The HTC Desire really was the favourite of the HTC siblings, a perfectly crafted smartphone inside and out with striking design, a charming user interface and features that won it legions of fans. But soon after HTC felt the need to build on its success and unveiled the Desire’s successor, the HTC Desire S at MWC in February. However, the Desire S is more of an evolutionary smartphone rather than a revolutionary one but has it been polished up enough to maintain the levels of success enjoyed by its predecessor?
The most noticeable change here is the outer shell of the phone as the new Desire S sports a stunning aluminium unibody. The one piece suit oozes that premium smartphone feel and the material is as strong and sturdy as you’d expect. HTC has broken up the rear cover with two plastic sections, and while they match the colour of the handset, we have to say that it looks a bit messy. It is quite practical though as you can pop off the bottom section to access the microSD and SIM card slots without too much difficulty.
Up front, the optical trackpad has been shown the door and the physical keys of the original Desire have been replaced with touch-sensitive ones, just like on the HTC Wildfire S. This is definitely the way HTC should be going as the optical trackpad wasn’t really necessary before and the new nav buttons do neaten up the handset’s exterior. There haven’t been any changes on the display front, with the screen maintaining the 3.7 inch size of the original and the resolution stays at 800 x 480 too. This is by no means a bad thing as the quality of the display is at the high end of the scale, however, it’s obviously no match for the iPhone 4′s Retina technology or Sony Ericsson’s Reality Display.
Power and Operating System
The HTC Desire S comes packing Android 2.3, which is the only major change we see in this department. Its processing power remains at 1GHz and the RAM memory has been upped to 768MB to keep Gingerbread ticking over at a good pace. Whilst we found that everything runs incredibly smoothly, we think a dual-core processor would have upped the game slightly and improved the Desire S no end. With LG, Samsung and Motorola already having a dual-core smartphone lined up, we were quite surprised to see that HTC hasn’t followed suit.
The HTC Sense user interface features on the handset and as always, we were really pleased to see it. Also thrown into the mix is a new app filter menu which quite handily displays all your apps. It’s nothing groundbreaking but is still a nice touch from the manufacturer. HTC regulars will also be familiar with the Sense features such as the animated weather widget, Friendstream and HTC Scenes, all of which make a reappearance.
Internet: Browsing the internet on the HTC Desire S was a pleasure and it had little problem contending with pages featuring lots of text, images or Flash. Pinch to zoom was responsive with pages rendering very quickly and text resizing was also efficient and glitch-free. The browser, as a whole, was extremely easy to navigate and one feature that caught our eye was the option to quickly search any word on a web page through Google simply by highlighting it.
Camera: The 5 Megapixel camera was a disappointment. It’s not an awful spec but at the same time, high-end smartphones are getting snappers with much higher offerings than this. You can record HD video at 720p and you’ll get a half-decent shot thanks to the autofocus and LED flash, but we just expected something better from HTC this time round. On the plus side, there’s a new arrival in town – a front facing VGA so you can video call to your heart’s content.
Other tech specs:
- Music player – Supports AAC+, MP3, WAV, WMV files
- Video player – Supports DivX, XviD, MP4, H.263, H.264, WMV files
- 1.1GB ROM
- 768MB RAM
- MicroSD card slot that supports cards up to 32GB
- Office document editor
- Adobe Reader
- Direct access to the Android Market
- 7 hours 10 minutes talk time (3G)
As we pointed out, the HTC Desire S isn’t a revolutionary device and we expected to see more improvements such as a dual-core processor and better camera. While the Desire S runs perfectly fine as it is, the decision to keep the specs the same as before could cost HTC dearly as those looking for a top-end smartphone could end up going elsewhere to get their high-spec tech fix.
The old adage of ’if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ seems to be one that HTC have stuck to with absolute rigour with this one. Whilst we found nothing wrong with the handset’s usability as such, the lack of some key smartphone tech knocks the Desire S down from the top spot that it used to own. As smartphones go, the HTC Desire S is still a top notch device and those who were taken by its first incarnation will be pleased with the rehashed version. However, if you’re looking for a cutting edge device replete with all the latest smartphone tech, your money may be better spent elsewhere.