New phone: HTC Desire S

HTC Desire S, copying data from my old phoneGot a new phone. HTC Desire S. Nice. Will blog here as I discover how it works.

Friday night

Played around with it as it charged while plugged into the mains. Thought I’d got the PIN wrong when I initially started it, and it only gives you three goes. First try: PIN from the SIM didn’t work. Second try a PIN from the account which I thought I could remember (but never can… you never do, so who uses it?) On a hunch the final try I tried the SIM PIN again, and got it right. Obviously I’d mistyped it. Annoying only three goes though.

Startup sequence guided me through setting up the phone. Pretty good. Happily said it would connect via Bluetooth to the old phone and copy contacts, calendar and SMSs across. Gave specific instructions for what to do on the other end (Nokia N95). Neato.

Figured out there was a wifi network, and asked for details. It appears to use that where possible, or mobile if not available.

HTC don’t appear to publish the SAR ratings on the web, but they are clearly marked on a sticker inside the box: 0.445 (head) 0.542 (body). This is reasonably low — I’m surprised they don’t shout about it more. I had wanted a phone with a low rating… the only place I saw it listed was on a Norwegian mobile dealer’s web site (which was found thanks to Chelsworthgale on Twitter — note their table of various brands… some of the Sonys are very high).

It also synced up to my Google account and linked to my Twitter account.

Saturday morning

I think I’ve figured out the basic navigation now, in particular the hard buttons along the bottom.

The sync to Google may not have been especially helpful. It’s added lots of contacts with email-only who I never talk to. I suspect many of them I’ve never emailed, but may have received messages from via email discussion lists. Will require a cleanup. Looking at Gmail on my PC, it’s not immediately obvious where I can clean this up… though hopefully it’s there somewhere, as it’d take ages via the phone.

Ah, in the Contact list you can only display those with a phone number: People; options; View; Only with phone number. That makes things easier to deal with. (Found via the Google Mobile support forum.)

Web access looks okay. Twitter works okay, but I haven’t figured out what the difference is between the Twitter app (is that the built-in Android one?) and the HTC Sense Twitter app.

Need to figure out the alert sounds. Nokias have profiles which can be easily set so if you’re in a meeting you can switch it to silent. I’m not yet clear on how to do that.

I’m also not clear on how much battery the seemingly always-running apps are burning. This article suggests some ways of cutting battery use (for the Desire, not specifically the Desire S).

Sunday evening

The battery ran out last night, which didn’t seem like outstanding life, but I suppose I’d been fiddling with it most of the day, and it was the first charge.

I recharged overnight and the battery life has been much better today.

I’m suspicious of the fact that icons hang around in the top-left area, occupying memory and perhaps taking battery life. Last night I tried the “Car panel” application, but bailed out when it asked me precisely what I wanted to do. A car icon showed up, and didn’t go away (even overnight after shutting down and restarting the phone) until I again went into the “Car Panel” properly and shut it down fully.

It’s a similar story with the Twitter and GMail applications. Of course I’m more likely to want them hanging around, but if I spend some time at my PC, I don’t really want my phone beeping when Tweets or emails arrive. It’d be nice to be able to shut apps off completely when not needed. Perhaps as I keep learning how to use the phone, I’ll work out how to deal with this.

At first I didn’t like the typing, but I’m getting used to it, and HTC’s version of predictive text works quite well… as long as I’m not trying to write a #RoadMorons Tweet quoting someone’s licence plate number.

The Android Market works quite well, at least for the two free apps I downloaded — Angry Birds (ad supported, about as fun to play as on Google Chrome), and Tram Hunter, an unofficial Android version of Tram Tracker, which works well.

Niggles aside, I’m enjoying the phone a lot.

Monday lunchtime

Noticed last night that the weather app that runs as default splashes animated rain drops and a windscreen wiper over the screen when it’s raining. And when the sun was shining this morning, that was animated too. Cute. However this morning it was claiming that in Melbourne it was 4 degrees outside… in fact the Bureau of Meteorology reckoned it was 10.

Tried out charging via USB from a PC. Good; very handy.

The article that Terry linked to (in the comments) is very good at explaining how Android works with background apps, and has a nice reminder that This Ain’t Windows, and it doesn’t always matter if stuff continues running.

Paul2’s tip that you can drag the notification panel down to look more closely at it is handy, and something I don’t recall seeing in the instructions (though I haven’t read them in great detail). It also gives access to quick settings such as turning WAP on and off, which is handy for preserving battery life.

The old Nokia N95 in screen saver mode would still tell you the time (and a couple of monochrome icons for missed calls, new messages). The Desire S won’t tell you anything, except it flashes an LED if there’s something new that’s come in. As I mentioned above, this is not necessarily a good thing when GMail and Twitter are sending notifications of stuff I’ve already spotted from my PC, and I only really want to know about text messages and missed calls. And it’d be nice to be able to see the time without waking the phone up.

Update Monday night

Uploading to Youtube was problematic over 3G, but worked okay from home over Wifi. The video quality seems okay.

Likewise, Flickr (using the builtin app, some HTC creation) was causing trouble over 3G, but fine over Wifi. Tony recommended I try Flickroid instead, which I will. The photo quality seems okay, and at the full size, there’s a reasonable amount of detail.

Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Thursday night

Just a few more thoughts…

OK, the battery life of this thing appears to (just) get me through 24 hours. The fact that it can be charged via USB is excellent, but I suppose standard these days.

Found my pics/video while browsing the phone’s file system in DCIM/100MEDIA, which wasn’t exactly intuitive, but wasn’t too hard to find.

Also found on the file system: a full PDF manual!

Most of the photos I’ve taken are lovely and clear. I still need to play around with the video to get a sense of the quality, but at first glance it seems not too bad.

The Twitter client has crashed a couple of times. Not really clear why.

I’ll probably get used to switching off wifi when I leave the house.

Likewise, getting used to how text messages are handled, in threads by sender.

Web browser seems to work flawlessly.

All in all, still liking.

10 thoughts on “New phone: HTC Desire S

  1. Paul

    Most apps shouldn’t be using the battery at all, when they’re not running; I believe that they are put in a halted state, unless they’re doing something like playing music, or those that poll a remote server. I tend to turn off the polling anyway, because I don’t want it using up data…

  2. Terry

    Having your Google contacts on your phone is actually quite useful because of mobile email. Switching the phone to silent is relatively straight forward. Just use the volume down button.

    I found syncing with Google on my Desire phone quite useful since my contacts were already being synced with Google on my previous Windows Mobile phone. One of the advantages of Google services is their multi-platform compatibility.

  3. daniel Post author

    @Paul, gotcha. But in some cases stuff I don’t want running at all is apparently still there, leaving a tiny icon on the top left area of the screen (whatever it’s called). Will get a pic and elaborate.

    @Terry, thanks. Yep volume down works fine. Bottom is silent; next up is more-or-less equivalent to Nokia’s meeting mode.

    Re: contacts I’d have no problem if it was Google contacts I’d chosen to save. But it’s everything in GMail’s list (not just contacts, but apparently everything it’s ever known), including many addresses I have no recollection of ever emailing.

  4. Paul

    That’s your notifications in top left. You can drag that panel down and clear those notifications… Not using battery up there!

  5. Terry

    That’s strange. My phone only has the contacts I’ve chosen to add. It could be a setting I have changed long ago, or a difference in Gmail’s behaviour because I use Google Apps.

    Battery life is something that annoys me a little, but since I use my laptop quite often, it’s a good opportunity to charge. The car charger also helps a bit (especially when listening to internet radio in the car).

    This article contains advice on background apps:

    Also, try these links on your phone:

  6. mike smith

    Three tries, and then you need to enter a Pin Unlock Kode. Carriers will normally tell you what that is, when you identify yourself.

  7. daniel Post author

    @Mike, yeah, but ringing them up to get the code (and working through any number of automated menus to get to an operator) isn’t my idea of fun.

  8. Terry

    Telstra allows you to retrieve your PUK from this address:

    Doing anything multimedia related over 3G isn’t perfect as I’ve figured out time and time again (even on Next G). Sometimes it works well, sometimes it doesn’t. Youtube streaming appears to be especially sensitive to 3G network conditions.

    I suggest you change your camera settings to take photos in the non-widescreen ratio as this raises the photo resolution from 2592×1552 to 2592×1952. You can find this by pressing menu while in the camera app.

    Also, I’m not sure if this is still the case with the Desire S, but with the original Desire, the default video resolution was 800×480 even though it has a 1280×720 setting. If you do use 720p to take videos though, you may need a large SD card due to the large size of 720p videos.

  9. tonyinjapan

    I bought a HTC Desire HD here in Japan for Y1 – I had to drop my old contract with the same carrier (Softbank) and lose my old Softbank phone number. The other catch was that I was given a electronic photo frame which comes with its own SIM card and a yearly cost of Y17,000 (I was told I could cancel the plan but that would cost me Y10,000). Changing numbers for me was not problem, and I’ve opted for the lowest data plan with the carrier (I’m usually around a computer at home or work, and my ‘commute’ is a whole 10 minutes!). But the photo frame gimmick annoyed me – we’re now being told to reduce electricity and here is a company not just promoting its use but foisting it upon people.

    Electronic photo frames – what a waste.

    But the phone is nifty.

  10. Haru

    I recommend Train Trapper for Android. Finds your nearest stations and lists departures for that line, including loop and express services. Informs of disruptions and you can single out lines at major stations that belong to multiple lines. Only issue I have is that it bases departure times on the timetable, rather than the true location of the train.

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