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HTC One S review
| ||Review: April 2012
Last updated November 2012
In a nutshell: The HTC One S is an ultraslim yet high-powered smartphone with a large 4.3 inch display and a dual-core processor, but reports of signal problems and switching off can't be ignored.
Best buy: HTC Wildfire S from Amazon Marketplace UK (£63.08)
The HTC One S sits just below the One X in HTC's new One series of phones. You could think of the One S as a slightly cheaper alternative to the X. But a better way to look at it is like this: the S is the Beauty and the X is the Beast.
For the One S is HTC's thinnest phone yet. At just 7.8mm, only phones like the Motorola RAZR and Apple iPhone 5 can out-thin it in the smartphone world. And while not a featherweight, at 119g it's not at all heavy for a device of this calibre. But so much for numbers - the story of how the phone casing is made is just as interesting. HTC take the aluminium unibody and subject it to a kind of torture called micro arc oxidation. The aluminium is placed in a plasma field and electrocuted, making it as tough as ceramic. Ouch. We haven't tested one to destruction (it's already suffered enough, surely?), but HTC have, and they claim it's 5 times stronger than a conventional stainless steel casing.
The phone is a good size to hold and it packs in a large 4.3 inch display. It's not a HD display like the One X, but with 960 x 540 pixels, it comes close and is a higher resolution than the Samsung Galaxy S2. It's a Super AMOLED screen too, making it very bright and easy to see outdoors.
The processor runs at a rapid 1.5GHz, which is the same as the flagship One X, although the One S has a dual-core processor instead of the record-beating quad-core version in the One X. It's still very, very fast, mind you. A full 1GB of RAM makes demanding apps and multi-tasking a breeze. The memory available is 16GB, which is modest, especially when you consider that there's no microSD card slot. But to compensate, you'll get 25GB free Cloud storage via Dropbox, which is integrated into the user interface so you can easily access all your media and data. Just as long as you have a good internet connection!
The One S is running Android version 4.0 (or Ice Cream Sandwich) out of the box. It also comes with the latest HTC Sense 4.0. The new user interface works well with the new operating system, providing a more refined and customisable experience, but one that won't cause older users of Android any problems. There are new gadgets too, like the famous face unlock feature.
The photographic capabilities of the One S are the same as the One X and are outstanding in every way. The main camera has an 8 megapixel sensor and is capable of recording in full HD 1080p resolution. It uses an unusually large f2.0 lens which enables it to operate in low light conditions and has a 28mm wide-angle lens. A smart LED flash provides lighting depending on the distance of the subject. HTC ImageSense, which is part of Sense 4.0, gives you the option of taking a still photo whilst simultaneously recording HD video. A continuous shooting option is also available if you hold down the shutter button. And thanks to the dual-core processor and a dedicated imaging chip, image capture is very fast indeed - typically 0.2 seconds to autofocus. Slow motion video recording is also available. The only difference between the One S and the One X is that the One S has a VGA front-facing camera for video calls instead of a HD one.
Like the other high-end phones in HTC's range, the phone comes with Beats Audio software and a customised Beats headset, for an optimised audio experience.
Connectivity includes fast Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, USB, quadband GSM and very fast HSPA 3G.
The 1650 mAh battery sounds large, but a big screen and a dual-core processor means that the device is hungry for power, and given that there are so many features available, this isn't a phone that will nestle at the bottom of a bag waiting to be used. We guess that most users will be charging every night, but hey, most modern smartphones are the same.
We originally awarded the One S 5 stars, but persistent reports of signal problems, Wi-Fi problems and of phones shutting down mean that we have to deduct one star, even though these reports are rare.
The One S is a mid-range phone, available now for around the £15 per month level. For similar amounts of money, you could also choose between the Samsung Galaxy S2 and Sony Xperia S, both of which are outstanding phones.
HTC One S features include:
- 8 megapixel camera with autofocus, f2.0 lens and smart LED flash plus 1.3 megapixel front camera
- 1080p HD video recording / VGA front video camera
- Display: capacitive touchscreen with pinch-to-zoom capability, 540 x 960 pixels (4.3 inches) with auto-rotate
- GPS receiver with digital compass, Google Maps, HTC Footprints and geo-tagging
- Music player (aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma formats)
- FM radio
- Beats Audio sound
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, Email, instant messaging
- Internet: GPRS, EDGE, HSPA (14.4 Mbps download, 5.76 Mbps upload), HTML5 web browser with Adobe Flash support
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, micro-USB 2.0, 3.5mm audio jack, DLNA
- Processor: 1.5GHz, dual core
- Memory: 16GB plus 1GB RAM
- Vibration alert
- Quadband GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) plus HSPA/WCDMA (850/900/2100 MHz)
- Size: 131 x 65 x 7.8 mm
- Weight: 119.5g
- Battery: 1650 mAh
HTC One S user reviews
Love this product? Hate it? Please share your experiences to help other people choose the product that's best for them. Please do not review this product if you have not used it. This is a review site, not a forum, so please don't just ask questions. Please do not use swear words or offensive language, and please, no advertising!
Average rating from 24 reviews:
Reviewed by Vishnu
on 23rd Oct 2013
I own the HTC One S for last 6 months. Before buying, I was worried of
the Helicoptor Bug and Chipping Issues from some users. But, now, I
would say, I made the right decision buy buying this beautiful
1. Excellent Camera. Low light shots are pretty good.
2. Burst Mode is very good. I enjoy taking pictures of my kid.
3. On average use, I get about 20 hours battery life which is
4. Very slim and beautiful.
5. In day to day operation, I don't find much lag.
1. Only 9+ GB space available. So, you have to keep transferring the
pictures and videos to your laptop.
2. Though it has smaller dimensions than One X, it is still not easy
for one handed usage like Xperia P. But, that is the case with any
3. Front Cam is VGA, which gives very average quality.
4. The camera lens protrude little bit. So, use a CASE to avoid any
damage to the lens.
5. The display is very nice. But, cannot compare to the likes of Lumia
625, Galaxy S3 or One X.
Reviewed by Ryan from Mauritius on 10th Mar 2013
Hi to the guys from S21
Thought I'd share my knowledge...The users of HTC One S suffering from
helicoptering isdue try to update to Androide version 4.0.4 and this
should fix the issue...Hope it helps :)...
Reviewed by Spraggaranks from UK on 6th Feb 2013
I have only had the HTC One S for one week and the only two (major)
problems I have is exactly what has already been reported: difficulty
in obtaining and maintaining a signal, and it really is quite fiddly
to turn the phone off! Smaller issues lie with the battery life, which
could be much better too but that said it is a powerful phone! Also,
having used HTC Desire S for several years, I am surprised that the
One S screen's touch-sensitivity is not as intuitive and responsive
as it's predecessor! This is especially annoying when texting. If there
were an option I would give the One S a 'very good' rating, certainly
Reply by Ryan from Mauritius on 18th
Try a software update it might solve your touch sensivity problem or
if update not available then u'll have to wait...Hope it helps...
Reviewed by Bob Jones from UK on 28th Dec 2012
This is such an amazing phone. It is the thinnest of any phone in the
world, the fact in somehow even subtlety concaves inwards towards the
centre is a source of marvel everyday.
Reviewed by JonnyH from UK on 9th Nov 2012
Ive had this phone for about 6 months now. This phone would be brilliant,
if it worked properly as a phone. The phone is lightening quick, excellent
screen, nice camera good WIFI data speed, hardly ever crashes, although
mine is rooted & running a custom rom. There are however 2 massive problems
with it. I have had numerous Android smart phones & never had one with
as poor a signal reception as this One S. It is truly appalling. I only
get a signal upstairs in my house & hardly any signal at work. I can
not rely on this phone to make calls or send texts. The 2nd massive
problem is the HTC One S touch button issue or 'helicoptering' as some
people call it, where the home button goes mental and seems to operate
automatically without any user interaction. The only way to stop it
is to lock the screen. This problem is well documented on several forums
including XDA Dev and up until recently HTC denied the problem even
existed. It rendered my phone unusable until some top developer released
a script to disable the home button. If this phone were not to have
these 2 issues it would be the best phone I have ever owned. It is super
thin and has a premium feel but as a I wont be buying HTC again after
Reviewed by gary from UK on 21st Oct 2012
You can get a bad phone whatever make you choose, just the luck of the
draw. Ive had Nokia since 1993, not anymore!
This HTS one S is the best phone ive ever had. Owned it now for about
3 months, no problems what-so-ever!
A superb handset, cant fault it.
Reviewed by Alan from United Kingdom on 17th Oct
Worst phone I ever had was ok for 2 weeks after that the software was
crashing twice a day wi-fi never ever worked properly after 4months
I changed to a Samsung
Reviewed by Christine from England on 7th Oct
I've had this phone for a month now and truly love it.
There is nothing this phone struggles with or lacks. Initially I worried
the lack of SD memory slot may be an issue but all my photos & videos
upload directly to Dropbox which I can then access from my PC/laptop/any
other device. I have my music stored on the phone itself as I didn't
think dropbox was functional enough and there's still loads of space
The camera is amazing - I can take shots straight after each other with
hardly any delay.
It's a beautiful phone to look at and the screen is surprisingly durable
(no scratches yet despite my 'chuck in a bag' habit. The display has
got to be one of the clearest I've ever seen. Trying not to have a dig
at iPhones but even the iPhone5 looks inferior next to it - I'm not
sure why anyone would test them side by side in a shop and plump for
a more expensive iPhone (in fact even they were the same price I'd choose
I'm trying to think of something negative for balance but I just can't.
Reviewed by Jack from Spain on 10th Sep 2012
I chose this phone in stead of the Samsung Galaxy III, and I think it
was a mistake.
In the initial setup only, the phone switched off, and since then, the
phone sometimes switches off by itself, even with battery charged.
Also it has got signal problems. In places were my HTC Desire S and
my BlackBerry Curve has perfect signal, this phone has no signal or
very poor one. It has even lost signal in the middle of a conversation.
I can't recommend this phone at all, it theorically it's a great device,
but in practise it's not. Sorry!
Reviewed by Rick K from UK on 16th Jul 2012
I renewed my T-Mobile contract and the only real offer they gave me
was a Desire C - having read the reviews of that phone I decided to
send it back immediately, I may as well have kept my Wildfire S. Found
another deal with T-Mobile which meant the One S comes free, they wanted
me to sign up to an expensive upgrade or pay for the phone on my old
contract! The phone is an excellent replacement for the Wildfire, much
bigger obviously but so much more capable. Just love the big display
and the processor speed. Superb radio system connected to stations around
the world. Still finding out exactly what it can do but one thing I
am impressed with is battery life, better than the Wildfire S and I
really love this phone. Who wants a i-Phone 4 when you can have an HTC
Reviewed by Graham from UK on 14th Jul 2012
Upgraded from a Desire. If only this phone had a good signal. Where
my Desire has 4 bars, this has 1 sometimes 0, consistantly losing the
signal completely. Even tried my sim in an old Nokia 3310 and get 5
bars, Sony C902 gets 4 bars. I even have a signal repeater in my house
and everybody, friends and family get 5 bars throughout the house. Mine
gets 2 at best!!!!!!!! Very frustrating. Everything else on this phone
is awesome, second to none, but what use is it if I can't even make
or receive a phone call. Its going back for repair next week but I have
a funny feeling it won't make any difference. The Vodafone forum seems
to be full of similar complaints but the phones are returned with no
improvement. Could so easily have been 5 stars. All singing and dancing
but HTC forgot the most basic function, signal reception!!!!!!!!!!
I'll update when the phone is returned.
Reply by Graham from UK on 31st Jul
Refurbed One S landed yesterday and guess what, still a very poor signal
reception. Sim has now gone back into my C902 with 5 bars. I'll send
it back one more time and if the signal problems still aren't sorted
then my nearest vodafone shop is gonna get it with both barrels. Whether
they'll swap it for a different manufacturor is anybodys guess. Very
Reply by Lee Kelly from Ireland on
7th Aug 2012
There is actually no industry standard for what the strength show on
the signal bar indicator means or how it is measured so a Nokia 5 bar
signal may be equal to Samsung 3 bar or an iPhone 1 bar all indicating
the different levels for the same signal. It merely for window dressing.
Reviewed by peter t from uk on 23rd Jun 2012
very fast phone ( compared to my old samsung wave s8500)i would reccomend
this phone to everyone a good all rounder
Reviewed by GSXR Nick from UK on 16th Jun 2012
The only issue I have with it is the 3G & H data icons constantly switching
back and forth. Don't know if it's designed like that or if it's a fault
with the phone though.
Apart from that I would recommend this phone to anyone.
Reply by Balazs from Hungary on 18th
When there is data traffic then it shows H, other than that it shows
Reply by Alan Moore from UK on 11th
My Desire does the same - it's just telling you what speed it's connecting
at. It often tries 3G first then slips back to H when the 3G signal
is poor (as it often is, even in London).
Reply by Kevin from England on 18th
Sorry, but I was always under the impression that the H stood for HSDPA
seeing as it's faster then 3G
Reply by Balazs from Hungary on 24th
H is HSDPA and it's faster than 3G.
Reviewed by JimmyW from UK on 6th Jun 2012
For me this is a brilliant business phone. Slim, light, excellent screen
and with good battery life. I don't carry much music or personal photos
but I do need a reliable phone with solid build qualities, good internet
access, general connectivity and a good camera which I use extensively
Best thing is the speed of this phone. Superb. Also the reception for
calls is the best I've had (and I have had many different phones over
If you carry huge amounts of music and photos then maybe the X or SG
3 would be better but for business users this is very hard to beat.
Reviewed by JC from UK on 2nd Jun 2012
I upgraded last week from a Desire S to this. For me a phone has to
be a phone first and foremost when you need it, then 10 odd texts a
day, an hour of music and wifi stuff, with facebook twitter and emails
set to 4 hour refreshes. The Desire did this, it lasted quite comfortably
for two days, and I don't have access to a charger during the day.
The camera has become more important to me, I now use that a lot, instead
of just a fun thing to use it's a serious camera and this phone has
a great camera on board.
It is big though, same size roughly as a galaxy II although it doesn't
look it, it is. I find it cumbersome and it feels like it's going to
break if it goes sideways in your jeans pocket.
The screen is also a vast imporvement over the Desire S, it is visible
more than clearly in the sunlight, very visible, which the desire S
isn't, it really does have a real clarity and vibrancy about it.
Battery just about lasts two days, same usage, no different to how I
used the Desire S, but after two days, it's down to 5% of an evening
(Desire S would often be around 30-40%)
As for the Android 4 (ICS), if you're me, and you want functionalty
rather customisabilty then it's a step back from Gingerbread - ring
tone and message alert volume are linked, and if like me you like an
increasing ring, and a reasonably loud message tone, this is awful,
not a big issue you may argue, but it's emblematic of the problems with
Android 4, it tries to be too clever. Yeah sure you may be able to change
lots of settings, but it just isn't as easy to use!
Vibrate is also useless, you won't feel it.
I hope that in 12 months time this phone's spec are in a smaller handset,
I don't want to watch media I have a TV and a laptop for that.
- Very clear screen
- great camera
- The actual functions (messaging, phonebook etc) look great
- Too big
- Battery is iffy
- Too complicated, doesn't do the simple stuff well enough
- build quality
Overall I prefer my Desire S, nice size, competent at everything, usable
Reply by oneeoe from Spain on 27th
I find it difficult to understand some human beings. This guy said all
sorts of negative things about One S yet gave it a resounding 5 star
general. Incredible. so what is he or she saying at last, a superb phone
or a ...
Reviewed by AnnC from UK on 31st May 2012
I received this phone as an upgrade a few days ago and had to return
it the following day. Numerous problems:
Signal strength - I live in a poor reception area, however, my HTC Desire
always had some signal. I had emergency calls only with the One S -
no signal at all - even switching to 2G did not help.
WiFi - Again - no wifi problems with my old phone but with the One S
wifi dropped each time I tried to use any internet application.
Weather App - Every time the One S went into sleep mode this app disappeared
from the screen and had to be enabled again (hard when no signal or
Reboots - A couple of times the phone rebooted itself when just scrolling
through the screen - so frustrating.
Trawling the internet, I found I was not alone in having these problems.
Phone was returned and I am now back to using my old HTC Desire. Such
a shame, but I will wait until HTC iron out the problems with the One
S and may then consider getting one again as it is a beautifully designed
phone, just full of technical glitches.
Reply by Chris P from UK on 15th Jul
Maybe you got a rogue phone? The One S is a fantastic phone, and in
my opinion (and theirs) even better my colleagues Galaxy S3 and iPhone
4S. Faster (check out processor comparisons, it beats the current quad
core phones), smarter - (yes Siri is good but install the Skyvi app
for free and you have a similar thing). Camera superb and audio great
- although I would recommend dropping 'beats' audio and installing the
full version of Poweramp. For the princely sum of three quid you can
turn your phone into a device that produces studio level sound quality
- that is if you invest in a decent pair of ear phones(Soundmagic E10's
@ £30)and ditch the stock ones, or the dreadful 'beats' ones if the
phone came with those. Superb phone.
Reviewed by Michael from N. Ireland on 30th May
Had this phone for about a month now and I honestly can't find any reason
why you shouldn't buy it. The screen is gorgeous, the camera is amazing
and ICS is fantastic with Sense 4.0. It's very fast too and an overall
joy to use!
Reviewed by Vlad from England, London on 18th
I'm the owner of this beautifully crafted mobile phone, quality of built
is really stunning, screen is absolutely amazing to look at as everything
is so sharp ( size of a screen is 4.3" with 540 x 960 resolution, much
better than my Samsung Galaxy SII ) fast user interface and new Sence
4.0 is a real treat combined with latest Android 4.0.3. Plenty of useful
apps: flashlight, notes, pdf viewer, Polaris office etc...
Best thing about is rich, clean sound when listening your favorite music,
I don't own Dr Dre headphones but my Sony ones are more than enough
to enjoy too.
One negative thing about this device is that comes with limited memory
in this case 16GB ( you end up only with 9GB ) but still enough to store
your favorite music, videos etc.
Another thing is that also comes with not user replaceable battery,
but I hope that is not a problem as I am sure it will last minimum 2
years or more.
Fast internet browsing, very easy to type your text messages and emails,
call quality very very good..."one hell of a mobile phone" is the last
thing I should say about it!
Reviewed by kev from uk on 10th May 2012
up graded from htc desire and the htc one is simply amazing i have the
internet on all day the battery still good after 15 ish hours.
the lack of sd card aint a problem i got 100's on photos and music plus
a load of apps and still got a bucket load of memory.
the speaker quality is pretty good as well
i recommend this phone 100%
Reviewed by Lydia from UK on 6th May 2012
I got this phone about 4 weeks ago and think it's fantastic! My previous
phone was the HTC Wildfire, so quite a leap for me in terms of the specs.
The clarity and size of the screen is superb and the speed of the phone
is very impressive. I've not used the camera a great deal so far, but
the quality of photos I have taken have been very good. The combination
of the latest version of HTC Sense and Android provides a very easy
to use interface; customising the phone is quick and enjoyable.
Battery life is great. I'm getting 3 days out of it even with a fair
bit of use of the camera, internet, calls/texts, games etc. I've read
some complaints about the lack of a micro SD card slot and the phone
only having 10GB of usable memory, but I think that's plenty, especially
as I don't want to put a huge amount of music on the phone. I use an
iPod for listening to music when out, and that's perhaps why I get a
lot more out of the phone's battery than people who get no more than
a day's use.
And to top it all, the phone looks gorgeous! I have the black version
and also haven't had any problems with the surface, like the reviewer
before me. Very glad that I chose the HTC One S.
Reviewed by John from England on 4th May 2012
Had this phone for two weeks and I am extremely impressed. Really like
the slim form factor, the scratch resistant body and the screen. Had
no problems at all with the surface finish problems reported on some
early black version of the phone (I don't use a case).
It seems much faster than the Motorola Defy (which I liked a lot) that
I had previously.
Only slight negative for me is that signal reception does not seem quite
as good as my Defy, despite being on same network.
Overall - very highly recommended.
Reviewed by Craig from UK on 29th Apr 2012
Had this phone for a week and it's superb. What impressed me most is
the battery life, which is a damn sight better than the Desire HD I
had more than a year ago. The 1.5GHZ dual core processor keeps it churning
along nicely too. The only slight drawbacks are the screen quality and
the camera, which could have been better.
Reviewed by Rob from England on 14th Apr 2012
I got my HTC One S a week ago. I was undecided between the Sony Xperia
S and this phone, but the manager in the shop told me to go with the
HTC, as they were having a lot of returns with the Sony. I have not
been disappointed. The screen is brilliant, in both ways - good and
bright. ICS is smooth and the phone is fast and responsive. I have tried
the GPS and there isn't a problem with it. The battery lasts a fair
while for a smart phone, longer than my old HTC Desire. I got up yesterday
at 6:00am and at 5:00pm I was still on 81%, my Desire would have been
around 45%. The camera is a vast improvement over the 5Mp on the Desire
and even on a computer screen the pictures seem sharp and clear. The
handset looks pure quality and it feels well balanced in the hand. I
was concerned that I might be disappointed that it didn't have a 4.7"
screen like the One X, but I can honestly say that after using it, it
is the biggest screen I could cope with for one handed operating. The
4.7" screen would need two hands.
Incidentally, I read a review last week that said that in tests the
One S is the fastest phone on the market at the moment, faster than
the One X and has better battery life, something to do with the duel-core
Snapdragon processor being better than the Tegra in the One X even though
it is quad-core
All in all this is a good quality, fast, responsive phone that you won't
be disappointed with
Reviewed by Paul B from Englannd on 13th Apr 2012
I bought the HTC One S and a replacement for my faulty Sony Xperia S
that had a major fault with the GPS (see review). I was tempted to go
for the One X but the size put me off a little. I was also very tempted
to go back to the tried and tested Galaxy S2 but the lure of ICS and
a new handset swayed me! Right, the screen. Superb. Bright, very clear,
can be seen easily in sunlight and is just the right size in my opinion.
The processor speed is very fast and I can honestly say that it seems
quicker than my Galaxy S2. The storage is a little small in my opinion
as there is no SD slot to expand. I can get all my music and most of
my previous camera roll on there but that's about it. You do get (apparently)
25GB of Dropbox Cloud storage but when I signed up it was saying that
I only get 2GB. Maybe a "user error". Although the handset quotes that
you get a 16GB storage it's actually around 12GB. The HTC Sense software
that's embedded works very well and is pretty seamless in operation.
The handset itself oozes quality. It's thin, light and looks the business.
The camera is really good and is comparable to the Xperia S even though
it has less pixels (I realise it's the quality of the lens). The multi-burst
is a good feature as is the ability to take shots whilst in HD video
mode! All in all I am very impressed with this handset. I haven't used
the GPS/Maps yet so lets hope that works OK or we'll be popping to the
high street again!!!
Reply by Dan T from England on 13th
Hi paul, in order to receive your 25gb allowance you have to complete
all the 'getting started' sections using a computer. Hope that helps.
Reply by Paul B from Englannd on 13th
I've now got my 25GB allowance from Dropbox so that'll be handy, especially
as the built in Dropbox software on the handset can be automatically
set to upload photos as soon as they're taken.
Reply by Paul B from Englannd on 15th
Another quick update....... The battery performace seems to be stunning.
I have no battery saver apps (don't believe in them) and at present,
under moderate use with GPS, auto-sync, wifi, Bluetooth and auto brightness
switched on, it is on 57% after 27 hours of use!!! Amazing.