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HTC One S review

A top of the range cameraphone with an emphasis on pictures, music and connectivity. Is the One S the One to have?

Our Verdict

The HTC One S is a beautiful handset blessed with beautiful capabilities and is already available at very palatable price points.

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 16 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 8 Megapixel
  • Screen Resolution : 540 x 960

View full specification

For

  • Slim, svelte and beautiful
  • Built for Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Loads of widgets
  • Excellent battery life

Against

  • Limited memory, no SD slot
  • MicroSIM is a pain for some
  • Keyboard has seen better days
  • Call quality can be slightly tinny:

Update: We've spent a long time with the HTC One S now, so have updated our review to represent the improved software and all round experience. Don't worry... it's still brilliant!

The HTC One S follows swiftly on the heels of the One X in HTC's new premium brand of Android 4.0-enabled handsets, bringing a svelte chassis, 7.8mm depth and a low-price of just £26 a month at launch - and only $149.99 in the US too.

First things first: the HTC One S is a cracking looking device. It's marketed this as the thinnest handset HTC has ever made. And you feel that when you take it out of the box. It's tall at about the same height as last year's HTC Sensation (with which it will draw a lot of comparisons) but a lot, lot sleeker.

Measurements come in at 130.9 x 65 x 7.8mm and weight wise, it's pretty insignificant at a shade over 119g. And that's even more impressive when you look at what's inside. GPS, HSDPA etc – all elements we'd expect nowadays and all packed in here like sardines.

HTC One S review

First thing you notice is that huge black, glossy display on the front. Resolution wise, it keeps the Sensation's 4.3-inch display with a 540 x 960 resolution - qHD to you and me, meaning a pixel density of 256ppi.

It's clearly not as sharp as that found in the daddy of the range, the HTC One X, nor the likes of Apple's iPhone 4S or the Sony Xperia S (and you will be able to discern pixels if you look too closely) but it puts in a very good effort.

HTC One S review

Colours are easily as bright and vivid as the now almost year-old Samsung Galaxy S2 even though the Super AMOLED display lacks the 'Plus' bit that the latter handset boasts of - but don't think it's not got superb contrast ratios though.

In fact, if you put the phone down on a table and look at it from a couple of feet away, that screen looks even more incredible with hues just jumping out at you and finished off with the polish of the glass.

HTC One S review

The display has been pushed even further up towards that protective glass and it really shows. This is a display HTC can be proud to push.

Although the HTC One S ships with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box, it's decided to still include three soft keys beneath the screen. They're fully responsive and we had no issues whatsoever with them.

The design is pretty minimalist. The front also houses that VGA front snapper for video calling as well as the earpiece, which actually consists of dozens of holes individually drilled into the chassis to add to the air of class.

Up top is the power/lock button and 3.5mm headset jack, the right holds a volume rocker, the left gives us a micro USB socket and nothing at the bottom other than a tiny microphone hole. The rear has little other than holes for the speaker (again, drilled in), a couple of logos and the camera with LED flash.

Completing the minimalist look, you'll see that at the back, you can only remove a small area, which allows you to add the (micro) SIM and do nothing else.

HTC One S review

No accessing the battery here, thank you. It's sealed in. Nor will you be slipping your MicroSD card in there because memory is non-expandable (don't go there – because we plan to later in the Media section!)

The chassis is made from aluminium, which has been given a 'micro-arc oxidisation treatment'...the same as they do with satellites.

It all sounds very swish and space age and sets the HTC One S up to take up a few extra knocks, which is handy since you'll probably have this phone for two years. It fact, it puts us in mind of a Nexus One from back in the day a little bit. In principle, it looks great. In practice, it can cause a couple of problems.

HTC One S review

Because this is a tall phone – and because HTC has elected to put the lock button at the top rather than at the side as some other manufacturers do – there is a certain amount of leverage to even unlock the phone.

And that's only the beginning – the HTC One S is so uber stylish, HTC seems to have forgotten about the functionality of it. With anodized metal all over, this is one slippery customer. In the first few days of having it, we wince at recalling how many times we dropped it. Luckily only into our lap, but we can see a lot of people breaking these within the first few weeks.

HTC One S review

The HTC One X, meanwhile, doesn't appear to suffer this affliction thanks to the slight curve. And despite being protected with Corning Gorilla Glass, it's not that robust.

We cared for our One S review unit like a newborn baby and still, we were dismayed to see what appears to look like a deep scratch at the bottom of the screen, which we can't explain through normal use.

Indeed, you'll need to wrap this baby up like a child in a case with screen protectors and protection galore. Maybe even take it to a church and get it blessed for extra protection. That does detract from the overall beauty

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Built-in Memory16 GB
Built-in FlashNo
Memory Card SlotNo
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationNo
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyOne S
Cellular Generation3G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 2100
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution8 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraNo
Phone StyleBar
ColourGrey
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameHTC
Screen Size10.9 cm (4.3")
Screen Resolution540 x 960
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)119.5 g
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
RealtoneYes
Radio Tuner TypeFM
Call FeaturesCall Log
Pixel Density256 ppi
Height130.9 mm
Width65 mm
Depth7.8 mm
Radio TunerYes
ManufacturerHigh Tech Computer Corp
Product NameOne S
Processor Speed1.50 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon
Product LineOne S
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeG-sensor, Gyro Sensor, Accelerometer, Digital Compass, Proximity Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor
Manufacturer Part Number99HRE011-00
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.europe.htc.com
Marketing Information

Amazing camera

With this camera you never miss a shot. Capture every moment with a camera that starts-up in less than a second, and has rapid-fire continuous shooting. You'll never again have to choose between capturing a video or a picture-with Video Pic you can get both at the same time. And you'll get the best images even under the worst conditions: low light, no light and back light... None are a problem.

Limited Warranty1 Year