Product Type: HTC Smartphone
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Desirable or not?
HTC Desire S
Member Name: R8IT
HTC Desire S
Date: 15/09/11, updated on 15/09/11 (60 review reads)
Advantages: Great looks, well made, fully loaded functions, usability, not tied to itunes
Disadvantages: Battery performance - but common issue on smart phones
The look of the phone was what caught my interest to begin with, it's sleek all over one piece aluminium case, curved edges, and 3.7" touch screen. It measures in at - 115mm x 59.8mm x 11.63mm, with a weight of 130g with the battery (It feels solid, not something you want to drop!)
The phone has a front facing camera so you can make video calling such as skype and also for use with other applications. Four touch screen icons/buttons on the bottom relate to home, settings, return or back and search. Volume control is on the left via a long chrome button, and also on the left a micro-USB for charging and connecting other equipment such as PC, in car charger. On the top of the phone a power button and to the left of this a 3.5mm jack for earphones. Finally on the back of the phone is the auto focus camera (5 mega pixel), speaker and LED flash.
As mentioned it's encased in a one piece aluminium shell this gives it a very expensive feel, far better than some of the plastic phones you see. Its curved base sits nicely in the hand. Only the battery compartment and camera lens surround have a rubberised plastic case, this helps grip the phone a little better.
First thing to highlight is the phone uses Gorilla Glass, for those who don't know Gorilla glass is extra strong glass as used on the iphone 4 I believe. Its meant to be very good at withstanding scratch's, cracks and an improvement in general over other displays.
Well I can safely say it can't be that strong! - I have a habit of damaging phones within the first week of owning them, usually by dropping them. So when I got this Desire phone I also got a not so attractive looking leather fold case so the screen was 100% protected, so I thought. Within a week of owning I noticed an 1cm scratch on the glass in the middle. I have no idea how this has happened, the phone has never been dropped, I can only assume when wiping the fingerprints from the display Ive scratched it. So be warned whilst it's advertised as super strong it's easily scratched with grit/sand particles. Using your t-shirt to clean the screen may not be a good move! Yes I should have used a screen protector, hindsight is a wonderful thing - On the same note the glass is also easily marked with fingerprints and grease and you find you're always cleaning the screen - but Ive heard screen protectors help reduce this as well!
The display itself is very bright, it's an S-LCD not AMOLED display, which performs very well even in bright lit conditions, again being glass it's very reflective and a screen protector would no doubt reduce this glare. In comparison to the higher end screens its evident the picture sharpness isn't as good, but maybe the next version will have a higher end screen in it. Zooming in on websites still gives clear text which is easily readable so no real issues.
It's a very responsive touch screen, you can pinch to zoom out, twist, zoom in and tap the screen for different viewing options. I've only briefly used a new iphone and haven't noticed any difference in performance over the iphone.
I remember when I could go close to a week before charging my phone. The Desire suffers in the same way as many smart phones in battery performance. I don't use it much certainly not on it for hours and at a push can get 3 days from the battery, but more often than not its 2 days. Its difficult to know what you will get as it depends on use, if for example your using the GPS then it will drain a lot quicker as would playing videos. The advertised battery length is:
Lithium-ion battery, capacity 1450 mAh
Talk time: Up to 590 minutes (just under 10hrs) for GSM
Standby time: Up to 430 hours (about 18 days) for GSM
Whilst initially it's a shock how quick the battery dies, you get used to having to charge it more frequently than a non smart phone. I haven't done extensive research but don't think the HTC has one of those battery come case options like the iphone does - this could be due to the location of the charging point being on the side rather than the base. I find my battery lasts longer now due to the novelty wearing off of playing on it to test everything out, now I know what it can do I tend to just use it when I need. I was charging it daily for the first few days of ownership.
With 1.1GB internal memory and a microSD memory card slot you shouldn't run out of memory easily. The phone came with an 8GB memory card and due to the preloaded content on the phone the internal memory was less than the stated 1.1GB. Many of the applications allow you to transfer the data over to the microSD card, these can be purchased from most shops. Apps in general tend to be only around 2-6mb, so unless you're storing films or have taken lots of video then you shouldn't fill the card too quickly, and you can always download to the PC via connection or Bluetooth.
Access to the memory card is the same as access to the battery and sim card, the bottom small plastic panel slides off - and not very easily which is not a bad thing. Once the cover is removed a small fold down clip holds the battery in place and you can access the Sim and SD with the battery in the phone, obviously its advisable to remove these when the power is off to avoid damaging the data.
The phone comes with a 5 megapixel auto focus camera, with power LED flash and it allows 720p HD recording. As with many phone camera's and small cameras they suffer when it comes to internal low light conditions of grainy pictures, and the Desire is no different, whilst the flash is good at helping brighten the shot its never a perfect sharp shot. Outside the camera is good, shutter time is very quick and HD recording is good and a real bonus on the phone, as with the camera it does suffer in low light conditions and so this is an area for improvment. The camera comes with the usual phone style features, digital zoom, crop and editing features. Additionally a number of android applications (apps) are available to give extra photo editing features and these can be downloaded for free.
The phone supports DLNA so if you have a TV hooked up to a broadband connection you can wirelessly play content from your phone onto your TV - a handy feature if you want to share photos and video with family and friends, saves passing the phone round.
This quad band phone comes with a number of sensors, G-Senser, Digital compass, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor. They add additional features to the phone such as when the phone is in your pocket or covered it will ring louder and vibrate; once the phone is picked up the call ring will reduce in volume. Another good feature when the phone is ringing by turning it upside down it goes silent, and when talking on the phone, turn it over and it activates the loudspeaker.
For those concerned about pressing the touch screen accidentally with your face when taking a call, the proximity sensor shuts off the touch screen when its pressed near your ear, move it away about 5cm or more and you can now use the touch screen, this is a great function, especially if you call any of those numbers which require you to enter number to get though to different departments.
It comes with 3G for data downloads, 14.4Mbs download speed and 5.76Mbs upload. GPRS 114kbs, Edge 560Kbs, and 802b/g/n wifi. I don't come across 3G that much, the data is usually connected via Edge or GPRS which effectively means a slower connection - this is down to location and provider and I know O2 haven't got the best 3G coverage.
The wi-fi is very quick to set up and activate keeping a strong signal, it remembers the settings so if I pop round the parents or my sisters I can quickly hook up to the wi-fi without re-entering details its all automatic. One point to make here is the antenna for the phone is attached to the back of the battery cover and so you wont receive a signal without the battery cover in place, also if you hold the phone tight in your hand (covering the battery compartment) the signal can drop. I haven't had any issue with this or with it being in a case, but I imagine if your in a weak signal area then covering the bottom of the phone with your hand will effect the signal. It also has Bluetooth which is standard on most phones now.
The phone comes with GPS which is great with the in-built navigator app, this can be used like any other satellite navigation, and it provides directions with moving maps and voice directions. I tested this out the other day, it took some time for the GPS to locate any satellites to get my position, I was inside the car at the time and believe it took a good 5mins to pick up a signal, but once connected it held the signal well and on the dashboard of the car did not encounter any signal drop issues. You do need to turn data on to use the navigation feature - this is to get the directions but once the directions have been loaded you can turn the data off and just use GPS (useful if you have a small data allowance). I haven't had the opportunity to test the GPS again so not sure if it was just a bad day or general delay with the phone connecting. I know from having a Tom Tom device on occasion that can take a few minutes to pick up a signal, so I'm not too concerned over this.
Call volume and clarity is fine no issues and with decent volume and no reports from the other caller of not hearing me or any echo effect. You can access the usual call features seen on most phones, call display, call details, call holding/waiting etc - all via the touch screen. When the phone is on an additional menu bar at the bottom gives the options to make a call, go to all applications and personalise the phone. Simply tapping the Phone icon brings up the usual number keypad to make a call together with a scrollable contact list. You also have a people app which holds all this data. Numbers can be linked to the person and if on Facebook it will marry up photos and contact info, and put birthdays into your calendar automatically.
I could write pages on all the different functions of the phone but will touch on the key benefits.
The phone is Android with HTC sense; using Android 2.3.3 you have access to thousands of apps on the app market, many of which are free. Unlike the iphone your not tied to the apples itunes site to get content, but care should be taken as last thing you want is to download a virus on the phone (yes you can get antivirus apps). An app on the phone gets you directly to the site to view all the apps, and to download just tap install on the chosen app and within no time its on your phone, its just as easy to uninstall from the phone if needed. Its wise to download apps via wi-fi than using data as unless you have a strong 3G signal it can both take time to download and uses up data (not a worry if your on an unlimited data package)
To activate the phone you have to press the power button on the top, and then slide your finger down the screen. Annoyingly every time the phone screen goes off the power button has to be pressed, to me this is a real poor point for the phone, generally most people have the screen go off after a few seconds of non use to save battery (this sleep time can be changed but the battery will suffer as a result). It would have been far better to wake the phone by tapping thee screen than pressing the power button. It is simply just a press; you will not turn the phone off accidentally by pressing the button, as to do this you have to press and hold the power button.
A top menu bar slides down, when you touch the HTC logo and drag your finger down and gives you a menu with recent apps, notifications and your connection settings so it's very easy to turn on and off all settings such as Wifi, data, Bluetooth.
The phone comes with 7 home screens to scroll across, enough space to add all your favourite apps, these screens can also be switched around and apps moved from different pages or removed altogether. The standard image of the Desire shows the large digital clock and weather - this can be removed or changed - so very easy to personalise the phone the way you want.
The phone has voice recognition, you have to be connected via data or wi-fi but rather than typing in google for searches you can say what you want to look for and this feature works very well, on occasion the odd word comes out wrong but google manages to still bring up relevant searches, this is great when on the move as it can be difficult to type and walk. You can also use this for writing text messages, and again it works well with no wrong words the majority of the time. You don't even need to go through any voice recognition testing to set it up. Copy and paste feature works well, holding your finger down on text brings a pop up box zoomed in on the text and sliding your finger moves the curser to the location you want, a second marker is then shown and you can drag this to highlight a word or whole text, you can copy text on web pages and paste on an email or search for that word in google.
When on the internet multiple pages can be opened and viewed and pinching the screen allows you to slide and view the open pages and close them if you want. With Android phones applications don't automatically close when you back out of them, this doesn't slow the phone as the Android system automatically closes what's needed to keep the phone running smoothly. I didn't know this to start with and kept thinking I haven't been given the option to close that and when reopening the app find its as I left it, I was going to download an "app killer" to manually shut applications not in use until I read that Android is best left, as it automatically closes what's not used or needed.
Like the iphone turning the phone sideways changes the setting so you can have a larger keypad or full screen images etc. The keypad itself can be changed from a QWERTY keypad to the traditional phone style keypad. Holding your finger on a letter gives you access to all the additional characters. I find the keypad responsive and word correction very good, sometimes I miss every letter I intended, and the spellchecker still finds the correct word to choose. You can also download slide keypad apps which mean rather than tapping the letters on the display you slide your finger from one to the other and it recognises the letters you stop on.
The phone supports a number of formats and supports Flash which is useful as many websites use flash. It plays 3gp, mp4, wmv, avi, xvid, mid, wav, mp3, mp4. So very good on the ability to play various formats. You can also download e-books and read them on the phone, it comes with some pre-installed ones, but no doubt you would get eye strain from viewing the small screen, the zoom function automatically make the text fit the screen so you don't have to keep moving the screen to view the text it just increases the number of pages.
Overall I am very impressed with the phone, a little annoyed by myself for scratching the screen so soon but it isn't the end of the word. It's a feature packed phone with all that you would need from a phone and more. Some minor phone issues such as using the power button to wake the screen and of course battery life but this seems a common fault on most smart phones and its certainly no worse than the iphone.
It shows just how good the iphone is rated when every other smart phone is compared to it, almost like the iphone sets the benchmark of what a phone should be. The HTC Desire S does not fall short and is an extremely good competitor, and in my opinion a better phone.
If you're bored of the iphone and looking for something that can do the same with greater freedom then you can't go wrong with the Desire s, an extremely well built, nice looking and technically competent phone.
Its a long review so thanks for taking the time to read it!
Summary: A great smart phone will the freedom of being Android, easy to use and great features