By ZAM KARIMbytz@thestar.com.my
A little tweak here and there has made the Desire S from HTC a more attractive phone.
FANS of the first HTC Desire smartphone will surely notice the many differences between the original and its successor, the Desire S.
The distinctions are not just limited to the outside but also on the inside - for instance, the Desire S has a bigger storage capacity and runs on the latest Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) operating system.
By simply looking at the specs alone, the Desire S has everything to make it a worthy successor but is it a great phone?
A closer look
Like most new HTC smartphones, the Desire S is encased in a unibody housing made from a single piece of aluminium. In terms of size, it's notably smaller and thinner by a few millimetres compared to the original Desire.
Just like the original, the Desire S fits nicely in the hand and the curvy edges add to the comfort factor.
Gingerbread has a considerable number of features such as enhanced UI themes, redesigned keyboards, improved copy- and-paste functionality, better power management and improved application management.
On top of that, HTC has also tweaked its Sense UI and the controls are slicker than ever. On the hardware side, one of the major improvements is in storage space - the Desire S' 1.1GB memory allows more apps to be installed.
The original Desire had only 512MB of onboard memory which was hardly enough to store more than 10 big apps.
HTC has also removed some stuff from the Desire S but it's not a bad thing.
The smartphone doesn't have any physical buttons for accessing Home, Menu, Back and Search functions.
The physical buttons have been replaced by softkeys with haptic feedback which some may not like. We missed not having actual buttons but found the soft keys to be quite good and sensitive to the touch.
The Desire S also has a fixed-focus camera on the front.
The VGA shooter is nothing to shout about but it's good enough for making video calls.
Under the hood
The Desire S is still running on a 1GHz Qualcomm 8255 Snapdragon processor like the original. But it's not all that disappointing if you consider that it also has a slightly faster Adreno 205 GPU and 768MB RAM for better performance.
The phone retains the 3.7in screen with a resolution of 480 x 800-pixels which is sharp and vibrant.
The screen is rendered unreadable under bright sunlight but to be fair most smartphones suffer from the same problem.
Also, the screen is made from Gorilla Glass which makes it highly resistant to scratches.
The phone's 5-megapixel camera is quick to power up and there is little shutter lag.
As there isn't a dedicated shutter button, you'll have to use the screen to snap pictures and record videos.
Speaking of videos, the Desire S is capable of recording in HD at 720p.
Like other new HTC smartphones, this model also features a lot of fun and fancy effects like Dots, Vintage, Posterise, Aqua and Solarise that you can use when snapping photos.
The smartphone takes crisp and clear photos especially in well lit conditions.
The built-in LED flash helps a bit when shooting under more challenging lighting conditions.
Also, we found the video quality to be generally good.
Moving on, the Desire S supports almost all the popular audio and video formats such as AMR, OGG, MP3, MP4, WMA, 3GP, WMV, and WAV. We have no issues with the audio or call quality - suffice to say, it works as advertised.
In terms of battery life, the smartphone lasted almost a day on a single charge.
It's no surprise that the HTC Desire S is a better phone than the original because it has been improved in almost all areas.
For instance, the extra storage space is a welcome addition because you can now keep more apps and files on the smartphone.
The additional graphics firepower also makes the phone run a lot smoother without any lag.
The phone also deserves brownie points for running the latest Android OS and enhanced Sense interface.
Overall, the Desire S is indeed a worthy successor to the original Desire.
Pros: Unibody design; 1.1GB built-in storage; runs smoothly on Android 2.3; enhanced Sense interface.
Cons: Nothing major.
NETWORK: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA 900/2100
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) with HTC Sense UI
DISPLAY: 3.7in touchscreen (480 x 800-pixels)
CAMERA: 5-megapixels with autofocus, LED flash (rear), VGA camera (front)
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, WiFi, USB 2.0
EXPANSION SLOT: MicroSD
STANDBY/TALK TIME: 455 hours/435mins
OTHER FEATURES: FM radio tuner, accelerometer, digital compass, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, HD video recording (720p)
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 59.8 x 11.63 x 115mm
Review unit courtesy of HTC Malaysia Sdn Bhd, (03) 6201-6433.