The HTC One S features the same camera as the HTC One X, which is an 8MP model with a single LED flash. It's not a record-breaker in terms of overall image quality, with HTC still seeming to be slightly behind the curve when it comes image processing, but the app is great. HTC has put both the shutter and record buttons right on the main screen, so you don't have to switch modes. In fact, you can even take snaps while recording video and shoot loads of frames in a row at the touch of a button, so you can pick out the best shot. There are also a host of effective and fun filters, such as Sepia, Dots and Vintage, and a number of useful extra shooting modes, including a slightly iffy HDR one and a rather more impressive panorama one.
As ever, it's in low light that image quality is really shown up, with a lack of colour and a lot of obvious graininess. Again, this seems largely to be down to the processing HTC applies. A powerful LED helps considerably make up for these shortcomings within a range of two or three metres, though.
On a bright day colours are reasonably vivid though shadow detail is lost.
On a dull day the phone really struggles to pull and colour from the scene.
The panorama mode is useful and effective.
Despite the dull outdoor lighting, the HTC One S does a decent job of bringing these flowers to life.
Video can be recorded in up to 1080p resolution and the quality is pretty decent. Much the same rules apply as for stills when it comes to shooting in dark conditions but the LED helps out again at short range (its effect range is actually slightly less, at around one to two metres). Overall, particularly when viewed on a smaller screen you get a very acceptable picture. What's more you can apply a number of the colourising filters in real time. And did we mention you can take pictures while filming!
There's also an included Movie Editor. This lets you easily put together a themed video from your video clips and pictures. It works rather well though there are only three themes to choose from, which limits its usefulness considerably.
The HTC One S uses a 1650mAh battery that's not user replaceable. This is slightly larger than the average battery of last year's top Android phones, and combined with more cunning power management on the part of the phone's processor, battery life is noticeably better. We're still talking lights out after a couple of days (i.e. charge every other night) but at least you won't be forced to top up every evening.
The HTC One S is a really difficult phone to judge. On the one hand its plasma-etched and super-slim design, fast processor, decent screen and good camera all add up to make this a major improvement over top phones of last year and certainly competitive with many current handsets. But, on the other hand, that plasma finish may not be as tough as first thought, it only packs 16GB of storage and the AMOLED screen is far from perfect.
Ultimately, the only compelling reason to get this phone rather than the HTC One X (more storage, much better screen) is the slightly smaller screen on this handset. The One X's 4.7in frame is pretty large so the 4.3in One S is noticeably easier to grasp. But, it's not like the One S is exactly small anyway, so we'd still go for the bigger of the two.