HTC has produced a whole raft of great smartphones over the years with its more recent Android models picking up our recommended awards like they were free memory sticks at a tech trade show. Its latest offering is the HTC Desire S that doesn't pack in a headline grabbing dual-core processor, fancy camera, or ginormous screen but is a beautifully made, classy smartphone that should be high on your wish list.
As ever with HTC devices, the Desire S makes an unassuming entrance in its plain white box but as soon as you clap eyes on the device itself you know you're in for a treat. Largely wrapped in an aluminium frame, and with a sizeable slab of glass adorning the front, it just exudes class. Not that this is anything new for HTC, with its Desire, Desire HD, Desire Z, Legend and 7 Mozart, to name but a few, having proved the Taiwanese company knows how to make beautifully crafted handsets. Like the Desire HD, there are a few gaps here and there where you can see through to the circuitry below, which is a bit unnerving but we doubt this should cause problems in normal use.
Said aluminium is finished in an anodised black while two soft-touch black plastic sections on the back allow the internal aerials to do their job. Set into the top section of plastic is the camera, its flash, and the speaker while the bottom section slides off to provide access to the battery, SIM slot, and microSD card.
Due to the way this housing works, you can't hot swap SIM or microSD cards, so you will have to power down the device every time - a small grievance but a grievance nonetheless. The phone comes with a decent 1.1GB chunk of internal storage for storing apps on while the 768MB of RAM will help to ensure you seldom run out memory.
It's not just the overall design that pleases with the Desire S, it's the little touches as well. The bevelled edges that surround the earpiece and front facing camera have a touch of class while the silver strips that are the power and volume buttons feel solidly planted yet have a wonderfully light but defined action. On the left edge you'll also find a microUSB socket for hooking the phone up to a computer or charging via an adapter, while on the top edge is the now obligatory headphone jack.
Just below the earpiece cut out, and set into the glass surface, is a small LED that glows red when charging and flashes green when you've got a new message of some sort.
Below the screen, and also incorporated into the same sheet of glass as the display are the four standard Android buttons. Sadly they don't have the funky rotating feature of the HTC Incredible S, whereby they flip round to match whichever way you're holding the phone, but they're tidy and responsive. One slight inconvenience is that, because they're not physical buttons, you can't press one of them to activate the screen, leaving you having to always stretch to the power button to unlock the phone.
There are a couple of further slip ups as well. The lack of a dedicated button for the camera is the big let down as it means you're left to prod away at the screen when taking shots, which isn't always the easiest action to perform while maintaining a firm grip on the device. Also missing is a miniHDMI socket for piping video straight out to your TV. Frankly, the latter is not something we would miss as we don't really see the point of it but it's something some rivals, such as the Motorola Milestone Xt720, do offer.