HTC Phones

HTC Desire S Review

The HTC Desire was launched at the beginning of 2010. Undoubtedly 2010 was a successful year for the company. The phone came with an excellent software, affordable price and cute design. These were its key features and it’s clear why exactly a year later HTC decided to release the HTC Desire S. Initially it was designed for the European and Asian markets, but “S” named smartphones got more popularity than expected, and US carriers did their best to bring them to their consumers too.

The HTC Desire S has a standard HTC design, but it inherited some details from the HTC Legend, say a complete metal housing. Another thing to note is it looks like the HTC Mozart just with Android platform. It was unveiled at MWC 2011 among other awesome smartphones. It has preserved its predecessor’s familiar features but provides improved software, plus it works on HTC Sense UI that ensures HTC smartphones’ success on the market.

The HTC Desire S runs on Gingerbread, and as you know Android is the most popular mobile operating system. The latter serves as a key feature for most HTC smartphones. Anyway, HTC likes to use metal housing for its smartphones and it is welcomed by users. So we can say HTC Desire S has two major advantages — its software and its design.


Generally HTC has created its own style, but the company has reached it with difficulty. For several years HTC was in search of something original, and when it finally came up with it, everyone could easily notice HTC smartphones’ unique design. The design was something completely different from the previous ones. In this regard, the HTC Desire S is a standard HTC device with some distinguishing lineaments.

The Desire S comes with a high-quality die-cast housing and a soft-touch plastic. The smartphone looks quite stylish and expensive. More importantly company’s all latest models come in the same style. It makes the ruler holistic that works on the brand’s image.

Desire S is small and neat. By its size it’s almost identical with the original Desire, but visually it looks more compact. This feeling comes from the beveled edges. The bottom of the phone is bent forward. There are some details making it more original and memorable. I believe that’s the main advantage of HTC smartphones’ design.

As you guess the assembly is at height — no backlash. Due to the die-cast metal you won’t hear any creak at squeezing. The metal of which this handset’s case is made is very solid and durable. And I don’t really get why LG and Samsung avoid it. Because of its case the battery is located under the flip cap. You will find the micro SD card slot under the battery.

The HTC Desire is available in two colors – black and gray, but Vodafone’s going to release its red version too.

Candy bar has become a bit smaller, yet it retains the same familiar features. HTC Desire S comes in dimensions of 115×59.8×11.6 mm and weighs 130 g (its predecessor came in 119x60x11.9 mm, 135 g dimensions). As you see the company has changed a little bit not to disappoint its fans.

On the top of the phone you’ll see a large slot where an earpiece is hidden under a metal mesh. Light and proximity sensors are located deeper. Nearby is the indicator of various events (missed calls, unread messages and so on). It illuminates both when the phone battery is close to full discharge and when it’s fully charged. A VGA camera for video calling is located on the right of this slot.

Remember those four buttons we used to see on Android-powered handsets? You will find them below the screen. Home button returns you to the desktop, but if tapped for a few seconds, a menu will open with eight running apps. “Menu,” “Back” and “Search” are located next to each other.  The buttons are equipped with backlit in white color and are clearly visible in dark.

The volume rocker is on the left side. It’s very large and is convenient to use. And it’s not difficult to find it. Below there is a standard microUSB-port for cable and charger. For some reasons a dongle is not provided for it.

The right side of the smartphone is devoid of any detail, it is completely smooth.

At the top of the phone there is a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack. There is also a key, which not only disables the device, but also locks the screen. At the bottom there is just a microphone hole.

When you look at the back of the HTC Desire S, you can see not only various kinds of plastic, but also other elements. I’m talking about the round cutout for the 5MP camera’s lens and the LED flash (next to it) that can be used as a flashlight. On the right to it you’ll also find dynamics for calling.


Looking inside the hood you’ll find more and more interesting features. The HTC Desire S comes with specs that can remind you of its predecessor, but this smartphone is newer. For example, both handsets, the HTC Desire and HTC Desire S run 1GHz processors. Unlike its predecessor, which is packed with a Qualcomm QSD8250 chipset, this one is equipped with a Qualcomm QSD8255 (first seen on the HTC Desire HD). This chipset comes with an improved performance and power optimization, but this is not only the processor’s “culpability,” as the 70% of the energy is used by the screen. So the company has optimized the power usage due to Super LCD technology. And now the HTC Desire S has 20% better indicators than the original Desire.


The Desire S supports several built-in codecs to support playback for AVI files. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support MKV and there are some problems with MPEG 4 formats, so you have to install additional apps for this deal.

While reading the HTC Desire S review you haven’t seen any shortcoming, right? But this is not a perfect smartphone, and you’ll also get convinced in it. Unfortunately, this smartphone has no HDMI-out port. However, the company has solved this problem offering users to stream videos over HTC Media Link that can be plugged to a TV via HDMI.

Like other Android smartphones the HTC Desire S is equipped with a standard 3.5 mm audio jack that expands the possibilities for working with sound, this especially refers to a stereo equalizer. To be honest, it doesn’t provide the best sound performance, and there is the HTC Desire HD, which has better indicators in this aspect. But it is better than what we have seen in the HTC Incredible S. By the way, the latest HTC smartphones come with a pre-installed app to recognize the artist.

The handset is packed with an unusual RAM, 768MB. It also sports a 1.1GB of ROM, plus the memory can be expanded up to 32GB due to the micro SD card slot. Moreover, the device comes with an 8GB chip made by Samsung. Even if at first sight 8+1.1GB is good, let’s not forget about its price, which is quite expensive. So it’ll be better to power the phone with bigger memory card. In this area Apple has the best strategy — Apple products have at least 16GB internal memory.


There is not much to say about its connectivity as the Desire S supports quad band GSM, dual band 3G, with GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. But it’s not all as running on Gingerbread it provides the data sync options too, like Wi-Fi tethering and exchange support. 3G support allows the phone to show up to 14.4Mbps connection speed.

The HTC Desire S has some Wi-Fi issues. Surprisingly, the developers haven’t considered everything — you’ll lose about 80% of your signal strength when holding the phone around the camera lens. So when working with WiFi you must be careful not to hold your handset in landscape mode.


The HTC Desire S can’t boast of a large screen, as its display is the most disappointing feature of this handset. The phone sports a 3.7-inch Super-LCD touchscreen that supports 16M colors. As you see it can provide bright performance, but 3.7-inch is quite small for such a high-end device. I guess the only explanation to it is the idea to continue the Desire’s traditions.

The display is not one of its best advantages and does not correspond to the other super specs, but it is made by using Gorilla Glass technology. This is gladsome news as previously this technology could be found only in some Nokia’s smartphones, but now HTC packs its handsets with it; probably users are satisfied with it.


HTC doesn’t change anything here as both devices, the HTC Desire and Desire S are powered with the same rear-facing camera. You’ll see a 5MP camera in resolution of 2592×1944 pixels, autofocus and LED flash. Of course it can record HD videos at 720p and 30fps. If you remember the original Desire can acquire such ability only after Froyo update.

There is a huge difference between recording videos and capturing pictures. Well, when you take pictures outside and in good light, everything is OK and the camera works like a digital one. But the videos are recorded in 3GP format and are smooth, and it’s difficult to imagine how you’ll use it to make good videos.

The flash works well and pictures taken with it are respectable, but indoor pictures are disappointing and as long as you are far from the windows the pictures will not be good.

I have previously talked about the secondary camera, so I guess it doesn’t need any introduction. The VGA camera is packed in the phone with one goal — video calling.

HTC Desire S test video

HTC Desire S sample images


It can seem the HTC Desire S is powered with a good battery that will provide a long lifetime, but it’s not so. The phone sports a standard 1450 mAh battery that provides up to 9 h 50 min (2G)/up to 7h 10 min (3G) talk time and up to 430 h (2G)/up to 455h (3G) stand-by mode. I have talked to several HTC Desire S owners and they all are not satisfied with it. As they say, when they use their smartphones for web browsing it ingests so much energy that the battery seems weak. Anyway, smartphones mean more than PCs nowadays, and we can’t recommend users not to use their handsets in such a way. It is better to give some recommendations on how to extend the battery life:

  • Change your 3G(HSDPA) to 2G(EDGE).
  • Switch off your WiFi, Bluetooth when not in use
  • Switch off your GPS Satelite function when not navigating.
  • Close apps that are running at background if you are not using.
  • Lower the brightness of your screen and turn power saver on.
  • Uninstall unused Apps.
  • Upgrade your 1450mAh Battery to Mugen 1800mAh battery.

This will help you save more energy and not fall into unexpected situations, but the most anticipated version for me is the latest one, though the battery costs $44,95.


This smartphone runs on the latest version of Android OS, but as I understood there is not so much difference between Froyo and Gingerbread. Though Android 2.3.3 looks quite attractive on the HTC Desire S, I think it is made due to the HTC Sense UI 2.1. Generally, it doesn’t bring any real advantages, but for a simple user Android provides improved performance.

Honestly, I don’t understand why all geeks wish to get it, because it’s not an overhaul after Froyo, and we can see just refreshed interface, nothing more. Of course, there are several features added to the platform.

First, it refers to the NFC support, though this handset has no app for this deal, probably we will hear different rumors about it later. In case you don’t know, it lets you turn your phone into a credit card and pay via it. Of course, I can’t say anything about how it works because I can’t test it.

Next, Google has reshaped keyboard keys for Gingerbread users and now it’s more comfortable to type. This is available due to more spacing between the keys. But it is not perfect and the company has to work more. Unlike iOS, Gingerbread allows users to insert symbols or numbers without switching between modes — you just have to press shift for this deal. Moreover, if you have written a wrong word or phrase you can use your voice to correct it. Finally, copy/paste functionality is now easier than we used to see in Froyo — you can quickly select text by simply pressing and holding a word. Then adjust the chunk of the text you want to select by dragging the arrows that appear around the text.

Third, Gingerbread supports multiple cameras on a device, and though Android always was good in this area, Gingerbread is the best with such functionality. Users must click on small icon at the bottom of the screen to choose which camera app they want to run — front-facing or rear-facing.

There are many features worthy to be introduced, but this is an HTC Desire S review and not a Gingerbread review, right? So I just have to say this is one of the first devices running on Gingerbread, and it is an advantage for it as Android is the most popular platform in the world, and Desire S owners must be proud of it.

HTC Sense 2.1

HTC offers a new fresh interface, Sense 2.1. However, there are mainly cosmetic changes. For example, the design of buttons has been changed, and there are little changes in the menu structure. No radical changes were made. Nowadays the interface of HTC is the best for Android. It’s nice that they changed the main menu scroll system. Now this is not just a list, but vertical screens.

But HTC Sense UI has some unpleasant features — ignorance of local services. I don’t know why, but HTC persistently ignores all famous services and adds the official client of Twitter to its native Peep.

HTC Sense 2.1 improvements

  • Spell checking with underlined function
  • Interface icons’ updated design
  • Integration with Skype
  • Report sending system for incorrect work of the device
  • SNS tags and description
  • Notification of friends’ birthdays
  • Applications are sorted in different tabs
  • Roaming without entering country code
  • Upgrading Applications
  • New application — Mirror
  • System of quick updating standard programs without updating the whole software system

Phone book

The list shows both memory card and SIM contacts, plus data from Google’s account. Moreover, the list includes information about friends from social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Tapping on a certain contact you can call a context menu offering several tabs. Interestingly, the first tab shows the basic information about the contact, the second one comes with messaging history between you and him, the third one shows emails, and the rest are the main proofs of a deep integration with social networking with the messages, statuses and photo albums of the contact.

If you want to change your phone and think you’ll need a PC for transferring your contacts don’t worry as Google offers the Transfer Data app for this deal that realizes the process via Bluetooth.


Beyond doubt the HTC Desire S supports all kind of messaging, moreover, it cooperates with many social networking apps and widgets, plus Gtalk that connects you to Google’s chat network and compatible networks.

You can see all SMS and MMS messages that are displayed in threads. They are presented with the contact’s photo, name and the subject of the last message, so if you want to view the whole message you just have to tap on it.

To choose a new recipient you must type the contact’s name and the phone will find the necessary one even if there is mistake in writing.

Another nice feature — the compose box is bigger and when you type in landscape mode it seems you’re working in familiar window. Tapping and holding on the text box allows you to access such functions like copy/cut/paste. Once you do this, it can be used in other apps like email, notes, chats and vice verse.

Though in portrait mode it is very easy to type, when the phone’s screen is turned into landscape mode the HTC Desire’s 3.7-inch touchscreen offers larger keys that don’t differ from hardware QWERTY keyboard.


One of the most important features of the HTC Desire S is the web browser coming with the OS pre-loaded. It supports for Adobe Flash player. Interestingly, the device provides the whole screen for web browsing and when you hit the menu key, six keys pop up. There is also a More button bringing more options — anything from finding on page and text selection.

The phone supports double tap for zooming and text re-flow, which makes reading long and small texts easier. In this browser you can also see the bookmarked pages in thumbnail view, plus there is a “most visited” list for quick access to your favorite sites.

Finally, there is a YouTube app for easy navigating YouTube if it is hard to do the same in browser. The browser supports HTML5 but it is in development and it needs several years to become normal.

A video above shows the privileges of this browser.


The photos and videos are located in the gallery and you have no reason to worry where they are stored in, as the phone doesn’t put any difference between SIM card and memory card. The content is shown in usual list-with-thumbnail structure. If you store the photos and videos in different folders in different sub-galleries, they will have the name of that folder and each sub-album will have the thumbnail of the latest image.

At the bottom you will see four buttons designed for actual folder list, for sharing pictures and videos in Facebook and Flickr, for pulling multimedia content from a DLNA-enabled server. Unfortunately, there is no copy/paste functionality and for this deal you have to use file manager.


The HTC Desire S is a good phone for reading eBooks and a reader app provided by Kobo is designed especially for this deal. Kobo’s eBooks store is one of the most popular ones and you can choose which one you want to buy or download, though I have to say the most valuable eBooks are available only for purchase.

You have no reason to protest against it as its UI is quite friendly. The books are presented in thumbnail view or as a list. Tapping on the cover you will see the book’s content with a nice animation.

On the whole you can do anything you want with the book — adjust the font, add bookmarks, highlight sections of the book with different colors and even jot down notes. Though this app is very comfortable, users can choose another app from Android Market for this deal.


  • 1.1   GB ROM
  • 768 MB RAM
  • Android 2.3
  • HTC Sense integration with contacts
  • Fast internet browsing (including Flash support)


  • 3.7-inch screen
  • No dual-core processor
  • Shoddy video recording
  • Battery life


I guess the main problem of this handset lies in the fact that the developers have decided to experiment a very successful software in mid-range hardware. Of course this creates some inadequacy and we can classify the HTC Desire S neither in mid-range, nor in high-end category.

The phone’s form factor is very familiar to us and it is designed very well — its die-cast metal housing gives a very attractive view to it, though the screen’s quite small. The 5MP camera is good in work, but don’t you think the company could equip it with a stronger one?

Probably many of you were expecting the first smartphones running Gingerbread to be something crucial, but don’t forget that the HTC Desire S is not the next flagship, it is just an “experimental smartphone that has a quite acceptable price.”

The HTC Desire S became available in Europe in late March, and no matter how strange it sounds, the phone was first launched in Czech Republic, then the smartphone made its steps to the UK via Vodafone and Orange. Besides Europe, the Desire S went to Australia too, and only lately it became clear the phone’s going to hit the US market via US Cellular.

As usual European mobile operators offered it for free with a contract requiring £30 and £35 (about $50-60) per month. It was available in Australia with a price tag at 699 AUD (about $726) without any agreement. Unfortunately, I don’t know how much it’ll cost in the U.S.

If you want to have a super handset with the best features referring both to hardware and software, wait for the HTC Sensation, but if you want a stylish handset with fresh OS the HTC Desire S is one of the bests.

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3 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. nnInteresting post!! I really like this site, and hope younwill write more, thanks for your information.nnn

  2. Without doubt the Desire S has very good specifications, but mine is completely useless as the signal strength is either very weak or none existant. This is not due to the area that I am in at the time of either making or receiving calls, as I always carry my spare phone (Nokia E63) & the signal is perfect with this phone.nnThe original phone which I received in August 2011, was replaced by the network provider, but the replacement has exactly the same faults & the network provider refuses to resolve the problem, so I am lumbered with a useless phone until my contract expires in August 2013.nnSo I have a phone that is NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE!nnThe battery doesn’t last for a normal working day, whilst the Nokia can last me 2 – 3 days!nnMy advice would have to be, avoid the Desire S unless like me you want a phone that you can’t use!nnThe worst phone that I have owned in many, many years.

  3. is it gonna be ok for Android 2.3 ?

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