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Full metal jacket: we review the HTC One S

By Leigh D. Stark | 10:55 am 19/07/2012

HTC’s “One” series of phones has been doing the rounds lately, grabbing great reviews and raves about solid build, excellent speed, and a top notch camera.

Now we have a sibling wearing a metal jacket and carrying a less expensive price tag on plans. Is it just as good as the other members of its family?

Features

First announced in February at Mobile World Congress in Spain and later earmarked for local release at the end of June, the HTC One S attempts to package a similar dual-core processor from the One XL into a phone featuring a 4.3 inch screen.

Measuring 7.8mm thin, the One S is one of the slimmer handsets the company has released this year, coming in a full one millimetre thinner than its flagship brothers.

It also does away with polycarbonate casing, replacing it with a unibody one-piece aluminium chassis, but with sections carved out of for the screen, the speaker at the bottom rear, and the camera and microSIM section at the top rear protected by a removable piece of plastic.

While metal is the material of choice, it’s been painted with a special process called micro-arc oxidation, which HTC says is harder than anodised aluminium and stops you from needing a protection case.

Next up is the screen, with a 4.3 inch Super AMOLED display offering a qHD resolution of 960×540. It’s not quite the same high definition display as seen on the other One handsets, but it should be good enough for most people, as it’s higher than the 800×480 resolution most handsets had last year.

Corning’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass is protecting the screen, as per usual, so there’s some more resistance if you accidentally drop the handset or keep it in the same pocket as your keys.

Under the hood, it’s a 1.5GHz dual-core processor with Adreno 225 graphics chip, 1GB RAM, and 16GB storage, running atop Google Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Connectivity is standard fare here, with 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP, GPS, and a microUSB port on the left side of the handset for charging and moving files over. You won’t find any Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology here, however, unlike the other One handsets.

The rear camera has been borrowed from those handsets, though, with an 8 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash, f/2.0 lens, and 1080p full HD video. A camera also sits on the front, but it’s merely a VGA camera.

Beats Audio software is also included in the package, now working with pretty much any pair of headphones you plug into the 3.5mm headset jack on the top.

Three soft buttons sit on the front, now standard with HTC handsets, providing the back, home, and task switcher buttons. Physical buttons can still be found on the handset, with the power button up top and the volume rocker on the right side.

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Price (RRP)

$No outright; Available on plans from Optus, Telstra, and Vodafone

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Slim and light; Feels very solid; Excellent camera;

Product Cons

No upgradeable memory; Metal back is painted and will chip if dropped;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Design

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