- Beautiful slim but strong design
- Dazzling and colourful screen
- Incredibly fast processor
- Feature packed camera
- Matt black finish doesn't wear damage well
- Screen has iffy viewing angles and isn't as sharp as the best
- HTC image quality still isn't brilliant
- Review Price: £415.00
- 4.3in, 540 x 960 pixel AMOLED screen
- 1.5GHz dual-core processor
- Fast 8MP camera with 1080p video
Following swiftly in the footsteps of the HTC One X, the HTC One S sits in the middle of the company’s new trio of One branded Android smartphones. But while it may not be feature packed enough to perch at the top of HTC’s pile, there’s still potentially enough here to make this one of the choice phones of the moment.
Chief among the One S’ features is its design. At just 7.8mm thick, it’s the thinnest phone HTC has ever produced and it holds a candle to the best of them in this regard. However, far from being a flimsy phone that’s compromised by its slenderness, the metal chassis used here gives it a reassuring solidity.
As well as giving strength, the metal body looks great. The aluminium that makes up most of the back and that wraps round the edges has been bathed in a plasma field. This etches the surface, giving it a matt black (it’s more of a dark grey really) appearance, and a feel that’s similar to sandblasted metal finishes, though it’s a little rougher. Rather than being just a cosmetic process, though, this method of etching creates a surface that is four times tougher than traditional anodised aluminium, something that is immediately noticeable.
Some people have reported this finish as being overly slippery, and while it is quite smooth we haven’t found it any more difficult to handle than most other phones with a matt finish. Also, when flat on a surface the soft touch plastic bottom section provides a pretty good purchase so it won’t slip off – it’s a shame the camera lens sticks out in this regard.
However, while tough, this finish can’t perform miracles so for instance when we received our review sample there were already a few scuffs around the microUSB socket where the steel plug of the microUSB cable has scratched it. And during our time with the phone it picked up a large scratch on the back just from rummaging around in a bag. Clearly bad fortune played a considerable part here but it’s still a little alarming how easily this scratch was obtained and moreover how noticeable it is thanks to the contrasting silver of the aluminium shining through the matt black.
You can also get this phone in a graduated anodised finish. This looks just like a standard sandblasted, anodised finish but the colour fades from light to dark. It’s a beautiful effect, though you do miss out on the extra toughness of this plasma-blasted (micro-arc oxidised is the technical term) finish. Then again, what scratches it does pick up may be less noticeable.
It’s almost a shame then that the metal must be broken up by two sections of soft-touch plastic: up top around the camera lens, and at the bottom around the speaker. However, this is required to let the various wireless signals out, and overall it still looks very nice indeed.
On the front, HTC has performed a neat trick that gives the impression the screen curves round the sides of the phone, when in fact it’s a perfectly flat panel. They’ve done this be extending the strip of shiny black plastic that surrounds and protects the edges of the screen down the sides. It’s a bit of a cheat but it both looks and feels good.
Features and Connectivity
Features wise, up top you’ve got the headphone jack and power button while the left edge is home to the microUSB socket and on the right is the volume rocker that is finished in a matching matt black. Joining the main camera on the back is a single LED flash, and there’s a front facing camera too. And finishing things off are the three touch sensitive, backlit navigation buttons that sit under the screen. The whole lot throws up few surprises and ticks all the right boxes. However, our bugbear of not being able to unlock the screen without stretching to reach the top edge power button rears its head once again. That said, as the One S is a smaller phone, the problem isn’t as bad as on the HTC One X and you soon get the hang of it
Under the hood there has been one potentially major slip up, though. Prize off the small plastic section at the top (something that is easier said than done) and while you can add in your microSIM, you can’t add anymore storage or replace the battery. And with only 16GB of built in storage, this could instantly kill the appeal of this handset for many people, especially as only about 10GB of it is available to the user.
Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.