HTC One S Review
HTC One S is the middle child in the new One series of the Taiwanese smartphone maker, taking it down a notch from the flagship HTC One X, while floating above the One V munchkin in terms of hardware.
It has a lot going for it, though, being HTC's thinnest device to date, sporting a metal ceramic-coated or anodized chassis, and featuring the fourth generation of Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipset plus a dedicated HTC ImageChip for the camera. Not to mention that it comes with the latest Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and the tailored for ICS Sense 4.0 user interface overlay.
It also has a lot not going for it, especially if you frown at the trend of smartphones with non-removable batteries and lack of memory card slots for storage expansion.
Can the compact design, premium chassis materials and powerful hardware overcome the sealed battery and lack of microSD card slot well enough for the HTC One S to avoid the “middle child” syndrome? Is it priced right for what it offers? Read on our review to find out...
The first impression upon grabbing the HTC One S is how compact it is for a 4.3-incher.
The handset's 0.3” (7.8mm) thickness makes it one of the slimmest and most compact Android phones out there, and the only place where the slightly curved design gets thicker is the 8MP camera lens circle protruding slightly on the back, hinting at an HTC design heritage. The lens's rim is blue in our anodized aluminum unit, and red on the black version with the ceramic metal coating. The One S is definitely a break from the Sensation line slabs, but as with all very thin phones, it is a bit fiddly to pick up when lying on a flat surface.
You can compare the HTC One S with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
Despite the chassis made of anodized metal, our gradient blue HTC One S is also remarkably light at 4.2oz (120g) – this is almost as light as the 4.1oz Galaxy S II, which carries a display of the same size, but is all-plastic. The chassis has a fairly narrow and elongated profile, too, which helps with one-handed operation, allowing your thumb to reach across the display easier. The volume rocker on the right and the power/lock key up top are easy to feel and press, with good tactile feedback.
Volume rocker (right)
Power key and 3.5mm jack (top)
The sides of the HTC One S
The top and bottom parts of the back are plastic, though, for easier antenna signal penetration. The top piece, which is painted in a slightly lighter hue than the rest of the phone, can be easily pried open for inserting a micro-SIM card, but that's that. No microSD card slot there, and no way to swap the battery without cracking the phone open, which might be a dealbreaker for some.
The front features a waterfall design, with the edges falling off seemingly uninterrupted to the sides, like on the One X, but upon closer inspection the screen part is still very slightly recessed, so it's mostly an optical illusion.
The 4.3” display is of the OLED variety and of a Samsung make, like the S-LCD piece on the One X. That means you get vibrant, yet quite oversaturated colors and pitch blacks, resulting in an almost infinite contrast. The cold colors that plague Samsung's Super AMOLED screens are present here as well, especially when you tilt the phone from about 30 degrees onwards – white quickly starts to turn even more blueish. Otherwise the viewing angles are excellent, and the image doesn't fade or lose brightness almost until the end of the curve.
540x960 pixels of qHD resolution, meaning a decent 256ppi pixel density, and one can easily tell it uses the PenTile RGBG matrix arrangement. PenTile somewhat improves brightness and power consumption, but some elements like icons, especially greens, and zoomed text might look pixelated to the trained eye, because of the honeycomb pixel structure. The average user probably won't even notice though, but if you are not fan of the alternative PenTile pixel arrangement, consider yourself forеwarned.
Whether due to the 30% less pixels in the PenTile arrangement that allow more backlight to pass through, thus making the screen much brighter, or due to good antireflective coating, outside visibility is very good. Even with the sun shining directly on the screen, you are still able to work with the interface comfortably, which usually comes with displays north of 500 nits of brightness, and that's what we have here. Not an HD display, but still a very decent screen is what greets you on the HTC One S, unless you are striving less “eye-popping” color gamut.
Interface, Functionality, Internet and Connectivity
4. baldilocks (Posts: 410; Member since: 14 Dec 2008)
Inferior Screen in both size and resolution. Lower graphics performance. Higher score from PhoneArena. LOL.
Maybe it's because it doesn't get 'warm under a heavy load'....
26. ngo2dd (Posts: 731; Member since: 08 Jul 2011)
You can't say a screen is inferior because it is smaller. Lower graphics performance but better CPU, it is a trade off. Just stop
5. baldilocks (Posts: 410; Member since: 14 Dec 2008)
Almost forgot. The One S has half the built in storage. That gives it a higher score from PhoneArena too.
7. PackMan (Posts: 277; Member since: 09 Mar 2012)
Different Reviewer. Maybe Daniel P. would have given HTC One X higher score.
10. moyourBB (Posts: 6; Member since: 05 Apr 2012)
Oh you are correct. Daniel may have a different perspective with Android device. :)
9. moyourBB (Posts: 6; Member since: 05 Apr 2012)
I thought Ray compared two ONE series devices with their designs. There's no doubt the One S has a better material chassis than One X. And I guess the browser issue in One X gave a bad image to Ray.
29. cheetah2k (Posts: 696; Member since: 16 Jan 2011)
Aircraft aluminium vs polycarb. Either one is pretty awesome, and much more durable in a fall than the iphone's glass-aluminium composite.
I don't know why some people don't like the one piece polycarbonate bodies. The N9 is rather damn good actually, so whatever tickles your fancy..
30. Mario1017 (Posts: 336; Member since: 04 Sep 2011)
The X doesn't have poor browser performance, HTC phones always come out of the box with text rewrapping automatically turned on, that is why it it pauses for a bit. turn it off and the browser is buttery smooth. just doubletap to rewrap text after zooming in
6. cripton805 (Posts: 745; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)
The one reviewing the phone was an Applefanboy. You could tell during the review and when they pitted it against the iPhone. It was that same guy. "What a surprise". This seems to be a more reasonable guy and the score seems more justified.
8. PackMan (Posts: 277; Member since: 09 Mar 2012)
Also dont let Victor H. review anything. And this score is correct i think but One X should have got 8.5.
42. sudhar131998 (Posts: 63; Member since: 06 Sep 2011)
do you know that the snapdragon chip inside this phone has a better processor because of the processing technique.
inside htc one x runs tegra 3 which is based on 48nm or 42nm processing
in htc one s is 32nm processing with krait cores for faster speeds
therefore htc one s is a little bit better in terms of cpu tasks but the htc one x is still a winner in terms of gpu
43. DylRicho (Posts: 17; Member since: 11 Apr 2012)
You would be surprised. The Snapdragon CPU in this phone scores better in all benchmarking apps that I have tried. Also, just because it doesn't have the HD resolution of the One X, doesn't mean it should be scored down. In fact, it has a better display technology than the One X and is made out of aircraft-grade aluminium which has been oxidized to make it four times as strong as stainless steel. The scores are probably based on overall performance and user experience, and with the One S featuring the better CPU with the same amount of RAM on a smaller screen, will perform better.
14. ZEUS.the.thunder.god (unregistered)
why couldn`t you review One X ?
i am sure it deserved an 8.5.
18. saket.shrivastava (Posts: 55; Member since: 02 Apr 2012)
pls do it at ur earliest ..................
my exam is on sunday and i am buying it first thing on monday mornin :-)
11. maxkobi (Posts: 27; Member since: 17 Jun 2011)
i think it got a higher score because as a middle tier phone its pretty decent
21. anirudhshirsat97 (Posts: 257; Member since: 24 May 2011)
You are very correct my friend. Some people just lack common sense.
44. DylRicho (Posts: 17; Member since: 11 Apr 2012)
Almost every benchmark test is better with the One S. The CPU is of a newer generation, plus it has better display technology and a screen size that is considered in the middle (not too small and not too big). The build quality is also much better than the One X. I'm assuming the scores are based on overall performance and user experience, and in comparison to these two, the One S is definitely the better of the two in both of those areas.
47. remixfa (Posts: 13882; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
the oneX needs to be reviewed again since it had a big driver update today that was supposed to fix a lot of issues like performance and battery.
50. vlada (Posts: 2; Member since: 18 Apr 2012)
Maybe all these reviews have been made too early? Maybe all of the reviewers on all related web sites should wait a bit with detailed tests, until the new phones' firmware is somewhat more stabilized and optimized? Maybe after a few months in service?
12. sorcio46 (Posts: 390; Member since: 27 Jul 2011)
Video capture is slow to start
Fiddly focus in Macro mode
Very poor outdoor photos
Is that the same camera of ONE X?
39. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
yep, the same. I've always said that HTC don't know how to make good cameras.
13. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
Daniel, how can you even put the Nokia lumia 900 in the same line with this??!
The One S is just as fluid and snappy, and has :
- better screen
- 120 grams of weight (compared to 170 )
- 8 mm thickness
- premium materials
- 5 TIMES more powerful graphic processor
- THIRTY TIMES more free apps available for download
- docking abilities
- full hd video
also, it's just clearly better than galaxy s 2 (better build, screen and processor )
37. Somerandomguyyy (Posts: 8; Member since: 13 Mar 2012)
Just sayin the screen on the Galaxy S2 is better. Its not using the pentile arrangement
40. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
BUAHHAHA:D Good joke man:)
You are on of those blind sheeps who have never ever played with win 7.
Try it and you will change your mind what is fluid and what is not.
And I'm sorry but alu vs polycarbonate is a matter of taste.
You are against polycarbonate in 900 but remember that HTC used almost the same material in ONE X.
And...you have got sissy hands my dear? More than 8 mm is to thick and to uncomfy to hold?
I don't like szajsung but...saying that this half-unpolished-old phone is better than S II is just...well...put away your pills, will you?
48. remixfa (Posts: 13882; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
fanboys will be fanboys.
ill take the sgs2
the 900 is the best that wp7 has to offer at the moment so why wouldn't it be fair to compare them regardless of specs
have u played with a wp7? it is smooth as smooth can be
15. Commentator (Posts: 1869; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)
Three of the cons are about the camera? Why not, like PhoneArena always does, just combine them into the "Sub-par/Average Camera" label?
16. bloodline (Posts: 675; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)
Daniel can you teach Ray how to do a review please.
17. Muhannad (Posts: 455; Member since: 20 Sep 2011)
This is how the original Sensation should've been. I would love to buy this to replace my Sensation, don't really see the need for Quad Cores yet.
19. saket.shrivastava (Posts: 55; Member since: 02 Apr 2012)
rotate the 360 view, the time on the clock changes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
23. Commentator (Posts: 1869; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)
That happens on every 360 view here. If PA wanted to show some semblance of professionalism, they'd manually set the clock to the same time every time they took a picture for the 360 view! (Now let's just hope this little bit of sarcasm isn't lost on anyone...)
20. nuadar1 (Posts: 24; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)
Oh come on...It's same software and camera like the one in One X...it's one of the best. Engadget photos from One S are just fenomenal. Also, browser is easily changeable
And finally note to the people..this isn't midrange device..it's another flagship. See, Apple is having small flagship smartphone, Sammy giant flagship smartphone and HTC both :)
22. atheisticemetic (Posts: 377; Member since: 18 Dec 2011)
no removable battery or expandable memory? big no nos for this guy
24. willardcw4 (Posts: 169; Member since: 01 Oct 2011)
Reviews need to either be done by the same person, or have some type of normalization. Currently, the way reviews are being handled are ridiculous. Too much bias, opinion, and comparison to phones that aren't relevant.
28. BravoTeam127 (unregistered)
How is the battery life on this phone?
45. DylRicho (Posts: 17; Member since: 11 Apr 2012)
I've seen a screenshot on XDA that shows the battery survives for a whole day without problems under average use.
33. wunderkind (Posts: 2; Member since: 05 Apr 2012)
i think the review of one series is too early and too premature...
35. pukea (Posts: 6; Member since: 31 Dec 2010)
The worst site I have seen, you can't even make a review, One X - 7.8, One S - 8
Engadget & Verge & Gsmarena have better thoughts, i don't beleive in you, f**k*n Apple fans
Galaxy S3 - 7.3?
36. mike.messiah (Posts: 6; Member since: 07 Apr 2012)
Wow 3 out of 4 Cons is on the camera..
While on the other side of interwebs, reviewers are praising its camera. Engadget.com says-
"This, along with the One X, is possibly the best Android camera phone we've seen yet. "
WHOM TO BELIEVE???
(i dont wanna live in this planet anymore)
As for people complaining about this phone getting higher score than One X...people..one x and one s are two different catagory phones. One S got a good score in its upper-mid range segment...One X got a dismall score in its premium segment..
If the Nokia 1100 black/white phone gets 9/10 and Nokia n95 got 8/10 it doesnt mean the Nokia 1100 is better -_- ...they are rated according to their own segment.
38. saket.shrivastava (Posts: 55; Member since: 02 Apr 2012)
"i dont wanna live in this planet anymore" ???????????
well go to SA. KONY is waiting heeeeehaaaaaaaahhaahahahaaahah!!!!
41. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
it was not funny man, kony's case is not funny at all.
46. vlada (Posts: 2; Member since: 18 Apr 2012)
I've had the One S in my hands today. All very nice and fine, everything works very fast and smooth, etc... Phone handles well in hand and I liked the aluminium body. All in all, I liked it much more than, for example, the plasticky SGS2 or the bulky curved Xperia Arc S (although those two are very good phones, of course).
But, being a spoiled long-term user of a superb HTC HD2 (now running the ICS flawlessly), I have a problem with all new phones that come to the market: they all lack the WOW effect which made me purchase the HD2 in the first place. I still haven't tried anything that would make me send my old rugged HD2 to a well-deserved retirement.
49. remixfa (Posts: 13882; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
the review was fine but we still need a normalized and published reveiw system so people know why phones get the score they do
51. muchwe (Posts: 1; Member since: 18 May 2012)
Your help. the HTC Desire S or Samsung galaxy S advanced.?.my main concerns, internet connectivity that i can share out to other gadgets as i operate in the bush often & of course battery life.
52. tywanjames (Posts: 11; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)
Everybody complaining that the S scored better than the X need to realize that Phonearena isn't the only ones that did that. Consumer Reports scored the S higher than the X also. Also they scored the S's video camera quality better than the X's, so there has to be a difference between the 2 cameras.
53. kabhijeet.16 (Posts: 392; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)
Amazingly no reviewer talks about the bugs of Sense UI. HTC has changed the android multitasking which is a pain in the ass. Sense kills apps in background very aggressively(even with huge amount of RAM). This is being done to achieve a hassle free & lag free experience with better battery life. However, none of these has been achieved in any of HTC devices. All the HTC devices struggle for battery life & UI lags. The webpage reloading in HTC phones while toggling between apps is another major issue no reviewer talks about. Dont think these Smartphone reviewers are SMART. May be I should become a "Smartphone Reviewer".. :).. HTC one series has the BEST camera & image quality among all smartphones. & the looks of HTC beats even the IPHONEs... But performance is an issue.