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HTC Desire S review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £359
inc VAT

A decent update to the original Desire, the S has a better camera, more space for apps and upgraded communications, but it's not enough to warrant a direct upgrade.


Android 2.3, 3.7in 480×800 display

It’s also paired up with an improved graphics chip, the Adreno 205, which supports hardware acceleration for vector graphics in web pages and the Adobe Flash formats, plus it has better shader performance. The result is a very snappy phone indeed. Flicking through home screens or the application tray, we noticed no delays at all. The capacitive touchscreen uses toughened Gorilla glass and is bright and colourful, although on Android’s lowest brightness setting it was far too dark.

HTC Desire S top

HTC’s Sense software returns again, and while we’re fans of its social network aggregation features and slick UI improvements, it’s starting to get bloated, and we slightly resent the fact that you can’t uninstall any of its associated apps. Although the FriendStream app is useful, aggregating status updates from Twitter and Facebook, we could do without HTC’s Peep Twitter client, which isn’t anywhere near as good as Twitter’s official app. It’s still incredibly useful to be able to link your contacts, and Sense prompts you to link more contacts as you add new services. If someone’s changed their name, you can also link them manually.

A new addition to Sense is the ability to organise your application tray. By default, the tray is now split into sections so that when you scroll up or down, it only scrolls one section at a time. Two new icons at the bottom of the screen let you jump to your most frequently used apps, or just the apps you’ve downloaded, which removes the need to see the pre-installed apps. While this ties in with the design of other Sense apps, it’s not as flexible as Samsung’s modifications to the app tray, as seen on the Galaxy S2, where you can create new groups and drag and drop icons.

HTC Desire S Back

Although the camera shares the same number of megapixels with its predecessor, we found shots much more colourful and crisp with this new model. Outdoor shots were especially good, while indoor shots started to exhibit more of the noise in dark areas that normally plagues smartphone cameras. The LED flash certainly helped to reduce this effect, but it tends to light up only the centre of the shot, leaving the edges in noisy darkness.

New Android users will find the new Desire S quick and full of features, but if you have an old Desire you might be disappointed, as it’s not much of an upgrade. Its single-core processor can’t compete for raw speed with the dual-core Samsung Galaxy S2 or LG Optimus 2X, but then again it costs much less, both SIM-free and on contract.

At present the original single-core Samsung Galaxy S has recently been upgraded to Android 2.3, and costs as little as £25 per month on contract, so it’s still the best smartphone available. But if you want the fastest connections, then a small price drop would make the Desire S a great choice.

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Price £359
Rating ****


Main display size 3.7in
Native resolution 480×800
Second Display No
CCD effective megapixels 5-megapixel
Flash LED
Video recording format 3GP
Connectivity Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB
GPS yes
Internal memory 1126MB
Memory card support microSDHC
Memory card included 8192MB
Operating frequencies GSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 900/2100
Wireless data EDGE, HSPA, WCDMA
Size 115x60x12mm
Weight 130g


Operating system Android 2.3
Microsoft Office compatibility Word/Excel/PowerPoint/PDF viewers
Email client POP3/IMAP/Exchange
Audio format support MP3, AAC, AMR, WMA, MIDI, WAV, OGG, M4A
Video playback formats 3GP, 3G2, MP4, WMV, AVI, Xvid
FM Radio yes
Web Browser Webkit
Accessories headset, data cable, charger
Talk time 7.3 hours
Standby time 17.9 days
Tested battery life (MP3 playback) 31h 27m

Buying Information

SIM-free price £359
Price on contract £26-per-month, 18-month contract
SIM-free supplier
Contract/prepay supplier

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