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HTC One S Review

Developed by: HTC
Ranked: 4th
Overall rating:
Best price: Buy

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Review summary

Good points HTC One S review good points

• High quality camera

• Excellent screen

• Thin and stylish design

• Powerful processor

Bad points HTC One S review bad points

• Very limited storage

• Sealed battery unit

Our verdict

A top quality smartphone with an excellent camera and media facilities, that is only let down by it’s limited on board storage.

Screenshot of HTC One S 1 Screenshot of HTC One S 2 Screenshot of HTC One S 3

Full review

The HTC One S is one of HTC’s new range of premium brand handsets, that come equipped and ready with the new Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) OS. Not quite as powerful as the last handset in this range (the HTC One X), this is a smartphone designed to compete with the Samsung Galaxy S2 and Nexus. Lets take a look and see how it shapes up.


As with previous HTC handsets, the HTC One S is stylish and very well constructed. The thinnest phone HTC have ever produced, with a sleek, understated finish. It has an aluminium body, and the ‘micro arc oxidization’ finish means that it feels less like a metal phone, and more like a ceramic one. HTC claim that this makes it five times harder than regular aluminium; we didn’t test this out but you certainly shouldn’t have any problems if you do drop this phone.

The touchscreen on the HTC One S uses super AMOLED technology, and the improvement is noticeable. Colour reproduction and contrast levels are very good, particularly when reproducing blacks, which remain bold and deep. The 540 x 960 resolution gives a pixel density of 256ppi, which is good, but can’t quite match the iPhone 4S which offers 326ppi.


We didn’t experience any problems whilst making and receiving calls on the HTC One S. Reception was available in all the usual areas we tried, and we didn’t get any drop out on calls whilst travelling.


The phone uses a powerful 1.5GHz dual core processor, so games, apps and downloads are all pretty speedy. Internet use is especially good on the HTC One S, as Google Chrome runs on ICS, so pages load especially fast on the built in browser, even over 3G. Large pages reformat so that they fit onto the phone’s screen, and this works very well no matter how large the page might be. This all makes surfing the web a joy, and we would say it easily compares to the experience on the iPhone 4S.

Operating system

The HTC One S employs the Android 4.0 OS (known as Ice Cream Sandwich), which is definitely the best-looking Android OS so far. This is overlaid by HTC’s new Sense 4 interface, which HTC have reworked for ICS, as they felt the previous version was overcomplicated. Unfortunately there are still a few too many widgets and animations, which can slow down the system slightly and just seem unnecessary. That said, the interface is very intuitive, and this is a definite improvement on the previous Sense interface.


As a phone’s camera is one of the top selling points these days, HTC have installed a superb 8MP camera on board the HTC One S. Not only is the picture quality fantastic, and a bright LED flash offers good shots in low light, but the camera can also start up and be ready to snap away in about 2 seconds from standby. This is very impressive and a real selling point for the One S, when combined with the excellent 1080p video the camera records, it rivals any other cameras on the most popular smartphones.


The HTC One S is a sealed unit, which means that the battery cannot be replaced by the user. This could be problematic if there is any serious deterioration of the battery over time. For now, however, the 1650mAh battery holds a decent charge, and will easily last a full day of normal to heavy use.


Unfortunately, one of the major drawbacks of the HTC One S is the limited storage. The handset comes with just 16GB of on board storage, but with no option for expansion. This is very disappointing, as this is a premium phone with excellent media capabilities (the music and video players are superb), but the phone will soon fill up, especially as the camera captures video at 1080p and hence stores large files. The one saving grace is that HTC offer 25GB of Dropbox storage, so users can upload their files to Dropbox and it is well integrated with the phone, but it is still a shame that HTC haven’t offered the option of expandable storage such as a micro SD slot.


Overall, the HTC One S is a superb smartphone. Extremely stylish with a great processor, media capabilities and camera on board, it would rival the iPhone 4S were it not for the limited storage. If storage is not an issue for you, or you are happy to upload your files to the Dropbox (included), this phone deserves some serious consideration.

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Ratings breakdown

 received a rating of 5 for Overall
 received a rating of 5 for Design
 received a rating of 5 for Reception
 received a rating of 4 for Processor
Operating system
 received a rating of 4 for Operating system
 received a rating of 5 for Camera
Voice recognition
 received a rating of 5 for Voice recognition
 received a rating of 5 for Battery
 received a rating of 4 for Storage