HTC Desire S vs Apple iPhone 4: Smartphone showdown

Which is the better phone -- HTC's Desire S or Apple's iPhone 4?

HTC's Desire S is the successor to the original Desire, which is currently sold exclusively through Telstra in Australia

HTC's Desire S is the successor to the original Desire, which is currently sold exclusively through Telstra in Australia

The HTC Desire, along with the Samsung Galaxy S, is one of the most popular Android smartphones on the market in Australia. HTC has just lifted the lid on its hotly anticipated next-generation Desire, called the Desire S. Does it have what it takes to compete with the Apple iPhone 4?

Read our original HTC Desire review, and our Apple iPhone 4 review.

Techworld Australia feature: Nokia N9 vs. iPhone 4

Check out our detailed preview of the HTC Desire S and see our roundup of the best upcoming smartphones in 2011.

The HTC Desire S has a 3.7-inch SLCD display with a resolution of 480 x 800, a 5-megapixel rear camera that doubles as a 720p HD video recorder, a 1.3-megapixel front camera for video calls, and an aluminium "unibody" design that HTC claims makes it stronger than the original Desire.

With this in mind, how does the HTC Desire S stack up against the iPhone 4 when it comes to specifications?

HTC Desire S vs iPhone 4: Specifications

Feature Apple iPhone 4 HTC Desire S Verdict?
Operating system (OS) Apple iOS Google Android 2.4 (Gingerbread) Draw
Display technology Capacitive retina IPS SLCD iPhone 4
Display resolution 640x960 pixels 480x800 pixels iPhone 4
Multitouch Yes Yes Draw
Camera 5 megapixels, LED flash, autofocus, geotagging 5 megapixels, LED flash, autofocus, geotagging, image stabilisation Draw
FM radio No Yes Desire S
GPS Yes Yes Draw
Internal memory 16GB or 32GB 1.1GB iPhone 4
Expandable memory No microSD card slot Desire S
Dimensions 115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3mm 115 x 59.8 x 11.6mm iPhone 4
Weight 137g 130g Desire S
Application store Apple App Store Google Android Market iPhone 4
Processor Apple A4 Qualcomm Snapdragon (1GHz) Draw
3G networks HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100 HSDPA 900/1900/2100 iPhone 4
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 802.11b/g/n Draw
Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP 2.1 with A2DP Draw
NFC (Near Field Communication) No No Draw
HDMI-out No No Draw
Quoted talk time Up to 7 hours Up to 7 hours 10 minutes Desire S
Quoted standby time Up to 300 hours Up to 455 hours Desire S
Adobe Flash support No Yes Desire S

HTC Desire S vs iPhone 4: Design

HTC claims one of the best features of the HTC Desire S Android phone is its design; unlike its predecessor, the Desire S uses an aluminium "unibody" casing, the same design used on the HTC Legend and HTC Desire HD Android phones. HTC claims this construction makes it lighter but stronger than its predecessor.

The iPhone 4's stainless steel band (which also doubles as the phones antenna) is certainly intriguing, and at just 9.3mm thick, it remains one of the best built smartphones on the market.

The HTC Desire S Android phone features an aluminium "unibody" design.

HTC Desire S vs iPhone 4: Display

The HTC Desire S has a 3.7-inch SLCD display, slightly larger than the iPhone 4's 3.5in screen. Unlike the original Desire, which used an AMOLED screen, the Desire S has a Super LCD display; it is claimed to offer a clearer and brighter image, along with enhanced battery life compared to regular LCD screens, but doesn't offer the vibrancy of Super AMOLED screens like the Samsung Galaxy S.

Apple's iPhone 4 uses IPS technology (the same used on the iPad, and thanks to its 640 x 960 pixel resolution it has been described as a "retina" display, due to the human eye being unable to distinguish individual pixels.

HTC Desire S vs iPhone 4: Software

The HTC Desire S Android phone runs the 2.4 Gingerbread version of Google's Android platform, and features HTC's Sense UI overlay. This consists mainly of home screen widgets and applications, including the handy HTC Friend Stream, which aggregates social networking contacts from Facebook and Twitter, People, which combines all forms of contact with an individual in your phonebook, along with a weather widget that offers fantastic animations, including a windscreen wiper that swipes across the screen to wipe away raindrops. Android 2.4 Gingerbread also means the Desire S has a revamped keyboard, better copy and paste, improved power management, and a slicker user interface as improvements over previous versions of the Android platform.

The iPhone 4 runs Apple's iOS4 operating system. It offers a familiar swipeable home screen enhanced by folders, and the consistent Apple UI look and feel extending across all of the standard applications. If you have never used an iPhone before, you can expect a device that is easy to pick up and use, a well-populated App Store, and excellent multimedia capabilities. The iPhone's iPod integration ensures it remains one of the best music smartphones on the market, while mobile Web browsing is fast and efficient.

The HTC Desire S runs Android 2.4 Gingerbread.

Though the streamlined iPhone experience has won many fans, Apple's closed platform means the iPhone 4 doesn't offer the same flexibility as smartphones like the HTC Desire S. The iPhone has an inferior notification system to Android phones, and it doesn't let you customise and display live widgets on your home screen. By the same token, the iPhone interface and overall user experience are far more polished than what is currently on offer from Android phones.

The HTC Desire S will be exclusive to Telstra for three months after it launches, which is expected to be any time between now and June. A Telstra spokesperson also confirmed that there is an option to extend the deal beyond the initial three-month period.

Tags HTC Desire SApple iPhone 4samsung galaxy smobile phonessmartphonesAndroid 2.4 GingerbreadTelstraTelecommunications

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Dimensions Verdict: iPhone 4???
The Desire S has a 3.7inch screen and is almost the same size as the iPhone 4 which has 3.5 inch screen. - Fail



Not a bad 'at-a-glance' comparison, but it seems kinda inconsistent...

- Why should the Desire S win on Wi-Fi when they are quoted as the same?

- Why should iPhone win on Application store? Apple may have more apps, but the apps are generally more expensive and many of the same popular apps are available on Android market.

- Why does Camera list an extra feature for one phone (image stabilisation), but that's not a 'win'?



Operating system draw? I don't think so. Android is shared by so many phone manufacturers. When you get bored with iPhone (currently I have iPhone 3G) you can transfer you apps to other phone brands.

Bluetooth draw? Can use use iPhone 4 to exchange data with other phone brands?

App store draw? Can use port your iPhone 4 apps to other phone brands? NO. But if you currently have Motorola ANdroiod phone, next time you can buy Samsung android phone and you still can use you app.

Dimenison iPhone 4 win? I don't think so. I prefer 3.7" screen to iphone 4 smaller screen.

Display technology iPhone 4 won? I have seen iPhone 4 display a number of times in stores, I do not see 'huge' advantage over other HTC display technology.

How about music players? iTunes? Photo/multimedia displays? Iphone 4 has not improved over its predecessors iPhone 3 and 3 GS.



Telstra are not going to do an exclusive deal without it doing HSDPA on 850, obviously this is done with the European specs.

The original Desire was spec'ed with a 900MHz HSDP radio, but the Telstra version has an 850MHz radio, so I would be very surprised if the Desire S is not treated the same...

Other than that, I agree, what makes the Apple Store a win over the Android Market?

Personally I prefer the fact I can browse the Android Market via a large screen computer, select an App to install and have it on my phone without having to mess with cables. Also, that all my Apps are backed up automatically without having to connect to a computer as well.

Finally there's the warranty, HTC/Telstra have already stated they will honor the warranty for the length of the contract, where Apple so far have refused to.



Why do you keep comparing iphone 4 with newly released android. Definetely iphone 4 is old school and hardware wise is the loser, they can only brag with their pity app store? Stop comparing advanced phone with the iphone 4 .

Anonymous Craven


"HTC/Telstra have already stated they will honor the warranty for the length of the contract, where Apple so far have refused to."

Wow -- that's impressive. It says a lot about both Telstra's trust in HTC's build-quality and their long-term faith in Android's ecosystem.



Support is probably one of the important features, I believe. What happens if something goes wrong? I have found Apple offering excellent support. But Other phone comaniesn have been hopeless. What about HTC?



Let's face it - these sorts of side-by-side comparisons achieve very little other than to give the fanboys ammunition to restock their anti HTC or anti Apple arsenals.

At the end of the day people like what they like. These days the decision to buy a phone is no longer just made with the head using specifications and dimensions but with user experience and other intangibles.

Both HTC/Android and Apple have their die-hard fans who are equally as loyal as each other (often irrationally). And so, like an infatuated teenager once someone has found love, their darling can do no wrong in their eyes...

Anti Ash



Stop bringing logic into the comments section. This is a place for fanboys and trolls. Your type are not welcome here.



@Anti Ash

It's normal to lash out at others when loves cruel sting is felt...I take it your HTC just broke? Or did your iPhone run out of battery?



Both consumer BS......BUT Apple wins and will continue to win
for some time. Been ahead of the pack since early 80's and the pack have been chasing ever since. I'm a PC, open systems,
" FanBoy " but I haven't seen any REAL quality innovation from any company other than Apple for quite some time. As consumers we should be asking for more and as quoted before - unfortunate for some - Apple, leads while others just follow. Like wtf.....where's Nokia? playijg with big brother I'm affraid!



Technology is just technology, just pick the one that very useful for you, you will find that the world is just the same... people always bored about something.. they bored about the same think on iphone or on android or Blackberry or Windows, etc..
I think one day people will bored with the inovattion too, because its "always" innovated.. people dont like always...
-use your life as maximum as possible-



I've owned both the HTC Desire and iphone 4 and the clear winner is the Desire. Seeing as how the Desire S is a slight improvement over the original Desire, that's all that needs to be said.

Sujay Vilash


@ H - 02/03/2011. HTC's support is excellent. I had a Desire from Telstra with Android 2.1. I enquired about when HTC would release, via Telstra, the ROM for 2.2. They said they didn't know but would I like a phone when it is ready. I said yes and didn't pay too much attention. 3 weeks later I got a phone call from HTC telling me that Telstra's 2.2 ROM was available for download via HTC's website. They even stayed on the line to help me with instructions on how to install the new ROM. Brilliant I'd say.



As somebody with over 2K invested into music library I am really feeling the eco system lock down from apple. I would really like some simple functionality on the iphone but I don't think they are coming up with any real enhancements soon.

Apple often creates good ideas and then screws them up with their ego. Take the right click or window maximise button in OS X. They know it doesn't work but they are too proud to fix it.

Anyhow, are there any suggestions on how I can transport my media library to the android world?



Hi guys,
I'd like to add: Iphone (or for that matter any Apple product) does not support Flash based content, which these days is critical to diagrams, charts, animations etc that are common-place in business (eg. web based CRM applications) and leisure world. Android supports it well!
Verdict: Android ! :)) .. and therefore, HTC Desire S

stephen taylor


The argument is do you want to buy a phone that when you go to upgrade it you can choose from a huge range of handsets or would you prefer to commit to Apple. Right now there are powerful android dual core phones, the Iphone4 is simply not available in dual core. Even if the top android phones were a little but inferior they offer a far more open upgrade path. The fact they are more powerful makes the arguments for purchasing an iPhone seem like blind loyalty.



Which phone should I choice? i phone 4G or Desire S? clearly guide me. Thanks



IPHONE's are rubbish compared to any android phone. My wife has an iphone and I have HTC Desire she cant even send me a photo that she took on her phone via bluetooth. On IPHONE you have to pay for apps that are free on the android market.
Also on my Desire I have rooted it( unbranded) to take all of the Telstra associated crap off it and can and have installed several new roms. Now I have the gingerbread 2.3 rom on it which was leaked from HTC last month. Its fantastic.
In my opinion if you buy an iphone you just have your hands tied behind your back. They are so restrictive.
The only thing apple are better at is marketing their products.
If you try both phones i dont believe you would even consider an IPHONE.

Paul Clarkson


hmm i own the desire s and can say its a really good phone. But honestly iphone 4, considering its immense price difference shouldn't even be comparable to it. On my carrier the desire S is included in the text 500 tariff for £25 a month yet the iphone 4 you need to put an extra £250 down for the phone and pay the same for less of everything. That alone makes this a very unfair comparison. And the fact the desire holds up so well proves how over rated and over priced iphone really is. It should totally destroy it in every category. But of course its an apple product...



My guess is that every Android advocate is IT savvy, is probably in their late teens to early thirties, and is the go to guy at work for technology. Android probably wins in most categories BUT that's not what it's about. Apple stuff just work, easy and fun, have beautiful designs and make people feel great using them. As a former PC and HTC fan I rejoice in the day when my PC was stolen and my HTC get breaking down. I will never move away from my Mac, iPhone, iPad ecology unless Apole totally stuffs up

Marco Crowder


I own an iPhone 4 and my wife has a Sony Xperia Play with Gingerbread...

The only thing I really envy is the widgets capability on Android.

iPhone is fairly superior on every other row.



the HTC Desire S is OVER 9000!



I think this sight has been paid off by apple



I’m ashamed to be an Android user. So many Android users are whiney douchebags. I’ve owned an iPhone. They’re great phones. Remember what Android phones were like before the iPhone came along? Apple do good sh1t.
Get over it!



Regarding my HTC Desire S, just started turning it's self off. Not good enough since I recieved 4 messages, 3 of which were very important and the other from my son at 00:30 (yes 1/2 an hour after midnight), messages were sent from 18:00 approximatly. The guys at JB Hi-Fi were very helpful resetting the phone and fobbing me off, instead of replacing the phone, since it is under warranty. Spoke with my associates at work and it looks like I'll go to iPhone. Reliability is very important. Loved my HTC till yesterday.



Verdict: IPhone4 for applications store?!? Get your head out of your ass, Android has tons of apps and the majority of them are free, while Apple (as the tipical rip-off company they are) are selling the apps.



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