HTC Desire S review: Camera and video samples

So we’ve already looked at and been thoroughly impressed by the build quality and HTC Sense interface of the new HTC Desire S Android phone – now here’s a look at the camera.

On paper it’s a bit of a weak point, offering the same 5megapixel still and 720p video capacity as the original HTC Desire. The colour reproduction of the Desire was never that great – are things any better here?


Not really. Photos taken at maximum size come off the Desire S at 2592×1552 widescreen resolution, or, if you like, this can be lowered to 3megapixel 2048×1216 or 1megapixel 1280×768. Or even 640×384. They’re a bit blotchy, and pretty much identical to those of the old HTC Desire.

IMAG0037 IMAG0040

Outside in good light everything’s fine and you could certainly get away with using it as your “main” camera. But those hoping for an improvement over what was offered in 2010’s HTC Desire will be disappointed.

htc desire s review 14

It’s the same story with video. 720p footage is recorded in 3GP format and is smooth – but rather lacking in clarity and sharpness. You can now zoom in while recording film footage, which is useful, plus the LED light can be set to “always on” for recording yourself doing things in the dark. Like, feeding hedgehogs.

This is a still from a 720p video:

desire s 720p video

The Desire S doesn’t auto-focus while recording video, but you do get manual control of exposure, contrast, saturation and sharpness. An unedited video sample has been uploaded here [55MB] if you’d like to see it in action.

I would put it on YouTube, but can’t for the life of me remember which Gmail account was used to set up the Eurodroid YouTube account.

htc desire s review 13

Back in the world of still photos, there’s a new hipster-pleasing collection of “vintage” filters to give your image that classic 35mm film look, plus a nice vignette option – which blurs the outside of the shot while keeping the centre in focus.


A photo taken with the hipster Vintage filter. This could’ve been taken in 1978, couldn’t it? Although that kettle and microwave rather give things away.

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The flash is good (left). Quick and bright and it makes low-light moments actually worth capturing. Indoor shots without flash are fine as long as you’re near a window.


Inside. Dusk. No flash. The Desire S seems to over-compensate for low-light conditions more than the HTC Desire, resulting in grainy, over-saturated images when taking pics at dusky times.


You also get face detection, a self timer, manual white balance and ISO options, geo-tagging and an “Auto enhance” toggle that doesn’t do anything we could identify. Oh, and there’s a switch to flip between rear and front-facing cameras, if you have an urge to see what you look like. Pics taken with the front camera are limited to 640×480.


That’s a vignette shot. A slider appears on the screen when using this option, so you can fiddle with the amount of blur and increase or decrease the size of the central in-focus area.


BEE! And that’s about it. The camera on the HTC Desire S is very fast in operation, focusing and saving shots quickly. Plus you get a few more filters to play with. It’s fine, but is the one area where the Desire S doesn’t offer anything new of substance over last year’s model.


9 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Rik Hemsley

     /  April 25, 2011

    You’re not supposed to feed babies blended bread.

  2. like your vignette shot, another shots are not good :)

  3. Camera Zealot

     /  April 26, 2011

    More dreadful camera quality from HTC as usual. I don’t know what they think they’re playing at applying so much sharpening and noise reduction. The halos on the ferry sign text in the third photo are ridiculous and all of the fine details in the other photos (eg grass) are blurred.

    Does anyone at HTC even look at the output of their cameras or do they just crank the sharpening and noise reduction up to 11 because sharp is good and noise is bad?

    Have a look at GSM Arena’s photo quality comparison tool if you think I’m being unfair to HTC:

    • Gary C

       /  April 26, 2011

      Nice comparison. I make that a shock win for the Galaxy Ace.

      • Camera Zealot

         /  April 26, 2011

        I prefer the iPhone 4 (better colour and more detail preserved), but the Galaxy Ace is pretty good compared to most other 5MP shooters. It certainly puts in to prospective just how poor HTC’s efforts are considering that phone is almost half the price of a Desire S and is not marketed as having a good camera.

        • mintvilla

           /  April 26, 2011

          you cant compare the galaxy ace ( a mid ranged device ) with the iphone 4 ( a high end device ) you can buy the galaxy ace for 200 quid off contract, you need to double that for the iphone.

  4. Anonymous

     /  May 3, 2011

    Camera Zealot – I just want you to know that the blurred grass from the pictures you’ve seen was either shot in macro mode, or in auto focus, and I had not seen any grass focused on the samples.

    • Gary C

       /  May 4, 2011

      I think what he means by “blurry” is the general messy, blotchy appearance of grass (and any other detailed areas) in the middle distance. It drives me mad on phone cameras.

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