The HTC One S is just behind the HTC One X in terms of the latest One series pecking order. However this device is extremely fast and has a superb screen to match. However Android purists may be put off by its modern embrace of ICS, by supporting a microSim card, no Android menu button and the omission of a microSD card slot.
The HTC One S does benefit from the above omissions by being extremely light (119.5g) and it features a lovely thin profile that feels perfectly balanced in the palm of your hand.
Interestingly HTC have swapped the standard Android menu button at the base of the screen and replaced this with a recent application button. This is partially due to the inclusion of ICS which features the menu option built into the OS.
Mind you we recently tested the HTC One V (review coming soon) which also has the above Android menu button integrated into the OS, but the recent app button can be held down to duplicate the physical Android Menu buttons function. We were not aware of this function on the HTC One S (possibly we were using a lower firmware version).
However unlike the One V the One S does sacrifice screen space to accommodate the on-screen Android menu icon. For example in certain games, such as “Angry Birds Space”, a slight portion of the 4.3” screen is lost.
As mentioned earlier HTC have also replaced the standard sim card slot with a microSim card (which is the type of sim you find on the iPhone 4) and have also removed the microSD card slot. However to compensate HTC do include a generous 25GB of Dropbox online storage (2 year subscription).
On another positive note the 540 x 960 SUPER AMOLED screen looks fantastic and the - 7 home screen - ICS OS has been joined by the latest HTC Sense 4 UI. This feature has support for the latest face unlocking, which is pretty cool when it works! (if you try the face unlocking during different light conditions sometimes it does not recognise your face and you have to enter a password instead).
On a positive note the HTC Sense UI does feel a lot smoother than earlier versions, partially thanks to the inclusion of 1GB of RAM, and the applications are laid out horizontally instead of vertically which makes them easier to navigate.
In use, despite a lower resolution than the Sony Xperia S (reviewed earlier), we have to admit the screen has pretty good viewing angles (both indoors/out) and the movies themselves certainly looked more vibrant.
Music enthusiasts will also like the beatsaudio technology which does a great job of enhancing the audio playback when headphones are plugged in.
Our experience with HTC cameras in the past has never been positive, so we were a little skeptical about HTC’s claims that this was their best camera phones to-date. While we can’t say that the 8MP camera was its best feature, as some of the shots came out with traces of overexposure. However it does have blisteringly quick shot times and most images can be tweaked thanks to the wealth of camera features, which included an option to shoot HD video and take camera images at the same time.
General Performance & Battery Tests
The dual-core 1.5Ghz CPU was supported by the latest Snapdragon S4 architecture and this helped it to produce some excellent results in our virtual benchmarks. In Vellamo it scored 2409 to the Sony Xperia S’s 1232 (which also had a dual-core 1.5Ghz CPU, but older architecture).
The battery life was also surprisingly good from a video playback point of view.
In terms of battery tests we always leave the phone antenna (plus data) running while setting the backlight to Max.
We then run a video for 2 hours and 15 minutes to gain an idea of how much battery life is left from a full charge.
The HTC One S had 80% remaining from a full charge, compare this to the Sony Xperia S which had 52%. In general heavy usage terms the web browsing did reduce the handset’s life quicker when partnered with WiFi, but at a push this device should still last the day with some to spare.
Spec Link: http://www.clove.co.uk/htc-one-s