HTC Desire S

Posted on: 05/30/11 by Dennison Ko

Despite being one of the first manufacturers to roll-out Android handsets, HTC was previously known more for being an OEM supplier of Windows-powered PDAs and customized mobile phones for telcos like Orange in Europe and T-Mobile in the United States.

After Google contracted them to manufacture the first Google-branded Android smartphone, the Nexus One (aka the Google phone), HTC eventually went on to release their own version of the device. Thus was born the first-gen Desire.

The Desire, HTC's flagship offering for their line of Android phones in 2010, was nothing short of revolutionary. It put HTC firmly on the Android landscape. With its solid combination of screen-size, performance, build quality, and software, it became one of the most desired and best-selling Android phones of the year. We're doing a bit of a history lesson here, folks, as you may have already noticed.

Although HTC released two more handsets with the Desire name (the super-sized Desire HD and the slide-out QWERTY-packing Desire Z), the Desire S is widely recognized as the official follow-up. So how does it stack up with the current generation of Android phones? Read on.

The first thing we noticed about the Desire S is how well it fits in the palm of our hand. Other smartphones may have bigger screens or thinner profiles, but HTC seems to have gotten the perfect blend of physical dimensions with the Desire S. The striking 3.7-inch display is just big enough to convey a sense that this is a serious smartphone yet small enough so you can navigate the touchscreen using just one hand.

The Desire S weighs in at a hefty 130g. But with its Desire HD-inspired aluminum unibody contruction, it  manages to give that solid, classy feel. The Gorilla Glass protected screen further reassures us that this is one phone that could withstand a reasonable amount of abuse. We did experience some difficulty when we tried opening the battery/sim/microSD card compartment. The sliding mechanism required some finesse before we managed to pop it open. But that's really not that big a fuss.

With newer, top-of-the-line phones now powered by dual-core processors, the choice of a 1GHz Scorpion chip for the Desire S seems to put it in a bind. It's still more computing power than most people will ever need for a phone, but with Google announcing the next generation Android (Ice Cream Sandwich) requiring at least dual-core hardware, your options might be limited here if you're the type who needs to be up-to-date when it comes to your mobile software.

Boot-up time from a cold start is reasonably fast and the S-LCD displays rich saturated colors under room lighting. It, however, tends to suffer a bit when viewed outdoors under bright sunlight. Such is the bane of many handsets, top-notch or low-end. The LED flash equipped 5-megapixel camera at the back takes decent-to-average quality pictures and videos. Good enough for mobile phone camwhores if you ask us. There's also a VGA camera at the front for video calls.

The Desire S is capable of handling the alphabet soup of connectivity standards that comes standard with most modern handsets, ranging from mobile data, Bluetooth, WiFi, and GPS. Reception is excellent for typical use, though there seem to be a bug with the WiFi signal strength; if your hand happens to come in contact with the top back panel, you might experience some degradation of the connection quality. Reminds us of this problem with another high-profile mobile phone.

The Desire S does away with the buttons and trackball, which were present in the Desire, leaving you with the power switch and volume rocker as the only physical interfaces available. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; it gives the phone a very streamlined face. Besides there are still 4 touch-sensitive keys located at the bottom of the screen (home, menu, back, and search) to help you navigate.

Battery life is also impressive providing almost 2 days of juice with moderate use before requiring a recharge. This is a marked improvement from the original Desire's notoriously short battery life.

With smartphones, the bundled software is equal to, if not more important than the hardware specs. HTC does a good job of keeping the phone current by preloading it with Gingerbread, the latest available Android version for mobile phones. And with HTC's much vaunted Sense UI serving as the default interface, what you get is a visually-appealing and smooth experience navigating this baby. Featuring 75 built-in widgets to choose from— ranging from weather updates, clocks, to display feeds of your emails and social networks— you'll be able to customize your home screens to your heart's content.

The Desire S does not wow you with any single feature or quality. Rather, it presents all the little things that have made HTC a major player in the smartphone business, neatly packaged into a nice bundle. Unlike its predecessor, the Desire S won't be the latest and greatest Android phone around, but it offers a more than adequate combination of features that both newbies and experienced smartphone can definitely appreciate.

Click here to view the HTC Desire S in the Buyer's Guide

Thanks to Top Electronics for lending us the Desire S. If you want to buy the latest handsets at good prices, visit their site here.

See also


1 of 11 photos

HTC Desire S 01

An unassuming box for an unassuming phone
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HTC Desire S 02

Clean and simple. Really a no-frills type of design
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HTC Desire S 03

Back cover lacks flair, unlike the Desire Z
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HTC Desire S 04

Fits nicely on a typical Pinoy palm
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HTC Desire S 05

Android 2.3.3 "Gingerbred" running the show with HTC Sense UI ver. 2.1
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HTC Desire S 06

Not exactly hardware hard-on material but it's great for the price!
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HTC Desire S 07

Android menu with a Sense-ible custom UI
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HTC Desire S 08

Power button and 3.5mm jack on top
9 of 11 photos

HTC Desire S 09

Taken apart, sort of
10 of 11 photos

HTC Desire S 10

1450 mAh battery
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HTC Desire S 11

SIM and microSD slot

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  • Premium build quality
  • Respectable battery life
  • Sense 2.1 UI
  • Streamlined design
  • Difficulty in opening battery compartment
  • WiFi signal bug (we don't know if this is an issue with all Desire S handsets)
  • Single-core processor only
  • Might have no room for an Ice Cream Sandwich update
Bottom Line

Not a "WOW" phone but gets the job done, neatly.

Editor's Pick No
Price P27,000
Tech Specs
  • Network
    • 2G: Quadband GSM
    • 3G: HSDPA 900/2100
  • Processor: 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon
  • Screen
    • Type: S-LCD capacitive touchscreen
    • Size: 3.7 inches
    • Resolution: 800 x 480 pixels
    • Colors: 16 million
  • Memory
    • ROM: 1.1GB
    • RAM: 768MB
    • Expansion:microSD up to 32GB
  • Connectivity
    • Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA
    • Bluetooth: ver. 2.1 with A2DP (stereo), EDR
    • Cable: microUSB 2.0
    • GPS: yes with A-GPS
    • FM Radio: Stereo radio w/ RDS
  • Camera
    • Stills Resolution: 5 megapixels
    • Flash: dual-LED
    • Autofocus: yes
    • Geo-tagging: yes
    • Video Recording: 720p @30fps
    • Secondary: yes, VGA
  • Operating System: Android 2.3 Gingerbread
  • Audio Formats Supported: MP3/AAC+/WAV/WMA
  • Video Formats Supported: DivX/XviD/MP4/H.263/H.264/WMV
  • Battery Life
    • Talk: up to 9 hours 40 minutes
    • Standby: up to 370 hours
  • Size: 120 x 64 x 11.7 mm
  • Weight: 135.5 g

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