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HTC Desire S review

HTC Desire S review

The HTC Desire S is the follow-up to last year’s wildly successful Desire HD and Desire Z. It’s pitted right up against the iPhone 4, with a similar-sized design. How does it stack up? And is it worth nabbing with the dual-core HTC Sensation about to start flying off of the shelves instead? Read our review for the lowdown.

First impressions

htc desire s

The Desire S is undoubtedly a beautiful phone, but to the untrained eye it’s hard to spot the difference between it and the original Desire. Take a closer look though, and you’ll see this is an aluminium unibody stunner.

The battery cover slides from the bottom of the device and is a touch reminiscent of last year’s brilliant HTC Legend. Size-wise, it sits neatly in the hand, while the screen sits as close to the edge of the device as possible. Apple take note.



htc desire s detail

Design has become HTC’s calling card. The Desire S is about as close as an Android phone gets to the iPhone 4, with minimal buttons and a big focus on the aluminium unibody. The latter gives the phone a sturdiness that the likes of the Galaxy S II cannot match, although HTC's persistence with soft keys at the button remains confusing.

It’d be much easier if HTC (and Google for that matter), followed the Apple approach of one home key, leaving the touchscreen to handle everything else. There’s no dedicated camera key, which for a phone that is so heavy on top-end imaging is a real shame.



Android is really the key feature of the HTC Desire S (of which more later). Beyond that, the camera clocks in at a somewhat disappointing five megapixels. While there is a single LED flash, images are fairly average and don’t really match up to the slew of 8 megapixel Android snappers that are currently on the market (the HTC Sensation included).

The 720p video function is good though, even if you can’t adjust the frame rate. Consequently, the 30fps shots are a touch juddery in playback. Uploading both video and images is a doddle (as ever with Android), thanks in no small part to the myriad sharing options. All major social networks are covered, so you can get snaps and clips uploaded wherever you want in quick smart fashion.



gingerbread android

Android 2.3 Gingerbread is the order of the day here, with all the features you’d expect. Personal Hotspot is straightforward to set up and lets you share your connection with other devices, while the keyboard is even better than before. HTC’s skinned keyboard is even better: it’s undoubtedly the best virtual ‘pad we’ve ever used.

There are downsides though. HTC Sense works well, but it’s the 2.1 version. HTC recently unveiled Sense 3.0 and said it would not be upgrading older devices to the new version. That’s a major miss and really makes the HTC Desire S less, well, desirable.


Ease of use

As with all HTC Android phones, the Desire S is about as easy to use as it gets. Set up is as simple as entering your Gmail address, while zipping through Sense’s myriad live features and Android’s ever-growing portfolio of apps is a sheer joy. The problem is though, the HTC Sensation has completely blown the Desire S away. It’s bigger, better and more powerful. If you want a bleeding-edge HTC phone, go for that instead of this.



  • Android 2.3 Gingerbread
  • 3.7 inch, 400 x 840 capacitive touchscreen
  • 5 megapixel camera, 720p HD video recording
  • 3.5mm jack
  • Wi-Fi, HSDPA
  • 1.1GB storage and microSD expansion

Overall: 7/10

Find out more about the HTC Desire S here

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