HTC Desire S review:

HTC Desire S

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
Typical Price: £400.00
Compare These
4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars 20 user reviews

The Good Fantastic unibody design; HTC's Sense user interface keeps getting better; smooth performance.

The Bad Some of the specs are outdated; no HDMI output.

The Bottom Line The HTC Desire S isn't the most powerful Android smart phone on the block, but it offers a terrific design and intuitive software. Overall, it's a seriously appealing device.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.3 Overall

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That seems to be the thinking behind the HTC Desire S. It's very much an evolution of last year's massively popular Desire. Instead of attempting to massively outperform its predecessor, the Desire S simply builds on what has gone before to create a thoroughly accomplished Android smart phone.

The HTC Desire S is available for around £25 per month on a contract, while SIM-free prices hover around the £400 mark.

Metal case

The original Desire was hardly an ugly device, but the Desire S makes it look positively dumpy by comparison. The Desire S boasts an aluminium 'unibody' chassis, like the HTC Legend. That means its entire body is machined out of one complete piece of metal, giving it a reassuringly solid feel. There's a plastic slide-off cover, so you can insert a SIM card and external memory card, but this takes up only a small part of the casing and doesn't really affect the phone's robust build quality.

The Desire S' unibody design means HTC has had to be inventive when it comes to providing SIM card and battery access, but the solution is elegant.

While the Desire S' new bodywork makes it feel like a completely different phone to the original Desire, the same can't be said of the touchscreen. Its size and resolution remain unchanged, at 3.7 inches and 480x800 pixels respectively.


Those of you expecting something along the lines of the Desire HD's massive 4.3-inch touchscreen will be disappointed, but 3.7 inches will be enough for most people. The screen may not rival the iPhone 4's razor-sharp display in terms of resolution, but it's larger in terms of size.

Although the screen hasn't changed, the buttons which run along its bottom have. Instead of physical keys, the Desire S has touch-sensitive buttons, similar to those seen on the Google Nexus One and Nexus S. Another alteration is the removal of the optical trackpad, although we can't imagine many people will shed a tear about this -- we've always found this sort of trackpad rather redundant on Android handsets.

Snapdragon chip

Beneath the gorgeous aluminium exterior, the Desire S offers only a handful of improvements on its predecessor. The Snapdragon processor remains clocked at 1GHz, but this time it's a second-generation model and is aided by 768MB of RAM. This ensures a smoother, faster user experience, but, in terms of raw power, the Desire S is outmatched by the raft of dual-core monsters that are making their way into the market, such as the LG Optimus 2X and Motorola Atrix.

The physical buttons and optical trackpad have been removed in favour of touch-sensitive controls.

Although it may not be the most powerful phone on the block, the Desire S is up to date in terms of software, running Android 2.3 Gingerbread. This means the phone benefits from a whole host of embellishments, such as better memory management, myriad performance boosts and built-in video-call capability. The latter function is facilitated by a front-facing camera that sits alongside the earpiece at the top of the handset.

Sense user interface

Sitting atop Gingerbread is HTC's proprietary Sense user interface, seen here in its 2.2 guise. Few could fail to be impressed by Sense's intuitive and useful functionality. Unlike some skins from other manufacturers, it makes genuine improvements to the default Android software.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

  • Samsung Galaxy S7

    Starting at: £1.40
    4.5 stars

    We reviewed the new Samsung Galaxy S7 in London, Berlin, San Francisco and Sydney. It's...

  • Apple iPhone 6S

    Starting at: £27.05
    4.5 stars

    The 2015 iPhone added 3D Touch, a better camera and a faster processor. But the even newer...

  • Motorola Moto G4

    Starting at: £199.00
    4 stars

    The G4 packs everything you need from an everyday phone into a water-resistant body. And...

  • Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

    Starting at: £22.00
    4.5 stars

    With flagship specs compressed into a small body, the Z5 Compact is the best mini Android...


Discuss: HTC Desire S (black)

Conversation powered by Livefyre