Review: HTC Desire S

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The original HTC Desire was a media darling as it had all the right things going for it: solid hardware, good looks and easy to use UI. So it wasn’t really a stretch that HTC wouldn’t stray too far from the original Desire’s formula. The result is a solid device that performs extremely well, but plays a bit too safe for our liking.

If you’re upgrading from the original HTC Desire, then the Desire S won’t be much of a change externally. While at a cursory glance it resembles the original, the Desire S nixes the optical trackpad and hard keys, and now sports capacitive keys and an aluminum unibody construction.

It’s also sporting the latest version of Android – 2.3 AKA Gingerbread, and a speedy 1 GHz Scorpion CPU, Adreno 205 GPU, Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255 chipset.

The overall size of the HTC Desire S (which sits at around 115 x 59.8 x 11.6mm) is just right – not too big, not too thin. It weighs in at 130 grams, which really gives it a bit of heft. The screen is a 3.7-inch S-LCD capacitive deal and has a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels.

There’s not much in the way of hard keys on this one – all you get is a volume rocker and an off/on switch that doubles as the lock button. There isn’t even a shortcut key for the camera. Speaking of cameras, the HTC Desire S has two – the one on the back is a 5 megapixel deal, capable of shooting photos up to 2592 x 1944 pixels with autofocus and a LED flash.

Like all HTC phones, the HTC Desire S ships with HTC’s Sense UI layered on top of Android. There’s little difference that we can see from the previous iteration of Sense UI that was used on the HTC Desire HD, mainly in the main menu.

It used to be that every app, selection and settings were all jumbled up into the menu. Now you can view everything, or filter it via downloaded apps and frequently used ones via the tabs on the bottom.

Sense UI gives you additional homescreens, up to seven from a stock Android’s five. You can quickly view all of your screens via the home button if you’re in the main screen, allowing you to quickly jump into a screen of your choice without swiping through all of them.


The ever useful FriendFeed – a social network aggregator that displays updates of your networks – helps you to be perpetually connected to what your friends are doing.

Another nice feature that’s exclusive to HTC phones is the ability to be able to track, lock and if needed, erase your phone from your PC. You just need to register your device to HTCSense.com.ph. From there, you can make your phone ring full volume (even if your phone is set to silent), track where it is, lock your device or completely erase it if it’s ever lost.

We gauged the performance of the HTC Desire S by using two benchmarking software – Quadrant Standard and Neocore. Quadrant Standard tests the CPU, memory and graphics capabilities of the device, and comes up with an appropriate numerical score to gauge overall performance.

Neocore meanwhile, runs a graphics test on the device. The higher the FPS (frames per second) the better that device is at running graphics. Quadrant Standard gave a nice 1251 score for the Desire S. The Desire S managed a nice 57.6 FPS.

Battery life was a marked improvement over the previous devices, as the Desire S managed to last a day and a half without needing a trip to the charger. Overall call quality was good.

Screen readability is a bit of a problem though, especially in direct sunlight. Another minor gripe I have with it is that HTC seems to have played safe with this one. It doesn’t have the same impact, as say as the HTC Desire HD. Of course, your mileage may vary, and for the average consumer, this isn’t going to be a problem.

 

What’s Hot:

Aluminum Unibody construction

Has a nice heft to it

HTC Sense adds a nice layer of security.

 

What’s Not:

Screen readability suffers under direct sunlight

 

Bottomline:

While it’s not the same leap forward as the HTC Desire was, the HTC Desire S is still a great smartphone that has plenty of features to satiate even the most hardcore of users.