This time we’ll be looking at and forming opinions regarding the HTC Desire S , the newer, smaller, button-less update of 2010’s staggeringly successful HTC Desire.
The HTC Desire was the phone that sold Android to both nerd and mainstream users across Europe last year, with its superb screen and polished HTC Sense user interface finally giving Android a phone that could compete with iPhone on both hardware and software terms.
But is there any point in the Desire S even existing now we’re all limp with lust over the dual-core HTC Sensation ? Let’s find out.
The Desire S is slightly shorter than the old HTC Desire, thanks to the removal of the physical buttons and optical trackpad. We have been resistant to the idea of capacitive buttons, but they’re very sensitive and reliable here and therefore easy to get used to.
In fact, going back to the old HTC Desire’s physical buttons now feels like going back to an old TV set with rotary tuning knobs – and Android 2.3’s text editing system is now good enough to render the optical pad less useful that it was, back when the Desire arrived running Android 2.1 last year.
The phone’s 3.7″ screen runs at the same 480×800 resolution of the HTC Desire, and is every bit as bright and sensitive to the touch. HTC’s own brightness widget won’t let you turn the screen down to its minimum brightness, though – that’s something you’ll have to use the Android power control toggle to do.
The Desire S has a “unibody” metal body, which means it feels tougher, more solid and classier in the hand. The flimsy rubber back was the old HTC Desire’s weakest design feature – that’s been bettered here. There’s also a front-facing camera, 3.5mm headphone jack, camera, LED flash and USB connection.
The HTC Desire S arrives running Android 2.3.3 with the HTC Sense 2.1 user interface skin laid over the top. We’ve not yet reviewed an HTC Android phone, and are quite worried there’s going to be way, way too many features to cover here. HTC Sense is a sprawling, fantastic piece of software.
First impressions are that the phone is even faster and smoother in operation than the HTC Desire. The screens slide about quicker. It feels rock solid in use and the updated HTC Sense flings the seven Home screens into view without glitch.
The changes in the new HTC Sense skin are everywhere. The app drawer now scrolls down one entire screen at a time, making it easier for the EYE and BRAIN to keep track of the scrolling. Plus you’re able to sort apps by your most frequently used or the ones you’re personally downloaded.
The Notifications bar has been totally reworked, now packing in so much more information it requires a tabbed system. A sliding top bar shows your recently used apps – like the old long-press on Home system – plus there’s a separate tab for toggling data services. There’s a feeling of needless duplication here, to be honest – how many separate ways to turn off the wi-fi do we really need?
There’s a new Power Saver option which helps you keep your phone active when power’s running low. It’s customisable, too, plus you can have it activate when your battery hits between 10% and 30% of remaining power.
Basically the HTC Desire S is ever so slightly better than last year’s HTC Desire everywhere you look. Slightly smoother, slightly faster, slightly more in the way of features – equals and all-round better experience.
DESIRE S REVIEW SECTIONS: