HTC Desire S Review

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.

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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47 Responses

  1. benben says:

    first! nice phone!

  2. Mat says:

    CMK is only selling this at 21.7k.

  3. Doc Harry says:

    HTC has always been at the high end of the price spectrum. I think they are comfortable enough with their reputation and market share to not change this tendency. Won’t be holding my breath, but I do hope prices settle down a bit a few months after market entry. The LG Optimus Black looks good, so we’ll see if HTC gets my nod for a Droid phone this year.

  4. htc yeah says:

    well almost all ph online stores has this for 21.5k or more… i think they dropped the price of this phone cause of the death grip for its wifi connection, and the starting age of dual-core phones, but this is pretty much still a great phone, i wish it has a red version, i really love the read color of the form/casing of htc.(wildfire/incredible s)

  5. htc yeah says:

    ooops sorry ” i really love the red” LOL

  6. blair says:

    what htc sense version is installed on this thing?

  7. YuYu says:

    i have this, its a really great phone.
    however, there’s actually no 3G video call out of the box.
    you need 3rd party apps & a data connection for it to work.

  8. Zo says:

    it’s a great revamped look. no qualms on that end.

    Really, my only problem with this device is the price, which you really can’t blame on HTC. They’ve always been pricey, even in other countries.

    But like what others said, with all the buzz on more powerful droids, i wouldn’t go for this phone JUST BECAUSE, a couple more bucks would get me an Xperia Arc.

  9. Windmill says:

    This phone is very considerable in terms of specs and solid build. but i think XPERIA Neo can be better to this phone with a lower SRP. Too bad neo is not yet released in our country. :)

  10. William T says:

    A bit pricey at this time. Even at 21k. LG Optimus Black is 19.9k with possibility of another 3k off if you avail of their online promo. Samsung Galaxy i9003SL is less than 17k at some stores. Both are comparable in specs to the Desire S. All three features 1Ghz processor and 4″ screens.

  11. Bimboy says:

    No mention of the “Grip of Death” in Wifi? hmmm… Kindly confirm this :)

  12. YuYu says:

    @Bimboy, What that “Grip of Death”? WiFi gets disconnected?
    Never had that experience.

    @Zo, i prefer this phone. the Arc looks so thin and fragile. also has fewer RAM.

    @William, btw the Desire S sports a 3.7″ display, and not a 4″ one.

  13. “Grip of Death”? I think that’s the iPhone you’re talking about there and even if it is or isn’t, it’s common sense that when you grip a phone wholly that you cover the antenna which affects reception a bit. It would only be noticeable or even critical if your reception is already flaky in the first place.

    My friend has this phone and overall, I can really vouch for the construction. Dual core is really more of a marketing strategy right now as the apps aren’t multi-threaded yet to take advantage of it.

  14. Mikhail says:

    It looks like my nexus one without trackball he he. Not much of an upgrade if you have the original desire. I believe custom ROM for gingerbread is already available.

  15. Marl says:

    grip of death, yes, try to google it. i have that phone, very nice except for that grip of death thingy. also, i don;t see any use of that front cam, excpet for mirror? lol

  16. wongski1 says:

    For anyone who’s reading this. What would you suggest for a first android phone? The Desire s or Optimus black?

  17. Bimboy says:

    I am Pretty sure Im talking about the Desire S, iPhone’s grip of Death is on its 3G antenna, Desire S is on its WiFi. I don’t have a Desire S, but I can confirm this, I even tested this out in some stores and for a Desire S near a router to be losing its signal to a mere 1 bar, that’s something. Just imagine that you are holding the Desire S in landscape mode, you will surely cover the Antenna. In my case, thats just 4 fingers and not my palm. Yes, the Desire S is a great phone overall, but that should also be taken into consideration, and most importantly, Mentioned in this review. Let’s just hope HTC fixes this one soon.

  18. Bimboy says:

    hands down, go with anything with an “HTC” on it :) so its a Desire S IMO :D

    But yes, O-Black is a good phone, but if you’re to weigh it against a more prominent company, HTC in this case, you should lean more on HTC :D

    Unless you want an Entry Level Phone, go with a LG Optimus One.

  19. no need to upgade to desire s if you are a desire user

  20. I like the features of the phone, it’s new and other features is duplication to other.

  21. Noir says:

    I saw it being sold at 22k already.

    I am still waiting for my Huawei Ideos……

  22. 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.

  23. 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

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • Anonymous says:


    • 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. :)

    • jaiconruedas says:

      sorry for my grammar! haha

    • hendrick says:

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

      trust me, usability trumps specs, all the time.

  24. 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! :)

    • 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.

  25. Pep says:

    i wish i could have one :/

  26. bart says:

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

  27. Marvs says:

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

  28. 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 :)

  29. 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

    • yuga says:

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

    • 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!

    • bofrank says:

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

    • yuga says:

      Yes, dapat mas okay ang SLCD.

  30. 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.

  31. 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:)))

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