The HTC Wildfire was a real crowd-pleaser in its own right and proved to be a hugely popular handset with smartphone lovers who liked to watch their pennies. But no matter how good a handset is, there comes a point when it has to take a back seat and make way for bigger and better things. In this case, the HTC Wildfire S has stepped into its older brother’s shoes to carry on its cheap but very cheerful legacy.
Has HTC has listened to the industry’s thoughts on its predecessor in order to turn negatives into positives? Read on to find out…
Although the HTC Wildfire S is nearly the same size as its predecessor, it still retains its 3.2-inch display. It is however, a tiny bit thicker at 12.4mm, but you wouldn’t notice if we hadn’t have told you you. One of the original Wildfire’s biggest flaws was the low resolution display and it’s pleasing to see that this has been rectified with the inclusion of a 320 x 480 TFT display (the previous screen was a 240 x 320 job). The resolution upgrade does make all the difference to the handset’s appearance as the bright colours really light it up, however, when watching videos the picture quality isn’t particularly crisp.
HTC has also rid the Wildfire S of the optical trackpad and instead leaves four touch-sensitive buttons to do all the work. In terms of looks, it’s a lot neater than before but we kind of liked the trackpad on the Wildfire as the smaller display could be a little fiddly at times. The plastic casing gives the Wildfire S a soft touch, although it does feel a tad cheap. We’ll let that slide though as this handset isn’t supposed to be the cream of the crop and it still looks nice nonetheless.
Power and Operating System
Powering the HTC Wildfire S is a 600MHz processor and while we’re used to seeing smartphones comes with a 1GHz or higher CPU these days, everything runs in an impressively smooth manner here. We have to admit that things slowed down a little in the web-browser which we put down to the Wildfire S having an awful lot to contend with in the way of text rendering and running flash elements of certain websites.
Word is that the Wildfire S will come with Android 2.4 Gingerbread at launch, which is exactly the same as the current version of Gingerbread with a few bug fixes. The model we tested had Android 2.3.2 on board and the latest version of HTC Sense too.
We’re big fans of the Taiwanese firm’s user interface and we were pleased to see all the regulars including the animated weather widgets, pinch-to-leap view and Friendstream, which pulls all your Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and Plurk (whatever that is) feeds into one stream. A newcomer also shows up in the form of an app filter menu, which displays all of your apps, your favourite ones and any that you’ve recently downloaded in the one place. As usual, there are lots of opportunities to personalise your handset with seven customisable homescreens, animated wallpapers and HTC scenes.
Internet: The HTC Wildfire S is well equipped to satisfy the surf hungry with 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity and Flash support. HTC has really tried its best to make sure users get the most out of the Wildfire S’ web browser with a great text resizing feature and an effective pinch to zoom function. You’re going to be using these a lot on the browser as there’s no way you can read any text or accurately click a link on the smaller screen without zooming in. This is its downfall though because with Flash banners, text and pictures to contend with, the processor stumbles a little and the last thing it needs to be dealing with is zooming and text resizing. It doesn’t take too long to sort itself out but still requires a little patience on the part of the user.
Camera: The Wildfire S sports a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and an LED flash. This can also capture video and it offers quite a few options like geotagging and face detection, as well as white balance and ISO. The only problem we encountered here is that you need to have a microSD card before you can take any pictures or video, so make sure you get yourself one of these asap.
Other tech specs:
- Music player – Supports MP3, AAC+ and WAV files
- Video player – Supports MP4 and H.264 files
- Google clients including YouTube, Gmail and Maps
- 512MB RAM
- 512MB ROM
- Direct access to the Android Market
- MicroSD card slot that supports cards up to 32GB
- MicroUSB port
- 5 hours 50 minutes talk time (3G)
Considering that the Wildfire S sits at the lower-end of HTC smartphone range, we didn’t find too many bones to pick with it. We appreciate that HTC has pulled out all the stops to bring a great smartphone experience to users but we would have liked to have seen a faster processor inside, just to keep everything ticking over a little more fluently.
As lower-end smartphones go, the HTC Wildfire S really heads up the pack. That small body hosts an awful lot of big things and for the most part, managed to deal with everything that was asked of it. If you want a great all-round smartphone experience in a neat package, get your hands on the HTC Wildfire S.