HTC Desire S review

Can HTC's first Android 2.3 smartphone live up to its blockbusting heritage?

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HTC Desire S review: Interface

If you read our Google Nexus S review, you'll have seen us say that Android 2.3 didn't prove to be too different as an upgrade. Then, if you read our HTC Incredible S review, you'll have seen us say that HTC Sense didn't prove to be too different.

But combine the two and… yeah, things aren't that different. But this is in the same way that a fudge sundae isn't that different every time you buy it – it's still delicious.

HTC desire s

HTC Sense is the manufacturer's custom overlay for Android, using all the power of the operating system, but providing a more unified interface.

It's proven itself to be beautifully smooth in the past, and time was that only HTC phones could match the iPhone for smoothness of interaction. We'd suggest that Windows Phone 7 devices, such as the HTC HD7 and Samsung Omnia 7, have crashed that party now, but Sense/Android is still ahead when it comes to flexibility and features.

Once again, the general interface experience on the HTC Desire S is excellent, with one irritating exception. The notifications bar is frequently slow on the Desire S, with you swiping forlornly at the top of the screen, but nothing happening.

It will catch up eventually, but it's a flaw that stands out more because the interface is so slick otherwise.

Being Android, you get multiple Home screens (seven in this case) on which to place widgets or shortcuts to apps. You can pinch in at any time to activate Leap View, which shows all the home screens at once.

HTC desire s

The notifications bar has your recently used apps at the top, for fast app switching. There's also a second tab to this menu, with lots of quick options, including turning Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on and off.

HTC desire s

At the bottom of the Home screens are shortcuts to the full app menu, the Phone app or the menu to personalist the phone. You can choose between different wallpapers and Scenes (which are sort of like themes), add new widgets and folders for apps, and more.

HTC desire s

Opening up the full apps list produces screens of icons that you flick through one by one (a bit like the iPhone, but flicking vertically instead of horizontally) instead of in one monstrous list.

HTC desire s

There are a couple of tabs here, for seeing your Frequent apps and Downloaded software.

HTC desire s

There's the Android Market to pick up more apps, of course, and there are more customisation options in the HTC Hub app.

More recently, HTC Sense has become more cloud-focussed than ever before, and the real boon is simple and effective integration with Twitter and Facebook right out of the box.

Being Android, Google integration is great too, though you'll find more detail on this in the Contacts and Calling and Messaging sections.

HTC desire s

Like the HTC Incredible S, the fast booting process is available, and it's amazing how quickly the phone gets up and running after being turned off.

The screen is very strong and clear indoors, but doesn't stand up well in the sun. As we already mentioned, it was actually slightly worse than the original Desire, and was significantly weaker than even the now-21-month-old iPhone 3GS.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
Wireless LANYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported32 GB
Built-in Memory1.10 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationNo
Integrated TV TunerNo
Cellular Generation3.5G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 2100
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameHTC
Battery Talk Time9.83 Hour
Product ModelDesire S
Screen Size9.4 cm (3.7")
Screen Resolution480 x 800
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)130 g
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 2.1
Operating System VersionAndroid 2.3 Gingerbread
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Instant Messaging, Email
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Height115 mm
Width59.8 mm
Depth11.6 mm
Radio TunerYes
Battery Standby Time430 Hour
ManufacturerHigh Tech Computer Corp
Product NameDesire S Smarphone
Processor Speed1 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeG-sensor, Digital Compass, Proximity Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor, Accelerometer
Manufacturer Part Number99HMN007-00
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing InformationHTC Desire delivers intense brilliance, sharp contrast, and true colors on the expansive 3.7-inch AMOLED display. The 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor makes the phone incredibly responsive as you multitask from app to app without skipping a beat, while the instinctive HTC Sense experience lets you wield the power of the HTC Desire with the greatest of ease.

Make it Mine
With the HTC Desire, it's all about your information, your entertainment, your multimedia ... your way. A multitude of HTC Sense widgets makes it easy to transform your Home screen with rich content that personalizes your phone experience.

If you're a sports junkie or simply love to keep up to date with the latest news, the HTC Desire keeps you in the know with the News application. News makes it easier than ever to collect all your favorite articles from across the web. Choose from a selection of channels that cover top blogs, news sites or sports pages, or get news updates based on the keywords you select.

Stay Close
The HTC Desire excels at helping you stay in touch with the different circles of friends or colleagues in your life. The new People widget lets you bring any group you create on your phone right to the surface for easy access to calling, messaging, emailing or simply checking up on social networking updates.

The HTC Desire simplifies the way that you tend to all of your social networks. With Friend Stream, your interaction with friends across multiple social networks like Facebook®, Twitter™, and Flickr™ are brought into a single easy to follow stream of updates, photo posts, and shared links. Friend Stream also lets you shout out your thoughts or feelings to all your online friends with a single comment that gets broadcast to both Facebook and Twitter.

Discover the Unexpected
HTC Desire offers an expansive display, a blazing-fast processor, and a great interface. On top of that, it has a lot of little design touches that make a big impact on your overall phone experience: like quick and easy access to any panel of your Home screen with the new seven-panel 'helicopter' thumbnail view, or the polite ringer that lowers the ringer volume when you pick up the phone.

Your work email, calendar appointments, and contacts, are right there on your phone - you can even look up any company contact in the global address book. The HTC Desire also has enhanced support for Exchange security features such as password protection and remote data wipe. And, if you forget to tell your colleagues that you are taking the much needed day off, you can set the 'Out of Office' status right from your phone.

Main Features
  • Android™ 2.1 (Éclair) with HTC Sense™
  • 119 x 60 x 11.9mm
  • 135g with battery
  • Bluetooth® 2.1 with Enhanced Data Rate
  • 5 megapixel colour camera with auto focus and flashlight
  • G-Sensor
  • 3.7" AMOLED touch-sensative screen with 480 x 800 WVGA resolution
  • Wi-Fi®
  • Optical Mouse
  • microSD™ memory card
  • Facebook™ integration
  • HTC Peep for twittering
Package Contents
  • Desire S Smarphone
  • Battery (preinstalled)
  • microSD card (preinstalled)
  • USB cable
  • 3.5mm stereo headset
  • Power adapter
  • Quick start guide
  • Safety and regulatory guide
  • Call center card (hotline card)
  • Warranty card
Limited Warranty1 Year