Monday, June 6, 2011

The case for (or against) the HTC Desire S

 When the HTC Desire was released in March 2010 it featured the best hardware available and was designed to take on Apple's upcoming iPhone 4. The iPhone 4 came out, and the HTC Desire held its ground well. Over time the Samsung Galaxy S and to some degree the Desire's bigger brother the HTC Desire HD took over the spotlight as the premiere Android phones.

The HTC Desire S released in March 2011 is no longer designed to take the fight to Apple's next iPhone. Instead the HTC Desire S leaves the flaghip role held by its predecessor and moves down the line to being HTC's mid-level offering. It is designed to fight other mid-level Android from LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and other Android phone manufacturers.

The HTC Desire S has the same 3.7-inch 480 x 800 S-LCD screen of the later model 2010 Desires. The Desire S gets a more energy efficient chipset, a marginally faster graphics processing unit, 50% more RAM, double the internal storage, a front camera and a slightly larger battery than the older Desire. If you used both phones side-by-side, the only improvement you are likely to notice is the front camera. In brief, if you are a HTC Desire owner looking for an upgrade, we recommend you skip this one. Happy HTC Hero and Legend owners are the target for the new HTC Desire S.

Accompanying the drop from flaghsip to mid-level phone is a drop in its price. Instead of a Php30K asking price, the new Desire S is being offered at a much lower Php22K selling price at release.  But is the price drop enough?

Handy size. The 3.7-inch screen of the HTC Desire S is looking smaller and smaller with each new phone released. It main competitors, the Samsung Galaxy SL i9003 and LG Optimus Black P970 have 4-inch screens.

But for many, this might be the perfect fit. The 3.7-inch screen results in a phone that is just 59.8 mm wide. The Galaxy SL is all of 64.2 mm wide while the Optimus Black is 64 mm. 

The trade of 0.3-inches in screen real estate for a handier size might be a good trade off, and as against the Galaxy SL, this is a valid argument. But it does not hold against the Optimus Black.

While the Optimus Black is 4mm wider than the Desire S, it is also 2.4 mm thinner (11.6 mm for the Desire S and 9.2 mm for the Optimus Black), making the Optimus Black feel equally small to the hand. The lighter 109 g weight of the Optimus Black as against the 130 g of the Desire S makes also helps make the Optimus Black feel like a very handy package despite it small screen.

More punch. The HTC Desire S's 1 GHz Scorpion processor, Adreno 205 GPU and 756 MB of RAM will give a little more punch than the 1GHz Cortex A8 CPU, PowerVR SGX530 GPU, and 512MB or less RAM found in the Galaxy SL and the Optimus Black. But it is not enough in my opinion.

Checking prices at the same reseller, the Galaxy SL can be had for as little as Php16,890 while the Optimus Black is priced at Php18,400. The Desire S is priced at Php21,500. The 3-4.5K lower asking prices of the Galaxy SL and Optimus Black makes up for their slightly weaker processors and GPU's (and even that depends on what app you are running).  The Optimus Black can easily justify its higher asking price as against the Galaxy SL with its better IPS 700-not display.

HTC Sense. The only thing going for the HTC Desire S is Sense. HTC's proprietary Android user interface is the best in-class. If you have a budget of 20K, and want HTC's sense, a Desire S is not a bad choice. HTC Sense is a good enough reason (and the only good reason) to pick the Desire S over the Optimus Black of Galaxy SL. I personally, would not want an Android without HTC's Sense UI.

But that being said, with a budget of about 20K, I would just pick up the original HTC Desire at Php17,000 and pocket the Php4,500 difference in price. The Desire S is a nice phone... it just needs to drop its price another 10-15% to become a contender.

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