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HTC One S - Camera, Battery Life and Verdict

By Edward Chester



Our Score:



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.

HTC One S Camera - Outdoor Skyline Good Lighting

On a bright day colours are reasonably vivid though shadow detail is lost.

HTC One S Camera - Outdoor Skyline Dull Lighting

On a dull day the phone really struggles to pull and colour from the scene.

HTC One S Camera - Outdoor Skyline Panorama

The panorama mode is useful and effective.

HTC One S Camera - Outdoor Plants

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.

Battery Life

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.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Camera 7
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 9
  • Screen Quality 8
  • Usability 8
  • Value 8
Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


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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