HTC One S Review: One To Watch
HTC’s new One series of devices is the next generation flagship range to replace the Sensation collection, so they have some pretty big shoes to fill. Whether the Taiwanese techlords can repeat the same success they had with the Sensation series remains to be seen, but with their new photographic and imaging capabilities the One handsets are certainly causing a stir.
The One S isn’t the big daddy of the family, but comes in a close second to the flagship quad-core toting One X. However, just because the One S isn’t hailed as the top dog of the series that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. HTC say the handset combines “beauty with brains”, so we’re going to delve into the workings to see what it can offer and give you our expert verdict.
- Android Ice Cream Sandwich
- HTC Sense 4.0
- 1.5GHz dual-core processor
- Advanced camera tech with HTC ImageSense
- Slim 7.95mm chassis
- Beats Audio tech
- 8 megapixel camera
Design & Hardware
The One S is one seriously sleek and smooth bit of kit, so style savvy smartphone shoppers should consider bagging one. It’s actually HTC’s slimmest handset yet measuring in at a skinny 7.95mm thick, so you’ll have no problems sliding this little number into your pocket or bag. Featuring a smart matte black aluminium unibody, the shell has actually been put through a process called micro arc oxidation, in which it’s blasted with 10,000 volts of energy (akin to being struck by lightening, we’re told), causing a reaction that creates the black ceramic effect. HTC say this treatment makes the casing five times stronger than the aluminium chassis it starts out as, however, there have been a few reports of scratching issues from owners.
Although the unibody is super sturdy and the texture feels really nice in the hand, the micro arc oxidation hoo-hah may be no more than a bit of a gimmick, because we couldn’t see much improvement to the toughness of the shell in comparison with other smartphones. In a similar fashion to the successful Sensation XE, the One S is emblazoned with the Beats Audio branding featuring the logo on the back and a little flourish of red around the camera.
Round of the front, the majority of the handset is taken up by the shiny 4.3-inch super AMOLED touchscreen, with three touch sensitive navigation buttons at the bottom comprising of ‘back’, ‘home’ and a third which brings up a screen displaying all currently open apps. Kicking out some incredibly crisp and clear visuals, the display on the One S really hits the nail on the head when it comes to screen clarity and definitely has the wow factor.
Under the hood is a powerful 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 1GB RAM, which is more than adequate for keeping everything running speedily and efficiently. It may not house the quad-core engine boasted by the One X, but the One S still does a good job at stretching its processing resource.
With regards to storage, there’s a hefty 16GB available, but we did do a sad face after learning there is no microSD slot for further expansion. HTC were hasten to add that users get 25GB free space with Cloud storage provider Dropbox, so you have got a bit of extra room to play with if you need it. However, this extra 25GB from the Cloud is only available for 2 years though, so after that time you’d either have to start paying for your Dropbox account or upgrade to another HTC mobile to bag another free stint.
Connectivity is completely covered with Bluetooth, USB data transfer, HDMI-out, and DLNA all on board. With all these options it’s really easy to push videos, pictures and music to other devices, getting rid of the need for fiddly cables. You can even watch videos on YouTube then push them to your telly to enjoy them on the big screen. The One S can also be used with the HTC Media Link HD, which allows you to wirelessly send content to a TV that has a HDMI port (for more info on the Media Link HD click here!).
Software & Multimedia
Running Android Ice Cream Sandwich, the handset is bag up to date with the latest little green robot offering. HTC has kindly overlaid the OS with its superb Sense 4.0 UI, offering new themes, cool widgets, and cubey 3D transitions between homescreen menus. ICS brings five interchangeable icons on the navigation bar which can be replaced with whichever apps you use most. As with previous Android iterations you can also turn these icons into folders to house more apps if you so wish. Nifty! The app menu in ICS with Sense 4.0 now scrolls horizontally instead of vertically which offers another nice little interesting change to navigation. You can also close apps quickly by swooshing them up when you are in the recent apps menu.
When it comes to the camera, HTC has really gone to town with the One S, stuffing in an 8 megapixel rear-facing snapper with full HD 1080p video recording capability. There’s also what HTC call ImageSense technology on board as featured on the One X. This offers of a selection imaging tools and extra functionality and reduces ‘noise’ from the images produced (that’s what technological types call the interference and general fuzziness you sometimes get on digital photographs). The pics produced definitely rival images taken on a compact digital camera, and there’s also loads of extra shooting modes to be playing about with to beef up your shots. There’s the function to capture an image without delay, take images in low light, and grab multiple shots using the continuous shooting mode. The ‘dual-capture’ feature is perhaps the biggest shout though, allowing you to take an image from within a video, either during recording or when you’re watching it back after wards. Cool, eh?
Beats Audio technology is also present to keep music connoisseurs happy, and is integrated throughout all sound outputs on the mobile. This means that whether you’re watching a movie or playing music, you’ll still get that tweaked authentic studio-quality sound. The only downside is that HTC has stopped giving away the Beats headphones in the box with its handsets, so you will have to purchase these separately to experience the Dr Dre sanctioned enhanced sound.
Handy apps on board include FriendStream which gathers together all your social networking feeds in one place, and the music centre that collects music related apps together.
Performance & Verdict
The battery life of the One S is pretty similar to that of any top end smartphone, and the usage you get out of it will obviously depend on how much you use the phone and what for. We found it to be adequate enough, lasting around a day with moderate use. However, if you’re using loads of apps, surfing the web, listening to music and watching videos, you might want to carry a charger with you (or invest in a secondary battery).
Overall, the One S is an impressive smartphone, especially considering its camera capabilities and the smooth intuitive navigation it offers. If you’re into photography and are looking for a functional handset with the ability to take top notch photos, the One S is the one for you.