HTC Desire S Smartphone Review

By on April 10, 2011
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Can the HTC Desire S follow up the success of the original?

Good: Excellent build quality, nice camera and zippy performance
Bad: Not the best screen, battery life is a bit on the lower side
Price: AED AED 1,999
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

On the software side, HTC has made the leap from Froyo to Gingerbread. Our version of the Desire S came equipped with Android 2.3.3 which is more of an under-the-hood improvement over 2.2. With SenseUI added on top, the phone feels just a tad bit slower than stock gingerbread. This does not mean that the Desire S is slow by any means- just that stock Android 2.3.3 is incredibly zippy. The Desire S scored 5840 in the Sun Spider test which is better than the Desire Z and the iPhone 4.

The Sense UI also receives a minor update as well with little additions here and there such as the option of enabling/disabling radios as well as accessing the settings option from the notification pull-down menu. Not sure if this was present before or not but icons now scroll a page at a time instead of continuously scrolling. Sadly, Gingerbread’s awesome lock screen transition gets lost in SenseUI.

I mentioned the camera on the Desire S is awesome and below is  a of shot that proves that even during night time, the pictures turn out much better than most Smartphones we have tested lately. Where the Desrie S suffers a bit is video recording when shooting in 720p mode. Although the quality is decent, the frame rates are a big on the sluggish side and you notice choppiness in your recordings. Not sure if this is a firmware issue or not as the phone seems capable enough, as far as hardware is concerned.

Finishing things off, HTC has managed to increase the battery capacity on the Desire S from 1400mAh to 1450mAh. Even with the slight bump, I found the battery life to be Desire S’ biggest weakness. Under light to moderate days, I was able to get about 15 hours out of it but when used a bit on the higher side, the phone would pretty much be dead within 12 hours. One particular day when I was using the phone extensively- which involved downloading a 50MB map file for maps with GPS activated, taking a few pictures as well as a 720p ten minute video, and, talking on the phone for about an hour, I managed to deplete the battery in under nine hours.

Overall, I must say that the Desire S is an excellent upgrade over the original Desire and with a price tag of AED 1,999, is my recommended device for someone looking to buy an Android based device. It might not provide the longevity that the original Desire did for its owners but nevertheless, it is an exceptional phone.

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Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

  • Greg Zeng

    Most Android smartphones seem to not have a separate physical camera button. Android marketplace has for all of 2011 has freeware to turn the volume control button into a camera button. So no camera button is needed.

    On downloading a 50 MB map; most users do this (at a hotel, etc) with an external power source, and probably using WLAN – faster, cheaper. Generally the more powerful & capable smartphones need a spare battery or 2. That is why Iphone is a child’s toy, not a smartphone.

    Retired (moderate TBI) IT Consultant, Australian Capital Territory

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