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HTC One S - Screen and Performance

By Edward Chester

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Screen

If the fixed 16GB of storage on the HTC One S doesn't divide opinion, the phone's screen is sure to. Ostensibly, it's superb. Its 4.3in size is large but still makes the phone more manageable than the likes of the HTC One X, its 540 x 960 pixel resolution, while not HD, is still fairly high, making for a fairly sharp looking panel, and the AMOLED screen tech is dazzlingly colourful and bright yet still retains the purest of pure blacks – there's no backlight bleed or greyness here.

However, there are three problems. The first is the colour accuracy of AMOLED. Yes, colours are dazzling but they also look over saturated, making everything look larger than life. Human skin, in particular can look decidedly red and blotchy. This screen is actually better than many AMOLEDs we've seen when it comes to this, but the effect is still there.

Secondly, when viewed from an angle, a really noticeable greeny/blue tinge is introduced to the whole screen. It's surprisingly obvious when you first pick the phone up, though we actually found it less and less of an issue the more we used the handset.

Thirdly, the screen uses a pentile sub-pixel arrangement. This means that for every pixel, rather than the traditional trio of red, blue and green pixels, you have alternating green and blue/green and red. This results in a couple of noticeable effects that can be quite distracting. The first is that borders between white and dark areas can have a red or blue tinge to them while the second is that these same edges can look a bit raggedy. Sounds a bit specific and nit picky? Well, where do you often get borders of light and dark? On text. And how often do you read text on a phone?

We generally find we really can't stand this combination of issues with pentile AMOLED screens but here the resolution is just about high enough that the effects are less noticeable day to day, and for the most part, the longer we used the phone the less we noticed it. That said, we'd still rather cope with the extra size of the HTC One X to get its magnificent screen.

Performance

The HTC One S runs a Qualcomm MSM8260A Snapdragon processor, which has a dual-core CPU running at 1.5GHz and Adreno 225 graphics. This chip uses the new Krait CPU architecture which is a marked improvement over the previous Scorpion Qualcomm chips used in the likes of the HTC Desire S. The result is one of the fastest phones we've ever tested.

HTC One S - Performance BenchmarksHTC One S - Performance Benchmarks 1

In any predominantly single threaded tasks, it absolutely flies, as demonstrated in our SunSpider and BrowserMark benchmarks. It also holds up very well in multi-threaded benchmarks, even out pacing the quad core HTC One X in some tests.

When it comes to graphics, the Adreno 225 chip doesn't quite reach such lofty heights but it still holds pace with the HTC One X's Tegra 3 chip and it's only this phone and the iPhone 4S that currently beat it.

HTC One S - Performance Benchmarks 2

What does this all mean in real terms? Well, quite simply the phone flies. From the little interface animations, through loading apps to playing games, there is simply nothing that really causes this phone to stutter. Several other phones will soon be arriving with this chip, as well as Tegra 3, but currently the One X and One S are the only two handsets in the UK that offer such performance, aside from the iPhone 4S of course.

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ShaunB

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 :-(

jgsm

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.

ShaunB

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.

Chris

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.

ElectricSheep

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?

Bugblatter

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.

piesforyou

April 17, 2012, 7:41 pm

The GS2 has no problems with having external storage.

Marky1

September 12, 2012, 6:27 pm

Anyone who is thinking of buying the HTC One S, i urge you to visit this website:
http://forum.xda-developers.co...

… 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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