HTC One S for T-Mobile Review


Following in line to its sibling across the sea, T-Mobile’s version handles well in the calling quality department, as voices on both ends of the line are robust in tone and noise-free. Switching over to the speakerphone, its extremely weak output tends to make voices inaudible – forcing us to constantly tell our callers to speak up.

Testing it out primarily in high coverage areas, signal strength hovers around the -85 dBm mark – with few instances of it fluctuating. Additionally, we didn’t experience any dropped calls during our testing in the greater Philadelphia area.

Lastly, there’s the 1,650 mAh battery tuck away inside its skinny frame – inaccessible by our touchy fingers. Luckily, it’s ample enough to provide us with a solid one day of normal usage out of a full charge. In fact, we find it at slightly above the 10% mark the end of our night, therefore, it’s pretty much average by today’s standards.


Remembering all of the recent fond memories we’ve made with the European version of the HTC One S, T-Mobile’s version also delights us in many ways. Finally, T-Mobile customers will have an updated HTC offering that’s delivers that great balance of performance and features – even better when it flaunts one eye-catching design that rivals some of the best smartphones out there. Certainly, it’s rather difficult to classify it as a mid-range device, especially when it’s positioned in between the HTC One X and One V, but as we’ve blatantly mentioned before, it’s more in line as being an upper mid-range device.

For all of its worth, the one thing that irks us more than others, is the $199.99 on-contract price it’ll be flaunting come launch day. As we’ve come to realize, the $200 price point is no longer associated with top of the line devices, but rather, it has been pushed up and over the $250 mark. Knowing that Sprint’s version of the HTC One X, the EVO 4G LTE, will be sporting the same price, it’s undeniably hard to justify T-Mobile’s reasoning.  Don’t get us wrong, the $200 price point still seems fitting based on its killer industrial design and impeccable performance, but there’s simply an obvious disparity between the two – even more when the HTC One X is classified as a higher-end model.

Therefore, if you’re okay with the price, you’ll find a handset worthy enough to tangle with some of the big named smartphones on the market. Blessed with one immaculate design, you’re bound to get some looks as you show it off in public. Of course, if you’re willing to wait longer and jump ship, you might find more value in the variants of the HTC One X that are expected to hit our shores soon, but if not, this is easily one of the best handsets coming to T-Mobile in the foreseeable future.

Software version of the reviewed unit:
Android Version: 4.0.3
HTC Sense Version: 4.0
Build Number: 1.53.531.16 CL47441
Kernel Version: 3.0.8-01053-g5dc1dc4

HTC One S for T-Mobile Review:


  • Superb design and solid construction
  • Super-fast shutter speed
  • Consistent speedy performance
  • Maintains clarity at various viewing angles


  • Lack of expandable memory
  • Inability to focus with macro shots
  • Somewhat pricey at $200 on-contract

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

10 Reviews



1. cellphonator

Posts: 298; Member since: Oct 29, 2011

John, any news about out of contract price?

2. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

Not even stock HTC earbuds? It's bad enough they took away the Beats, but now you don't even get ANY earbuds? That makes me sad. I get it was mostly just marketing, and the Beats buds aren't really that great in quality, but still.

6. Obviously

Posts: 29; Member since: Feb 29, 2012

Agreed, atleast throw in some $2 headphones if you're going to claim to be music oriented and team up with Beats.

3. bokajay

Posts: 11; Member since: Nov 03, 2011

4. kingkoopa765

Posts: 31; Member since: Oct 22, 2011

Anyone know when the black version is coming? Might stick with Amaze until then...

5. Rayzin

Posts: 83; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

Nobody wants that gray/blue with neon blue color scheme. The black one looks 100 times better. And we have to wait all the way to June to get that. But I'm willing to wait, this phone is pretty exciting with the speedy 28nm S4 dual core. THE POWER! And I'm getting tired of my concave sensation 4G display. It's like my thumb can never reach the edge because of that curve.

8. dok2005

Posts: 55; Member since: Apr 18, 2012

the official msrp is $550 go to bestbuy and grab yours

9. Leon101

Posts: 90; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

I love it and had till i found out.... NO BEATS AUDIO EARBUDS d-__-b or any earbuds!!! Gosh my lg optimus t is nothing compare to this and YES IT BROUGHT eardbuds!!!

10. hoevito

Posts: 11; Member since: Apr 18, 2012

No removable removable battery...pentile display... 3 critical aspects this phone already fails at. As a Sensation 4g owner there's absolutely no sense in upgrading to this device because quite frankly I feel it's a downgrade least my phone came with headphones...jeez...

11. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

But it has an amazingly fast processor, upgraded camera, and more vibrant display. And the pentile isn't really noticeable to the untrained eye without a magnifying glass.

13. hoevito

Posts: 11; Member since: Apr 18, 2012

Ok, but I can just as easily get the same camera software on my sensation by installing one of the ever growing (and surprisingly stable) sense 4.0 builds directly ported from the One S and negate every single software advtange the One s might have. Granted the camera might not have as big or newfangled of a lense or the processor may be older...I still have the EXACT same sense 4.0 the One S has, and I have all the removable storage I could ever need, and can install extended batteries all day long...and my screen is *argubly* better lol...not to mention the fact I get to keep $600 in my pocket and don't have to re-up on a contract for a device that takes 2 steps forwards, but 3 steps backwards...


Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

I have had the Galaxy Nexus since it launched. I also had the Droid 3 for a while. Comparing the normal LCD pentile display vs AMOLED pentile display is a HUGE difference. You will not notice the AMOLED one even if you try your best to look for it. Galaxy Nexus/Note owners never complain about the pentile displays or at least from what I have seen. So check for yourself before you write it off.

22. hoevito

Posts: 11; Member since: Apr 18, 2012

I didn't just personally write it off because of the screen, but lack of sd storage, removable battery, and only having roughly 10gb of memory available to the user out the box is what turned me off sadly...otherwise, I like the phone...but it's honestly just not worth the money or the upgrade (coming from a rooted and ROM'ed Sensation) Btw...a pentile HD screen...yeah, you're right, those are nice nonetheless, but Qhd? I compared my phones screen (which is S-lcd/rgb) to a RAZR, and the RAZR's screen is pretty don't get me wrong...but noticebly not quite as sharp as my own due to the amoled/pentile format vs. S-lcd/rgb. I'm not a stickler by any means but it's all a matter of preference ultimately and I personally just don't see it as something to be excited over when the screen on my current phone has a (somewhat) valid argument for being better in some aspects. It's a wash :-/

18. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

Yes, you have the software and the option for extended battery life and memory, but my point about the hardware still stands. Some people don't need the more battery, or more memory. Granted it's still always good to have the option, they made this phone in mind of the average user. Not the power hungry user, or the memory hog, the AVERAGE consumer. And the average consumer's main priorities are speed and looks. And this phone delivers that speed and (arguably) looks better than the Sensation ever did. People love the vibrant Super Amoled screen, because its more eye candy to the user. People want faster processors, because they don't want lag like the S3 had. The One S has everything the average consumer asks for, it's pretty and fast. Don't get upset because the manufacturer didn't fit your standards, because majority rules, and not as many people cared about battery and memory as other people cared about speed and beauty.

23. hoevito

Posts: 11; Member since: Apr 18, 2012

You are absolutely correct, the utterly average uniformed t mobile customer *may* flock to this phone in droves...but the "informed" consumer who is at least aware of his options, let alone one who may already be in possession of a phone manufactured in the last year or so...probably won't. I could easily understand someone who has a phone that may be a couple generations behind springing for this phone, because honestly it's not bad by any means...BUT honestly HTC could've done so much better with the phone. It could've had more memory or at least removable storage because that alone is a deal breaker for many. The removable battery is very questionable because this phone better get GREAT battery life, and I'm not talking about hypothetically either just due to the processor blah blah. If it doesn't...then your stuck with it as is because aftermarket battery options won't exist. Other than that...the screen just doesn't seem cutting edge enough...I mean it's on par with the RAZR basically, which is a phone that been out for what, 6 months? Htc (and Tmobile in this case) needed to hit a homerun with this phone, and it is VERY underwhelming to me considering the competition. By the sensation with it's supposedly "laggy" S3 is buttery smooth after upgrading to ICS. I'm pretty sure that in a lot of cases with phone's packing S3''s not the hardware per say that makes it perform laggily, but the software (Sense, overlays, lack of optimization) and the fact that quite a few phone's packing the S3 are still on gingerbread. Give those same phones ICS and properly spec'd software and I'm sure the average user wouldn't care WHAT processor it's be a seamless experience either way...

20. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

The S4 chip should get close to 40-50% more battery life than the sensation which had HORRIBLE battery life Amoled with pentile BLOWS AWAY the sensations screen. dont get caught up on pentile or not.. you can not see the pixels. Ive had pentile for 2 years on my SGS1 and i still stop and stare at how pretty it is. the S4 processor is WAY faster than the 1.2ghz S3 processor per clock it has nearly double the ram for faster and more smooth operation. you can get the software.. but you wont get the hardware. The OneS has dedicated camera HARDWARE that makes it work. The sensation is software only. In no way other than removable storage is the sensation superior to the OneS. Now if you are just holding out for something that appeals to you, sure.. but dont act like this is a downgrade when its far from it. I'm skipping it too, but thats because I know something 2x as good is right around the corner.


Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

"I'm skipping it too, but thats because I know something 2x as good is right around the corner." YES THE IPHONE 5!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MORE OF THE SAME PLEASE! jk jk SGS3 of course ;)

24. hoevito

Posts: 11; Member since: Apr 18, 2012

I'm pretty sure that it won't get 40-50% better battery life...because my ICS packing/1900mah $10 anker battery packing sensation can last as long as I want it to depending on usage (record is 36 hrs :-) Btw...the sensation has 768mb vs One S @ 1gb...not quite double. Either way...the sensation with ICS is no slouch, throw in a custom kernel and it gives sensation owners like myself, let alone anyone with hardware spec'ed simliarly to anything worth a damn that came out last year no compelling reason to upgrade to this phone. Yeah, you and your OG vibrant might be due for an upgrade...but this phone at it's best is a "niche" phone. It's not targeted at everyone, but instead those new to smartphones, those who don't have much need for storage space, or those who are upgrading from something ancient. Personally, I don;'t think it'll sell well, but we'll see... All I'm really saying is there is no really compelling reason to choose this phone over say a Motorola Droid RAZR for example...a 6 month old phone spec'ed similiarly that the One S hold no *clear* advantages over maybe except for the processor. Compared to the Sensation tho, it's DEFINITELY not a downgrade I know...but it's also no REAL Upgrade...because for everything you may gain you lose something just as important if not more important. Removable storage and batteries are HUGE to a lot more people than just myself...the screen, that's a debatable advantage/disadvantage honestly, and the processor and camera? Yeah they're great don't get me wrong...but not worth losing expandable storage and a removable battery. Me=patiently waiting to SGSIII :-)

27. kshell1

Posts: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

the funny thing is the dual core s3 is still only slightly more powerful than the ever compared a sensation to a galaxy s2? much much more powerful phone than your sensation. The One S is no different it is much more powerful than your sensation, but yes i agree with you on the subject of the expandable memory, but on the screen no qHD is plenty high enough to not be able to detect pixels unless your purposefully looking for them (why would you?) I can almost guarantee you at least 75% of normal consumers would choose the qHD amoled over the qHD s-lcd on your sensation because people are more attracted to the vibrant colors.

34. itiswhatitis

Posts: 423; Member since: Jan 23, 2012

hey i hope you answer this cuz phonearena neer answer my questions i'm planning to buy unlocked htc one s so what i wanna know is that wil i have to pay or get a different a/c to use wifi hotspot?? or i can use it without any issues since i'm from india there's no way of paying it to t mobile for internet sharing or opening an account for that ,please let me know

12. KEVlN

Posts: 83; Member since: Aug 19, 2011

The Galaxy Note gets a 7/10, The One X gets a 7.8/10 and the One S gets a 8? I don't understand PA's review process.

14. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

depends on the reviewer.... I like John V. His video Reviews are the best on PA.

29. John.V

Posts: 99; Member since: May 27, 2011

Of course, one person's dislike might end up being a positive for another individual. In general, you have to be impartial, even if the device in question isn't something I'll be personally buying. As I've said, I question the $200 price point, but I'm sure that's not going to stop people seeing it performs well and has one killer design. Glad you like it though!

30. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

I have respect for reviewers as they must try and see things with other eyes while giving their opinion about it. its hard and needs lots of time for practice.

15. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

Different people. They lean towards their own preference. John is more balanced with everything, Ray is just... idk. Ray did the review for Note and One X, and alot of people think he's really against Android because of the low scores he gave them because he wasn't open minded. He judged them mostly by his own preference. John did this review, and I say its fair, he lists both good and bad things about the device, and scored it according to what the average person would want.


Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

If I'm not correct and please feel free to correct me but I believe RAY S reviewed the Note and we all know how much he loves the iPhone and loves it's size. So it's no shock whatsoever that he would downrate it due to it not being a "one handed device". That's his view and I respect it but look at it this way. It's one of the most desired and loved devices for a reason. I don't even care about phone ratings anymore, it's always somewhat biased.

19. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

Everything is biased in someway. Nothing is ever truly fair.

25. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1250; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

RORY: Whether he uses an iPhone or a Droid X; the Note is simply huge. Almost no matter what phone you are coming from is going to be significantly smaller. That's a fair con. I checked that phone out at best buy one day and personally, idk how anyone could use that as their daily phone. I would think him unfair if he didn't list that as a con.


Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

True but you can't have a PRO to the massive display and a CON as the device being too big. That just doesn't add up. Instead of evening it out, it will simply marked down big time because of its size. When most people either work past the size or eventually start to like it.

28. kshell1

Posts: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Great product in my opinion, but if i was still on tmobile i wouldn't get it because im waiting on the s3
One S
  • Display 4.3" 540 x 960 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 0.3 MP VGA front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus, Dual-core, 1500 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB
  • Battery 1650 mAh(7.00h talk time)

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