view bookmarks, saved pages or tabs. You might want to enable Quick controls - they let you tap on any point on the edge of the screen and move your finger to select the desired option from a jog-dial menu.

Once you select some text, you can copy it, do a Google search with that text as the query or share the text over a message or social networking.

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Web browsing is a pleasurable experience on the HTC One S

Tabs can be closed with an X button on their top right corner - they can't be swiped off the screen like you do in the app switcher. Incognito tabs are available if you want to bypass History, tracking cookies, form auto-fill stuff and so on.

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The bookmarks and History lists The Tabs interface

The Menu options include a toggle to enable/disable Flash and another one to request the desktop version of a site, instead of the mobile one. Another ICS feature has the phone preload search results that it's confident you're going to open, speeding up the whole process.

The HTC One S has full Flash support and it played all YouTube videos without breaking a sweat. Flash games work like a charm too.

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Playing Flash games in the browser and watching YouTube videos

Mind you, the browser has support for HTML5 and its video tag but that is a few years (at best) away from becoming the norm.

Organizer has both eye-candy and functionality

The usual set of organizer apps are aboard the HTC One S, with a mobile Office app to boot, that can both view and edit documents.

The Polaris app has support for viewing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, including the Office 2007 versions and it can create Office 2003 Word, Excel documents and presentations. There is also a PDF viewer on board.

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The Quickoffice handles .doc, .xls and .ppt files Editing a Word document

You can format the text style and color, justify the text, do lists (numbered or bullet points) and that's about it for the Word editor. The Excel editor does support function editing, which some mobile editors don't.

The app also integrates with Dropbox and SkyDrive, which makes syncing documents between your computer and your phone a breeze.

The calendar has four different types of view: daily, monthly, agenda and invitation. Adding a new event is quite straightforward and you can also set an alarm to serve as a reminder.

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The HTC One S organizer centerpiece - the calendar

The Agenda view shows a list of all the calendar entries from the recent past to the near future. Invitation only lists events with invitation info attached to them. The day view showing the weather forecast at the top of the screen is a nice touch.

The Calendar supports multiple online calendars (including Facebook) and one you sync with your computer. You can easily hide the ones you don't need at a specific moment for easier navigation.

There is also a calculator aboard. It is nicely touch optimized with big, easy to hit buttons. Flipping it horizontally enables some more advanced functions like logarithms.

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The built-in calculator

The HTC One S features an alarm clock application, which can handle multiple alarms, each with its own start and repeat time. You also get a stopwatch and a timer in the same app.

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The alarm clock, stopwatch and timer

The World clock (also part of the Clock app) is like a mini Google Earth - it shows a 3D globe and you can rotate and zoom in on it freely. You can add cities that are pinned to the globe (and also visible as a list below it).

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World clock Stocks app Voice recorder Flashlight app

The Stocks application gives you quotes from Yahoo finance. You can use the Stocks lockscreen too. The Voice recorder might be quite useful for making audio notes and the weather app brings Yahoo's weather forecast for your area a click away.

There's an HTC-branded flashlight app too - it uses the LED flash and you can set it to 3 levels of intensity. Nice and all, but the Android Market is full of this kind of apps already.

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