HTC Incredible S

The Incredible S is a small but assured step forward in the HTC range of Android handsets, with its unique design and outstanding display tying together yet another solid HTC smartphone.

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Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon

Phone maker HTC was relatively unheard of at the beginning of 2010, especially outside of tech-savvy circles. This has changed dramatically after 2010 proved to be a year full of smartphone hits. HTC impressed us again and again with the Desire, Legend, Aria, Wildfire and Desire HD, and according to the company's own analysis its brand awareness grew exponentially across the globe. The Taiwanese company now finds itself in a familiar situation for tech brands: how do you follow up this meteoric success in a short space of time?


The best brands develop a design ID and stick with it. HTC's handsets since the Desire have all shared a common physical DNA; the way brothers and sisters can look the same while also looking uniquely individual at the same time. The Incredible S is strongly reminiscent of the Desire and the company's Windows Phone handsets, the Trophy and Mozart, yet there's something about its shape and feel that makes it one of a kind. Part of this is the curves on the phone's battery cover, described by HTC as looking as though you've taken the naked internal components and dipped them in paint, covering them by not entirely disguising what lies beneath.

The phone's 4-inch display is the best reason for naming this handset Incredible; its WVGA screen is sharp and gloriously bright. HTC uses a Super-LCD panel behind Gorilla Glass for this model, with capacitive touchscreen technology powering most of the phone's input. The results are first class, the screen is a pleasure to look at and extremely responsive to touch input. We still think the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc's Reality display has the edge, with better blacks and contrast, but this doesn't detract from the praise we feel HTC deserves in this department.

On the back of the Incredible S you'll find a large camera lens and dual-LED photo lights, plus an external speaker. The SIM card and microSD memory card slots are both beneath the phone's 1450mAh battery, with a 3.5mm headphone socket present on the top of the handset. The only button we've really missed is a dedicated camera button, though this is par for the course when it comes to HTC smartphones.

User experience

More than any other phone manufacturer in the world, HTC is renowned for its unique user experience — a software layer it calls HTC Sense. This experience was introduced on the company's old Windows Mobile 6 devices and has evolved through HTC's Android range to be what we see today on the Incredible S. This is Sense 2.1 and it has everything we saw on the Desire HD last year, plus a few new tricks up its sleeve. Now when a user accesses the phone's applications menu, for example, the list is paginated into separate vertical pages rather than one long, cumbersome list. You can also filter this view by the categories All, Frequent and Downloaded.

Another new element we love is the Quick Settings tab added to the notifications window. When you drag down the notifications "curtain" you see a scrollable list of recently accessed apps (like the multitasking window you get when you hold the Home key), plus a tab found on the bottom of the window to switch to a checklist of connectivity features. From here you can quickly switch Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on and off, turn off 3G data or hit a shortcut to access the full Settings menu for the phone.

Still central to the HTC Sense experience is the Personalisation menu that you can enter with a dedicated button to the right of the Phone button on the home screen. This menu gives users a huge array of options to customise their experience, including Skins and Themes, as well as Sound packs that change all phone alerts and ringtones to a uniformed audio theme. New users may find this level of customisation daunting at first, but those who preserve will find a core part of the HTC offering that differentiates it from what you'll find on Samsung, LG or Motorola Android phones.


HTC isn't a brand we typically associate with excellent camera models in its smartphones, but we have been pleasantly surprised by the photos taken by the Incredible S. No, this isn't necessarily a compact camera replacement, but it is a rare example of where the photos taken sometimes look better blown up to 100 per cent on a PC monitor than they do on the phone's display. Under optimal conditions, the Incredible S takes sharp photos with natural colour and good detail in the shadows. In lower light it struggles a bit, and the dual-LED flash isn't great as the image sensor tends to bleed colour when it sees things as too bright. We've seen better and we've seen worse from other handsets, but this is definitely a step forward for HTC.

The 8-megapixel camera excels in natural sunlight.
(Credit: CBSi)

The camera is not so great in low light or at handling bright light sources.
(Credit: CBSi)

Media and the web

Little has changed in the web browsing experience between the Desire HD and the Incredible S, with the newer model offering the same fast web access we found in the earlier model. The Incredible S supports HSDPA downloads of up to 14.4Mbps on the Optus 900MHz and 2100MHz 3G networks. Users can also use Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n when in range of a compatible network at home or at the office.

One key difference between the Incredible S and many of the top-tier smartphones of 2011 is its comparably lightweight media sharing options. More and more smartphones are becoming central pieces in our home entertainment systems, with wireless media streaming from our phones using DLNA or, more recently, Mini-HDMI-out ports built into handsets. The Incredible S has no DLNA and only HTC's difficult-to-use Connected Media streaming app is pre-installed — a piece of software we've only successfully used in conjunction with HTC's own Media Link accessory. DLNA should be the protocol that connects a range of devices, but in its current incarnation HTC's DLNA software struggles to speak with the majority of DLNA-capable devices.

When it does work, the Incredible S can stream, or locally playback, a wide range of media files including DivX, XviD and H.264 MP4 video files. To store these files HTC includes 1GB of internal memory and an 8GB microSD card in the box.


The best word to describe the performance of the Incredible S is solid. Compared with other Android devices released this year, the Incredible S holds its own in benchmark tests, though it doesn't appear to excel in any one area. HTC opts for the same Qualcomm Scorpion chipset in the Incredible S, matching a 1GHz processor with an Adreno 205 graphics component and 768MB RAM. This set-up, identical to the Desire HD and Desire Z, predictably delivers comparable performance, with close finishes on benchmarks testing 3D rendering, JavaScript execution, and database reads and writes.

SmartBench 2011 Productivity Index

  • HTC Incredible S
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc
  • HTC Desire HD
  • Huawei X5
  • Longer bars equal better performance 961 1053 1196 984

SmartBench 2011 Games Index

  • HTC Incredible S
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc
  • HTC Desire HD
  • Huawei X5
  • Longer bars equal better performance 1226 1359 1230 842

BrowserMark benchmark

  • HTC Incredible S
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc
  • HTC Desire HD
  • Huawei X5
  • Longer bars equal better performance 36,946 37,971 41,121 30,385

We know many HTC aficionados will be wondering if battery life has improved compared with recent releases. As an average of all our tests we'd say it has improved somewhat, though the improvements are minimal. Heavy users may still struggle to get through a full day, with several hours of consistent use. HTC has built a Power Saving mode into its system, allowing you to define a battery level for this mode to kick in and stipulate which performance areas will be affected, including screen brightness and animations.


The evolution from the HTC Desire to the Incredible S is small but assured. The Incredible S offers the same reliable performance we've seen in most HTC handsets in the last 18 months, but don't expect a speed bump. The design is sleek, the camera is good and, importantly, the screen is its standout feature. We would love to have seen HDMI connectivity and an improved media streaming solution, but we also acknowledge that these are features many users will overlook. It'd also be nice to see HTC include a large chunk of fast internal storage — a 32GB model with expandable memory would be lovely.

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LiamD2 Facebook

"good phone"

LiamD2 posted a review   

The Good:google play store, android 4.0 update, lots of downloadable apps

The Bad:calls sometimes cuts out, screen can sometimes be a bit sluggish.

I have had my htc incredible s for nearly 1 year. I like the phone as it has thousands of apps to download from the google play store. I also like it because it has a touchscreen. I have had a few minor problems (1 where the phone wouldn't charge and 2. where the calls kept cutting out). The phone reception can sometimes drop out depending on where abouts you are. Before I brought my htc incredible s, I had a nokia c3. I think that this is a big upgrade from my old nokia. Overall, I think this midrange mobile has alot to offer. (except for the android 4.1 update)


AshleyL1 posted a comment   

When I got my htc incredible s, it was literally the best phone I have ever had! Unfortunately it got stolen along with my other goods and would do anything to have it back! I wish they were selling again cause now I am on iPhone and htc is better for exploring and doing new things! This was an awsome phone and loved using it everyday!


simbritt posted a comment   

DO NOT BUY THIS PHONE. I made the mistake of choosing this phone over a Nokia and am regretting it. It has been in for repairs for 2 months and still the phone isn't working. It will not charge. Now it has been sent back to the repairers for a 3rd time and am being told that it will take 6 weeks to fix. In total it has been in the repair shop for 3 months......Not happy....stay away from the HTC Incredibile.


"Most practical phone and best value for money"

theaprentice posted a review   

The Good:Battery Life, Camera/Video quality, screen quality, HTC sense, PRICE

The Bad:Can be a bit choppy at times

I bought the phone for $290AUD outright this time last year.
All I can say is this phone is incredible (pun intended).
The old android platform served me well (i think it was 2.3) and the phone will do anything you want it to, take pictures, videos, streaming, play games and with the variety of apps on the play store, you have more than enough.

The new 4.0 update has made this phone even better, runs a lot smoother and can take a lot more.

The phone is a bit choppy at times switching between menu screens, especially when you have widgets on a screen, but really it isn't that inconvenient and I have never experienced any significant lag that deters from the functionality of the phone. It is expected that it will not run like a top end $500 model, as its hardware is quite limited, but it runs well none the less and i cant find an excuse to sell it/dont see the need to upgrade.

In terms of battery life, this phone easily will last me a whole day with heavy, sometime even extending to a day and a half of light use.

Most features you find on any other smart phone you will find on this, wifi tethering, bluetoooth etc. i won't bore you with the list, as this can be found above.

I seriously don't see the need to get more out of your phone than what this phone gives you.

Might be a little outdated now, but for me it is still working fine and I won't be updating any time soon and if you can pick it up at a decent price, I would highly recommend it.

Also just to rebut one of the reviewers below, to say a phone is difficult to use as a drawback is premature, as with anything when you are new to an OS you will struggle. Making the transition between iOS and the android OS it took me a few weeks to get my head around it, but once you make the change, its so much better.
Also HTC sense is awesome, especially if you use facebook.

Mikey G

"Never buy again"

Mikey G posted a review   

The Good:The camera if I need it

The Bad:Difficult to use.

Like many my HTC Incredible S (better named unincredible) is a piece of crap. Bluetooth keeps switching off and on. When I phoned HTC I was told I was the only person to have ever complained about it so basically tough.

GeoffG1 Facebook

"The definition of insanity"

GeoffG1 posted a review   

The Good:Wouldn't even make good toilet paper

The Bad:Too much to report

What a piece of crap. Most unreliable phone i've ever had. Try running a business when the phone turns itself off/on 6 times a day including in the middle of calls. And to top it off, the after sales service from optus is pathetic. Sure they were brilliant when selling the thing ,but put your life aside for days at a time if you want service after the sale. To anyone who will listen DO NOT BUY THIS PHONE. If you read this and still go ahead and buy one, don't say you weren't warned.


KeithH posted a comment   

Recovering from Bill Shock. Does anyone know how to turn OFF video streaming yet allow internet access through the HTC phone. Post to Lumpy20 on bc.whirlpool. Thanks, KH

LukeM2 Facebook

"Don't bother"

LukeM2 posted a review   

The Good:Nothing

The Bad:Everything

I really don't know what to say. I've had so many problems with this phone so let's start from the top...

1) In the early days of having it, it required some update. The update took a ridiculously long time to install but afterwards it was okay.

2) The phone frequently over-heated and I would just have to take it out of my pocket, turn it off, remove the battery and put it in the fridge to get it to work again. I was frequently concerned about this phone exploding.

3) The vibrate mode I found to be pretty violent

4) Having to restart the phone, it was really slow when it turned back on again

5) Calls frequently dropped out. When making or receiving calls, the phone 'app' crashed and stopped responding. I could not hear the other person and they could not hear me. There was no dial tone.

6) Apps I wanted to use were laggy e.g. the Facebook app. That was just beyond a joke, the mobile site was faster, BUT that's only when the Browser app actually worked! It kept telling me I needed cookies enabled. On checking, Cookies were enabled. I disabled/re-enabled, restarted the phone - everything. The only way this actually resolved was when I did a factory data reset. But then it happened again pretty soon after?! Why, HTC?!

7) Android is an annoying OS - the Market. Let's pick on the Market for a minute, there's so little auditing that goes on there. I reckon anyone could post some pretty dodgy software on there (and by the descriptions on there, they do). Frequently there is not an app that I want... e.g. wanted the yellowcab app which is available for iPhone, but no they haven't made an Android version!

8) Lag changing screens or apps

9) Texts took forever to come through, or just never came through. I text a friend, the message would get to them on time with no issues. I would be waiting around for literally hours, and then text again. The message they had sent hours ago came through and they'd say "but I messaged you back like 3 hours ago?!" *this is not a network/carrier fault!* I tested this with my SIM in an old Nokia and the problem was not present.

10) The battery life is absolutely rubbish. You can't rely on this phone to last you the day. You need to be able to make calls/texts, that's the point of a phone. You want to do other stuff with a smart phone? You can't because you'll kill the battery.

11) Using features like the WiFi hotspot drains the battery in minutes, not hours. It causes the phone to overheat and it's not good.

The only good things I can say about this sorry excuse for a smartphone is its camera is good and so is its flashlight function. The rest of it, is just worth putting in the bin.

I've changed to iPhone 4 now. I won't be looking back. None of the issues above are present there so Android had its chance, as did HTC, and they screwed up bigtime with this one.

JaneI Facebook

"This is a Excellant phone."

JaneI posted a review   

The Good:easy to use has everything you want

The Bad:Battery life!!

I just bought this phone on a plan from Virgin its a great phone like it a lot easy to use and downloads apple Itunes which was pleased about the only thing that let this phone down is the battery it could be better I also have a hct snap and that has a better battery life but as phone go I would not go passed this one Great HCT!

DevinkaW Facebook

"Best phone I've ever owned"

DevinkaW posted a review   

The Good:Almost everything is good. Easy to customize, great camera/video, great call quality

The Bad:Feel like the USB charger port is going to break one day, have to go through too many clicks to switch phone to silent mode, when you're half asleep and trying to press 'snooze' on the alarm you may turn off the alarm totally

I%u2019ve never had a smartphone before so I don%u2019t have much to compare the HTC to but I%u2019m very, very happy with it.

It looks good, the display is clear, the 8 megapixel camera with built in flash is awesome and the video quality is really, really good. The front camera is only 2 megapixels but it%u2019s not something I use much so that%u2019s ok. The call quality is great too. Another plus is the wall charger also comes apart and can be used as the USB cable. Sending texts is very easy too, you don%u2019t have to press each letter correctly, you can type a word in quite wrong and it will pretty much always guess correctly what word you actually meant to type in (espec. useful for the fat-fingered or lazy ppl out there). The battery does not run out any quicker than on my old phones (and those phones were not smartphones), I only put my phone to charge maybe every 2 days. However, my usage is probably considered %u2018low%u2019 - I usually only make two 5min calls each day, send a few sms%u2019s, use the internet on it for a total of 10mins.

It took me abt two days to figure out how to use the phone properly (how to store numbers, how to customize the apps and stuff on the display, how to get bluetooth to work, setup wireless, how to open the back cover to insert my SIM etc. %u2013 had to watch a few YouTube videos to get that one right) but now that I%u2019ve got all those things setup, adding new apps and using bluetooth and everything else is %u2018Incredibly%u2019 eaSy (lame joke attempt).

In regards to the bad things I%u2019ve mentioned above, I do feel as though the USB charger port on the phone is going to stuff up one day but this is because I sometimes use my car charger and this charger is a generic one (not from HTC) so you can%u2019t really blame the phone or manufacturer, the charger which actually comes with the phone fits into the port fine. Changing the phone between Silent and Normal mode is not as easy as it was on my old phones where you just hold down the %u2018#%u2019 key or something, here you have to go through menus to switch modes which is annoying considering I have to switch modes a few times each day. Pressing snooze makes me nervous (so I should probz just get out of bed and not press snooze at all hey?) because if you don%u2019t %u2018press%u2019 the snooze button on the screen and instead slide ur finger down the screen (I have done this once in my half asleep state) then you will turn off the alarm completely and get late to work. But usefully, you can setup a number of alarms, so you can always setup a backup alarm to go off a few mins later if you still haven%u2019t got out of bed.

There%u2019s so much more praise I could say of this phone but that would take too long. There%u2019s nothing really wrong with this phone which amazes me because I normally find massive faults with any phone I%u2019ve ever had. Basically, I would recommend the HTC Incredible S to anyone.

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User Reviews / Comments  HTC Incredible S

  • LiamD2



    "I have had my htc incredible s for nearly 1 year. I like the phone as it has thousands of apps to download from the google play store. I also like it because it has a touchscreen. I have had a few..."

  • AshleyL1


    "When I got my htc incredible s, it was literally the best phone I have ever had! Unfortunately it got stolen along with my other goods and would do anything to have it back! I wish they were sellin..."

  • simbritt


    "DO NOT BUY THIS PHONE. I made the mistake of choosing this phone over a Nokia and am regretting it. It has been in for repairs for 2 months and still the phone isn't working. It will not charge. No..."

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