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HTC Desire S review: HTC Desire S

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(Credit: Alex Kidman/CBS Interactive)

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(Credit: Alex Kidman/CBS Interactive)

Performance

The Desire S is HSDPA-capable, offering download speeds of up to 14.4Mbps depending on network conditions. Our experiences with Telstra's network suggest that you're more likely to hit higher speeds than on some other networks, but that's still a highly variable matter; in our ad hoc testing with the Speedtest.net Android App we hit averages in the 3Mbps-6Mbps range, testing in the Sydney area.

The underlying guts of the Desire S are identical to the Desire HD, and indeed the Incredible S; you get the same Scorpion Snapdragon 1GHz processor, 1.1GB of internal storage and 768MB of RAM. As such, its core benchmark scores in Smartbench 2011 and BrowserMark follow those phones pretty closely indeed, although its BrowserMark score was a little lower than we'd like.

BrowserMark benchmark results

  • HTC Desire S
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc
  • HTC Incredible S
  • Samsung Nexus S
  • Longer bars equal better performance 30323 37971 36946 36458

What this comes down to in real-world usage is that the Desire S is a moderately snappy performer for most smartphone tasks. In our testing, we rarely hit application lag, and we found that the phone responded well to our commands. Again, though, we did miss those physical buttons, finding the touchscreen buttons less friendly; your preferences may vary.

In terms of battery life, the Desire S' 1450mAh battery doesn't buck the trend of smartphones to last around a day and not much more. We found that (not shockingly) if we used the hotspot feature to feed data to other devices extensively we could rather quickly exhaust the battery and warm our pockets quickly at the same time, but otherwise, sensible, normal usage should see you through the day without too many problems.

Overall

When we first set eyes on the Desire S, we were concerned that it might play something of a second fiddle to other HTC phones such as the Incredible S, and that's an impression that's stuck with us for the most part. The Desire S is an evolution of the Desire concept, but against phones such as the Incredible S, it struggles somewhat to stand out. Where last year the Desire was the leader of the pack for a surprisingly long time, this year the Desire S sits more in the middle ground, especially against the new wave of dual-core Android phones that are just starting to hit the market. The pricing of the phone, both in contract and outright purchase, reflects this reasonably enough; it's not priced like an absolute top-end smartphone, so expecting one would be unwise.

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