HTC Desire S vs HTC Desire

What a difference a year makes. Or does it? That’s the question we need to ask ourselves as we take a closer look at the HTC Desire S. Launched at Mobile World Congress 2011, the update 12 months on from the hugely successful HTC Desire was welcomed with great glee by Android smartphone fans everywhere.

Of course, in all the pomp and hullabaloo, it’s very easy to forget to look at just how much better this newer model is. So, for those out there already with the HTC Desire and those trying to make the decision between the old and the new model, here is Pocket-lint’s take on the HTC Desire S vs HTC Desire, and which we think is the one that’s worth its salt.

Form Factor

1st: HTC Desire S
115 x 59.8 x 11.63mm, 130g

2nd: HTC Desire
119 x 60 x 11.9mm; 135g


As one would hope, the first round goes to the new and improved HTC Desire S. It’s a little shorter, a little thinner and little less broad and also lighter as well. What’s more, the chassis has gone all metal, as inspired by the HTC Legend, and is now hewn from a single piece of aluminium. So, it’s more compact and better looking as well.

Finally, the HTC Desire S has dropped the hard Android keys on the bottom of the front surface of the device and instead switched back to touch-sensitive controls similar to those on the Nexus One - a positive move and one offering both aesthetic and ergonomic advantages.

Display

Tie: HTC Desire
3.7-inch, 480x800px, AMOLED

Tie: HTC Desire S
3.7-inch, 480x800px, AMOLED


It’s seriously disappointing that HTC has made no effort whatsoever to improve the screen on its hit handset. Yes, it’s still a very good screen but only really by last year’s standards. While both the iPhone and Sony Ericsson’s Xperia models have kicked on with high resolution Retina and Reality displays, HTC fans have to make do with a bog standard WVGA. Not very exciting and not the best advert to get anyone to upgrade.

Engine Room

1st: HTC Desire S
1GHz Qulacomm  MSM8255, 768MB

2nd: HTC Desire
1GHz Qualcomm QSD8250, 576MB


With the S in the new Desire’s name presumably standing for speed, it’s of little surprise that it comes out on top in this category. All the same, the boost isn’t actually as large as one might think. Both chipsets contain the same CPU running at 1GHz, so it’s only actually improvements to the GPU and memory that comes with the HTC Desire S. All the same, both bumps should offer a significant increase in gaming power and video processing as well.

Imaging

1st: HTC Desire S
5MP, AF, LED, 720p video, VGA front

2nd: HTC Desire
5MP, AF, LED, 720p video


The upgrade to Android 2.2 Froyo brought 720p video capture to the original HTC Desire putting the two phones on pretty much level pegging. The big difference, though, is in the addition of the front facing VGA camera on the HTC Desire S which suddenly makes video calls over VoIP a very real possibility. While it might not be the most high tech add-on, it does offer an important function that the old Desire just can’t match no matter what apps you download.

Storage

1st: HTC Desire S
1.1GB + microSD

2nd: HTC Desire
521MB + microSD


The original HTC Desire was always one of the better Android phones as far as storage space goes. The reason is because it offers a fair whack of phone memory as well as the microSD slot. The key fact is that it’s only since Android 2.2 Froyo that users have been able to save apps onto removable medium and, even though the ability to do so is now there, only 50 per cent of the developers have actually updated their software to do so. The result is that one still needs as much phone memory as one can get one’s hands on, so the upgrade to a full gigabyte of phone storage is actually quite a significant difference.

Battery

1st: HTC Desire S
1450mAh, 590 min talk time

2nd: HTC Desire
1400mAh, 400 min talk time


Although the battery itself has only got a little bigger, it’s largely developments to the chipset and the rest of the hardware that mean the HTC Desire S is a more power efficient device. Bringing over three extra hours of talk time, we’re also hoping that the upgrade translates to increased browsing and 3G use, as well as a boost for the amount of time for video watching and gaming too. This might not seem like a big deal but even 30 minutes extra of heavy use each day would help out smartphone owners a great deal.

Connectivity

Tie: HTC Desire
3G, GPS, BT 2.1, Wi-Fi

TIE: HTC Desire S
3G, GPS, BT 2.1, Wi-Fi


There have been no upgrades whatsoever to the connectivity options on the HTC Desire. Both the S and its predecessor feature pretty much the basics that one would hope any smartphone to have in this day and age. HTC probably could have added NFC, 4G and Bluetooth 3.0 but it’s probably only a touch of DLNA that’s sorely missing. Another let down for a year’s wait.

Software

1st: HTC Desire S
Android 2.3 Gingerbread

2nd: HTC Desire
Android 2.2 Froyo


It’s a victory on the software front for the HTC Desire S over its ageing stable-mate but a very, very thin one indeed. While the Desire S comes with Gingerbread out of the box, there’s going to be quite a struggle and a predictably drawn out upgrade program before the over-the-air update comes to the HTC Desire, which currently sits with Froyo. Doubtless that update will happen but not for a while. All the same, old Desire users can console themselves with the fact that Gingerbread doesn’t actually bring a huge amount of extra features to Android.

Conclusion

If you haven’t already got the picture of what’s going on, then we’re quite happy to spell it out. The HTC Desire S is really not that much better than the straight HTC Desire. The design is a touch more premium, the battery will last a mite longer and the storage solution offers a little more breathing space, but it’s really only the additional graphics power and RAM and the webcam that make much of a case to go for the newer model.

As with most things, it’s going to come down to price, but what we would say is this: if there’s any more than £2 or £3 per month extra to pay on your contract, then it’s probably not worth your while going for the Desire S and, if it’s a real upgrade from the Desire that you’re after, then try the Samsung Galaxy S 2 instead.

So, the HTC Desire S is obviously the better phone how does it stand up to the iPhone 4?

You can check out more from Mobile World Congress 2011 on our MWC2011 homepage