Is HTC’s latest still an object of desire?

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The original was the best handset of 2010, but the new Desire S has a lot of competition this year

The HTC Desire was the What Mobile Awards 2010 Mobile Phone of the Year, so there’s definitely no pressure on HTC to impress us with the Desire S.

Since the original Desire was released, however, there have been almost too many new high-end Android phones to count. Not only has the competition upped its game, but HTC has also come out with a heap of top-spec models, like the Desire HD and the Incredible S.

Physical changes
As a consequence, the Desire S is almost relegated to a mid-range position, with a risk of getting lost in a sea of similarly specified devices. That is the state of the market in general, however – so many Android phones are now flooding the market.

Side by side with the original Desire, the new version is smaller but there’s really not much else to tell them apart. The most noticeable change is the removal of any physical buttons (replaced by touch-sensitive ones) and the optical navigation pad, while a more= subtle update is the one-piece ‘unibody’ design. From either the front or back, the Desire S doesn’t look particularly special beside any of the HTC models released over the last 12 months.

The removal of the optical screen is a logical progression. From the first HTC smartphones with a rollerball, it was something you would usually forget it had. Although some existing Desire owners might argue differently, it seems to have been a valid change, as almost every Android phone on the market today goes without.

Performance
Besides the exterior, what are the other differences? Software-wise, the original Desire has Android 2.2 and the Desire S has 2.3. However, HTC is supposedly going to offer an official update to 2.3. This could mean bagging the original Desire could be a better bet, although you would then find yourself losing out in the performance stakes.

In what is almost an identical situation to the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 versus the newer Xperia Arc, there has been a big upgrade in performance, even if the phone is still only powered by a 1GHz processor.

Imaging
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon has been enhanced, and the Desire S has a newer Adreno 205 graphics processing unit that is significantly faster, and identical that in the Xperia Arc. It really does speed up the visuals and makes you wonder whether you really need all the power of a dual-core chip.

So, even if the original Desire gets the OS update, the Desire S will still run rings around it when using the phone’s functions or playing graphically intensive games.

Full article in Mobile News issue 488 (May 9, 2011).

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