HTC Desire S - Keeping Desire(S) in Check

Launch SRP: S$688

Introduction & Design

Putting the S in Desire

The Desire S, overshadowed by an onslaught of other new HTC products announced at MWC 2011, has finally touched down on our shores. The new device joins a growing camp of Android 2.3-enabled smartphones, slathered over with the popular 2.1 HTC Sense UI. How does it stand out amidst its siblings?

While the other Desires in the family set out with niche features (Desire HD with its huge, built-for-entertainment 4.3-inch screen; Desire Z with its slide-out physical QWERTY keyboard), the Desire S seems to embody the essence of the first Desire - that is to offer a right balance between portability and performance.

The Desire S follows closely in vein with the trademark HTC unibody design.

On first impression, the Desire S feels extreme sturdy and well-constructed. This is unsurprising of course, since most HTC phones are usually aesthetically pleasing to the eye and designed for optimal functionality. The combination of aluminum, glass and a partially rubberized back lends the phone a very classic exterior as well as a good and non-slippery grip. We also noticed that the phone follows in the footsteps of its unibody peers while retaining a diminished version of HTC Hero's signature chin.

The front's real estate is covered by a large slab of Gorilla glass over a 3.7-inch LCD screen that adds on to its resistance to wear and tear. As with most touchscreen phones, the Desire S faces the same problem of attracting unsightly fingerprints; however, this can be easily rectified with a non-glossy protective screen cover as mentioned in our HTC Incredible S review.

HTC has taken a departure from the original design of the HTC Desire, with the Desire S encapsulating the unibody design of their later phones such as HTC Legend, Desire HD and Incredible S. In fact, the handset looks like a smaller version of the Desire HD, albeit with rounder edges. 

On the front, we spotted two notable differences between the Desire S and its predecessor: the former features an additional VGA colour fixed focus front camera, and industrial-inspired grille speakers.

The positions of the 3.5mm headphone jack and power button remain largely unchanged. Situated on top of the phone, the power button has been swapped in favor of a silver and classy strip that's roughly the width of an index finger which makes for comfortable pressing.
Like the power button, the volume control is fashioned as a thin silver strip. However, it is accompanied by a micro-USB port, which was formerly positioned on the bottom of the Desire. Both are located on the left profile of the mobile device. As with other HTC Android phones, the camera button is sorely missing on either sides.
The phone is also stouter and shorter than its predecessor, due to the removal of the physical controls and optical trackpad. They are replaced by a panel of touch controls, which were easy to use. Unlike those on the Incredible S, these controls are clearly demarcated.


Like the HTC Legend, the HTC Desire S features a safety clasp situated just below the battery compartment that helps keep things in place. The downside is that you have to power down your device every time you want to swap your SIM or microSD cards.

Overall rating 8.5/10
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The Good
Sturdy aluminum build
Acceptable battery life
Smooth user experience
The Bad
Lackluster camera capabilities
No groundbreaking improvements

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