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Review: HTC One S

Slim yet powerful smartphone packed tightly in an aluminium unibody and Super AMOLED display.

Pros

Great slim design Pleasing and smooth performance Highly tweaked camera software

Cons

Non-removable battery Lack of memory storage expansion Little expensive

HTC had introduced the new line of smartphones running Google Android and branded this new series as One. After the release of the quad-core monster HTC One X and the handful HTC One V, we were surprised to see the delay in the arrival of the HTC One S smartphone. What did surprise us was the quiet entry without much fanfare but the company had their own reasons for it.

The all new HTC One S smartphone comes with HTC Sense 4.0 user interface layered on the topf Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update. This phone has been design to please both genders with its slim profile and unibody form factor. Yet another feather in the HTC’s new One hat, we did spend some good time with One S and here is our account of the experience.
Review: HTC One S
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Design

HTC has announced and will follow the new design mandate for its One series smartphones. It is fairly evidential by simply looking at the One X and One S. It is safe to assume that the company has focused more on making the phone as lighter and slim as possible with the new mandate of unibody design. Of course, there are some trade-offs but those we shall consider later.

The new HTC One S is mere 7.8mm thin and is about 0.7mm thicker than the Motorola RAZR smartphone. However, the One S makes up for that in terms of width by measuring 68.9mm compared to the 65mm width bearing Motorola RAZR. Now if you physically hold One S, Motorola RAZR and Sony Xperia S, only then you shall understand the comfort of the width with respect to the slim form factor. Sony Xperia S measures 64mm which is almost like that of RAZR.

Without beating around the bush, the One S is the best looking slim smartphone in the market and feels very great in palms. However, do note that the One S being sold in India is not exactly the one sold in the US. The One S smartphone available in India has a gray aluminium body with “gradient anodized” finish. Meanwhile the black colored One S sold in US exclusively features HTC’s new strong chassis built using the Micro Arc Oxidation process, originally was created for the satellites.
Review: HTC One S
HTC has knocked off the speaker grill/mesh on the top that was used in Sensation family of smarpthones. Instead the company has gone ahead with the precision-drilled holes for speaker out on the top. Next to that precision-drilled speaker mesh is a front facing VGA camera for video call and video chat.

The Volume setting buttons are located on the right of the phone while the micro USB slot for charging as well as data transfer. The 3.5 mm audio port, the power button and a microphone has been placed smartly on the slim top head of the device. Front panel is exactly like that of One X, and oh, we did mention about the new hardware design in One series. The only cumbersome and tricky part is locating the back panel that needs to be carefully flipped open for inserting microSIM. Unfortunately there is no microSD card slot.

The HTC One S certainly is one of the best design bearing slim smartphone under 8mm out here in India. The gradient anodized aluminium body feels great in palms and strong spine does look promising to form up pleasing physical appearance.

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Display

The One S features a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen display with support for 960×540 pixel resolution natively and Corning Gorilla Glass for strength. In way, the One S display is similar to that of Motorola RAZR in terms of resolution, size and of course Corning Gorilla Glass strength. Both displays have the same 256 ppi pixel density.

The Super AMOLED display indeed is very gorgeous on the One S and if you are perfectionist, then do learn to live with slightly over-saturated color. That always has been a typical issue with the Super AMOLED display bearing devices. Nonetheless, it indeed makes visuals and text appear crisp unless you are holding it right in front of your eyes. Also with the black background bearing colourful logos and objects may not have some crisp edges if you notice carefully.

However, the closer you hold, the more you’ll find the issues in display because of the way it has been made. Compared to that, the S LCD2 laden One X does a better job. For the casual users who really don’t mind such limitations can certainly find the display great. But the nit-picking picking perfectionists will have to learn to live with display if they plan to buy this handset.
Review: HTC One S
Hardware

Under the 7.8 mm hood, this smartphone houses an over-clocked dual-core 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 mobile processor which is different than the one found in US edition of the One S. This difference is due to heavy demand of the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 mobile processor and rampant developments for the LTE network implementations. Nonetheless, the overclocked dual-core 1.7 GHz Snapdragon S3 mobile processor does deliver favourable performance in regular operations.

If you are not a specification show-off person, then you should rest assure for the mobile processor is good enough to deliver hiccup-free performance. Of course, the S3 processor will run about 10 percent hotter than the S4 mobile processor. But in hot and humid country like India, you will barely realize that unless you have really sensitive palms.

The overclocked processor is coupled with massive 1 GB RAM which is more than good enough to run games while you keep other apps running in background. The pain point comes to the on-board storage part. The phone actually offers about just about 10 GB of on-board to the user while rest has been saved up for the ROM. In a way, it is good for the company will be able to utilize that additional space in ROM for unpacking and installing the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update.

Unfortunate part is that there is no way to add more storage on this device. Even we were shocked at such an abrupt design trade-off that one simply can’t add a micro SD card. Often you will find yourself running out of space on your phone.

Packing the Adreno 220 GPU for graphics, this phone will certainly run all your modern Android games of course with bit of lag that can be found in it. Especially in the ones optimized for specific graphic chips.

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Camera and Multimedia

The One S also features an 8 megapixel camera with LED flash placed next to the image sensor at the back. The Camera application has been tweaked to perform splendidly fast and have minimal lag. The company has taken pains to add several interesting features for users to choose and experiment with the images. For those who are still new to Instagram and filters, the HTC developers have added bunch of filters in the Gallery software itself. All you have to do is choose a photo, tap on the Edit and choose Effects from the pop-up menu. There you go – built-in Instagram filters and hats off the ImageSense developers at HTC.

The camera app is great in terms of software but does fall bit short when it comes to quality. The camera is as good as the one found in HTC One X and does not come close to the high-set performance bar. Shutterbugs will love the camera app to take quick photos and play around with the options offered. Even this smartphone offers capability of clicking a photo while you are recording a full HD video. You would not realize the actual colors of the image by simply looking at them on the One S display. We would call it slightly above average performance but it leaves the grainy noise spread all over the photos. The full HD videos recorded do look good along with the audio.

This phone also integrates the famous Beats Audio technology aimed at making the sound output better. However, the actual Beats Audio output can’t be judged using any pair of headphones but the Beats Audio ones. Needless to say, it will make your usually Bollywood MP3 files louder and Bass-heavy. But if you are an audiophile with penchant for quality, then you would stay away from the Beats Audio earphones and even the effects. The speaker grill with micro-drilled pores delivers outdoorsy performance – loud but not with great specifics. Music lovers will not mind the performance if they are using earphones or headphones. Also, we do appreciate the “8bit Love” ringtone for the phone and wish that company would officially pack more such tones from popular retro 8bit games.

Over all software performance is great, all thanks to the overclocked processor and the graphics chip. Thanks to the ample amount of memory, it does not slow down the phone if you have 6-7 apps open and running at the same time. With the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update up in the anvil, we believe greater performance is promised with the “Project Butter” aspect which aims to make the native interface much faster and smoother. However, the update’s release will take a while for HTC will first test the Sense UI on top of it.

Review: HTC One S
Battery

With the fixed 1650 mAh battery and an overclocked processor, we held our doubts if this phone could perform well. The One S just managed to run for about a day with normal usage which includes couple of calls, using social networks, checking mail and listening to music for about 40 minutes. Even with the video playback, I managed to watch about eight 40 minutes episodes of TV show back to back. This phone could have delivered about 20 percent extra run time with the smaller physical profile bearing Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 mobile processor.

Yet another pain point is the non-removable battery. Even after buying this phone, you will have to invest in a power pack (portable charging kit) when you are travelling. For those who plan to use a smartphone excessively for multiple activities, this might not fit your requirements.

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Final Words

HTC had introduced One X at jaw dropping Rs. 37,899 in India. Though delayed, the HTC One S was formally announced and has been made available for about Rs. 33,500 approximately. Just like every other phone out there, even this phone has number of great points and couple of pain points. However, as a complete package, it delivers the all round pleasing experience. Faster software performance and thin form factor does add up to the brownie points this phone can earn.Of course, the pricing can be bit of an issue but that obviously will be blamed at the foreign exchange rate fluctuations.

HTC has set a benchmark by introducing a less than 8 mm thin phone with powerful dual-core and great display to deliver an all-rounder. The HTC One S is slim, subtle in hands and comes with a pack of camera tweaked software. For those who believe that 720p HD natively resolution supporting smartphone will be of hardly any use, then do consider this slim fighter.
Review: HTC One S

Verdict

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