Social networking is taken care of by the standard apps for Twitter and Facebook, both of which are really nice to use, and there's the aforementioned tie-in with your contacts. If you want access to any other platforms you can of course jump into the Marketplace where you're bound to find the appropriate app.
As well as the standard Google navigation tools of GoogleMap, Latitude, Navigation and Places, HTC has also added Locations which is a 3rd party sat nav and points-of-interest app. It can do both directions for walking and driving and presents them in an easy to read manner. It's a nice addition that has some definite advantages over Googles alternatives, though we wouldn't be surprised if most people stick to what they know.
HTC has also added an e-book reader, which works almost exactly as you'd expect with a library interface for choosing your books and a simply interface for reading the words therein. There are no fancy page turning animations but thanks to the sharp screen it's a nice enough reading experience.
Other preinstalled goodies include SoundHound, for helping you name that tune, QuickOffice for viewing and editing Office documents, Mirror that utilises the front facing camera to help you put your makeup on, and Car Panel. The latter gives you a car friendly interface for accessing some of the phone's key functions that you may need when driving, like tying in with the Locations sat nav app. It's a nice touch but most of the features it links to aren't also optimised for use in this situation.
All told, as you may have gathered by now, HTC has gone to town on modifying the Android installation to take what is already the most capable and feature-rich smartphone platform to another level. Some of it is very welcome whereas other bits seem a bit unnecessary but overall this is still a device that should please any and all comers.
In something of a turn up for the books, the speaker on this phone is actually quite good, which isn't what we've come to expect from Androids. Call quality is also good, though not the absolute best.
We've only had the phone a day or so, so can't make a definitive judgement on battery life quite yet but with us having used the phone a lot over the last 24 hours the phone's 1450mAh battery has held up well and we expect it to deliver a fairly typical two to three days of average usage. We'll update the review accordingly when we've had a few more days to judge.
Sadly it didn't take log for us to realise the front facing camera is particularly poor quality, at least in poor lighting conditions. It suffices for video calling but notably the iPhone delivers a much more natural picture. The same can be said to a degree about the rear 5-megapixel unit. It gets the job done and the LED flash comes in useful but there are no records being set here – our sample shots look particularly nice simply because it's such a lovely day.
Finally we come to look at price and its here that the Desire S really starts to make sense. Priced at only £399 SIM free, it's a full £100 cheaper than most similar handsets. Obviously contract deals will vary but we would also expect to see this saving reflected in your monthly rate or upfront cost.
The HTC Desire S certainly isn't the flag bearer for a new era in super fast smartphones, with it lacking the headline dual-core processor. However, it is a well crafted, elegant, easy to use, fast and very capable smartphone that thanks to HTC's tweaks stands it apart from the Android crowd. Where it actually falls down is on a couple of mundane extras, namely the lack of a physical button for the camera, the quality of said camera and the lack of an HDMI output. Thankfully, these omissions are made up for in its price, which while not bargain basement is very competitive.