HTC One S Review

HTC One S: A New Generation of Smartphone

When HTC first declared that their new business model (The One Initiative) involved plans to release fewer phones, all aimed at a wider audience rather than saturating the market with multiple handsets, it stood at odds of how their competitors do business. With Apple being the obvious exception every other company releasing smartphones release dozens of models each year. However, we’re now in the fourth month of 2012 and HTC have released but one handset, with plans to only release four throughout the year. Today we’re looking at the HTC 1 S. So far we’re very impressed.

HTC 1 S

HTC One S Review

The new HTC 1 S is an incredibly light and thin Android 4.0 phone that feels wonderfully natural to grip and hold. Fully closed up into a unibody case the One S has no removable battery and unfortunately no MicroSD expansion capability so it is limited to a 1650mAh battery and there is no way to expand on the 16GB of internal memory. As mentioned earlier the HTC 1 S is an incredibly comfortable phone to hold and use, with an ultra thin body of 7.8mm and a really comfortable rear panel it’s quite simply the most agreeable 4.3” Android smartphone to hold.

And it could very well prove to be the best Android 4.0 handset to hit the market. It’s admittedly a relatively small crowd to pick from so far, with the HTC Vivid and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus being the only competition to speak of. However the HTC 1 S beats them both hands down when it comes to both size and design. With its sleekly curved body, which fits to the contours of the hand and the three touch sensitive buttons on it’s face this just feels like it’s been sent straight back through time. And it’s not just the physical side that makes the HTC 1 S such an impressive handset.

The Software

We’ll be taking a more in depth look at the operating system itself in our next article so for now we’ll just be discussing how it runs on the phone itself, which in the case of the HTC 1 S is as smooth as butter. There’s no lag at when using menus, opening and closing apps or running anything that we’ve come across. The software operations run so fluidly  that the phones seems to have more in common with the iPhone than older Android models. The only slight draw back is in HTC’s Sense4.0 add-on software which does occasionally get in the way (although it does seem to simplify a few matters, such as the notifications bar and multitasking).

I have noticed the occasional problem with software, with a few apps having crashed on me, and on one occasion shutting down entirely. HTC are aware of the problem and all though there is no fix currently it shouldn’t be long coming.

Sense does, however, offer one vast improvement in software and that’s with the camera. The Android 4.0 system has already provided a great update to the camera’s operation, most noticeably in the speed with which shots are taken, but the HTC 1 S takes pictures so fast that if the phone’s muted you won’t even notice it happening. The TouchSense offers two improvements that are revolutionary in the smartphone market: they’ve included two shutter releases (one which takes stills and one for video) which allows quick shooting either way and the option to take 8MP still shots while simultaneously shooting video.

The Hardware

The camera itself, however, does feel slightly lacking. The photos it takes just don’t quite seem to have the depth and the quality one looks for in a high quality f/2.0 lens (although we do see an improvement over similar phones when it comes to pictures taken at night). The video quality is fine for everyday use, although we have seen better in some of HTC’s older models. Overall the 1 S takes acceptable picture and video, and is fine for the average user, although if you’re looking for a high quality camera this isn’t the phone for you.

I also found the screen leaves a little to be desired. I find it a real disappointment that HTC opted for qHD 960×540 resolution screen, when the speed and power that the HTC 1 S offers it could easily have included a 720p HD display, which would have offered better pixel density for image quality and reading. Videos and images do appear very crisp, with top quality colour and light contrast although I have noticed it is a little lacking in direct sunlight. I have also begun to notice a bit of pixelation and aliasing when looking very closely, although it shouldn’t pose any real problems.

The battery life is passable and on most occasions will last for a full day but on occasions when I’ve used it particularly heavily (Browsing, using apps, sending a lot of texts) I have lost charge by late afternoon. If you’re going to need a battery you can rely on for a full day of heavy use there are better handsets out there. It’s also important to remember that the battery is non-removable, so make sure the battery life fits your needs before purchase. Also of note is the lack of expandable memory, meaning you end up tied into a contract with only 12GB of usable memory. Again, suitable for most people but you require more memory it’s not the phone for you.

My High Points

One of the real selling points for myself was the Beats By Dre integration, which is a vast improvement over the default Android player. You’re able to use the audio equalizer across all media and apps. You can instantly activate Beats from the notification bar when playing any media. For my personal music tastes, Beats is a real improvement, giving a much more bass orientated sound and cleaning up the vocals but it’s down to yourself whether you prefer this. I was also not impressed with the headphones provided so you may find yourself investing in more.

Overall

Overall I would call the HTC 1 S a very sleek, pretty handset, which is probably the fastest Android smartphone I’ve yet to use and which seems incredibly solid and reliable with the call quality being very crisp and clear on both ends. It also offers 25GB of dropbox storage for two years which makes this a great deal. In my eyes purchasing this gets you not only one of the best looking (and enjoyable to use) handsets we’ve seen in years but also the best experience you can hope for with an Android phone.

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HTC One S Review: Looking at Android 4.0

So How Does HTC One S’ New OS Handle?

So we’ve finally got our hands on Ice Cream Sandwich and the question everyone’s asking is whether this is really a major advancement in the technology of Android or just a polished up skin for Android made by Google itself. Well that’s what I was wondering as I tested the HTC One S, my first experience with the new Android 4.0. Well for me it’s been an enjoyable experience, with vast improvements, to the operation and looks of the system. They’ve also added some of the best features you get with Honeycomb tablets, like interactive widgets. Here’s my breakdown of the new system after playing around with the HTC One S; both what I liked and what felt wrong, I hope it’s useful.
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