HTC delayed the launch of the One S in India for a pretty long time. Though the exact reason is not known, it feels like HTC didn’t want the One S to cannibalize the sales of the One X, since benchmarks on the Internet proved that the S4-powered One S trounced the Tegra 3-powered One X in several tests. It’s no secret that the Indian version of the One S will have the S3 SoC instead of the S4 and the reason behind this is that Qualcomm isn’t able to produce enough number of S4 chips to satisfy the global demand. But is this really a deal breaker to the average consumer? Let’s find out.
HTC One S video review
The HTC One S is a well rounded smartphone
Design and Build
The One X-inspired design gives the One S an extremely sexy and streamlined look. This is hands-down one of the sexiest phones in the market and you’ll fall in love with it the moment you hold it in your hands. It’s incredibly slim at just 7.8mm and light as well, weighing just 119g. The ceramic shell is very smooth to the touch and feels durable as well. The black version is the one with the micro-arc oxidation process while the others simply have a gradient finish. Just like the One X, the Gorilla Glass overflows on either side over the edge which adds to its visual appeal. In the front, we just have the row of capacitive buttons and a front facing VGA camera while the sensors are hidden behind the black bezel.
There’s only a microUSB port and a 3.5mm headphone jack for connectivity, along with the power and volume rocker buttons. Coming to the rear, we have an 8MP camera with a single LED flash along with the speaker grill at the bottom. The flap around the camera is removable, which is where you insert the microSIM card. There’s no expandable memory card slot so you’ll have to make do with the 16GB onboard. Just like the One X, the battery is also non-removable which could be an issue if you want to use a bigger battery pack. Overall, I was really impressed with the design and build of the HTC One S and also favour it over the One X, mostly due to the fact that a 4.3-inch screen is a lot more manageable than a 4.7-inch one.
Gradient effect makes it stand out from the crowd
Speaking of the screen, we get a Super AMOLED display with a 960 x 540 pixel resolution so text, images, icons appear sharp and crisp. You get nice saturated colours, although at times it can be a bit much, and really deep black levels. One small issue we faced was the purple fringing, which is most prominent on grey backgrounds or when the backlight is self-adjusting the brightness. You’ll notice this when you launch the Play Store and some other apps with a grey background but otherwise, it’s not visible in photos or video. This is not a defect of the screen but rather a side-effect of the Pentile display technology. The One S comes with Android 4.0 along with Sense 4.0 skin running on top.
A familiar interface
The interface is smooth as one would expect and all the animations and swiping through home screens and menus are very quick and smooth. Like I mentioned at the outset, the One S sold in India (Asia in fact) and some European countries will have the Qualcomm S3 SoC instead of the S4. Now for the average user, you really won’t be able to tell any real difference in performance, however, the one area that is of concern is the battery life. The S3 MSM8260 is built on the older 45nm fabrication whereas the S4 MSM8260A uses the smaller and more power efficient 28nm fab process. This not only lets it run cooler but also requires less power to function.
A good performer (Click for a larger image)
Apart from this, the S4 also has an Adreno 225 GPU instead of Adreno 220, supports dual-channel memory and manages to cram in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios along with 2G and 3G radios. The beefed up GPU is said to offer roughly 30-40% more performance but for most 3D games, it’s unlikely you’ll notice the difference. As you can see from the graphs however, the S3 is still a very capable SoC, scoring high across the board. If you’re finicky about the CPU bit then your only option right now is to source it from the US or other places or simply wait it out till Qualcomm can ramp up their manufacturing process.