HTC Desire S Review

Launched just last month, the HTC Desire S is an attempt to refresh the original HTC Desire and hopefully bank on its popularity and accolades. Check our full review of the Desire S after the jump and see if it lives up to expectations.

Before moving forward, I suggest reading up on the HTC Desire review here first so you’d understand why this is an impressive handset during its time.

The Desire S came out about 10 months after the original Desire so expectations are a bit high, so much more that the Desire HD is also in the market and could compete with this one in terms of price point. The first Desire is still being sold at a much lower price though that model is already in its end-of-life (EOL) stages.

One would actually think that the Desire S is just a refresh of the Desire with a Super LCD instead of the original, more expensive and scarce AMOLED display. Oh and they dropped the optical trackpad altogether which makes the Desire S shorter compared to the Desire.

At first glance, the Desire S specs resembles that of the original Desire. The changes are not that huge — a later version CPU running at the same 1GHz speed, a bit more RAM, more internal storage and a front-facing VGA camera. The Desire S also comes with Android 2.3 out of the box while the Desire has yet to get 2.3 until now.

HTC Desire S specs:
3.7 inches S-LCD touchscreen @ 480 x 800 pixels
1GHz Scorpion processor (Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon)
Adreno 205 GPU
768MB RAM, 512 MB ROM
1.1GB internal storage
up to 32GB on microSD
HSDPA 7.2 Mbps, HSUPA 2 Mbps
Bluetooth 2.1 w/ A2DP
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
5MP autofocus camera w/ LED flash
720p video recording
Front-facing VGA camera
Stereo FM Radio w/ RDS
GPS with aGPS support
1450 Li-Ion battery
Android OS 2.3 Gingerbread

The improved GPU and the upgrade to Gingerbread makes the Desire S more fluid and snappier. The inclusion of a front-facing camera now allows the handset to make 3G video calls.

The S-LCD screen on the Desire S holds its ground pretty well and is comparable to AMOLED. In fact, unless you scrutinize it very thoroughly against an AMOLED screen, you’d hardly notice the difference. But remember, the later versions of the original Desire also swicthed to S-LCD due to the low supply of AMOLED displays.

The Desire S feels more solid due to its unibody design and materials used. The protrusion at the bottom is less prominent and the tapered edges give it a thinner look and lighter handling.

This should make the phone much more durable than previous designs so you may be able to save yourself some money and use your old cell phone accessories while skipping out on buying a new case.

Battery life is just the same as the other previous HTC handsets. Can do close to two days on normal use and around a day when considerably hooked up to 3G or WiFi (but that’s expected of any Android smarpthone).

Like most other HTC handsets, the built-in camera is decent — not very impressive — but usable, especially on well-lit conditions. It’s a department that HTC has not really mastered thru the years. HD video recording at 720p is actually good and follows the same quality with the old Desire.

The biggest problem the HTC Desire S is facing right now is timing and price-point, with much more weight on the latter. With a suggested retail price of Php25,990, its closest competitors are the Sony-Ericsson Xperia Arc and the LG Optimus Black. The Optimus Black offers similar specs at much lower price while the Xperia Arc is a couple thousand bucks more expensive but offers a bigger screen. sleeker design and impressive camera (I did a round up of the three units here earlier).

With some price adjustments, the Desire S will still hold its ground considering HTC’s reputation on making solidly-built Android handsets.