The Android 4.0-powered HTC One S arrives in the US on April 25, and so far reviews say this phone is the Android device to beat in 2012. Reviewers are going gaga over the phone's camera, battery life, responsiveness, design, and sound. However, not everyone is thrilled with the device's storage size or the usual bloatware that manufacturers and carriers love to add to new Android handsets. Here's a quick round-up of what the reviews are saying about the HTC One S.
But First the Specs
The HTC One S features a 4.3-inch qHD Super AMOLED display with 960-by-540 resolution, a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 16GB onboard storage with no expansion slot, an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera with 1080p video capture at 60 frames per second, front-facing camera for video chat, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, micro-USB 2.0 (5-pin), and DLNA compatibility. The device also features the usual HTC additions such as the Sense UI overlay (version 4), Beats Audio, and (available on all HTC One series handsets) 25GB of free Dropbox storage for two years. The One S is running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and available on T-Mobile for $200 (after a $50 mail-in rebate) and a new two-year contract.
Love that Camera
The most popular feature by far on the new One S is the handset's 8 megapixel camera featuring 1080p video capture at 60fps. PCWorld's Ginny Mies said the camera lived up to HTC's boast that there was virtually no shutter lag allowing you to take a series of photos relatively quickly in burst mode. Engadget called the camera "fantastic" and BGR's Zach Epstein said, "The quality of the images the One S captures is among the best I’ve seen on a smartphone." The new camera's software also features some Instagram-style filters, but from the sounds of it you're still better off using apps such as Instagram for Android and Pixlr-O-Matic.
The One S may be a dual-core handset living in a quad-core world, but that doesn't appear to be a problem for its responsiveness. Engadget said the One S is "one of the fastest phones we've ever used," and CNET said "Menus, apps, and images opened with pep, and animations that give many other Android handsets trouble were buttery smooth."
PCWorld's benchmark tests found the One S to be faster than the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, our formerly top-rated smartphone.
HTC's investment in Dr. Dre's Beats Electronics appears to be paying off for the company in terms of sound quality for its smartphones. The One S reportedly has superb Beats Audio integration for enhanced music listening. GigaOm said "music sounded richer and louder" on the One S, thanks to Beats integration. "Beats signal processing has a dramatic impact on sound quality; more so than equalizer functions on any other smartphone, in my opinion," said Epstein.
One of the biggest downsides for the One S is the bloatware that T-Mobile and HTC thrust upon users. Some of it will most likely be welcome, such as Dropbox integration, but other things including T-Mobile Mall and T-Mobile TV may not be welcome. Engadget said most of these apps cannot be uninstalled, but Mies said you could at least disable most of these annoying add-ons.
HTC doesn't appear to be willing to give up its user interface overlay known as Sense, but the consensus appears to be that Sense 4 is not as annoying as its predecessors. "Gone is much of the fancy eye candy, such as the perpetually spinning carousel of home screens," CNET said. GigaOm called Sense 4 "refined and intuitive, making it easy to figure out most of the phone’s functions."
"Sense 4.0 is much subtler than previous versions of the interface. The company has cleared out a lot of unnecessary icons and text that cluttered older versions of Sense," Mies said.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment for reviewers was the fact that HTC decided to go the "iPhone route" with the One S by sealing the battery and deciding against an expansion slot. Most critics, however, found the battery life to be great. "I am able to get well over 24 hours of use out of the One S on a single charge," Epstein said.
PCWorld has yet to complete a full set of battery life tests for the One S.
As for storage, you only get 16GB onboard with no option to expand that capacity with a microSD card. That is unusual for an Android phone, so critics are warning prospective One S users to consider this factor carefully before purchasing the device. On the upside, at least you won't suffer through those annoying warnings that your phone's onboard storage space is getting low as often as you do on SD-expandable phones.
HTC's One S is a winner as far as the critics are concerned, but we'll have to wait until next Wednesday when the handset hits the streets to see how Android fans react to HTC's latest smartphone.