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: Internet

It probably won't surprise you to learn that the mobile web browsing on the HTC Desire S is pretty strong, just like the HTC Incredible S and HTC Desire HD.

802.11n Wi-Fi is enabled for those who can take advantage of it, as is 14.4Mbps 3G access. The 3G speed was generally quite good, but it's the Wi-Fi that makes things interesting.

The HTC Desire S has a death grip problem, similar to the iPhone 4's much-publicised problems. In this case, it's not mobile signal that's affected, but Wi-Fi. The antenna appears to be mounted behind the plastic panel that houses the camera, and it's extremely vulnerable.

If you hold the phone in a normal landscape typing position your fingers will cover that spot, and the Wi-Fi signal will drop. If you place the phone on your body – such as resting it on your leg – facing up, the Wi-Fi signal will drop.

How bad is the drop? If you're right near the router, it's unlikely you'd make the signal totally disappear in casual use, but we did manage to reduce some connections from the full four bars to none just by placing a palm against the plastic area.

In more realistic use, a medium to low signal is likely to drop to zero within a few seconds of you covering the spot.

Even placing the phone down on certain surfaces can affect things – we put the Desire S down on a magazine and saw the signal drop a bar on very strong networks. Picking it up less than an inch restored it. That small difference was enough to see some weaker other networks disappear when scanning.

HTC desire s

However, when you're avoiding that, the browser itself is fast to load, and generally responsive to operate. Just like we saw with the Google Nexus S, the scrolling and zooming still isn't totally fluid. The iPhone's experience remains smoother overall, but that certainly isn't the weakest part of the Desire S's browsing experience.

HTC desire s

We mentioned in our Google Nexus S review that we wanted text to reflow as you zoomed in, rather than having to tap, and that's what we've got here. As soon as you've finished pinching or doubleop-tapping, the text is reorganised and ready to read.

HTC desire s

You can, of course, add bookmarks, which are viewed in a thumbnail view. You can also open multiple pages in different windows, and you switch between them in a rotating graphical view - also accessed by pinching in on a zoomed-out page, which is neat.

HTC desire s

Flash 10.2 is supported, and it works much better than in the plugin's early days on single-core phones. Many videos we watched played back smoothly enough to be at least tolerable. There were hiccups with non-mobile optimised videos freezing for some time before they played, but play they did.

However, some content was really finicky. Videos on the BBC Sport website wouldn't show up at all, while videos on the BBC News site would play, audio fell out of sync quite easily until you moved it into full screen mode.

HTC desire s

As is common for Flash on mobiles at the moment, the single biggest issue is control. The videos tend to all come with tiny little pop-over controls designed for mouse control. It can make controlling them on your phone infuriating, and is probably the area in most need of tweaking now that playback is relatively smooth.

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