Our man in England, mister Chris Davies, has let loose his review of the HTC Desire S over on SlashGear. What he's found is that this 3.7-inch display having, Android 2.3.3 wielding, 5-megapixel camera toting handset isn't the best of the bunch, but it's certainly not the worst device he's ever held. This phone is the sequel to the original HTC Desire, which was undeniably HTC's answer for the Nexus One - will it hold up to the pressure of the barrage of phones that have been released in only these past few months?
This is a phone that's a mere 115 x 59.8 x 11.63 mm, and only 130g. The display again is a 3.7-inch Super LCD with WVGA resolution, this making it the same number of pixels as the original Desire, but with Super LCD instead of AMOLED. The original Desire had an optical trackpad where this one has none, moving toward a touchscreen-only model that many manufacturer are trending at nowadays, perhaps due to the oncoming Honeycomb / Ice Cream world of Android where no physical buttons are necessary.
Volume and USB are along the left, top has a power/lock button and headphone jack. On the back is one of two cameras (the other on the front) as well as a speaker near the top and a removable panel near the bottom with access to your SIM, microSD, and battery. This reminds us of the HTC Inspire 4G which has each of these accessible in two panels instead of just one.
The whole body of the handset is what Chris notes as "a very successful design," speaking on the matte finnish, discreet chrome bits here and there, and the "HTC chin" which makes it easy to take from and replace this handset in your pocket. Also specifically Chris notes that it feels solid and, with a less-plastic design than the original Desire, it's "hard not to imagine that this could have been the design for the second Nexus, had Google stuck with HTC as a hardware partner." A pretty nice compliment!
Inside you'll find a Qualcomm’s single-core 1GHz MSM8255 processor, 768MB of RAM, and 1.1GB of internal storage. Connectivity includes dualband HSPA/WCDMA, quadband GSM/EDGE, WiFi b/g/n, and of course Bluetooth 2.1. There’s also GPS, a g-sensor, digital compass, proximity sensor and ambient light sensor.
This handset will be HTC's first to launch with the Gingerbread version of Android. This release will be Android 2.3.3 with HTC's newest version of Sense placed on top, ever so slightly newer than the version you'll find on the HTC Incredible S. The only place you'll truly be able to SEE the change to this new version of Google's mobile OS is in the info page where you'll see the numbers stacked up. HTC Sense will here give you seven homescreens, widgets galore, and several grids of apps in your app folder rather than a free-scrolling list. HTCs usual suite of excellent apps is included, those being Car Panel, Flashlight, FriendStream, HTC Hub, Locations, Peep, and the also simple and totally useful Mirror.
Your pull-down Android status bar is a tiny bit different, this time having a new tab at the bottom of notifications leading you to Quick Settings, that being such things as GPS, Wifi, Bluetooth, and Mobile Network switched on or off, plus a link to your full settings. Chris notes that HTC's set of utterly invaluable phone options is included in this handset as well, that being the ability to have your phone ringer adjusted based on if its out in the open, in your pocket or purse, or in your hand, and allows you to have the ringer automatically shut off when you flip the phone over.
Chris makes an important point in his review as he notes that there's no native TV or film streaming and no OnLive gaming service, both of these items set to be included on the HTC Flyer tablet. Chris notes that with only a single-core system, this phone may well be outdated in less than a year. Will a new wave of chip-intensive apps be released in that amount of times, many of them leaving single-cores in the dust? It seems very possible as well as more than likely.
While the backside camera of this device, weighing in at 5-megapixels, isn't the worst camera Chris has ever laid a hand upon, it's certainly not the best. Comparing it to the Incredible S, Chris notes that shots in the macro were noticeably grainier, shots in the micro much harder to focus on and slightly blurrier in the end. The front-end camera is junk save for simple video chat.
While using the video function on the rear-facing camera, Chris noted that this hardware is definitely alright, but could definitely use some improvements. Whilst turning side-to-side there is a tiny bit of tearing, while touch-to-focusing does work while video recording, there is a certain jerk that pops up each time an adjustment is made. Another odd item is sharing, you not being able to share a photo anywhere unless you're in gallery mode and you long-press a thumbnail.
Phone and Performance
Calls to and from the phone seem to have faired decent when tested by Chris, his only note being that the mic on the phone could be cranked up a bit. As far as benchmarks go, Chris found it odd that even though this phone has the same chipset and RAM as the Incredible S, the Desire S scored a mere 1147 in Quadrant benchmarking while the Incredible S received a 1559. Those not tapping the buttons on both phones at once will more than likely not take a while lot of notice of this situation.
Battery, oh battery. You've become such an issue that you need your own section. Chris found that the HTC Desire S ran for an entire day utilizing Gmail, browser, messenger, camera, and calls. With a display that's relatively small compared to the rest of the HTC line, you're going to find that you're surprised that your phone is still on even though you forgot to charge it the night before - what a treat!
In a world where 4-inch displays are common, where screens even larger than this are becoming the status quo, HTC Desire S is almost a daring move. That and the fact that it's a single-core phone in a rapidly evolving dual-core landscape makes this phone a mid-range phone where a year ago it would have been top of the line. Because of this, and because it's not a year-old phone by any stretch of the imagination, you can, like Chris notes in his full review on SlashGear, use the S in the name Desire S to signify "Solid."