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HTC One S - Maps, Apps and Multimedia

By Edward Chester



Our Score:



Being a Google Android handset the HTC One S of course comes packing GoogleMaps as well as Google Navigation. The former is as good as you would expect with excellent satellite and map views, the latter of which includes isometric views of buildings in those locations that support it. You can also add traffic and terrain layers to really get to know the area you're in. Meanwhile Navigation provides a free competent sat nav interface for providing directions while driving.

GoogleMaps, good...

HTC Locations, not so much.

However, HTC annoyingly forces its own Locations app on you when following address links from a contact or email. Locations is a reasonably competent app that usefully provides offline maps – you don't need an internet connection to use them – but it's certainly not the app we'd recommend as a default. Thankfully you can switch back to GoogleMaps with the help of this app.


Other extra apps include HTC's video download service, Watch. It's not a class leader in its field and of course requires signing up to yet another account but it has a surprisingly good selection and is offering a regular roster of films for just 49p at the moment.

Other positive additions include integration of the online storage service Dropbox. Not only does this allow you to access your Dropbox files through core apps like the Gallery but it also means you can upload straight to the service. In fact, you can even set it to automatically upload all your newly snapped photos as you take them. What's more you get 25GB of storage space free for two years, where the standard free amount is only 2GB. It's one of the best value-adds we've seen in this recent age of manufacturers slapping extra services onto their handsets.

When it comes to downloading extra apps, the Android MarketPlace… sorry, Google Play Shop, is getting better and better. Not only does the new interface make finding apps even easier but the selection is very impressive. The vast majority of core useful apps like Dropbox and Instagram and many of the current gaming favourites (Where's My Water?, Draw Something, Angry Birds Space) are available. There are still a few holes, and iPhone still tends to get stuff first but equally the openness of the Android platform means there a many, many more things you can do with an Android phone that an iPhone or Windows Phone can't.


With no microSD slot you have to plug the phone into a computer to load it up with your media files. Thankfully HTC doesn't make this a chore by forcing any extra software on you – Motorola take note – so you can just drag and drop. There is an option to install HTC's sync manager if you like, though, and it's a perfectly decent way of backing up your phone content while adding your multimedia. You can also either share your phone's 3G connection with your computer via USB (though you'll have to have the option enabled on your contract) or use your computer's connection on your phone.

Out of the box, support for esoteric media file types is limited, so for instance mkv files won't play. But with the help of the plethora of video and music playing apps available (DICE player and MX player for instance), you can pretty much slap any file on this handset and it'll playback smoothly. Something that remains a huge appeal of Android over and above iPhone and Windows Phone, where it's much more of a chore to do this.

Given the dazzling screen and fast processor, playback quality is excellent. There's still an argument for saying the screen's a little small for using as your primary media player on a long haul flight, for instance, but we happily watched a movie on it.

Google's Play service also provides easy access to movie and book downloads with a comprehensive and reasonably priced selection of both.

As for music, the 7Digital download service has been added, which is among the better download music offerings going. We particularly like how the service is, along with SoundHound (a service that listens to the world around you and identifies songs that are playing) and TuneIn internet radio, integrated into the main music app, for quick access. As with most Android handsets, and notably not on the iPhone, you get an FM radio too.

Of course we couldn't finish talking about this phone's audio capabilities without mentioning the Beats Audio branding. Well, actually we just about could because it does very little. It's just a software EQ setting that's only applied when using headphones or a Bluetooth connection. The profile just adds a load of bass, and you can't customise it. Just buy some decent headphones, we say. On some contracts you may be able to get a bundled free pair of Beats headphones, but it's not a guarantee. Oh, one final thing. HTC, please make it so earphones/headphones don't crackle when you unplug them or plug them in!

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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