The original HTC Desire hit in spring 2010, and was part of the Android boom that saw the OS’s market share explode in just a few months. Twelve months later, HTC offers up the Desire S -- a device which it says is an evolution of the phone that gave many users their first taste of Android.
Just launched in the UK, the Desire S lies in the center ground of HTC’s European line-up for early 2011. It’s not as large (or expensive) as the Incredible S, but it’s just as fast. And it outperforms the upcoming Wildfire S, while still being easily pocketable.
We've just spent several hours getting to know the HTC Desire S, so join us after the break to learn more about it, and read our first impressions of HTC's first Gingerbread phone...
The phone sports a unibody chassis shaped from a single piece of aluminum, which combined with its buttonless front gives it an elegant but sturdy appearance. The physical buttons found on the original Desire are gone, replaced with capacitive keys, as are present in many current handsets. On the whole, the build quality of the Desire S is great, and it feels like a premium device. The chassis itself is a little smaller than the original Desire, though it shares the same screen size of 3.7 inches. The only things we could find to complain about were the phone’s volume rocker and power button, which are very low-profile and as a result can be difficult to press at times.
Inside the Desire S you’ll find the same second-generation 1GHz Snapdragon chip that’s used in the Desire HD, Incredible S and a host of other current phones. It’s paired with 768MB of RAM, which is more than enough, and maybe even overkill for a device like this. Still, we’re not complaining -- the result is a phone that’s plenty fast. The only lag we noticed occurred during initial setup, where the phone was simultaneously downloading contacts, mail and apps, while syncing personal data with HTC Sense.
Speaking of Sense, the Desire S runs the latest version of HTC’s UI, 2.1, on top of Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread. The appearance of Sense hasn’t changed all that much in the past year or so, but on the Desire S the UI is slick, and we didn’t notice any slowdown when quickly flipping through homescreens and switching between apps. The same goes for pinch-zooming and scrolling in the Desire S’s browser -- both were notably smoother than the original Desire.
HTC Sense 2.0 introduced some slicker UI elements and new apps, along with cloud-based backup and security features through HTCSense.com. All this is present and correct on the Desire S, as are some more subtle UI changes brought in with version 2.1. In addition to list of recent apps on the notification drop-down, a tabbed area now allows you to access quick settings for Wifi, Bluetooth, GPS and the like. The app drawer has also been re-arranged somewhat -- you can now filter by downloaded apps or recently-used apps, and apps lists are grouped into pages of 16 icons.
Also new in Sense 2.1 are audio accompaniments to the UI’s weather animations, which are fun, if a little silly. If it’s raining, you’ll hear raindrops. If it’s hot, you’ll hear a noise that vaguely resembles a lightsaber.
With a few hours of use under our belt, it’s fair to say we like the HTC Desire S so far -- it seems every bit the worthy successor to one of last year’s most popular European phones. Join us in a few days for our full review of the Desire S. In the meantime, check out our hands-on video and some bonus photos.