By April 15, 2011

HTC Incredible S review


The HTC Incredible S was the first release of many devices that HTC announced at Mobile World Congress in February. The name ‘Incredible’ is not a new one for HTC as they have had the Incredible on the Verizon network in the USA for some time. So now us folks in Europe get an Incredible but as a newer generation we get an ‘S’ which must have taken HTC a long time to come up with that name!

With a 4 inch capacitive screen the Incredible S sits nicely in the middle between the Desire S with it’s 3.7 inch screen and the Desire HD and Sensation with their massive 4.3 inch screens.

With so many Android devices to choose from is the Incredible S a worthy purchase?  Let’s find out.


The ten second review:

  • Device: HTC Incredible S
  • Price: £406.80 including V.A.T
  • Summary: A large high end Android Smartphone that seems to perform well in every way.
  • Best of: Screen, camera, build quality, HTC’s own interface tweaks
  • Worst of: Battery life can be a struggle sometimes but this is Android and not an HTC issue.
  • Buy it now from: Clove


What’s in the box?

  • Device
  • Battery
  • Sync/Charge Cable
  • Wired Headset
  • Manual/Warranty


HTC Incredible S Specification:

  • Processor:  1 GHz
  • Platform: Android with HTC Sense
  • Memory:  Internal phone storage: 1.1 GB  RAM: 768 MB
  • Dimensions:  120 x 64 x 11.7 mm
  • Weight  135.5 grams (4.78 ounces) with battery
  • Display  4-inch touch screen with 480 x 800 resolution
  • Network  HSPA/WCDMA 900/AWS/2100 MHz  GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz  Upload speed of up to 5.76 Mbps and download speed of up to 14.4 Mbps
  • G-Sensor
  • Digital compass
  • Proximity sensor 
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Bluetooth® 2.1 with FTP/OPP for file transfer A2DP for wireless stereo headsets  PBAP for phonebook access from the car kit 
  • Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11b/g/n  3.5 mm stereo audio jack  Standard micro-USB (5-pin micro-USB 2.0)
  • 8 megapixel colour camera with auto focus and dual LED flash, 720p HD video recording  1.3 megapixel front camera
  • Audio supported formats  Playback: .aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav,
  • Video supported formats  Playback: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, wmv (Windows Media Video 9), .avi (MP4 ASP and MP3), xvid (MP4 ASP and MP3)
  • Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery Capacity: 1450 mAh 
  • Talk time: Up to 380 minutes for WCDMA and up to 580 minutes for GSM  Up to 370  hours for WCDMA  and to 290 hours for GSM
  • Expansion slot  microSDT memory card (SD 2.0 compatible)
  • AC adapter  Voltage range/frequency: 100 ~ 240 V AC, 50/60 Hz  DC output: 5 V and 1 A 



The left side of the Incredible S houses the up/down volume controls as well as the microUSB port.



The right is bare. Move on. Nothing to be seen here.



We find the power/screen lock button on top as well as the headset jack.



The bottom is also bare apart from the microphone hole.


Over on the back we find the camera lens, the dual LED flash and a speaker grill.



When the device is off it is hard to see anything on the front. There is however the sensors, an LED and the front facing camera at the top. The touch sensitive buttons under the screen are not visible until the Incredible S is turned on.




  • Screen
  • Media Features
  • Camera
  • Customisable UI
  • Wi-Fi Hotspot



  • Battery Life




It has taken me a good few weeks to write this review. Not because I am lazy but because I wanted to use the device properly in every way in order to give my best and unbiased opinions of it. Sure, I could have completed it much sooner had I just skimmed through it but as I believe the HTC Incredible S is going to be a huger seller for the company I wanted to do this right. 

Straight out of the box the HTC Incredible S is a great looking handset. The whole device is jet back and looks sleek as if it means real business. HTC have made the Desire S with a unibody design like they did with the Legend but this is not so with the Incredible S. One can only presume this is due to manufacturing costs as the Incredible S is a little bigger.
So the Incredible S has a plastic back cover which doesn’t feel as good as the ‘unibody’ devices but build quality it still fantastic. The handset feels solid and due to the finish on the plastic battery cover you get a little big of grip. Nothing worse than a slippery phone!

We now get a couple of new features on the front of the Incredible S that we have not had on previous HTC phones. The first is the front facing camera which I’m not sure is actually that much of a great feature.  The second is the four buttons under the screen. They are not buttons actually. They are touch sensitive ones but with a twist. If you rotate the phone into landscape mode the buttons rotate too, although it only works ant clockwise. How cool is that. They are extremely responsive and give a tiny bit of haptic feedback when touched. I have always been a big fan of hardware buttons but these feel great and I am now converted.

We all know that Android is taking the world by storm and this has certainly been helped by the devices HTC have produced over the past couple of years. The HTC Incredible S has launched running Android 2.2 however HTC did say that it would receive an update to 2.3 very soon. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too long.

Like all the other handsets, the Incredible S runs HTC Sense which to most people is part of the attraction. Recently I have preferred the naked Android look but I’m liking Sense more and more. They have implemented some nice features since last summer in particular the ability to use Sense on the web for tracking your phone etc.


So, once the device in switched on for the first time you will be taken through the setup process which is a piece of cake. Then you will be presented with the typical seven home screens. Like on previous devices all seven screens can be customised with apps, shortcuts and widgets. You also have the option to change scenes. Out of the box you will have the normal multicolored wall paper. I’ve chosen black though, because I felt like it!

 H1 H2 H3 H4 H5 H6 H7


Notifications will appear at the very top of the screen as they arrive. Each app, message, problem, will show its own icon and to get to the icons you drag the bar downwards. As with most Smartphones this is also where you will see the time, battery, Wi-Fi connections etc.

Noti 1


Noti 2

With the bar pulled down you will see the full list of notifications and tapping one will take you straight into that particular app. If you want to clear them all there is a ‘clear’ tab up on the right hand side.

Above the notifications you will see a line of application icons. These are just showing what apps are currently running on the device. You can swipe left and right to jump to the app you require.

There is of fine selection of clocks to choose from for the home screen but the one you see in my screen shots seems to be the most commonly used. The weather is integrated into Sense so when you unlock your screen you will get a weather animation for a couple of seconds. A press of the weather under the clock will take you into the actual weather application where you can add other cities/locations if you desire. As you would expect you get shown the current conditions as well as the forecast over the next four days.



The same happens if you touch the clock on the home screen. Here you will get access to the world clock, where you can add other cities, access the the alarm, stopwatch and timer. If you use a dock for your HTC device then the Desk Clock app within the clock will be of use. This will give you basic information including the time and weather but with an option to switch to ‘night mode’ where the screen dims to ensure the room is not lit up by your phone at night.


C1 c2 c3 c4 c5


I mentioned earlier about the four touch sensitive buttons under the screen. As you would expect these are made up of home, menu, back and search. These do exactly what they say they will but the home button does have another feature. We have seen it before but it is always worth a mention as it is cool. It’s ‘Leap’ and what this will allow you to do is press the home button and you will be shown all seven home screens on one screen. You can then jump to a particular screen without having to swipe left and right. From the home screen you can also pinch the screen and this will also launch ‘Leap’.



You would have seen that at the base of the home screen there are three onscreen tabs. These are the shortcuts into the main menu, phone app and personalise. The first two are self explanatory. The personalise one is where you can change your scenes, wallpaper and skins as well as change sounds and quickly add widgets and apps to the home screen. Each of these options are so easy to use that you can’t go wrong.


P p2 p3 p4

With the wide selection of HTC apps and widgets as well as the standard Android ones you really can make your phone look unique and just how you want it.


Jumping into the main menu, the applications are set out in a grid formation in alphabetical order. If you would prefer them just in a list you can do that with a quick press of the menu key and here you have the option to switch between grid and list. This is also where you can share applications. Just select an app you wish to share and you will be given a choice of how you want to share it, whether it be by email, Bluetooth, Twitter, etc. A nice touch.


 menu1 menu2


While we are in the menu I thought I would mention how nice that the S-LCD screen is on the Incredible S. The colours look fantastic and that is partly why I chose the black background for my home screen. It just helps them stand out a little more.
The screen is clearly not as good as Samsungs offerings but I am more than happy with HTC’s progression.


So lets take a brief look at some of the main features and applications you are likely to use on the HTC Incredible S.

The Incredible S comes pre loaded with the UK Amazon MP3 app. If you don’t have an Amazon account it takes seconds to set one up and then you are off. You are given the option to search by bestselling albums, bestselling songs and genre as well as having a search bar at the top of the screen. Prices seem reasonable and if you are into downloading music straight to your device then this is the perfect way. I have subsequently heard the news that Amazon are introducing cloud based storage for music so maybe this will be another benefit to using them?


amazon1 amazon2 amazon3 Amazon4 


The calendar is much the same as we have seen before. You have the option to view by month, day, week or agenda. You can scroll through the weeks/days by swiping up and down on the screen and and as you would expect adding an entry is as easy as tapping on the day or time you want. Like on other phones I have reviewed my favorite feature on the calendar is that it enables you to invite a guest by adding their email address. Another cool part is that if the event is taking place in a particular place you can add the location using Google maps. Sweet.


cal1 cal2 cal3 cal4


Lets take a look at the 8 mega pixel camera which in my opinion is one of the best features on the HTC Incredible S. Having the 4 inch screen really helps when both taking and viewing photographs. The user interface is a real beauty to use. Situated on the left of the screen you have the zoom bar which is extremely responsive and zooming all the way takes a split second. Over on the right we have five icons. At the top we have the one to switch between camera and video camera. Under that we have the flash controls and as you would imagine you have the option to have the flash on, off or on auto. Sitting in the middle is the camera shutter button. Under the shutter button we have the effects and there are a total of twelve different ones which you can have some great fun with. I particularly liked the distortion option. And then finally at the bottom we have the button to take you into the camera roll.

cam1 cam2 cam3


Using the camera is great fun. The camera will auto focus on whatever you are pointing at however if you wish to focus on something else you just tap that thing on the screen and the focus will be adjusted to that item. I much prefer having an on screen shutter button. I find it makes the phone more stable rather than having to apply pressure to a physical key on the top of the device.

I have not found much of the ‘pink hue’ that has been present in some of HTC’s previous cameras. I’m suitably impressed with what HTC have done with the Incredible S and picture quality I found to be fantastic both in good light and bad. This is clearly helped by the beast of a flash. Its dual LED flash really delivers some power.


As you would expect, once in camera mode you can press the phones menu key to access the settings. There are a nice selection of options to choose from.

You can see a selection of example photos below including some of the effects. Click for larger image.


 6 7 8


1 2 3


4 5


Using the camcorder is much the same as the still camera. You get the same onscreen options including the effects, although there are fewer effects to choose from. It is pretty standard for Smartphones to record in 720P HD these days and the Incredible S is no different. Like the still camera I found video to be great and probably one of the better ones I have used recently. Not sure it is as good as the iPhone 4 though. Sorry.


Sample Video


When it comes to actually viewing the photographs you have taken on the device you will head into the Gallery. Initially you will be shown the photos in folders and when you have one selected all the pictures in that folder will be shown onscreen in grid formation.


gallery 1 Gallery 2

 Gallery 3

Clicking on one will show it full screen. You may want to rotate into landscape mode for most pictures.


 gallery 4 Gallery 5

You will see that there are various tabs at the base of the photo. The tab on the far left will take you back to the grid view. The one next to it that looks like a magic wand is actually a little bit magic. It will allow you to alter the photograph which many phones do not allow after the picture has been taken. You can crop, rotate and even change the effects. A nice feature. Thanks HTC.


gallery 9 gallery 10 gallery 11


As you would expect, you have the option share the photo and as you can see below there are many options. Almost spoilt for choice! If you give the phones main menu button a press you can access some other options such as creating a slide show or setting the picture as your wallpaper for example. All in all the Gallery app rocks!


gallery 7 gallery 8


The HTC Incredible makes full use of its great flash by having a Flashlight app installed. Not the most exciting application but it comes in handy sometimes. I love the way you can touch the torch button and you have three different levels of brightness. I was tempted to test it out whilst potholing but but I don’t pothole and couldn’t find a cave anyway!




With an FM radio built in you can listen to your favorite radio stations while on the move. Like most phones you need to plug in the wired headset to get the radio transmitting. As you can see the user interface is simple to use but attractive.



We have had the Friend Stream app on HTC devices for some time now but it is always worth a mention. Put simply the app will integrate your Facebook, Twitter and Flicker feeds into one. Friend Stream comes with its own home screen widget that you may have seen in an earlier screenshot. You have the option to scroll up and down the widget or touch the top of it to launch the full application.


H1 fs1 fs2 fs4


Pressing on an update for a second will allow you to reply, retweet, add to favorites, share etc. And of course at the top of the page you have status bar where you can enter your own updates. You have the option here to upload to just Twitter, just Facebook or both. Sweet!

You will notice tabs at the base of the screen. These just allow you to filter the feeds into all, updates, photos, etc. So although there are dedicated Facebook and Twitter apps for Android, Friend Stream is just a alternative way to view them in an integrated feed. Simple and a nice little app.

While we are on the subject of Twitter it is worth noting, if you are not aware, that all the HTC handsets come with HTC’s own Twitter app installed. Peep is its name and if you are not a heavy Twitter user you will more than likely love it. For heavy Twitter users you may want to try one of the many alternatives in the Android Market.




When it comes to email the HTC Incredible S does it as well as you would expect. Like on all Android devices there are two email applications. One is Gmail and the other is mail where you can add your standard Hotmail, Yahoo or any other email accounts. We have covered these so may times now on previous phones I’m not going to go into any detail. It just receives email after all. Here’s some pictures though:


 gmail 1 Gmail 2 Gmail 3

Gmail App

email 1 email 2 email 3

Email App


The web browser is always one of the most used features on a Smartphone so how good it is can be pretty important. I’m happy to say that I absolutely love it on the Incredible S. Having the big screen and the 1GHz processor helps as does the Super LCD screen. It is quick, fluent, smooth and a real joy to use. I actually prefer to use it over the iPhone4 which I don’t think I have said before with an Android device. My favorite feature has to be the text reflow. This works when you zoom in on text. The words will be realigned to stop you having to swipe back and fourth to read a sentence. This feature is one that is sorely missed on the iPhone and browsing on that device can be frustrating. Another feature missing from the iphone that we do get on the Incredible S browser is the ability to view flash websites. Now many people make out that this is no big deal but I cant stand visiting a site on my iPhone only to discover I cannot view all the content. It drives me bonkers!

You will see that at the top of the browser there is the address bar. To the left of this a RSS subscription app and to the right is the refresh tab.


 Br 1 BR2






A press of the menu button will give you access to your bookmarks which are beautifully laid out with a screen shot of each page. You will see in the screenshot above three tabs at the bottom of the screen. These are Bookmarks, most visited and history, therefore enabling you to find the webpage you need promptly.



Of course multi tab browsing is supported. With several pages open it is just a case of swiping left and right to the desired one.


Locations is a handy application that comes pre loaded on the Incredible S. Essentially it helps you locate important places of interest near you using the phones GPS to pinpoint you.

Loc1 Loc2   


Once you have found the location you are looking for you then get further options such as sharing that location, view on map, telephone and add footprint. Finding a local restaurant or shop has never been easier than when using the location app. Remember that this is an HTC application so don’t go looking for it on other devices. 


Loc3 Loc4 Loc5


If you are new to Android you will need to know where to download applications from. These can be located in the Android Market which has in excess of 150,000 applications both free and paid. Once in the market the home screen will show you a list of featured apps and above that you will see three tabs, apps, games and my apps. These are pretty straight forward. Once you have an application downloaded the phone will automatically tell you when an update becomes available and this will appear in the notification bar.


market market 4 market 5


As you can see below, when you view an app not only do you get a description but you are also presented with screenshots and reviews of the app. Fairly standard stuff but I am mentioning for you chaps that are picking up your first Smartphone.


market2 market 3


When it comes to playing music on the HTC Incredible S it does a stunning job. The music quality is great and as I have said before with other HTC devices once you turn on the SRS option the quality is boosted massively. I would rather listen to music on this phone than any other. As you will see below the music player interface looks real sweet too. Album artwork is displayed and you can scroll left and right to change albums/tracks. Under the artwork and song/artist you get the standard play/pause, forward and back controls.



To the left of the controls you will see the icon that looks like three horizontal lines. Give that a tap and you are taken deeper into the menu. Here you are presented with further tabs at the base of the screen which list the music tracks by different categories such as by album, artist or all songs.


m2 m3 m4 m5


Tapping the main menu key on the Incredible S gives you further options and the best one by far is the ‘find videos’ one. Press it and YouTube will automatically bring up all videos relating to the song you are currently listening too. How clever is that.


Music8 m9


So overall the music player gets the thumbs up from me. It’s well wicked cool!


When it comes to using the GPS features on the Incredible S you will be pleased to know it performs beautifully. Google Maps is obviously pre loaded on the device and for a quick fix or directions you cant really beat it. You will see that at the top right of the screen are three icons. The one on the left takes you into locations to enable you to find places of interest near your location, and it works just fine.


maps 1 maps 2


The middle icon is layers and here you have the option to switch the various layers on and off. If heading out on a drive it makes sense to switch the Traffic option on. This will show you any delays on the major roads. The third icon just refreshed your current location on the map.

If you press the menu button on the handset you are given the option to get directions. This can be pretty handy but please don’t use this whilst driving.


maps 3 maps 4 maps 5


If you are driving though the Incredible S has a much better option for you and that is Google Navigation. As well as written instructions Google Navigation will deliver voice directions too. It may not be as fancy as the likes of TomTom or Co-Pilot but it does a decent job and has a nice user interface.


nav 1 nav 2 nav 6


HTC have given Navigation a bit of a tweak to make using it an easier and a safer option whist driving. Within the main menu of the Incredible S you will find an icon for ‘Car Panel’. This essentially provides your navigation options within big bold tabs for ease of use.


car 1


As you can see, the app incorporates making phone calls and will store your favorite contacts as well as recent calls. Footprints are also a feature here although not one that is of interest to me. And like all good Sat Nav apps you have the History option, again making it easy to navigate to recent destinations. With the HTC Incredible S having the nice 4 inch S-LCD screen it really makes using the phone a great navigation device.


car 2 car 3 car 4


Running Android 2.2 the HTC Incredible S has the Wi-Fi Hotspot feature installed. What this will essentially do is allow multiple devices to connect to the internet using the Incredible S as the modem. A very handy feature if you carry a laptop or tablet with you and need to be connected. I love this feature.




When it comes to YouTube on the Incredible S you get the standard Android app pre loaded. And what a fine application it is too. I prefer the Android version over all other platforms. Its user interface looks great in black and there really are a broad range of features within the application allowing you to do most things that you would on a PC or Mac.

As well as clearly being able to view all the popular videos on YouTube the app lets you sign into your own account and as you can see from the screen shots you will be able to view your different categories such as uploads, favorites and subscriptions etc. When it comes to watching video within the app the handset does a great job. I know I keep saying it but I always find that watching video on a phone is always helped by screen size and we are lucky with the Incredible S to get some great quality screen real estate.




Battery life is always an important feature when it comes to a Smartphone and Android ones always seem to suffer the most. Initially when I got the Incredible S i was a little disappointed with the battery but I am pleased to say it improved over the next few days. I can get through a full day now but remember that is you are going to use GPS or stream a lot of media then you will need to top up the battery in order to make it through until bedtime.


To finish I just thought I would show you some of my most commonly used Android apps that I have been using on the HTC Incredible S. They can all be downloaded from the Android Market apart from one (issimo).

1 2 3

Skype                          LiveProfile                             issimo

4 5 6

BBC iPlayer                        RAC Traffic                               SafeSync




The more I have used the HTC Incredible S the more I have grown to LOVE it. It looks good, feels good and performs fantastically. Sure, it is not perfect but this is the first Android handset I have reviewed that I can truly say I have enjoyed using. Will I be ditching my iPhone4 for the Incredible S? I’m not sure I can do that right now but in the meantime I think i may just keep the Incredible S as it does do certain things much better that the iPhone4.

Well done HTC. Another fine device. Now I just need the software update to Android 2.3 please.


Posted by: James

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

Five year veteran of the site. BlackBerry specialist, but experienced in most operating systems. Enjoys flower arranging and cross stitch.
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