HTC One S has been in the competition for quite some time but a second and really thorough look seems warranted for a device that enraptured quite a number of tech experts for its impressive and sturdy finish.
HTC's own pitch described the shell of One S as "ultra-matte black Ceramic Metal," and how was this made possible is the product of metallurgical engineering but to put the science behind this ingenuity, BGR declared: "All you really need to know is that this is one of the most beautiful smartphones ever made."
"I am absolutely blown away by the One S in terms of design and build. This smartphone sets the bar for flagship devices in 2012, and I doubt many phones will even approach the One S this year," Zach Epstein wrote for BGR.
HTC achieved such impressive build through a process called 'micro-arc oxidation', which Engadget reported as "throwing 10,000 volts at that body ... for a finish more akin to ceramic and stone than the usual matte metallic seen in HTC's past offerings."
And the handset's beauty runs deep, Mr Epstein said, obviously sold to the One S' modest specs of "1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and 1GB of RAM (that) provide a smooth user experience most of the time."
"It also packs an 8-megapixel camera with dedicated HTC ImageChip technology that is among the best smartphone cameras on the market, and a 540 x 960-pixel, 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display (256 ppi) that is stunning," he added.
T3's review is supportive of BGR's assessment. It concluded that the HTC One S is "powerful, stylish, beautifully thin and blessed with classy features including a fantastic screen, top notch 8-megapixel camera and music-enhancing Beats Audio technology."
The tech blog site noted though that HTC's mid-level smartphone was far from being perfect, insisting that its maximum 16GB of internal storage minus expansion capability is a big letdown plus some key missteps in the battery and SIM configurations.
The phone, however, is deployed with "a slick user-friendly experience and access to thousands of superb apps," thanks much to the Android Ice Cream Sandwich that governs its interaction with users, T3 said.
And the collaborative functions of ICS beneath with HTC's Sense 4 on top led to a well-jelled OS performance that "aims to cut the excess while offering up an experience that remains familiar to HTC fans in the past," Engadget said.
Snapping up the gadget, the tech site added, all comes down to would-be buyers "willing to trade a technically weaker screen for a noticeable price difference and better battery life."
For TechRadar, users not bothered by the negligible omissions in HTC One S will definitely relish owning "a beautiful handset blessed with beautiful capabilities and ... very palatable price points."
"Call quality (on the One S) was excellent ... plus the browser is top notch and small touches like the camera taking photos at the same time as video and Beats Audio integration really put a smile on our face," the TechRadar review added.
But for Australian buyers, getting the One S is fraught with complications, CNET Australia said, considering the bevy of affordable alternatives already out there plus the fact that Optus has picked up both the One X and One S, offering them at a similar plan of $50.
For those with deep knowledge on smartphone power and promises, the choice is almost obvious - they'll easily go for HTC's flagship handset, said CNET.
Besides, for a device that carries with it middle-child syndrome and a giant battery life issue, CNET found it hard to endorse the HTC One S to the droves of shoppers to hit the stores come the holiday season.