Earlier this year, HTC said they were disappointed about how 2011 went for them. They thought they released far too many devices and vowed to focus on several “hero” devices in 2012. At CTIA, they announced the One series of devices, which consists of the EVO 4G LTE, One X, One S, and One V.
The One S is packing everything you would expect in a flagship device. It is powered by a dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB of RAM, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Sense 4. It’s also compatible with T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network. The device will run you $199.99 with a two year contract.
HTC’s crammed everything we could ask for in the One S, but did they execute well? Read our full BriefMobile to find out.
- Dimensions: 130.9 x 65 x 7.8 mm
- Screen: 4.3 inches Super AMOLED qHD Capacitive
- Processor: 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core
- Android 4.0 (Ice-cream Sandwich) OS
- 8MP auto focus camera with LED flash
- 1080p video and image recording at 30 FPS
- 1.3 MP front facing camera
- 16GB Internal storage, 1 GB RAM
- Battery : 1650 mAh
- Weight: 120 grams
It’s not often we see a phone that really stands out from the competition and is not just a slab of plastic. But when we do, it is usually from HTC.
The first thing you will notice when you pick up the HTC One S is how light it is in the hand. It weighs in at 119.5 grams with dimensions of 130.9 x 65 x 7.8 mm, which makes it the thinnest phone produced by HTC to date.
The One S is not manufactured cheaply either. One example of the premium quality of the device is in the speaker grill. Instead of simply placing a cheap speaker grill in the aluminum, HTC used a micro drill and created 76 holes in the device.
Every aspect of the One S is as elegant as can be. The phone is made out of a single piece of aluminum that covers the entire device. The front of the phone houses a 4.3-inch display, 3 capacitive buttons, speaker holes, and a front facing camera. Along the top of the device you will find a 3.5mm headphone jack and the power button, which is a lot easier to press than previous HTC devices. Located on the right is the volume rocker and the MHL enabled micro-USB port is on the left. The capacitive buttons are easy to use and always responded perfectly.
One negative thing about the One S is the back is really slick. If you’re not careful, you will be dropping it left and right. It will just slide right out of your hand.
The One S will really appeal to every person out there – teens or adults, men or women.
HTC did something they had never done before with the One S by using a Samsung Super AMOLED display. Unlike the rest of the One line of devices, the One S features a qHD resolution instead of a 720p display.
The One S features a 4.3-inch display, which makes it the smallest of the One line. The Super AMOLED panel plus the 960×540 resolution is really nice. Colors are vivid and text is sharp.
The One S’ display is optically laminated to its Gorilla Glass, in order to reduce the space between the glass. Because of this, the viewing angles on the One S are stunning.
Sadly, the One S also uses a PenTile Matrix and it just can’t compete with displays found on HTC’s Super LCD displays. Basically, the PenTile Matrix causes major discoloration in high contrast situations. This is most notable on white
One thing you’ll notice on the device is the glass that covers the display does not only cover the front of the device, but also flows over the sides.
One downside that still plaques the Super AMOLED display is performance in direct sunlight. It is nearly impossible to see anything on the display while outside on a sunny day.
With Sense 4, HTC vowed to make their UI cleaner and simpler. Which, they did.
The HTC One S ships with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with HTC Sense 4 on top.
With Sense 4, HTC removed a lot of the gimmicky and glitchy animations that were introduced in Sense 3. Because of that, Sense 4 is just a lot smoother than Sense 3 was. Rarely will you experience any lag.
However, Sense 4 is still a big memory hog, of the 700MB of free RAM on the One S, the O.S takes up about 450MB on boot, leaving only 250MB for the user. This does not appear to affect performance in any way.
In addition to cleaning up the interface, HTC still managed to introduce a handful of new features and change up stuff from stock Ice Cream Sandwich
First off, let’s take a look at the browser. Taking a page out of Apple’s book, HTC has introduced a cleaner way for people to read in the browser. When you visit a page with an article on it, a reader button will appear in the upper left. Using this functionality, all banners, logos, and ads will be stripped from the web page.
Ice Cream Sandwich on the Galaxy Nexus introduced a new way of multitasking, which was great, but HTC being HTC, they had to change. On the One S there is a dedicated menu button that will bring you to a completely new screen to view your recent tasks. You must swipe up to delete them.
Sense’s way of multitasking just doesn’t feel as seamless as stock Android 4.0′s does.
Nearly every manufacturer has its own launcher and HTC is no different. HTC’s launcher is almost completely different than stock Android’s. For the most part, it is surprisingly nice. At the bottom, you will of course find your app drawer button and 4 other apps. You can customize those apps to your liking. One thing that is a little wonky in Sense 4 is widget selecting. There is no way to view widgets by category or creator. That means you have to dig through HTC’s 18 different clocks to find the widget you want.
Sadly, the One S ships a considerable amount of bloatware. Including:
- 411 & More
- Friend Stream
- Game Base
- HTC Hub
- Lookout Security
- Mobile Hotspot
- More for Me
- Movie Editor
- My T-Mobile
- Polaris Office
- T-Mobile Mall
- T-Mobile Name ID
- T-Mobile TV
- Voice Recorder
- Where’s my Water
None of these apps are removable either, so you are stuck with them all in your app drawer. Overall, Sense 4 is one of the best overlays available, but stock Ice Cream Sandwich is still superior because of superior multitasking and lack of bloatware.
The One S is a beast of a device. It is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core MSM8260A Snapdragon S4 processor with an Adreno 225 GPU and 1GB of RAM.
Normally, on a device with Sense, we see a considerable amount of lag in simple tasks such as navigating through menus and scrolling through homescreens. However, that is not the case with the One S, or any Sense 4 device, for that matter. Everything on the One S is smooth and crisp. Webpages load up fast, pinch-to-zoom is smooth, and games perform great. Specifically, games such as Temple Run and ShadowGun without a problem. Everything throughout the UI was as fast as any device I’ve used before. Applications launched fast, just like everything else.
The One S also performs very well in the standard benchmarking apps. Though, keep in mind these are all artificial scores and should be taken with a grain of salt. In the benchmark app Linpack, the One S was given an average score of 104.8 MFLOPS. On the Multi-Thread test, the device scored an average 221 MFLOPS. In comparison, the EVO 4G LTE scored 102.737 MFLOPS on the single thread test and 205.12 on the multi-thread test.
In the app Nenamark 2, the One S achieved about 60.3 frames per second.
In AnTuTu, the One S was able to pull in an average score of 7020, which is an score excellent and is roughly 200 points higher than the EVO 4G LTE’s score. Lastly, I put the One S through some tests in Vellamo, which tests the browser. The device scored an average of 2426 in my tests.
The One S is compatible with T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network, which is quite good, but not at LTE’s level. Using the Speedtest.net app, I was able to pull in download speeds of roughly 14 Mbps and upload speeds of 2 Mbps upload. Call quality on the device was excellent and got even better when using T-Mobile’s WiFi calling capability.
Like most of HTC’s recent devices, the One S features Beats Audio technology. Beats goal is to bring devices an “authentic sound experience.” It does provide that experience, for the most part. With Sense 4, the Beats Audio functionality now extends to all apps, not just the stock music app.
One thing to note is the One S does not come with the iBeats headphones that we saw with earlier Beats devices such as the Rezound.
HTC has always been known for putting great cameras into its devices, but with the One line of devices, they took it to the next level.
The One S has an 8 megapixel, back side illuminated image sensor, f2.0 lens, and dedicated imaging chip that works to give some of the best pictures ever taken by a smartphone.
With Sense 4, HTC also introduced a completely new and redesigned camera app. On the left side of the display, you will find the camera, video, and effect buttons. While on the left you’ll see the shooting mode, settings, and flash buttons. It is very useful to have the camera and video buttons on the same screen so there is no need to dig through menu after menu to switch. You also now have to ability to take a picture while recording 1080p video.
Also in Sense 4, HTC introduced a variety of new camera effects, ala Instagram.
- Depth of Field
- Vintage Warm
- Vintage Cold
The flash has also been improved with an LED Smart Flash which has 5 power levels that automatically adjust based on lighting levels. The camera on the One S is truly amazing. Pictures were crisp and sharp and shutter time was nearly instant. HTC’s ImageSense really helps give the best images possible. The One S camera is truly unmatched.
The One S is no slouch at video recording either. The device is packing a 1080p video sensor. Video is smooth and clear. The audio is also clear. Like the still photos, the video on the One S is unmatched.
The front-facing camera on the HTC One S is capable of capturing video and pictures in VGA 640 x 480. I front-facer is most useful for Android 4.0′s new Face Unlock feature.
The One S ships with your average 1650 mAh battery, which sadly, is not user replaceable. With light usage, the One S would easily last 2 days. With moderate usage, it could get about 12-14 hours out of the device, which is outstanding. Moderate usage consists of an average day for me: email, Pandora, light gaming, Facebook, Twitter, and browser.
It’s not often I use a device and have as few issues as I’ve with the One S. The build quality is excellent, as is the performance and camera. Sense still has some issues, the battery is not removable and there is no SD card slot, but that still won’t stop me from recommending the One S.
The HTC One S is the best choice for any one on T-Mobile looking for an Android device that will last them their full two-year contract.