HTC One S Smartphone Review

By on July 16, 2012
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A lightweight version of the One X.

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Good: Sleek design, good performance, decent camera
Bad: Screen can be tad disappointing, no microSD expansion
Price: AED 2,100
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.


The specs on the One S are more than enough to run multiple apps and flip quickly between them. In our tests the phone scored a result of 1627 in SunSpider JavaScript test, and a score of 4887 and 5539 in GLBenchMark Standard and OffScreen. Finally, Quadrant clocked in at 4577, surprisingly besting the One X’s score of 4300.

Screen and Touch Interface

I’ve always had issues with smartphone screens being used outdoors. Either they reflect too much light or the screen is barely visible unless you crank up the brightness to the maximum. I’m happy to report that the screen on the HTC One S is clearly visible even in strong sunlight, which is a welcome relief.

The 4.3” Super AMOLED screen has a resolution of 540 x 960, and this has a few pros and cons. What is noticeable if you look close enough is that the screen has a bit of a problem drawing sharp lines, instead opting to make them look slightly jagged in certain areas. When flipping through the home screens you’ll see that the edges of some of the widgets become a bit blurred out, and it’s not because the phone can’t keep up, but just that the screen resolution isn’t high enough for that pixel-perfect look. Having said that, the One S screen still produces amazing image quality when watching videos or scrolling through web pages, so it can be forgiven about the occasional hiccup.

HTC have of course snapped on their Sense UI interface, and it runs like a dream on the One S. Fluid and smooth, swiping through the various widgets and home screens is a breeze, with apps launching with little to no delay at all. Even with every single home screen plastered with updating widgets, the phone didn’t lag for a second. HTC have also tweaked the Recent Apps function so that you can swipe through your running apps and then simply swipe upwards to dismiss them. The entire experience is what HTC customers have been used to for so long, and the One S does not disappoint at all. There was the very rare occurrence when the phone waited for a split second when switching between certain apps, but this is hardly noticeable and happened very rarely.


Taking photos on the One S whittles down to both the hardware and software. The 8 megapixel camera picks up sufficient detail under various lighting conditions, and is blazingly fast at taking photos. You can also take photos while shooting video, and other image modes such as face detection, panorama, and HDR are all supported.

Overall the quality of images from the One S were satisfactory, although in some cases there was a bit too much of glare from the LED flash in low-light conditions. Below are some sample images taken with the phone’s camera:


Sound and Call quality

The HTC One S comes with Beats audio, which gives an extra boost to the audio quality. Through headphones the difference can really be appreciated, with treble and bass both sound excellent. Sound was also quite good from the phone’s speaker, although the treble was a bit shrill at times when playing certain music tracks. Call quality was good with no calls being dropped and the phone’s noise-cancelling features kicking in to provide crisp audio for both parties.

Battery Life

Since the One S doesn’t have the ultra high-resolution screen or processing power as the One X, the battery life here was very respectable and I was able to get through a day and a half of usage before I needed to plug the charger in. This was with regular calls, the screen at 75 per cent brightness, and Wi-fi always connected, with social media apps running in the background to fetch updates. It’s still recommended to charge the phone at the end of each day, but if you just use the phone for calls and basic web browsing, you might be able to squeeze some extra mileage from the battery.


While the HTC One X seems to dominate benchmarks and headlines, the One S is a quiet contender that deserves just as much attention. It’s got a great design and performs well with almost anything you throw at it. Though the screen may be a bit less glamorous at times, it’s not enough to mar the phone’s reputation. If you’re looking for a sleek phone that can comb through whatever you throw at it, then the One S is the one to get.

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A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys hurling fireballs and tinkering with the latest gadgets. Follow him on Twitter as @theregos

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