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HTC One S...The absolute best Android smartphone you can buy
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HTC One S…The absolute best Android smartphone you can buy

The first thing that struck me was HTCs new low environmental impact fully recyclable packaging..white compressed paper with a black and white sleeve containing the product information. Minimalist yet still stylish.

 

 

 

Out of the box the HTC One S is reminiscent of my last fave..the HTC Sensation..same  4.3″ 960×540 screen..but way more stylish..the phone’s body seems to wrap around to the front of the phone..the Gorilla glass goes right to the edge and covers a bright Super Amoled screen.  Considering it is basically a slab of Gorilla glass the front of the One S exudes style and class..the speaker is two lines of tiny pinholes  with the front camera to the left. Very classy looking.

The back of the phone is a slab of aluminum with a plastic cap that removes to expose the micro-sim card slot..nothing else..no removeable battery, no slot to add external memory..that is the price you pay for such a thin device. The Aluminum unibody is an incredible  7.8mm thick..the thinnest phone HTC has ever made and top to bottom the thinnest phone you can buy.

Unlike its thin competitors the HTC One S does not feel plasticky or cheap..this is one solid device that looks good and feels terrific in the hand and the specs are top drawer too.

OperatingSystemAndroid™ 4.0 (ICS) + HTC Sense™
Processor1.5 GHz Dual Core Qualcomm MSM8260A
Memory RAM1 GB DDR2
Memory Storage16 GB onboard storage
Display4.3″ qHD Super AMOLED960 x 540
NetworkHSPA 42 Mbps
Wi-Fi®802.11b/g/n
Battery1650 mAh, Embedded
Camera(Main): 8 MP, f/2.0, BSI, Single LED – Smart Flash, ImageChip 1080p HD Video with Stereo Sound (Front): VGA (640 x 480)
AudioUniversal Beats Audio
Dimensions130.9 x 65 x 7.8mm(8.9 for camera lens)

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with Sense 4 flies on this phone..I am glad to see HTC remove some of the bloat that seemed to creep into every new version of its popular interface. Sense 4 covers ICS slightly but keeps the good features of the new OS. Scrolling was as smooth as silk and apps opened quickly and ran without hiccups. Then there is the 4.3″ Super AMOLED screen..it just pops and the size is perfect for my small hands.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TifcEWQlywE&feature=g-upl

The front camera is a pretty pedestrian VGA unit that does the job for video calls..but the rear facing camera is something else..With ImageSense HTC One takes as good pictures as a point and shoot digital camera. HTC has upgraded every part of the camera, including the lens, the sensor, the software, and even integrating a new custom HTC ImageChip. These enhancements combine to deliver almost instant  image capture, best image quality under adverse conditions and a simple to understand interface that allows quick access to capturing stills and videos with side-by-side photo and video capture buttons. You can even shoot a still picture while capturing video..quite amazing. The fast f2.0 lens lets you take great pictures in even challenging lighting conditions and the camera also includes HDR, a market-leading technology, for taking great photos even when there are varying levels of brightness. I am quite impressed with this camera..in fact all the images in this review were shot with this camera. HTC is also pretty sure you will be impressed as well and offers up this challenge:

HTC Challenge

How did you do? Let me know in the comments section below..I feel quite comfortable leaving my point and shoot at home and using this as my prime camera for snapshots. My only complaint..I would love to have a dedicated camera button for such a great picture-taking machine. This is certainly the absolute best camera on an Android device and while I found still picture quality on the iPhone 4s about the same, the HTC One S blows it away on HD Video and overall versatility and features..it just more fun to use. In other words this is the camera phone to beat. Look at these pictures and a video I shot during a major thunderstorm..dark as it was look at the detail of the waves of windblown rain and the colours of the flowers. The still of the rain was shot at the same time as the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7W7E7x_zX1E

The HTC One S features Beats Audio..but does not include a Beats headset. I tried it out with my Bose headset and found the audio quality to be very good..but quite frankly I didn’t notice a heck of a lot of difference between the various audio enhancement and/or Beats selections..perhaps a different headset or different music selection would provide different results.

At the risk of sounding like a HTC groupie..this is the best smartphone I have ever used..it beats every other phone hands down..Styling is minimal but the slightly curved unibody design gives the One S a touch of class not found on other phones..it feels nice and solid in the hand even though it is as light as a feather at 119 grams. Phone call audio quality in both directions is excellent with plenty of volume available from the speaker for calls, ringtones and notifications. The improved audio quality was especially noticeable on Bluetooth connections. The screen is super bright with nice contrast and is even readable outside on a sunny day. So if you want the best smartphone you can buy the HTC One S is the device for you.

 

The HTC One S is available in Canada from Telus, which is the carrier I use,  Bell, Virgin Mobile, SaskTel, Fido and soon from Rogers..You can also buy it at Future Shop and Best Buy as well as Black’s camera stores across Canada, the price ranges from $99.99 with a three year plan up to $569 with no plan. In the US it is $199.99 with a two year plan at T-Mobile..$599.99 with no plan

Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

4 Comments
  • trev

    Good review, nice to see the older generation population use the latest phone technology.

    May 30, 2012 at 2:27 pm Reply
  • blue

    Great article. The phone is wonderful but make sure you buy a case and insurance. My screen cracked from a minor bump with a coffee cup. Still works fine (in fact got a 51MB update this morning).

    June 20, 2012 at 9:56 am Reply
    • Bob Benedetti

      Thank you for the comment. I’m surprised about the screen..it must have been defective to start with..I have dropped my naked One S twice already with nary a scratch. The T-Mobile update looks interesting..how did it go? Did you notice any improvements?

      June 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm Reply
  • blue

    Hi Bob. I can’t see too many changes with the update. My phone is now showing version 4.0.3. I shrunk the androidpolice article here – http://tinyurl.com/7fyne3f
    Highlights:
    •Resolves goodbye splash not appearing when powering off due to low battery.
    •Resolves voicemail indicator not appearing while using Wi-Fi calling.
    •Improvements to Wi-Fi Calling (this is good because Wi-Fi calling was fuzzy for me)
    •Improvements to camera stability
    •Resolves signal fluctuation.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm Reply

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