HTC One S – A Sublime Smartphone

The “S” in the HTC One S may stand for “superb,” “stunning” or “sublime”. Whatever the “S” stands for, this is a splendid phone.

The HTC One S is a 4G smartphone running Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich), available on T-Mobile in the US. The futuristic design of the phone is curvy, lithe, and comfortable. The phone nestles in your hand comfortably like the favorite book you’ve read a thousand times.

The phone is just 7.8 mm thin, it’s the slimmest smartphone ever made by HTC,  but the build is solid, substantial and balanced. The texture of the phone is smooth without being slippery. Holding the phone, you aren’t afraid that you will drop it.

This phone is a thing of beauty. I’m not a big fan of form over function, but this phone brings both. The curved design looks like a high-end sports car, rather than a practical roadster. Even the color, called Gradient Blue, sets it apart from other phones.

The phone isn’t just beautiful. This device is also packed with features such as Beats Audio™, a large and sharp screen, Bluetooth, a high quality camera and a very fast processor. HTC One S Specs

The battery life is extensive for an Android phone, with up to 10 hours of talk time and 13.2 days of standby time, according to T-Mobile. In other words, unless you’re an ultra-heavy user you should be able to get through a day using this phone without worrying about recharging.

While the advanced design and thin shape of the phone may lead you to think the phone is delicate, think again. HTC must have realized that people would be reluctant to hide this design in a case so they made the phone sturdy. The phone is built with a Corning Gorilla Glass screen to resist scratches and the body of the phone has a gradient anodized finish.

The phone is currently available from T-Mobile for $199 with a two-year contract. T-Mobile provided me with a phone and a plan to test.



The One S screen is a joy to behold. The screen measures 4.3″ diagonally which is an ideal size to give you a large viewing area but still be able to fit the phone in your pocket comfortably. The screen is has a very sharp display. I don’t use tech terms on this blog, so I won’t mention that it has an AMOLED screen, but I will say that the picture is sharp and clear.


The One S has two cameras, a front-facing camera for video chats or using your phone as a high tech hand mirror, and a main camera.

The main camera on the One S is 8 MP with 3264 x 2448 pixels. The features include geotagging of pictures and face and smile detection. You can take panoramic shots as well as rapid fire shots. The continuous shooting mode captures up to 99 images in a row. The camera has image stabilization, auto flash and a dedicated imaging chip.

The camera has simultaneous HD video and image recording, meaning you can capture a photo while you are video recording or create a photo from a video that has been shot using the phone.

The camera software comes with a range of filters so you can add effects either before you take a shot or afterwards. Choose from filers such as Vignette, Distortion, Sepia, Solarize, Aqua, or other fun effects. If you’re looking for a phone with a high quality camera, you should definitely consider the One S.


The One S can function as a mobile Hotspot, turning your phone into a Wi-Fi router for Internet connection. You can connect up to five different devices at once to your phone, sharing your 4G Internet service with others. Be sure to Mind the Cap! on your data plan to avoid overage charges because five connected devices using 4G can chew through your data limit pretty quickly. The Hotspot feature is available for an added fee of $15/month but is included in some T-Mobile monthly plans.


Dropbox is intimately integrated into this phone. If you’re a Dropbox fan, you will love using this phone. If you’re not yet a Dropbox fan, you soon will be after getting this phone.

First, you get free storage space on Dropbox when you activate the Dropbox app on this phone. Currently you get 23 GB of free space on Dropbox for two years when you are the first one to activate the  app. I tested this feature and received 23 GB to my Dropbox account when I activated the app.

Second, this phone makes it very easy for you to transfer files to and from your Dropbox folders. Sharing options for apps such as Gallery and Notes includes Dropbox so you can save files to Dropbox without leaving an app. You can also retrieve your files from Dropbox to have them handy on your phone.

After you take a photo, press Share => Dropbox => Upload and the image is copied into your Dropbox account.

HTC Sense

This phone comes with the HTC Sense skin which has some handy features. One very cool feature is the Car app which gives you a different screen for driving. The screen shows the time, weather, message notices and large icons for Google Maps Navigation, Phone, Music and Internet Radio. The app is designed to limit your smartphone use when you’re in the car. You have to reply to a command to exit the app so you don’t close out of it accidentally.

Advanced features of a smartphone sometimes go unused if people don’t understand how they work. HTC provides you with helpful “How To” videos to guide you through using some of the more advanced features of the phone. Some of the instructional videos for the One S that can be found on the HTC website include:

  • Capturing a panorama photo
  • Smart dial, intuitive silence, and conference call
  • Saving web content and reading offline
  • Using Dropbox with your phone


The One S isn’t perfect. There are some features that could use improving.

The phone does not have an SD card slot so there is no expandable memory. The phone is well-integrated with Dropbox and gives you 23 GB of free Dropbox storage though, so you may not need extra space. On-board storage is 16 GB which is not expandable so if you need more space than that on your phone, then the One S isn’t your best choice.

The One S has a fixed battery so you can’t swap out your battery if your charge is running low. If you are someone who keeps a spare cell phone battery around to power your phone, you may need an external power source for extra heavy use. The battery life of the phone is strong for an Android phone so you may find you don’t need extra juice to get through the day.

The notification light is tiny. Android phones use the notification light to indicate battery charging and events such as new messages. The light on the One S is small and requires that you look at it straight on to be able to see it. If you are bothered by blinking cell phone lights this could be a plus, but if you rely on a notification light, this is a negative.

The One S has only three menu buttons at the bottom of the screen and they are capacative, not physical buttons. The menu button is noticeably missing, though it does pop up on screen in certain apps. If you’re looking for an Android phone with four physical buttons, you’ll find this design feature to be a negative.

Bottom Line

The HTC One S is an Android phone worthy of consideration if you’re looking to get a new smartphone. The feel, form and function of the phone combine to make it a phone for the future. Thank you to T-Mobile for sending me this phone to test. I’ll be returning the phone soon, but I’ll be missing it for a long time to come.

Have you seen the HTC One S phone? Do you like the design and features? Let us know in the Comments section below!

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  1. says

    How was the speed uploading files to DropBox? Did you try using any other services while uploading and if so, did you notice any degradation in the speed of the phone?
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    • says

      Hello Jack, the upload speeds were speedy for Dropbox. No, the phone didn’t freeze or stutter. I uploaded multiple photos and ran another app while I was uploading.

      I didn’t upload any other files but I did download apps and app updates which also were very fast. I streamed video over Netflix and that was smooth, without stuttering or pixelation. Netflix was a pleasure to watch on that screen.

      The phone has a Snapdragon 1.5GHz dual core processor with 1 GB of RAM so it is definitely fast and powerful.
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  2. Hajra says

    Hi Carolyn,

    I am totally in love with this phone. My brother is hoping to get this one soon and he introduced me to it and yes, I would agree. It somehow managed to impress me right on.

    The absence of expandable memory is a setback. But then, let’s see. My brother’s birthday is coming up and he has hopes that he “gets” this! ;)

      • Hajra says

        He never lets me touch his phone…. the “privacy” thing comes into picture.

        I am planning to get myself one too; but I am still confused between this one and the Samsung Galaxy S III… have you seen that one?

        • says

          Hi Hajra, I have seen the Galaxy S III, and it’s a fantastic phone, though I have not had the opportunity to review it yet.

          You could ask your brother for a demo of the phone. Most folks like to show off their new toys so he might be willing to give you a demonstration of its features. :-)

  3. dadblunders says

    We almost bought an HTC phone last time but opted for the Samsung. I do like the fact that Dropbox is incorporated into the phone. I currently use it all the time and consider it a “must have” for blogging. I would recommend to anyone.

    • says

      Hi Aaron, Yes, I really liked that you didn’t have to leave an app to upload to Dropbox. The free space is also fantastic.

      I’m a big Dropbox fan, especially because it’s integrated so well with so many other platforms.

      By the way, Dropbox just announced yesterday that it doubled the space that it provides to paid users.
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  4. Jasmine says

    This phone is definitely sleek and cool! It’s cool that it has got Dropbox integrated. Love it, hope to get my hands on one real soon. The “S” could also stand for Spiderman!

    • says

      Hi Jasmine,Sleek is another superb word to describe this phone. I hope you are able to check it out and that you enjoy its features.

      Yes, the “S” could stand for Spiderman, Superman or Superhero. :-) thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us.

  5. Michelle says

    Hi Carolyn, that HTC phone looks very nice and i am sure it does everything that is needed for it to do but i am not a fan of HTC i would rather have an Iphone or Samsung. I think it will be a long time before the HTC can be in competition with the other smartphone’s. Great post with very useful information, thank you for sharing.

    • says

      Hi Michelle, I have had great customer service from HTC in the past so I am pleased that they offer such a high-quality phone as the One S.

      The iPhone 4S is my primary phone and I have to say that the design of the 4S seems antiquated next to the One S. The iPhone body seems boxy next to the curved, thin and sleek design of the One S and the iPhone screen seems tiny compared to the One S. Watching a Netflix movie is much more pleasant on the One S than the iPhone. I found myself getting annoyed at the design of the iPhone when I had to go back to using it after I used the One S. The One S made me think that Apple truly needs to update its design for the next generation iPhone.

      Before you count out HTC, you may want to take a look at the One S. :-)

  6. ayesha says

    When I looked HTC one S I just said “WoW” and after reading it’s features I think it’s best one. I like dropbox the MOST.

  7. Tanmay Sawant says

    No doubt HTC One S is a great phone.Its great for the people who have the budget in the range of Galaxy Note and wouldnt want to buy a huge phablet like Note.
    But I would recommend to put some extra bucks like I myself did and got myself the best phone in the world, Samsung Galaxy S III !!!

    • says

      Hi Tanmay, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! I agree with you, I’m not a phan of phablets either, the phones whose screens are so large that they look like they’re half way to a tablet. The One S has the ideal screen size in my mind, large enough for comfortable viewing but small enough to fit nicely in your hand.

      I have heard great reports about the Galaxy S III, though I have not had the opportunity to review the phone. I hope I do someday!

      Thanks for visiting and sharing your opinion with us, Tanmay!

  8. Bianca says

    HTC is actually one of my choices since I can’t really afford the iPhone yet ( plus I don’t think I can use all those apps). What appealed to me is its clear camera feature and its sleek design. Looks professional and functional at the same time. Fair review.
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    • says

      Hi Bianca, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! In the US, the 16 GB iPhone is the exact same price as the HTC One S with 16 GB, with a two year contract. And even though the iTunes App Store has hundreds of thousands of apps you don’t actually have to use them.

      Yes, that’s a great way of putting it. The One S is professional and functional with a very sleek design.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! :-)

  9. says

    Thanks for the phone review. My son will be needing a new phone within the next few months – trust me, he is counting the days! Would you recommend this for a teenager? It would have to fit comfortably in his pocket.

    • says

      Hi Carol, yes, I would recommend this phone for a teenager. The screen is large, but not ginormous so the phone fits easily in a pocket. The large screen and excellent camera would make him very happy.

    • says

      Hi Amberr, It’s definitely real. I tested it for a few weeks before writing this article. Yes, I’m an iPhone fan too, but for the first time, I found myself getting annoyed with my iPhone after using the One S. The iPhone screen seemed impossibly small after using the One S.

  10. John Ernest says

    It is a superb and at the same time, superfine phone! It has great features that allow you to get the best out of the latest technology for mobile devices. I don’t think anyone who would be buying this would regret it.

  11. Aditya says

    Hey Carolyn,
    You have mentioned cons of this HTC phone that it doesn’t have an expandable memory(SD card slot),but who needs that much of memory if it is providing you 23 GB of Dropbox storage and 16 Gb of onboard storage….!!
    Its enough memory to save anything, i guess.

    HTC phones has always given a great service to its users.And now bringing up this HTC One S,they have added a new dimension to the tech world.Loved its features…..hope it will come soon in the market,eagerly waiting for them to launch.

  12. says

    Nice phone Carolyn. 23 GB free DropBox storage is a nice bonus. I just wish that HTC will make their batteries replaceable. I have the same issue on my HTC Radar with Windows Phone. I think that 16 GB onboard storage will be enough for me but of cause it would be nice with the possibility to upgrade of needed.
    How about the ICS version of Android? Is is it rocking? :-)
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