T-Mobile HTC One S is their best Android smartphone (hands-on gallery)

T-Mobile HTC One S is their best Android smartphone (hands-on gallery)

Summary: T-Mobile is the first carrier to secure one of the new HTC One series devices with the One S. It is a beautiful device that will appeal to many consumers.


Last week I posted an article on the HTC One X and One S international models and over the past week I have been spending time with the new T-Mobile HTC One S launching next week. I won't repeat all of the details on the One S I already discussed last week for the international model, but I will cover a bit more about the software and features I did not yet cover. You can see several photos of the HTC One S, and a couple taken with the device, in my image gallery.

Image Gallery: Check out photos of the HTC One S on T-Mobile USA. Image Gallery: HTC One S retail box Image Gallery: Back of the HTC One S

In the box and first impressions

T-Mobile has a much more impressive out-of-the box experience than AT&T and this continues with the HTC One S. Inside you will find the One S, a USB cable, charger, microSIM card, and Start Guide. This may be your first microSIM card on T-Mobile so they have included one with a small flyer on using this new SIM format.

Just like last week when I tried the international models, I am extremely impressed with the HTC One S hardware. It is sleek, well constructed, and gorgeous. T-Mobile will be carrying the Gradient Blue model that matches the international model I looked at last week.


I previously listed the specifications for the HTC One S, but since they might be helpful for the prospective buyer I will list them again here:

  • Qualcomm 1.5 GHz Snapdragon dual-core processor
  • T-Mobile HSPA+ (42 Mbps network) data support
  • Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS with HTC Sense 4
  • 4.3 inch qHD (540x960) Super AMOLED display
  • 8 megapixel camera with new HTC ImageChip
  • Front facing VGA camera
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi
  • Beats Audio available universally in the device
  • 16GB integrated storage with no expansion capability
  • Integrated 1650 mAh battery that is non-removable

The only other spec I would have liked to have seen was NFC, but it isn't yet essential in my life so I could use the HTC One S as my main device with no problem.

HTC One S or Galaxy Nexus?

I have been looking at both of these devices to see which of the two I should keep as my primary Android smartphone. At first I thought the One S was missing out on some widgets and other "pure Google" functions, but after looking at both devices side-by-side I realized that the One S actually has several more widget options and has all the greatness of ICS with some HTC enhancements.

Looking at other functions that are important to me, I much prefer the multi-tasking interface on the One S where they give you a cover flow like effect with the ability to swipe the app up still present. The Apps button also gives you quick access to the Play Store and easy filtering tabs on the HTC One S.

Folders on the HTC One S appear tiled (four shortcut images on each folder shortcut) while the Galaxy Nexus shows the shortcuts with a stacked effect.

You will also find some T-Mobile specific apps and utilities, including T-Mobile TV, 411 & More, Game Base, Mobile Hotspot, Music Hub, My T-Mobile, T-Mobile Mall, T-Mobile Name ID, T-Mobile TV, and Visual Voicemail.

Another functionality specific to the T-Mobile HTC One S, as compared to the international version, is the support for WiFi Calling. WiFi Calling lets you receive and make calls over WiFi, which can be important if you have a weak signal at your house or place of business. Minutes used will be counted toward your monthly calling plan, unless you add the WiFi Calling feature to your Even More or Even More Plus plans that then allow you to have unlimited calling over WiFi. Unlike the UMA technology of the past, there is no longer a handoff between WiFi and the T-Mobile cellular network so if you lose your WiFi signal the call will drop. I tested WiFi Calling out on my home network and it worked well.

Thoughts on using the HTC One S daily

I enjoyed using the One S on a daily basis and am seriously considering picking up one for myself. I did notice the signal tended to go from 4G down to 2G in weak coverage areas and the reception doesn't seem to be quite as solid as I have seen on my HTC Radar 4G and other T-Mobile devices. I was informed this morning that an update is being pushed to the evaluation HTC One S units to fix some 4G speed connectivity issues and that the ones that consumers will purchase starting next week will have this update loaded. I will update this post with feedback after the update to see if these issues I am seeing are fixed too.

I can't get over how fantastic the device feels in my hand. HTC Sense 4 on Ice Cream Sandwich is excellent and very functional. The display is not as fantastic as the HTC One X, but it is still very good and quite vibrant. The T-Mobile HTC One S looks to be the best Android device on T-Mobile at this time and is sure to be a hot seller.

The HTC One S will be available on 25 April for $199.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate.

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Topics: Mobility, Android, Google, Hardware, HTC, Mobile OS, Security, Smartphones, Wi-Fi

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  • HTC Sensation 4G

    Hey Matthew, thanks for your review, looks like a great device, wish I could upgrade already. My Sensation 4G has been warrantied 4 times because of dust getting under the screen. This last one seems to be ok so far, I am keeping my fingers crossed. I know that Tmobile has stated they are going to update the Sensation 4G to ICS soon, Not soon enough, if you know what I mean. Do you think the ICS upgrade to my Sensation will include some of these features on the HTC One S? Thanks for your reply and keep up the great work!
    • Galaxy S3 is where Ill go.

      I've had or extensively used:

      1) G1
      Iphone 3
      2) Hero
      3) Moment
      4) Vibrant
      Iphone 4
      Droid 2
      5) LG G2X
      6) LG Optimus
      7) HTC Sensation
      Iphone 4S

      And the three best phone's I've used in their respective orders are the Vibrant and the Sensation.

      Multitasking and the screen kills the 4S for what I do, so its just a no go.

      Having used all these phones the only one I would buy from here on, even though I don't like their update policy is Samsung Galaxy S3 or Asus. Motorola, LG and HTC take a second row. Due to the screen, and toy like performance for multitasking iPhone is just the bottom of the pack.

      (control 4 telescopes and use DSLR Remote to control and combine the images of all 4 of them at the same time... send that out to my tablets and computers via wifi, to do the same on an Iphone, you need 5 of them... the Sensation does it all by its self!)

      So.. as updates go, only Asus is the best of the crowd in terms of updates. They are there, they do the job and always take care of you. HTC and Apple are second. Motorola, LG are third .. and then you have Samsung.

      If Samsung learned from Asus, their market share would easily compete with Apple.. .but they just don't get it.

      So, based on these facts, I do hope that Asus comes up with a nice phone that is comparable to the Galaxy S3. Otherwise, it will only be an S3. HTC.. quality, like Motorola or Apple... the phones dont last a year, buttons fall off, rims are discolored and they just dont do the trick. The iphone... well search for "iphone button doesn't work" and you will get the pic.

      Asus, should sweep and buy XSense. Motorola, HTC or LG or Apple will just grab it.
    • ICS on Sensation

      The ICS on Sensation is great, but you get Sense 3.6, not 4.0.

      The task switcher is vertical, not horizontal, but it is a great update and works really well (htc Sensations in Germany, unbranded got the update a few of weeks ago).

      I've been very happy with the update and battery life is better and the phone feels smoother to use in operation.

      The "face unlock" feature is a gimmick, the lighting has to be just rightor it doesn't find a face. If you have a light source behind you, it just doesn't work period.

      Other than that, I am very happy with it. I like the quad core + 1 processor on the One X, which is tempting, but the Sensation does everything I need at the moment.
  • Hmm

    Looks like a rehashed rezound.
  • 'S' versus 'X'

    Well, I'm confused... Since the displays ( specs) are exactly the same on X versus S, what's your next dispute ?

    Just another hunk of land-fill trash... No environment, no baseline of support, just another 'me-too'.... Why? And T-Mumble just keeps trying to create more-and-more mis-direction to distract from their non-viability..... Ducati or not....
    • Screen & processor

      The One X has a 4.6" 720x1028 screen and the nVidia Tegra 3 quad core + low power core processor (for non-LTE variants, LTE customers get the dual core Snapdragon) and a 1.2MP front camera.

      The One S has a lower resolution 4.3" 540X960 display and the Snapdragon processor. It also only has a VGA front camera.
    • No, the displays are completely different

      The resolution and the actual type of display is different between the One X and One S. The One X has a Super LCD 2 display at 4.7 inches and 1280 x 720 pixels while the One S has a 4.3 inch 540 x 960 pixel resolution Super AMOLED one.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
    • The remarkable Mr. Bwinski

      Dear Mr. Bwinski,

      Thank-you-so-much-for-your-post. You literally made my day. Its not often that an entire wedge of communication can be deconstructed and found wanting. Wright_is covered the inaccuracies concerning the display specs, so I'll limit myself to your closing statement. I love Ducatis. They are wonderful image bikes (which is why Audi just bought them). But aside from the world superbike (which you don't get to ride), and the Panagale (which I doubt you ever will), they are uncomfortable, pretentious, and not as quick around a race track for most riders (myself included) as a number of other makes (CBR1000RR included). You sir, are an image buff. Nothing wrong with that. Pays the freight for the rest of us. Oh, and um, nice avatar. (P.S. I see more chicken strips on Ducatis than any other make. A free iTune download if you can tell us what that is)
  • Non-removable battery = deal killer

    I'm on my third battery on my current phone. I've been wanting to upgrade to an Android ICS based phone, but not if it means that I have to throw the phone away once the battery dies. Add to that the fact that it has no removable SDRAM, and it pretty much says that this thing was never designed to last.