OK, we'll be the first to admit, we have yet to adopt the Android ecosystem and migrate over from our iPhones. We have nothing against the popular Google platform, there just hasn't been many options that caught our eye to want to make the jump. However, the team over at HTC have made some marvellous changes, as of late, that raised our eyebrows. With the introduction of their flagship line, entitled, "One Series", the company aims to reinvent itself in a forum that is always yearning for well designed products that are easy to use, and most importantly, reliable for those everyday needs.
The One S, the middle child of HTC's updated models, has enough attributes that are deserving of praise. We took one The One S and used it for the past few weeks to see if the grass is greener on the other side. Was the phone worthy enough to commit to for the next two or three years? We got to see how this smartphone stacked up, so let's take a look...
the HTC One S stands its ground, offering a slim design, a good browsing experience, and great camera & video options.
Plain and simple, the HTC One S is a phone jam packed with features, but the real meat and potatoes comes down to its camera and video capabilities, which is one of the best on the market. There aren't many phones out there that capture both video and photos simultaneously.
Although the design is sleek and simple, it does not come with expandable memory. So, if you capture a lot of videos and pictures, you better hope the 16GB internal memory will be enough. And in regards to the Beats Audio integrated technology, it is not... (are you sitting down?) significantly better than the sound quality of its competitors.
The HTC One S is an obvious upgrade from its predecessors, but does it hold up against Apple and Samsung? Although it is not a top-tier phone, when compared to similarly priced handsets the HTC One S stands its ground, offering a slim design, a good browsing experience, and great camera & video options.
The Nuts & Bolts
First off, depending where we were, the reception would drop off, but HTC quickly fixed the network reception issue with their latest update. So, if you already have this phone, make sure the firmware is up-to-date. If there is one feature we would say was two-folds above the rest, it would have to be the conversations over speakerphone. After all, who really wants to rock a bluetooth headset? We can confidently say, as much as we use the speakerphone when on-the-go or while hacking away at the office, the option of Apple's speakerphone hardly works before we inevitably have to switch back to the handset. But with the One S, not once did the recipient of the call know they were on speakerphone. Also, worth noting are the useful features this phone is equipped with. When the phone is flipped over during a call, the speakerphone automatically activates. The phone will also sense when it is in your pocket or bag, and ring louder to compensate.
After logging in a few hours of light talk time and heavy browsing, we were able to get a full day's worth of juice. Considering the amount of power that is needed for full use of its features, having a phone that is able to last from the top of the morning to the end of the day is quite standard across all smartphone platforms. But in terms of battery use, the One S still falls short... about an hour or so short of the average battery cycle. As for the charging time, we were able to get 0-100% battery charge in 2 1/2 hours.
We played the same Youtube videos, simultaneously, and compared both of it on the One S and our iPhone, and found only a very slight improvement over the latter. We wish we could say that the inclusion of Beats Audio made a difference when it came to the overall sound, but it hardly made a dent. Although, we did find out that if you plug your Beats by Dre Headphones into the handset, it will immediately recognize your equalizer settings. But if you don't own one, then it's a useless feature to have. Some countries (minus Canada and USA) came with pre-packaged Beats by Dre headphones, but if it means a price north of the suggested retail price tag, I'm sure people will agree that it's not necessary to have.
Although it doesn't boast a full HD viewing experience, the One S still has some good things to offer. First off, the size of this phone and it's screen is very comfortable to hold. Measured at a manageable 4.3", with a 960 x 540 amoled display, browsing on this device is good and while watching videos are not great, they're far from bad. The laminate screen allows for a nondisruptive viewing experience (no matter what angle), which is especially helpful when you're outside. Although the display falls just a tad short when put side-by-side to HTC's signature model – the HTC One X – it still stands tall against its older brother. But based on price alone, the market does off superior HD screens. Also important to note is the Gorilla Glass screen, which is tough as nails and is sure to withstand a drop or three for those rather, uh... wild nights.
In regards to sheer size, texting on the HTC One S with one hand is easy, which isn't something that can be said about some of the bigger handsets on the market. If you're not sure what we're talking about, pick up a bigger phone like the HTC One X and try getting around the OS with one hand. Just be sure to stretch that thumb first.
That being said, this phone's 4.3" screen is still larger than the iPhone 4 screen, but more compact than HTC's One X, which makes this phone the perfect size. However, as part of their custom "Sense" skin, HTC has installed a menu which pops up when you slide your thumb from either side of the screen. Although it took a few tries to get used to it, we did not like how it eliminated the traditional URL address bar up top and how, at times, the menu failed to appear immediately.
Another major selling point with this phone is the camera. Although there is nothing special about the front camera, the main rear-facing camera is worth bragging about. The HTC One S boasts an 8mp camera, which also has the ability to shoot videos at 1080p, alongside having a dedicated image processor (HTC ImageChip). This feature gives you all the more reason to leave your point & shoot at home. Hands down, one of the awesome gems this camera offers is the ability to capture video and photos at the same time. And if you are in low-light situations, the flash will adjust accordingly. Also, for those moments where you don't want to skip a beat, with one press of the shutter button, you can take up to 20 photos and easily pick and choose which image[s] you want to save or delete. This is all thanks to HTC's ImageChip which allows for super-fast shutter times.
First and foremost, in terms of speed, this phone is a fine upgrade. Thanks to its Dual-Core Processor, 4G capabilities and Rogers' LTE network, the overall experience was faster when compared to the iPhone 4. So when it comes to browsing or downloading, you're sure to experience one of the best browser speeds, by far.
And last but not least, not only does it have Android's Ice Cream Software, but it also has HTC's Sense UI overlay which offers a fluid experience and a lot of added bells and whistles, such as the pre-installed Broadband World FM Radio, amongst others. Another nice-to-have feature is the Ring Lock option. When the phone is in lock mode, you can simply drag the four icons (phone call, messages, etc.) found on the lock screen and quickly access any one of them within seconds. I'm a first time Android user, so I found no big difference with the HTC Sense UI.
With an aluminum body, trim build and a perforated speaker vent, this phone encapsulates a clean and sleek design. One drawback with the design is when it is laid on a flat surface. You may notice the back of the phone is arched in the middle, which of course avoids any scratches it would have gained if it was laid flat multiple times. However, the raised arch would not be possible without the phone resting on the camera, which protrudes out and may or may not have a serious effect of picture quality, depending on how well you take care of the camera lens. Unfortunately the choice of finish results in the body easily accumulating scratches, so you better make sure your keys are stored in another pocket. If you don't mind getting a case to protect your phone, then of course, it won't be a problem.
The HTC's One S is a great phone to consider, especially if you're a fan of the Android ecosystem and in search of a powerful camera that is loaded with a gang of practical features. Although the clarity of the screen is good, it still doesn't match up to other similarly-priced competitors, specifically, the Motorola RAZR, the HTC One X, and Apple's iPhone 4. And it makes us wonder, a year from now, as more online content is geared towards mobile handsets, will a middle-of-the-pack screen be enough to settle on? We will admit however, for a mid-tier level smartphone, the One S is one of the better ones, by far.
Point blank, this phone is a great pick-up, and as current iPhone users, we're not mad with this phone at all. However, with a price point not too far off from its superiors, and in this case, spot on with HTC's flagship One X model ($99 on a term), you would have to weigh if this is the phone you want to be committed to for the next 2-3 years.
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