HTC S310 Review

February 6th, 2007

I just finished up my review of the HTC S310. They’re entry level Smartphone. Make sure you check out my S310 picture gallery too.

Physical Impressions:

I wasn’t impressed when I picked up the S310 for the first time. The plastic on the S310 felt kind of cheap compared to HTC’s other offerings. I think it’s the battery door which is the source of this problem – it feels really thin.

The keys are nice, big and feel okay when you press them. The only problem I have with them is the bottom row (the *, 0 and #). The bottom of the S310 slopes along with the keys which makes them difficult to press if you’re holding the S310 with one hand.

Lately all the Smartphones that I’ve tried have 320×240 displays so I was surprised when I picked up the S310. It has a 220×176 screen which took some getting used to. Once you get used to the lower resolution it’s not so bad since the S310 doesn’t really ship with any apps that really take advantage of the higher resolution

The display measures 2.0″ so it’s kind of small compared to other Smartphones. The size of the display makes the S310 look like a regular phone.

Another thing I noticed is that the S310′s viewing angle isn’t that great. While it’s not so bad that you can’t see anything unless you’re looking at it straight on it’s bad enough to be annoying. Even though it’s a TFT display I kind of wondered if it was a STN display of some sort.

Hands-free usage:

You get a speakerphone, USB headset connector (on the bottom) and support for Bluetooth headsets.

Miscellaneous:

You get 64MB RAM + 64MB ROM. It’s not as much as some other Smartphones but it should be enough for most users.

There is a miniSD card slot located behind the battery so you’ll have to turn the S310 off if you want to switch cards.

Menus:

The menus are standard Microsoft Smartphone. Top level icons are arranged in a 3×3 icon grid. You have to click ‘more’ if you want to see more icons. Icons have numeric shortcuts which you can use to quickly jump to a menu item. The speed dial can be used to launch programs.

The standby screen is called the Today screen. Besides showing standard standby screen info (network info, time, date, etc) you can launch programs you’ve used recently near the top.

Phone Related Features:

When you’re dialing phone numbers Smartphone has a feature called Smartdial. As you type in numbers, the S310 will search for matches in your phonebook and recent call lists – pretty neat.

The phonebook syncs up with Outlook on your PC.

When you’re entering phone numbers in your phonebook, the items are listed in one giant list. The address field is located pretty far down so if you want to enter that you have to do a lot of scrolling.

Connected Features:

There is no WiFi – only Bluetooth.

The Bluetooth does support A2DP which is a nice touch.

Sometimes you’ll notice the lack of WiFi because the S310 only supports EDGE. This can make the S310 less useful around the home or office.

There’s a mini USB connector at the bottom of the phone that’s used for charging, computer connectivity and headsets.

You can connect the S310 to your PC using Active Sync. With Active Sync you can manage files on the S310 and the memory card, install programs and synchronize the contents with Outlook.

The Email client supports pop3 and imap. You don’t get push email support. If you’re not using MS Exchange, the lack of push email isn’t a big deal.

Multimedia Features:

There is a 1.3 megapixel camera on the back. It doesn’t take the best pictures. The lens is slightly foggy and colours are off.

I like how the camera menus look. If you access the menu, it will remember the last item you were looking at which is a nice touch.

Music and video are handled by Windows Media Player. WMP can sort your music by album, artist, genre. If you are using Windows Media Player on your PC you can use that to load music on the S310.

WMP lacks an equalizer. The included headphones are thin sounding and there isn’t much you can do about this. If you listen to a lot of music don’t throw out your mp3 player just yet.

As I mentioned earlier there is A2DP support which is a nice touch given the S310′s price point.

WMP has a background play feature but if you want to change tracks you have to switch back to it which is kind of annoying.

Organizer Features:

You get a Voice recorder, alarm clock, calendar and todo list. Also included is ClearVue Document, ClearVue PDF, ClearVue Presentation, ClearVue Worksheet. Document, PDF, Presentation and Worksheet are Excel, Word, PDF and Powerpoint viewers respectively. You don’t get a timer or unit converter.

The calendar and todo list synchronize with your computer using Active Sync.

Impressions:

RF performance is pretty good.

Incoming sound quality not that great. There’s a lot of background hiss. People’s voices were slightly shrill sounding. Maximum earpiece volume is quite good.

Outgoing sound doesn’t have as much background hiss but voices are still quite shrill.

Living with the S310:

I liked that the S310 is small and light. It really doesn’t look like a Smartphone and I’m sure a lot of people will appreciate that.

If the S310 locks the keypad due to inactivity it will show the time in large text if you press any of the S310′s keys. This is really nice if you use it as a watch.

I could complain about how the S310 only has 64MB of RAM, how the display has a resolution of only 176×220, how the screen is only 2″, how it has no WiFI (same thing) but really I can live with all those compromises. I guess phones in general are at the point where even cheap phones have enough features. The screen’s limited viewing angle was kind of irritating but once you get used to this, it’s not so bad.

I hated how cheap the S310 felt in my hand. The feel of the S310 and its display are reminders that sometimes when you pay less you get less. The keypad was a constant source of annoyance. Whenever I had to check my voicemail and press the * or # buttons I felt like I was going to accidentally drop the phone.

Conclusion:

If you’ve wanted to try a Smartphone but balked at the price or perhaps found they were too nerdy for you, the S310 might be your ticket.

I wish I had a lot of technical things to say about it but at the end of the day, the S310′s strength is that it’s a sleeper. It’s like wearing contact lenses instead of glasses.

Ratings (out of 5)
Build Quality 3
Battery Life 4
Phone Related Features 3.5
Ease of Use 3.5
RF Performance 3
Degree of Customizability 3
Overall (not an average) 3
*Please note these ratings are temporal and are really only valid for the date they were assigned. A phone which receives a rating of 5 a year ago will probably get a lower rating today.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Light and compact
  • Good RF
  • Long battery life
  • A2DP

Cons:

  • Music is thin sounding
  • Feels cheap
  • Screen has poor viewing angle
  • Sound quality is poor

Discuss this review at HowardForums.com
See the gallery here
Written by Howard Chui 02.06.2007
The HTC S310 in this review was supplied by Superior Gadgets
This article may not be reproduced without the the author’s permission.

Entry Filed under: Phones,Reviews

1 Comment Add your own

    Cheap contact lenses  |  January 28th, 2008 at 11:28 am

    So do you finally recommend the HTC S310? I mean you literally mentioned: “It’s like wearing contact lenses instead of glasses”. So I got lost, sorry

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