27
Feb
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Last night we got some hands-on time with HTC's new family of smartphones - the One series. While we didn't get a hands-on video with the One X (largely due to a dead battery), we did spend a fair amount of time with the One S, which shares most of its hardware with its larger sibling.

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The main difference between the two lies in the displays. The One S packs a 4.3" SAMOLED qHD display (540x960), while the One X has HTC's new 4.7" S-LCD2 HD screen (1280x720). Both share the same Qualcomm S4 dual-core processor, clocked at 1.5GHz (the international version of the One X will have a quad-core Tegra 3, but not in the US). As you'll see in the video, the One S is absolutely buttery smooth running Android 4.0, which we were quite happy about.

Another of HTC's big new additions comes in the form of Image Sense, utilizing a new 8MP camera, HTC's own post-processing software, and camera app. The result is absurdly fast image captures (0.7 seconds on individual shots), with the option to capture nearly a dozen shots in just a few seconds. Check out the videos to see the rapid fire mode in action.

The black version of the One S also features an "oxidized" aluminum shell (utilizing lightning and magic, as HTC showed us in a video), resulting in a ceramic-like substance you'll have touch to believe. It really does feel extremely sturdy, and puts plastic devices to shame - I can't say I'd ever want to go back to a "normal" feeling Android phone.

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The one drawback here is undoubtedly the fact that this wonderful chassis results in a non-removable back cover, so that battery is staying in there for the duration. This also means no microSD slot. Still, I think the sacrifice is worth it. While a microSD slot would be nice, I can't say I'm bothered about the prospect of no external storage - 16GB has generally been plenty for me. For storage fiends, though, it may prove inadequate.

But our least favorite part of this otherwise awesome piece of hardware was HTC's Sense 4.0 UI. While certain apps like the new in-car mode impressed us, the launcher looks as dated and ugly as ever (a lot like an amateurish ADW or LauncherPro skin), the notification bar (the battery icon in particular) is equally unrefined, and the new app drawer resembles a gimmicky homebrew next to the beautiful pagination effect of stock Ice Cream Sandwich. While it does all work very smoothly, it's hard to say that makes up for some of these questionable design decisions. It's clear that even under HTC's new product strategy regime, Sense's reign over Android remains despotic.

While as a phone the One S (and the One X, by relation) looks very promising, we hope that HTC has some visual revamping planned for Sense in the near future.

Check out our hands-on videos, below.

David Ruddock
David's phone is an HTC One. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, imparting a legal perspective on tech news, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • B.G

    No stock no buy. Sense lo longer makes sense.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      I don't think it's that bad, and I think many people would disagree. But yeah, Sense is not the improvement it used to be to stock Android, and we could totally do away without. I do welcome their improvements to the camera technology, or ImageSense, though.

    • Jamaal

      No stock no buy? How many choices does that leave you with?

  • Eggcake

    I'm sold on the black One S. I can live with 16GB (of course expandable would have been better, but I lived with 16GB for 2 years on my HTC Desire now). It's sad though that HTC makes "storage size" one of the deciding factors between the One X and One S...that's sad, really, no idea why they are doing this. It's idiotic to be honest.

    If the PenTile isn't too noticeable, I'm getting it asap :)
    Sense 4.0 also looks pretty nice, I can see myself not rooting for quite a while.

  • Barton

    "we didn't get a hands-on video with the One X (largely due to a dead battery)" - Yeah, the perfect example of a non-exchangeable battery idea...

    • rob

      i think they meant that the camera they were using to record was dead, not the phone. phones at these type of events are connected pretty much continuously to a charger.

      • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

        Nope, the One X was dead - it was one of the ones they had untethered to a power source so that press people could take better pictures and video. I always bring 3 SLR batteries with me, so there's not a chance of ending up with a dead camera. :)

  • gogakhan

    I don't get it, more and more manufacturers are going for the No MicroSD option. Why do this? It was one of the edges that Android phones had, and now it gradually fading away. :(

    • Jamaal

      Clearly its because cloud storage is becoming more and more commonplace, and because cutting down on parts costs them less to produce.

    • musicalbox11

      maybe because of this one (ever wondered why Android 4.0 came w/o microSD support to run smoothly?):
      http://www.phonearena.com/news/Flash-storage-to-blame-for-sluggish-smartphone-performance-says-study_id26999/comments/page/1

      anyway, this phone would be *perfect* for me be it 32GB version, this leaves practicaly cca 14GB of data for apps/music/videos once formatted - not enough for todays standards (Flac music, GPS maps which are 1-1.5GB if you travel, videos/podcasts which are HD and I''m not mentioning games - which don't bother me so much).

      one note, S4 is better performer than overrated buggy Tegra3, where they aren't able to produce stable kernel half-year after its release. Mediocre GPU (t2 version + 4PS) and quite average CPU with much higher power consumption. Check Andand - S4 is as good as it gets from Arm A9 architecture - puts Tegra3 to dust despite their 4 cores.

      So in Europe, One S might be better performer than One X.

      • musicalbox11

        wrote it in a rush so sorry for savage English - hopefuly it's clear I blamed 16GB version of One S.

        32GB One X is enough though, just run ssh server in backroung and you're set with clearing/filling the space. But it's gigantic 4.7 which I'm not fond of, as well as Tegra3 is just pure 'marketing-zone' then quality SoC as those coming from Qualcomm, TI or Samsung's next Exynos so isn't as tempting...

        battery life is utter-most important so my guess is S4 doesn't have any serious competition right now (28nm is 28nm ;-)

  • Mark

    Integrated non-removable batteries, no keyboards, no D-Pad, and now no MicroSD slot. Seems like Android phones are moving closer to it's competitor rather than focusing on the strengths it had that it's competitor didn't.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/dextersgenius Shiv

      Indeed. Might as well go for an iPhone then. Keyboards / d-pads and BUTTONS in general were one of the main reasons why I loved HTC phones. The Desire / Desire Z was the last of the decent HTC phones. It's all gone downhill since.

  • Randy W

    No micro SD and a Non-Removable Battery? I"ll never buy one. I do not care how good the specs are.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/dextersgenius Shiv

      +1

      Unless they come out with a really beefy battery like the one in the Razor Maxx, or they have huge internal storage (64GB+).

      • http://twitter.com/#!/dextersgenius Shiv

        Also, flash memory is cheap now. OEMs should be able to pack in 64GB without significantly increasing the cost of the device..