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: Media

Media apps have always been Android's weakness out of the box, with almost all Google-phones paling compared to the accomplished software on the iPhone 4.

The Music app is a flashier affair than the standard Android player seen on the Google Nexus S, but it's still a slightly awkward affair overall.

When you open the app, you're taken to the Cover Flow-style Now Playing view, which shows the order of the songs you're listening to, but this view really doesn't offer much usefulness beyond looking nice.

HTC desire s

It's a bit inconsistent, showing a whole stream of album art when you're playing all songs, but only a single cover when you're playing an album. While this makes sense to a certain degree (what's the point of seeing the same album cover over an over?), the problem is that you can actually use the Cover Flow view to skip from one song to the next.

HTC desire s

This doesn't work in the album view, meaning that an entire control method disappears depending on whether you're listening to an album or playlist, which can only serve to confuse.

However, the Desire S recognised our files easily and accurately. Information was imported correctly, and everything is sorted in the way you'd expect – by artist, album and genre.

HTC desire s

Hitting the Menu key brings up options for equaliser support (which is now included in Android 2.3 by default) and SRS sound enhancement, which can really boost your music. There's also an option to look up any song on YouTube, so you can see the video (or a heavy metal cover of it by some guy in his bedroom, we suppose).

Sound quality in general was pretty strong. Music was rich and fairly detailed over a good set of headphones, with some nice kick to the bass. It became quite distorted at overly high volumes, but you'd rarely need to turn it up that loud.


Video generally looks superb on the Super LCD screen. Colours are appealing and natural, motion is smooth and there's plenty of detail. The only fly in the ointment is that black levels aren't very good, and any dark scenes can become hard to follow quite quickly.

A 720p H.264 video that we loaded onto a memory card played smoothly, but when we played a standard-definition AVI encoded in generic MP4, it was dropping a lot of frames, leading to a slightly jerky experience.

HTC desire s

The software is smart enough to recognise 1080p video when its in a compatible codec, and present it as a thumbnail, but you get an error when you try to play it, suggesting it's probably the lack of CPU grunt holding it back, rather than any software limitation.

Though the gallery is one area stock Android has really made strides in terms of UI, HTC has actually decided to use its own, which at least matches the rest of the phone in terms of interface.

HTC desire s

While it is decidedly simpler to use than Google's version, it's less flashy. Performance is occasionally suspect, with photos sometimes stuttering when you slide between them.

HTC desire s

The most significant addition by HTC are the tabs for viewing Facebook and Flickr photos. With these options, it's slightly reminiscent of Windows Phone 7 devices such as the HTC HD7 and Samsung Omnia 7. You can also share photos to online services.

HTC desire s

Photos looks great on the 480 x 800 screen, and though going from one picture to the next can stutter, pinching to zoom is extremely accurate and responsive.

The Music, Video and Gallery apps all tie into the Desire S's DLNA capabilities, something we saw recently on the LG Optimus 2X, among others.

For the uninitiated, DLNA is an alliance that devices like your Windows 7 PC, PS3 and some TVs are all part of, and can stream files from one another wirelessly - and more phones that ever are supporting this standard.

HTC desire s

We were able to stream movies and photos to the handset easily. Browsing files from another machine was fast, and videos started playing quickly at very reasonable quality. Photos were more hit and miss – the overall experience was a lot slower, and some albums refused to load to no discernible reason.

Streaming music with it from your computer or other server was a total loss, however. It simply didn't recognise any music files on the host computer at all.


The FM Radio app require the headphones to be plugged in, but ran well once they were. It quickly scans the airwaves when you first open it, saving any clear stations. In fact, it's a little over-sensitive, saving several stations that are mostly static, even when there are lots of clear ones.

HTC desire s

Audio quality is good, however. It doesn't save the names of stations, and you can't record either, but it serves its basic purpose.

The built-in YouTube is fast and useful. It's not great for discoverability through Featured Videos or Most Popular (because they aren't there), but you can search, browse by category and upload videos.

HTC desire s

When you select a video, viewing it portrait plays the video at the top, with information, related videos and comments underneath. Turning the phone landscape plays the video fullscreen.

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