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HTC One S review

Verdict

A fine screen and camera backed up by surprisingly powerful hardware make for an excellent mid-range handset

Review Date: 22 Jun 2012

Reviewed By: Mike Jennings

Price when reviewed: Free, on a £21.00 per month, 24 months contract.

Buy it now for: £216
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

HTC tends to get as much use as possible out of its names - just look at its eight variants of the Desire if you need proof - so it's no surprise to see more phones arriving with the One moniker attached after the barnstorming debut of the One X.

The phone in question sits just beneath the One X in the HTC range, and it’s dubbed the One S. The most obvious difference between the two models is the physical design: while the One X's chassis is milled from a single block of polycarbonate, the One S is assembled from a variety of aluminium parts.

HTC One S

While this makes the One S less innovative and striking, we can't fault the build quality. This is still a very sturdy phone that feels strong in the hand, and it looks like a smart bit of kit.

There’s less innovation when it comes to the components inside too. The One S doesn’t share the quad-core Tegra 3 chipset of its stablemate, instead relying on an older Snapdragon one. Specifically, it's the MSM8260A, only previously seen in Asus experimental Padfone and an obscure ZTE handset; it has two cores that run at 1.5GHz. Graphics power comes from the Adreno 225, and storage is provided by 16GB of memory inside the phone, with no expansion slot for adding additional capacity.

On paper, it sounds like the One X and Samsung Galaxy S III have nothing to worry about, but benchmark tests reveal the One S is an extremely capable handset. In Quadrant the One S scored 4,717, which isn't far behind the One X's 4,927; is within touching distance of the S III's 5,413; and far ahead of the 3,205 scored by the similarly affordable Sony Xperia S.

HTC One S

In the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, the One S's 1,824ms result was actually better than the 2,071ms result of the One X and further ahead of the 2,611ms result of the Sony - although, again, the Samsung's 1,430ms pace trumps the lot. Our final benchmark, the battery test, saw the One S retain 60% of its 1,650mAh power pack after our 24-hour test; a decent result that's on a par with the best handsets.

The One S is an extremely slick handset in use. There's no hint of stutter when navigating HTC Sense 4's multitude of homescreens, and high-end games are all playable: top-end titles such as Modern Combat 3 and ShadowGun exhibited a tiny bit of slowdown, but not enough to put us off.

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User comments

Expandable Memory

Any thoughts on the fact that it only has 16GB of memory, with no room for expansion?

By Peter_Tennant on 22 Jun 2012

Not rivals...

"The biggest shortcoming, on paper at least, looks to be the resolution of the screen, which at 540 x 960 pales next to the 720 x 1,280 panels of rivals"

The One S is aimed as a midrange phone and is therefore less well specified than the One X.

It is a bit like saying a Ford Focus boot pales in comparison to a Ford Mondeo.

By big_D on 22 Jun 2012

Old processor?

The MSM8260A referred to was launched this year. It is virtually the same as the processor in the US HTC One X and Galaxy S3.The only difference being network support.

By tirons1 on 22 Jun 2012

had one for a month

I've had one for a month and love it. Great build quality, fast response and does everything i need.
may not be top end but IMHO it does everything one needs from a smartphone just now.

By smokinscots on 22 Jun 2012

Problems with this on Vodafone

All the HTC One phones have major problems on the vodafone network. We purchased one last week and couldn't get a very strong signal. Vodafone have confirmed that none of the HTC One phones work well on its network.

By dwmoook on 23 Jun 2012

That's a lie as I have no issues with my One X on Vodafone. Although mine is the SIM-free version, not the network-branded one

By EddyOS_2K9 on 23 Jun 2012

Problems with this on Vodafone - More Information.

Here is some evidence to backup my claim. Please don't call me a liar - you don't know me. I am just warning people of a potential problem that Vodafone themselves have admitted too.

http://forum.vodafone.co.uk/t5/HTC-One-Series/HTC-
One-S-poor-signal/td-p/1088617

By dwmoook on 23 Jun 2012

I wasn't calling you a liar, I was saying that there are no issues. There may be isolated problems but if it was an issue then Vodafone would pull the phone. That thread is for the One S - that's not ALL One series phones is it? My One X, and a lot of others with it, have NO problems at all

By EddyOS_2K9 on 23 Jun 2012

Doh!

Actually I think the review my be wrong about the processor?

Up until now the phone has shipped with Snapdragon S4 processor aka Krait.
Which is based on a newer ARM architecture and in most cases is
faster than the previous gen Dual/Quad Core processors such as the Tegra 2/3, Exynos 4210 (Galaxy S2).
These phones' SOCs are based on a 40/45 nm process compared to the 28 nm process of the S4.

My Wife's One S is going close to 48 hours without a charge compared to barely 16 she
got of her Desire. In many markets (including the UK?) the processor is being replaced with the older
S3 processor found in the Sensation/Sensation, this is due to manfacturing issues at Qualcomm.
I think this will definitely be a backwards step.

However - I have just gotten off a long phone call with Talk Mobile Customer Service and the CS
advisor told me that *all* UK Network have major issues with this phone and it's connectivity.
That they are pressing hard for a fix/replacements from HTC - though there is no clear response as of yet.
He may have been exagerating, but he was clear that Talk Mobile are having huge problems with this
handset on the back of their recent promotion. We've gotten a months line rental back and a promise to
look at a replacement handset in a month if the issue has not been resolved by that stage.

The Talk Mobile deal with people sharing their problems with the poor signal
http://www.hotukdeals.com/deals/htc-one-s-16-per-m
onth-24-month-contract-carphone-warehouse-1237500?
page=15

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snapdragon_(system_on
_chip)#Snapdragon_S3

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exynos

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tegra#Tegra_3_series

By FixYourForms on 23 Jun 2012

@FixYourForms

Glad to see you confirm my earlier post. The manufacturer is actually TSMC.

By tirons1 on 23 Jun 2012

Doh again!

@tirons1 so it is and apologies for my misunderstanding.

By FixYourForms on 24 Jun 2012

£20 a month including handset? Where?

Great review, sounds a great product, so I looked on Orange to see how much and they want £36.
3 want about £29 a month - so where can it be bought for £20 a month?
Not much point saying so in the review if you can't then [grumble grumble]
Help appreciated.

By Tony_Yeah on 28 Jun 2012

Great phone, no network problems!

I've had an HTC One S for nearly a month on the O2 UK network with no connectivity problems at all. It's a great phone, amazingly quick response, good screen and some cool apps pre-loaded.

By jfs1969 on 28 Jun 2012

£20 a month?

Come on Jennings - tell us the secret.
"The One S is affordable, with free handset deals on £20-per-month contracts with 500MB of internet access."
Where? More like £29 for that.

By Tony_Yeah on 29 Jun 2012

£20 with £149 upfront.

Essential Internet 100.
250MB
100 minutes
5,000 texts
24 months
> Price details.
> See other plan options.
£20
a month.
£149 upfront cost

By roberttrebor on 3 Jul 2012

Serious screen problem

Before you consider buying this phone beware of the serious screen problem affecting many people with this phone and not just on vodafone, on any network, i am on O2. The phone will randomly switch to the home screen repeatly making the phone unusable. Most annoying when you are trying to make an urgent call, trying to type a message or using sat nav!, look at the examples on utube under, htc one s home screen problems. After many months HTC have still not fixed this problem making this £120 phone unusable.

By mark14017 on 29 Sep 2012

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