It’s hard to review the HTC One S phone after reviewing the One X as they’re essentially the same phone. As such, most of my praise and criticism is the same.
It’s a very sexy, sleek, powerful device, with a fast, intuitive interface, great music and video playback, amazing camera and good battery life. The drawbacks are that there is no memory card slot, the battery is embedded and so not replaceable and some of the settings on the camera and music player are sadly a little too idiot-proof for my taste, based on the superior features they offers. For more on this, you can see my review on the One X.
For the purposes of this article, I will attempt to focus on the differences of the two phones, so you can choose which you think would better suit you.
First, I will touch on how the phone handles calls as I got dinged for glossing over that in my last review. Part of this is because smartphones have become so much more like mini netbooks over the last year or so, I sometimes forget they are phones. But also, because generally speaking, there’s not much to say. Unless you’re buying an uber-cheap cellphone or one over a year old, call quality nowadays is usually good.
And the HTC One series is no exception. I wouldn’t go so far as to say you could hear a pin drop, but phone calls are clear on both ends (provided the person you’re calling doesn’t have a crappy phone). And as long as you’re not on the subway, signal strength is not an issue either.
And the One S is slightly smaller and lighter than the One X which would make it easier for some people to use. The One X is 134.4 mm x 69.9 mm x 8.9 mm and weighs 130 g, whereas the One S is 130.9 mm x 65 mm x 7.8 mm and weighs 119.5 g. The difference may seem negligible. But the reduced size gives it a much sleeker-looking design, and by having 4.9 mm less width and 1.1 mm less depth than its counterpart, it’s a lot easier to get your hand around the One S.
Of course, the smaller size also means One S’s screen resolution isn’t quite as impressive as the One X’s – at least on paper. It is a 4.3-inch screen with a resolution of 540 pixels x 960 pixels as opposed to a 4.7-inch display with a resolution of 720 pixels x 1280 pixels. But realistically, you can barely notice a difference in image quality.
Video playback on the One S does occasionally have speed issues. Both the One S and X are equipped with 1.5 Ghz dual-core phones with a 1 GB of RAM and run the HTC 4.0 Sense on top of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), making them quick and responsive. (There is actually a quad-core version of the One X but it’s not available in Canada.)
But the Internet connection isn’t as fast. It’s hard to say for sure, as this phone is available on various networks, and I only tested it on one (Fido), but as the One S uses a 4G HSPA+ connection as opposed to Rogers’ LTE network (which is what the One X is on), the bandwidth connection is generally slower. Whereas on the One X, I got download speeds of 10 Mbps to 15 Mbps and uploads anywhere from 7 Mbps to 17 Mbps, the One S only gave me downloads at 7.5 Mbps to 12 Mbps, and uploads consistently at around 1 Mbps. Now even at 7.5 Mbps, that’s fast enough to watch video online and unless you’re broadcasting content with your phone, you probably wouldn’t need a faster upload than 1 Mbps. Still, I experienced slightly more buffering issues with videos, especially when the phone was running low on power.
As for the rest, it’s pretty much the same phone. The main camera on both is 8 MP and can shoot amazing photos and 1080p video. (Though, the front-facing camera on the One S is a simple VGA camera, where the One X has a 1.3 MP one that can shoot 720p video). They both come with 16 GB of internal memory, with a DropBox account with an additional 25 GB of online storage. The battery on the One S is 1650 mAh (as opposed to 1800 mAh) and so offers slightly less battery life (up to 8.5 hours of talk time instead of 9, and up to 10.96 days on standby instead of 16) but I could easily use it throughout the day without worrying about it dying on me.
Ultimately, the One X is the better HTC phone specs-wise, so if you’re looking for the “cutting edge” of smartphones (or at least cutting edge for Canada) and don’t care what you pay, The One X is your best option. (It is only available through Rogers and has dropped the price to 129.95 for a three-year plan.) But if you’re willing to settle for the “almost cutting edge” or have smallish hands, the One S may be for you. Telus which offers it for $79.99 for a three-year plan, while Bell, Virgin Mobile and Fido, at around $100. To get it without a contract, Fido offers the best price at $550.