HTC Desire S Review

Launched just last month, the HTC Desire S is an attempt to refresh the original HTC Desire and hopefully bank on its popularity and accolades. Check our full review of the Desire S after the jump and see if it lives up to expectations.

Before moving forward, I suggest reading up on the HTC Desire review here first so you’d understand why this is an impressive handset during its time.

The Desire S came out about 10 months after the original Desire so expectations are a bit high, so much more that the Desire HD is also in the market and could compete with this one in terms of price point. The first Desire is still being sold at a much lower price though that model is already in its end-of-life (EOL) stages.

One would actually think that the Desire S is just a refresh of the Desire with a Super LCD instead of the original, more expensive and scarce AMOLED display. Oh and they dropped the optical trackpad altogether which makes the Desire S shorter compared to the Desire.

At first glance, the Desire S specs resembles that of the original Desire. The changes are not that huge — a later version CPU running at the same 1GHz speed, a bit more RAM, more internal storage and a front-facing VGA camera. The Desire S also comes with Android 2.3 out of the box while the Desire has yet to get 2.3 until now.

HTC Desire S specs:
3.7 inches S-LCD touchscreen @ 480 x 800 pixels
1GHz Scorpion processor (Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon)
Adreno 205 GPU
768MB RAM, 512 MB ROM
1.1GB internal storage
up to 32GB on microSD
HSDPA 7.2 Mbps, HSUPA 2 Mbps
Bluetooth 2.1 w/ A2DP
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
5MP autofocus camera w/ LED flash
720p video recording
Front-facing VGA camera
Stereo FM Radio w/ RDS
GPS with aGPS support
1450 Li-Ion battery
Android OS 2.3 Gingerbread

The improved GPU and the upgrade to Gingerbread makes the Desire S more fluid and snappier. The inclusion of a front-facing camera now allows the handset to make 3G video calls.

The S-LCD screen on the Desire S holds its ground pretty well and is comparable to AMOLED. In fact, unless you scrutinize it very thoroughly against an AMOLED screen, you’d hardly notice the difference. But remember, the later versions of the original Desire also swicthed to S-LCD due to the low supply of AMOLED displays.

The Desire S feels more solid due to its unibody design and materials used. The protrusion at the bottom is less prominent and the tapered edges give it a thinner look and lighter handling.

This should make the phone much more durable than previous designs so you may be able to save yourself some money and use your old cell phone accessories while skipping out on buying a new case.

Battery life is just the same as the other previous HTC handsets. Can do close to two days on normal use and around a day when considerably hooked up to 3G or WiFi (but that’s expected of any Android smarpthone).

Like most other HTC handsets, the built-in camera is decent — not very impressive — but usable, especially on well-lit conditions. It’s a department that HTC has not really mastered thru the years. HD video recording at 720p is actually good and follows the same quality with the old Desire.

The biggest problem the HTC Desire S is facing right now is timing and price-point, with much more weight on the latter. With a suggested retail price of Php25,990, its closest competitors are the Sony-Ericsson Xperia Arc and the LG Optimus Black. The Optimus Black offers similar specs at much lower price while the Xperia Arc is a couple thousand bucks more expensive but offers a bigger screen. sleeker design and impressive camera (I did a round up of the three units here earlier).

With some price adjustments, the Desire S will still hold its ground considering HTC’s reputation on making solidly-built Android handsets.

Update: You can get the HTC Desire S at Top Electronics ( for Php21,700 in cash.

Disclosure: Review unit provided by Top Electronics.

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Avatar for Abe Olandres

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech with over 20 years of experience in the technology industry. He is one of the pioneers of blogging in the country and considered by many as the Father of Tech Blogging in the Philippines. He is also a technology consultant, a tech columnist with several national publications, resource speaker and mentor/advisor to several start-up companies.

47 Responses

  1. Avatar for Pepper Orange Pepper Orange says:

    Which is better the htc explorer, htc desire c, or the samsung galaxy y? in terms of performance, UI,camera, and awesomeness…
    please reply soon:)))

  2. Avatar for TECHIHUNT TECHIHUNT says:

    Desire S is a very well executed refinement on a formula HTC knows well, which deprives it both of any glaring faults and of any standout features. It’s not novel, it’s not surprising, it’s just very, very good.

  3. Avatar for bofrank bofrank says:

    I have this phone kaso parang nagtataka ako sa screen/display bakit medyo off white ang white background nito. Then my sis bought samsung galaxy w then i compared the two cp. although same sila ng resolution at pixel density IMO mas ok ang screen ng samsung. Mas ok pa nga dapat ang screen ng htc dahil SUPER LCD ito, galaxy w uses a regular LCD lang…. SIR ABE ANY COMMENT BAKIT GANITO YUNG SCREEN NG DESIRE S KO? add ko lang Samsung Galaxy W is a very good phone, ayaw ko lang talaga yung cheapish feel nito compared sa Desire S na IMO Premium feel. THANKS

    • Avatar for Abe Olandres Abe Olandres says:

      That should not be the case. Have you tried returning your handset to the vendor and have it checked?

    • Avatar for bofrank bofrank says:

      sir salamat po sa reply. hindi ko pa na try na i-return sa vendor, nabili ko po ito sa online store. sir based sa screen specs ng dalawa, miski same sila ng resolution at pixel density, dapat ba mas superior talaga yung sa desire s dahil S-LCD ito? salamat sir!

    • Avatar for bofrank bofrank says:

      ^^mas superior sa screen performance, or may mga ibang factors din po? tnx

    • Avatar for Abe Olandres Abe Olandres says:

      Yes, dapat mas okay ang SLCD.

  4. Avatar for HCG diet plan HCG diet plan says:

    Thanks for this great information! I really appreciate this. I actually let my husband have a look and he posted a link to it on his blog :)

  5. Avatar for Marvs Marvs says:

    How does one make 3G calls on the Desire S as stated above? I can’t find the option for it. Thanks.

  6. Avatar for bart bart says:

    i like the desire s in kodiak grey. Why is there no kodiak grey color in phil’s stores right now?

  7. Avatar for Pep Pep says:

    i wish i could have one :/

  8. Avatar for Digger Digger says:

  9. Avatar for nexusboy nexusboy says:

    this is really nice! but i’m upgrading my HTC Nexus One to Samsung Nexus S which I can now get it in GLOBE! :)

    • Avatar for greenacres greenacres says:

      please inform me if you have weak signal problems with the samsung nexus s. ive had mine for 3 weeks and the gps / wifi antennas are very weak. have a workaround though.

  10. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    Can someone help what fits best for my budget of around 30K? Iphone 4 or what android phone. Hindi ako regular user, hindi ko palang kc nttry IOS. kung mas ok ba siya sa android? if not, anung android phone maganda..ang dami kc choice..thanks

    • Avatar for iReply iReply says:

      If you have the money, I suggest you go for an iphone 4. iOS is still better than android. Only reason why android is a nice alternative is because its cheaper than apple products.

    • Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

      Thanks for the reply, actually, iphone is my first choice but specs wise, the main advantage that I can see with the fruit is the retina display only. Other than that the iphone is in par or inferior with the latest android phones in the same price range. In terms of software, i cant decide if which is better when the # of appz available on their own appz store will be the only factor since I did’nt experience the iOS yet.

    • Avatar for iReply iReply says:

      Other than the upcoming Galaxy S2, I still would choose the iphone 4 over any smartphone in the 20k and above price range. Build quailty is unmatched and apps made for iOS are still better than their android counterparts.

      It’s also easier to justify spending 30k on a premium product such as an iphone rather than spending it on gadget which has uber specs which you won’t probably need and whose price would depreciate in a few months.

    • Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:


    • Avatar for jaiconruedas jaiconruedas says:

      There is no better OS. Apple is not an exception. It’s a matter of preference. I assumed, you preferred to kissthe ass of Steve Jobs’s ass. It’s smooth and always expensive. :)

    • Avatar for jaiconruedas jaiconruedas says:

      sorry for my grammar! haha

    • Avatar for hendrick hendrick says:

      dude, don’t compare the specs. just try both out.

      trust me, usability trumps specs, all the time.

  11. Avatar for intersectRaven intersectRaven says:

    I already know of the thread in XDA and the results are inconclusive. Some suggests it to be a software problem and that the phone is still connected to the WiFi even if the bars go to zero. Some says it completely disconnects.

    It still is a great phone though although I would agree that if you have a Desire, it doesn’t warrant an upgrade to the S version.

  12. Avatar for Noir Noir says:

    I saw it being sold at 22k already.

    I am still waiting for my Huawei Ideos……

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