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HTC One S - Android 4.0 / HTC Sense 4.0 Interface

By Edward Chester



Our Score:


Android 4.0 / HTC Sense 4.0 Interface

One of the big appeals of the HTC One series of handsets is that they're shipping now with the latest 4.0 version of Android. In contrast the Sony Xperia S still runs a previous version, while most other handsets set to run the new software simply haven't come to market yet.

The performance enhancements of the update combined with the speedy processor make for a pretty slick experience. There are a few older handsets that are getting the Android 4.0 update (including of course the Samsung Galaxy S2), but rollout is proving slow and performance and stability is variable. Here there are no such problems, though.

Visually, the whole interface has been tweaked to move away from the futuristic Tron style of vanilla Android 4.0 to a more sedate look that should be familiar to existing HTC owners. Overall it's a style we quite like and for the most part it's slick and easy to use, though ideally we'd like the option to simply switch back to a standard Android layout if possible, though that complaint applies to almost all non-Nexus Android handsets.

Starting from the top, on the lock screen you can access one of four apps, saving you having to unlock the phone then find the app – great for getting to the camera quickly in the absence of a dedicated hardware button. You can also have the lock screen show a choice of your latest photos, notifications, appointments and more.

Once unlocked you're greeted by HTC's long loved clock/calendar/weather widget, and there are a healthy selection of other widgets to add to the seven homescreens. Pinch you fingers together and you can see an overview of all your homescreens.

HTC One S Widgets

Organising the phone's homescreens is incredibly easy on this handset. Not only has Android 4.0 made creating and managing folders of apps easier – just drag and drop like on iPhone – but the interface for adding widgets is great. All the homescreens are shown along the top while below are rows of widgets shown in a useful thumbnail size that allow you to see what they look like properly.

Swipe down from the top of the screen to bring up your notifications and while you can't access quick settings for things such as turning off WiFi (as you could on old HTCs), you can jump straight to the main settings app. HTC has also meddled with the Recent Apps menu – that which is opened when pressing the bottom right button under the screen. This has been changed from a very easy to use vertical scrolling list of small thumbnails to one that has enormous thumbnails that are too large for quickly scanning your apps, and the scrolling action is awful too.

Along the bottom of the screen are four fixed icons for the dialler/contacts manager, email, text messages and camera, which surround the central main menu button. Unlike previous HTCs these icons can be changed to whatever apps you like.

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February 27, 2012, 6:58 pm

This was my big hope to replace my trusty, if ageing, Desire when its contract is up in a month. But no SD slot and only 16GB!!! No chance. It sounds like a fantastic phone but I need >32GB for my media library so I'm gonna have to look elsewhere :-(


February 27, 2012, 11:07 pm

ShaunB - I think you're heading for a world of pain of you're looking for a new phone with expandable storage. The only one that I've read about so far at this year's MWC is the low-end HTC One V. i think this feature is very much on the way out, as much of a shame as it is.


February 28, 2012, 1:30 pm

Tell me about it! But I'm sure I won't be alone. My phone gets used most on my long daily commute. Cloud storage really is pure vapour on a 70 MPH train going through tunnels! On board storage is a must.


April 16, 2012, 8:24 pm

All of these new handsets with non-removable storage are configured to have the same partition accessible to both user storage and to system storage. The advantage of this is that it does away with the limited app space issues common to Android phones of old. It also improves security, with support for features like full disk encryption, and it improves reliability as crucial system data can't be physically removed from the device.

It seems that all of the phone makers have followed Google's lead and decided that usability and security trumps versatility. That's not a surprising choice - I'd bet that most users don't even use 8GB of storage, let alone 32GB, and the manufacturers know it.

As jgsm says, non-removable storage appears to be the future of Android. This is sad, really. I'd like an SD card slot *on top of* my 16GB of internal storage please, even if it's just for storing media. I know, I'm demanding, but I'm a consumer.


April 16, 2012, 11:12 pm

I feel your pain.

I seems as if the most the mobile technology world is regressing slightly at the moment; mobile data is getting more expensive and more limited, micro SD cards are vaporising from spec sheets, battery life is stagnant at best (and more often than not, non-user replaceable) & handset prices are just obscene. (compared to what £4-600 can buy you in other areas of technology).

Just as a teacher can only teach as fast as the slowest child, markets will respond to the greater sales. So, I blame iPhone buyers. ;)

Best getting an unlocked SGS2 in my opinion, or if you can wait a few months, maybe the SGS3 or 'New' Galaxy?


April 17, 2012, 12:19 am

I'm glad I'm not alone in bemoaning the demise of expandable storage.

As long as one high-end phone offers it we can vote with our wallets ans show them they need to give us the choice.

When no-one offers it we're stuffed.

If they're trying to improve stability then I wouldn't mind if apps could only go to internal storage. I do however want as much storage as I can get for my media.


April 17, 2012, 7:41 pm

The GS2 has no problems with having external storage.


September 12, 2012, 6:27 pm

Anyone who is thinking of buying the HTC One S, i urge you to visit this website:

… or just google 'HTC One S home screen button problem'.

I have had two handsets, both have been affected by this problem. The phone become unusable in low signal areas. Hundreds of others have been affected but HTC has done nothing about it.

Please look in to this before buying the phone. I wish I had!

Domain Rider

September 18, 2012, 3:31 pm

I love this phone, with some very minor reservations about battery life and its ability to function in weak signal areas. It feels good, has a great screen, it's fast and smooth in operation...

I would give it 5 stars if it wasn't that it has a crippling bug, known as the 'Home Screen Button Problem'.

This bug appears, seemingly at random, in weak signal areas, when the phone is switching between signal types, and causes the home screen button to act like it's being pressed repeatedly. This kicks you back to the home screen from whatever app you're using, and disables the capacitive buttons until you manually lock then unlock the phone. The main annoyance for me is that it makes using satnav apps while driving a complete lottery - if you get out in the country with low signal coverage, you'll be stopping every few minutes to get the satnav back after this bug strikes.

Many users have returned their phones for repair or replacement, but find the phones they get back begin to suffer the same problem after a few weeks. It's a great shame, but this is a fatally flawed phone at present.

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