back to article HTC Desire S Android smartphone

The revised version of HTC’s more than capable Desire offers an updated look and runs Gingerbread, the latest Android 2.3 OS. What the Desire S brings to the mix is a faster, more responsive handset with improved keyboards and video calling options, all for a reasonable price. HTC Desire S Android appeal: HTC's Desire S …


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  1. Code Monkey
    Thumb Down

    "the card capacity you get with the handset will depend on the network or supplier"

    Shite customer service much, networks and suppliers?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    There is NO NFC on this phone either

    Wake up El Reg, this is the second phone you said is NFC ready but it actually isn't!

    Just because they come with Gingerbread, which would support it doesn't mean they have the hardware for it!

    In this case HTC even said "the extra bulk an NFC module would introduce wasn’t worth it given the limited availability of NFC services."

    1. PaulR79

      Read carefully

      I was going to point it out too but I re-read the section and it's saying that Gingerbread has NFC abilities, not the phone. It's a little confusing and could be worded better.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Is it?

        " the Desire S runs on the latest version of Android for handsets, which offers future-ready enhancements like NFC"

        Could hardly be more clear (and false)? Maybe I'm missing an ElReg2English dictionary.

        If they were not saying the phone had it why mention it at all?

        I think journalists were a bit too tipsy after the launch because has the same mistake.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Meh! Soft buttons

    What is it with most android phones going the soft button route?? They're crap and they don't work as well as a hard button does.

    1. Steve Evans

      Re: Meh! Soft buttons

      I can't say I've tried hard buttons as my Desire Z has soft ones too which I don't find a problem, but to who started it, I think you'll have to take your argument up with the fruit themed company

    2. Benny

      HTC Desire

      My HTC Desire is starting to have problems with the back button, it's less than a year old, normal use, but its just not being recognised as much as it did. Perhaps thats the reason?

    3. JC_

      Hard Keys Break

      The 'menu' key on my year-old Desire is now a bit flakey and can take a few presses before it responds. Pressing it really hard isn't going to be good as eventually it'll need a stylus to work!

      Also, when you're in bed it'd be nice to use your phone without clicky-noises annoying your partner.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Living the HTC desire

    I got a HTC desire a few months back opting for the standard version over the HD version..

    reading this review, I think I would have still made the same choice, and opting for the older (and cheaper) version. All the new stuff appears to be stuff that I would just not be interested in using.. the faster cpu would be nice, but every app I throw at the phone now all work fine. maybe in a years time there will be some really stunning games to play that would benefit from the extra core.

    as for the camera. the stock camera software is not good on the old version, but after a trial of camera360 I paid for the premium version, which gives much better results than the stock camera app. (also, get a phone camera lenspen).

    as I rooted my desire there are plenty of options to update the ROM software and there are already roms available based on gingerbread and am sure there will be version ported from the desire s to the desire any time soon... I rooted mine to get rid of the customisations that three dump on the phone and reverted to a stock HTC rom. then I found ROM based on a stock desire, but that wll use some of your SD card memory space as system memory to get around the poor limitations on available memory for apps. even on this new desire-s system memory will still be limited !

    still,,, the HTC desire is a class phone, the phone that every iphone user if they are honest wishes they had got !

    Mines the one wit hthe phone in the pocket that I decide what it can and cant do !!

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      HTC Desire is a nice phone

      It does have faults though, namely very poor internal storage (Android 2.2 helped stretch the space but it's still tight), some annoyances with Sense, barely functional HD recording, and a shockingly bad screen in sunlight. Maybe they switched the screens later on but I can barely see mine outdoors.

      Overall it's a good phone but it's not perfect. Sounds like the Desire S does alleviate most of those issues and I think I would prefer it even for a bit more money.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        the poor internal storage is someowhat fixed if you root the phone and install Starburst, the stock HTC desire rom, but with added support for Data2SD.

        you partition your SD card to give a fat23 primary partition and a ext4 partition. the size you specify is set up to appear as though it is internal memory. My particular desire has 1GB of internal space available for apps.

        never had much of a problem with the HD video recording, but I do agree, in strong sunlight the screen is all but useless...

        and @ the original ash, sorry, but I sometimes cant help myself when it comes to apple

    2. The Original Ash

      Ooooh so close!

      You just HAD to spoil it with those last two lines, didn't you? You went from informative and unbiased information to frothing Apple-bashing Android fanboy in two lines... Such a shame. There are HTC phones running Android which are now being vendor-locked, so it's really no more open than the iPhone (which you can jailbreak).

      Disclosure; I've used HTC phones since the Himalaya (2004) and have been part of the XDA-Dev community throughout, so I'm as likely to bash Apple as anybody. Just not when I'm trying to extol the virtues of my handset of choice. It's a "you must be a terrorist if you don't agree" way of thinking.

  5. Richy Freeway

    The old Desire had...

    The old desire had the volume lowering when picking up the phone, or silence on flip over.

    The original is still the best android phone IMO. Get shot of the HTC crap and install a clean Gingerbread ROM like Oxygen and it's an awesome piece of kit.

  6. JDX Gold badge

    Why exactly do phones need dual-core?

    A 1GHz single-core processor is what a top-line Pentium-III had, and this could be used to play 3D games in SVGA or run Windows at 1280x1024 or higher, or watch videos - and it could do multi-tasking too (you don't need multiple cores for this).

    And that was an old processor, the modern 1GHz chips are presumably better than that.

    So what is it that smartphones do that needs so much power? I don't object to it, progress goes on, just wonder what the need is - 1GHz is a lot for something so small.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      All those extra MHz can be used to run apps/games that can be SOLD to the user/consumer.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      1 Hz is not the same as another Hz

      1Hz of Pentium III is not necessarily as useful as 1Hz of ARM Cortex... or the other way round.

      How useful 1Hz is very much depends on architecture, try clocking an i3 down to 1GHz, compare even 1 core to a P3 or ARM...

      This should be obvious!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Keep up!

    "HTC’s ever-popular Sense user interface which sits on top of Android has had a few tweaks too, with a function that turns down the ringer volume when you pick it up...and silences it altogether when you turn it over."

    Rubbish, the Desire HD has this "feature" if you can call it that so it's not a tweak for the Desire S or Gingerbread.

  8. M man
    Thumb Down

    non existant spec

    Another phone that seems to fail some very basic specs

    Its really annoying me that I cant find the phone im looking for.

    heres what I want:-

    android phone.

    3.5 inch jack

    physical camera button towards the middle.(unlike the arc) (so no HTCs)

    3.5+ camera

    camera Flash

    a camera near the middle

    a phone I can flash myself /regularly updated.(so no Motorola)

    750+ MHz CPU

    a battery that lasts a day.

    simples? apparently not!

    1. rhydian

      @non existant spec

      3.5 Inch jack? don't you mean 3.5mm?

      1. Shades

        3.5 Inch jack...

        ...perhaps he's just trying to boast?! ;)

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Add to that ...

      ... hands free voice dialing (which Google seem to think involves removing the screen lock, starting the search function, waiting, then selecting from a list of what it thinks you want to do - of which most the time this is just searches on the interwebs)

      I do like my Desire Z, but Android has some really serious shortcomings, IMHO, and is too reliant on 3rd party apps to cover those.

    3. Ryan Clark

      Button in the middle

      Why do you want a camera button in the middle? Surely this means your hand has a greater chance of being in front of the screen which is your view finder. Near a corner makes far more sense and that is where it is on every camera I have owned.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters


      "a camera near the middle"

      I really struggle with why you would want this as a spec. I cant see it has any advantage to it being mounted in the middle.. please enlighten us,,,

      in fact, placing the camera at the edge has an advantage... when it is mounted on the car mounting bracket attached to the windscreen, the camera is clear of the bracket and I can video the journey. I actually have done this to produce a video of the directions to get to our hotel from the M55... if the camera was near the middle, this would not have been possible...

    5. M man


      "It sounds like a good camera is really important to you.

      So I have to ask, why not get a digital camera?"

      actully I just want a reasonable camera. I came to the conclusion that the way I take photos means a digital camera is no use to me. I take quick picture at random times that dont need to be that amazing.


      I only need 3MP, anything else is a bonus

      I need it to be with me all the time so not another device I carry if i remember or have space.

      The reason for the button "nearer" the middle is so that i can pull out my phone, hold the phone one handed and take a shot. If it at the end of the phone I have three choices. 1)hold it with my hand covering the screen, 2)hold it at the very end upside down and get a wobbly shot(and if im waiting on autofocas miss the shot) 3)hold it upide down in my (much less steady) right hand(if its free) and even then cover half the screen.

      the camera nearer the middle may relate to the fact any phone ive seen with a button is on the same side as the phone, maybe I only need to have one where its not situated so my wrapping finger dont obscure the lens.

      and is 3.5mm

      it frustating

      and add to that I just need a normal sized phone, so no X10 mini or huge Arcs.

      which is frustrating as this is the size im looking for.

  9. uhuznaa

    Double-tap zoom?

    Pinch to zoom is fairly standard but one thing that seems to be missing from most (or all?) Android browsers is automatically zooming in exactly on a text column or photo by double-tapping it. This is one thing that makes the iPhone so much more comfortable for browsing (since you don't need to manually zoom and move around a page to fit a column/table/photo smack onto the screen) -- I'm wondering if Apple indeed has managed to patent this.

    And really, those soft buttons are totally crap. You can't find them by touch and they're really easy to hit accidently. Worst combination ever. A set of good nice tactile buttons you can hit blindly and which don't readily fire when you lay your thumb across them while holding the thing horizontally is so much better...

    1. gribbler
      Thumb Up


      I have the original Desire and double tap to zoom into a column of text works perfectly (in fact I virtually never use the 2-finger pinch thing).

      Agree totally about the soft buttons, it's one of the things that puts me off most of the new Android phones.

    2. PaulR79
      Thumb Down

      You sadden me

      Pinch to zoom works, double-tap to zoom is also there and is just not mentioned since it was always there; pinch to zoom was added in a later version of Android. The soft buttons are fine but they do suffer from accidental activating although that only tends to happen if you're really not paying attention.

    3. \\\

      Double tap zoom with text column

      Errr, the stock android browser on my original desire has done this on 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 android versions. I have a vague recollection that my old G1 also did this on 1.6.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      my desire HD auto adapts text etc on web pages to colums to fit the screen size. I'm fairly certain the standard desire did it too.

    5. Ryan Clark
      Gates Halo

      double tap not apple only

      my win phone does double tap zoom so it is not apple only.

    6. Chrome

      Double-tap zoom?

      Been using it on my original Desire since the day I had it from the stock browser

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    "The screen is the same at 3.7in with a 480 x 800-pixel resolution – not bad at all, but with screens improving all the time – notably from Apple, Samsung and recently Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Arc"...

    Errr, the Xperia Arc has 480 x 854... Errr, it's hardly a big deal is it! Sure the iphone flaw's retina display would be nice for pictures, but there is a limit to the size of text you can read until our eyeballs become updated (futurama's eye-phone comes to mind).

  11. Radio


    I got mine at the weekend - Phones4U and it came with an 8GB class 4 card for the extra storage

    More than happy with it so far, but not sure where this DLNA out is. I've managed to stream files from my windows netbook, but I can't stream files from the phone to it, or to my Sony BDP-S370, which also streams from the netbook.

    I also don't get the complaint about screen size - if you want bigger, then that's what the Incredible S is for, surely?

    1. Steve Evans

      Re: DLNA

      I believe the DLNA playback is called "connected media".. That's what it is called on my Desire Z, Froyo 2.2.1, but as I don't own any DLNA equipment I can't say I've tried it!

  12. Andrew Jones 2

    re: Original Desire.

    I still have the Original Desire - I still love the Original Desire.

    Yes it has the volume lowering when you pick the phone up - and silencing when you flip it over.

    The camera is actually not that bad.

    Runs whatever I have thrown at it so far.

    My biggest gripe is that even with Froyo, internal space is limited and runs out quickly - but this would be easily overcome if the two biggest apps (facebook and twitter) would allow "Move to SD" instead they sit there consuming upto 20mb of application data which is a pain.

    Also a pain is that MOST of the Google apps cannot be installed to SD either!.

    What happens next with my phone will depend on what happens when Gingerbread arrives in a few weeks, there are rumours it further reduces the amount of space left in the phone - might be time to root after that.

    I am on Three, I love their Network and I got the phone early enough that they had not had a chance to brand it :)

    However - my next Android phone WILL be a HTC - but I have another year to go on this contract yet. UNLIMITED DATA + FREE TETHERING - how can anyone not love that? and I am in the middle of the Scottish Borders but I still get HSPDA at 7(ish)mbs woooooo

  13. twunt

    Double Tap

    uhuznaa - Douple Tap to zoom works on ever Andoird phone I've used, from 1.6 to 2.3.

    Why bother to post stupid lies?

    1. Andrew James


      It does double tap to zoom on the original Desire but its not as clever as the iPhone version. IPhone fits the zoom to the content in the column you tap. Desire zooms to what it believes is a nice level for reading the text, ignoring the width of the column... and size of any images, etc. It's a handy thing to have, but its less "smart" than it could be.

      I've been using my Desire for a year, and I love it so much I still can't think of anything I would upgrade to, but the tap to zoom is an irritation compared to my wifes ipod touch.

  14. Doozerboy

    Probably one of the reasons i'll not get an android phone until.....

    ...They sort the whole Internal mem, SD card farce out.

    The SD card should be used for storage of media not apps. They need to ship phones with a generous amount of internal memory, and i'm talking 4GB+.

  15. HFoster

    Soon come

    I pre-ordered one a few weeks ago. Amazone wrote to me yesterday to let me know my phone will be with me by Monday. Shame I won't be home to collect it! Hope I get back to my place in time to get to the DHL pickup!

    If anyone opts to buy this phone from Amazon, they recommend a 16GB microSD card ("users who bought this..." blah blah). I bit, because, well, I had a few quid burning a hole in my pocket.

  16. Andrew Woodvine

    Front facing camera and buttons

    The front facing camera is VGA and not 1.3MP as this review suggests.

    To the commenters that are against soft buttons - I've recently changed from a HTC Desire to a Samsung Nexus S and the one thing that was really putting me off the Nexus S was the soft buttons, but they're actually a joy to use! The phone gives a little vibrate when you press the buttons so you still get the tactile feedback. I don't miss the physical buttons and think I prefer the soft buttons now anyway plus they're not going to wear out.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Has reviewer ever looked at a Desire HD?

    What a crap review, 4 pages of fluff. The Desire S looks like a Desire HD with a 2nd camera for video chat, and the original Desire screen size (same res as the HD). Why doesn't Dave Oliver even mention the HD? And does he still think HTC is a Korean company?

  18. twunt


    For existing Desire owners who want the stock rom, but with increased Internal Storage (up to 2GB if you like) check out the Starburst Rom over at the xda forums.

    As well as the increased internal capacity, its much quicker and smoother than the standard rom, and has working ad-free adfree android and other goodies. There's a script to remove the useless apps like teeter and footprints too.

    1. Marty

      gets the thumbs up from me...

      I recommend the StarBurst Lite v1.3.3.3 .... its is totally stock with the exception of the data2SD mod.

      I prefer to select my own selection of apps and the scripts to remove the bloat is a handy thing to boot.

      This is the sort of thing that I love android for. as its an open source OS there are plenty of very talented coders out there that will fix the problems that get left by manufacturers who really have no incentive to fix them once they have a new version of the phone on the market.

      More and more open source projects are becoming commercial successes these days. the end result being hardware that will have a longer service life than manufacturers want to support !!

  19. neil 15

    Battery compartment?

    Can the battery be replaced when empty with a spare one? Just wondering as the all in one aluminium case was mentioned.

    Really annoys iPhone users being able to change batteries.

    1. HFoster


      Yes, the battery can be changed. It slides out the bottom, over the SIM and microSD slots.

  20. bluelans
    Paris Hilton

    o rly?

    o rly? actually I always like HTC handsets.

  21. illiad


    may I ask how is your battery life???

    many reviews of this say it really shortens it, is it worth it or not..

  22. HFoster
    Thumb Up

    Had mine nearly a week

    Gotta say, it's significantly faster and smoother than my Hero, which ran Cyanogenmod 6. I'm digging the skinnable GUI, and very pleased with how fast it is as an internet access point (still a bit rubbish with some Web2.0 sites, but I think that's a mobile infrastructure issue, rather than the actual handset).

    I think Google have hidden a little parlor trick in Android 2.3 which forces recovery of apps and wallpapers from your previous device. I don't know how it updated phone to phone, rather than updating with the stuff from my Galaxy Tab (maybe some kind of flag differentiating phones from tablets/other devices?), but I am impressed, if a little concerned at the potential for abuse.

    All in all, money well spent.

    Also, mine (bought SIM-less from Amazon) came with an 8GB microSD in the slot. I switched it out for 16GB, but if your network of choice skimps, microSD isn't so expensive anymore, I guess...

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