The HTC One S has an internal 1650 mAh 3.7V nominal battery, which works out to a capacity of 6.1 Whr. That’s smaller than the 6.66 Whr battery (1800 mAh, 3.7V) in the HTC One X / XL, but still pretty big for a phone of this size and thickness. The question then becomes what battery life is like on the One S, and to test I turned to our current smartphone battery life tests which I’ve described before. The web browsing tests consist of a few dozen pages which are loaded every 10 seconds with the display set at precisely 200 nits (using a meter) until the phone dies - this is done over WiFi and cellular data. The tethering test consists of a single client notebook attached to the device using its onboard WiFi hotspot function, and four tabs of our page load test alongside a 128 kbps streaming MP3 station are loaded on that notebook until the phone dies.

Battery Capacity

I should also note that the One S T-Mobile and International results differ somewhat because of the difference in air interface - the T-Mobile variant is on that network’s DC-HSPA+, whereas the One S International I had to test on AT&T in an 850 MHz market (Pinal county) where AT&T holds an 850 MHz license just north of me. Where I live, AT&T is only PCS 1900 MHz.

Remember that DC-HSPA+ is aggregating together two 5 MHz wide WCDMA carriers on the downlink which in theory should require more power from the power amplifiers per unit time. The age old question, however, is whether the increase in throughput can result in the system both achieving a higher data/time rate, and suspending quicker, thus saving some power. Some of the One S International results are also absent because of my limited time in 850 MHz AT&T markets.

Web Browsing (Cellular 3G - EVDO or WCDMA)

Web Browsing (WiFi)

Cellular Talk Time

WiFi Hotspot Battery Life (3G)

I’ve had requests to measure charge time on smartphones, and thankfully the One S makes this possible with the charging status LED. I measured 1.533 hours required to charge the One S from completely empty to full using the supplied charger; this is a pretty speedy charge time compared to some of the other devices I’ve reviewed as of late. I’ll spare everyone the usual rant about USB charging spec and using the right charger that implements the appropriate data pin impedance.

While the One S has basically the same 28nm dual core Krait SoC as the One X (MSM8960 and MSM8260A differ in baseband), the One S also has to deal with a relatively power hungry SAMOLED display. We’ve shown before that this combination suffers in our battery life test especially because our test pages all have white backgrounds.

In day to day use with the One S on auto brightness, I have to say that I’ve never been want for more battery life at all. If you look at the web browsing test, the One S is just a half hour short of the iPhone 4 result. I’d say that’s pretty impressive. If you’re on a One S (or any AMOLED phone) and trying to eek some more longevity out of the device, as always my suggestion is to lower display brightness and set a black background on the home screen, which is what I do with all my AMOLED phones. 

Physical Impressions and Cases Performance
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  • dgingeri - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    as a One S owner for the last few months, I'm happy to say it's the best phone I've ever had. I'm thoroughly impressed with it. The only issues I have with it is that it's kind of hard to hold on to at times. I have dropped mine twice because the back surface is a bit slippery.

    I hadn't seen the cases, though. those look nice. I think I'll get one to offset that slippery back problem.
    Reply
  • mgl888 - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Is there manual aperture control available for the camera? I don't see it in the GUI screen shots. Reply
  • Brian Klug - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    No sadly, although no smartphones I'm aware of have variable apertures. Nokia gets closest by implementing an ND (neutral density) filter that attenuates light, but the aperture is fixed.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • Zoomer - Thursday, July 19, 2012 - link

    To be honest, the FOV difference is so small on the tiny lens. Reply
  • OCedHrt - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    I've had a T-Mobile One S for about a month now and...

    1. I hate the USB port on the left - this makes the phone unusable as an incar GPS device because the USB cable is on the driver side.

    2. Having just enough USB length for my previous phone with a USB port on the bottom, there just isn't enough left over reach with the USB port on the left.

    3. Having the USB port just opposite of the volume buttons mean it's unavoidable you mess with the volume when plugging in the USB port with the screen on - such as when you're on the phone and try to plug it in only to find you've muted yourself.

    4. HTC's marketing on this phone is very misleading - up until this article I did not know that T-Mobile's version did not have micro-arcing and I already have scuffs on metal back of the device.

    5. The USB port also chips when trying to plug in the USB cable, as reported by many other owners. There is supposedly a revised version with a tapered USB port to fix this, but it seems not all carriers get it.

    6. The power button on top is also not very accessible. As much as I prefer a HTC device over Samsung's, I still prefer power on one side with volume on the opposite. The usb power port on the bottom has not gotten in the way of me using the phone.

    7. Finally, HTC seems to have silently swapped many One S's with higher clocked S3 instead of S4 due to shortages - this has created a bit of PR backlash in the affected markets.
    Reply
  • Belard - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    USB placement is never a perfect science... you are not holding it right :)

    Hence the only thing throwing me off of HTC phones is the power button on TOP and the vol rockers on the right side. Makes for 1 finger control I think. But for me and these HUGE phones, I didn't like. Samsung sticks its vol buttons on the left side, so they put their USB ports on the bottom, but they DID put them on the TOP for a while.

    With this arrangement, thumb controls vol and index is more comfortable for the power.

    For me, I think the top mounted USB makes a bit most sense, but doesn't look as good and in more danger of rain damage. With it on top, the phone can be oriented right when charging or is plugged into USB speakers. Mostly takes care of the GPS issue in the car... so top or bottom makes the most sense for a phone.

    Again... thou, it still depends on the person.

    PS: Hate rubber covers over the ports on phones, so its a fight to unplug those 1-3 times a day. Samsung used to use a plastic sliding door on the Galaxy S1.
    Reply
  • OCedHrt - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    It depends on how you use your phone. If you use your phone while it is plugged in, USB on top is also a bad idea. The only place where USB get's less in the way is on the side, or on the bottom. The problem with the left side is that is the driver side for most of us. This can be remedied by getting a car dock for the phone.

    Having buttons on the opposite side of the USB connector is also a bad idea, because you will push them while plugging in the cable.

    The power button on top is okay, but it is hard to reach with one hand. For the Nexus S with the power on the right, and volume on the left, I never had any issues using the phone with one hand.
    Reply
  • Reikon - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    If your USB cable isn't long enough, just get a new one? They're like $3.

    And I've never had an issue pressing the volume buttons while plugging in USB. I've always held the phone on its bottom right (like how I normally hold the phone) while plugging in USB.

    I do agree with the power button on the top being undesirable, though because being on top means it sometimes accidentally gets pressed while in my pocket, which brings me to another problem I have: the audio jack being on top.

    I see no advantage to basically all phones having it on top. Having it on the bottom makes it so the cable doesn't potentially cover the screen and makes phones easier to pocket. When pocketing a phone directly from using it, you're naturally going to put it upside down, and headphones would get in the way for phones with the audio jack on top.
    Reply
  • millerduck - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Massive problems with WiFi calling dropouts as well as poor performance in 1-2 bar cell areas. The HTC One S seems great in well-covered areas but on the edges it fails miserably. Other Android (MyTouch series) phones cope and can handle WiFi calling to supplement.

    On a network not known for consistent blanket coverage, this was the wrong handset!

    MD
    Reply
  • OCedHrt - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    I have the same wifi problems - I've been trying to get it exchanged.
    And call static at times - not sure if correlated with signal yet.
    Reply

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