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24 May 12 HTC One S Android phone

It’s not easy to compete with the iPhone and the wonder of iTunes gaming.

Ever since Apple first unveiled its touchscreen masterpiece back in 2007 (seems like eons longer, doesn’t it?), the world’s other smartphone manufacturers have been long chasing their tails.

Count HTC among the companies battling oh-so-hard to catch up. But after a shaky 2011, it reinvents itself with the new HTC One S. And this almost-invisible smartphone, a T-Mobile offering that debuted in early May, just may make you think about putting down your iPhone and giving Android another chance.

My experience with Android phones has long been this: They traditionally pack a lot of firepower, presenting intriguing hardware and ideas and applications. But often, the package is clunky and bugs abound, leading me back towards the overwhelming polish of the slightly underpowered iPhone.

No such issues here. Sure, the HTC One S makes some concessions, but it also oozes polish and class, delivering an Android experience like no other.

It all starts with the unbelievably tiny and light chassis. At 0.31 inches thick, the One S is actually only slightly skinnier than the iPhone 4S (0.37 inches), and it can’t touch Motorola’s Droid Razr (0.28 inches). But somehow, the One S manages to make both phones feel chunky by comparison. It simply FEELS thinner, sliding into your back jeans pocket so comfortably that you will sometimes even forget it’s there.

Soft edges, crafted from a delightfully smooth anodized aluminum, frame the entire device, gently tapering along the outskirts. It’s a decidedly sophisticated look — not like that bulky-feeling Razr — that you’ll be proud to tote around, and even the excessively large camera lens on the back (which has a well-wrought purpose) can’t detract.

The phone is built for Android’s newest iteration, Ice Cream Sandwich, so you get three capacitive buttons — Back, Home and Recent Apps — on the front. A power button and 3.5mm headphone jack sit on top. On the left side is a micro-USB port, and on the right is volume rocker. HTC also attractively displays LED lighting icons (charging and the like) in a unique way; they seem to be housed in the top of the casing beneath the speakers, completely unnoticeable when they are not in use.

A terrifically large 4.3-inch, 960×540-pixel Super-AMOLED screen adorns most of the front of the device, and it’s absolutely beautiful to use. I tested the colors with an episode of “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” streamed over Netflix (the One S includes some solid proprietary movie software, but most people will, inevitably, gravitate back to Netflix), and the screen produced incredibly deep blacks, and vibrant colors overall. No, it’s not quite Retina, but the larger screen real estate actually compensates, making for a far more comfortable viewing experience.

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