Full metal jacket: we review the HTC One S

Using the phone, we found very little lag when doing the regular combination of web surfing, playing with apps, messaging, and browsing through the menu screens. It’s quite a responsive little device, even if it doesn’t have quite the same speed as HTC’s flagship One products.

The high-speed zero shutter lag eight megapixel camera we saw in the One X and One XL is here as well, offering a very capable shooter with some of the best camera software to appear on an Android installation. HTC still seems to lead the other manufacturers, with a very friendly and easy to use camera that offers full HD 1080p video capture, and support for high dynamic range images, panoramic photos with automatic stitching, and retro effects.

HTC’s front camera is a little underwhelming, sticking you with a VGA quality camera if you ever engage in Skype or other video calls, though we haven’t had many video chats on a mobile phone yet ourselves.

A comparison of two shots, the left shot with the automatic mode on the camera, the right shot with HTC's HDR mode for high dynamic range photos.

Battery seems about normal for most handsets these days, offering roughly a day to a day and a half of use, with our test activities split up between playing games, making phone calls, sending messages, social networking, web browsing, and even providing a touch of wireless hotspot access.

Voice calls were clear and loud too, although we’d have preferred a better keyboard. While HTC seems to have a leg up on competitors for the camera software, its keyboard is neither as strong as the Swype keyboard offered by other manufacturers as an extra, nor is it as capable as the stock Android 4.0 keyboard made by Google.

We’re also a little surprised by the third soft button on this handset, acting as the task switching button. We almost never use this function, and would have preferred the menu option ourselves.

Like the other One handsets we've seen this year, there's no microSD slot.

One thing that concerns us is the lack of memory, with no microSD expansion and around 10GB of space left over. While that’s still a fair chunk of storage left, you’ll have to balance this between apps, games, photos, videos, and music, with no way of increasing the capacity with a microSD like on other devices.

There’s also a bit of risk in chipping the paint job on the metal back, as we noticed shortly in using this phone.

Heaven forbid you ever drop the handset, but if you do, expect to find metal scratches and chips shining back something silver instead of the almost metallic greyish green that the phone normally is surfaced with.

If you take advantage of all the fix-ins, like social networking, web surfing, calls, and WiFi hotspot mode, the One S will last a max of a day (left). Use the phone less, and you could grab a day and a half easily (right).


HTC’s One S proves itself to be a decent little handset, packaging good looks, solid build, and some decent performance in a relatively small package.

If the bigger 4.7 inch screens are a touch too big for your hands or you’re not keen to spend big, you may want to check out this offering from HTC.

Value for money
Reader Rating0 Votes
Slim and light; Feels very solid; Excellent camera;
No upgradeable memory; Metal back is painted and will chip if dropped;