With a better screen, high end design and bumped up version of Android SO, the Wildfire S builds on the success of its popular predecessor
Editor's Review of the Wildfire S
The Wildfire S was one of five new phones announced by HTC at this year's MWC, and as expected, it's the baby of the group. Like its older brother, the Wildfire S is an entry-level smartphone, cramming a host of Android must-haves into a smaller, cheaper package. This seemed to work for the original Wildfire which sold in its masses, but can the "Wildfire 2" boast the same success?
Design & Build
From the get-go, it's obvious that the HTC Wildfire S isn't a "high-end" device, as unlike the Desire S, it swaps a rugged aluminum back panel for a flimsy plastic effort. Still this by no means dampened our spirits, as not only is it comfortable to hold, it feels better constructed and much more tumble-proof than the original HTC Wildfire.
It doesn't just feel good, as the colourful plastic chassis - although a little tacky - is much more aesthetically pleasing. Just like the Wildfire felt like a miniature Desire, the Wildfire S is reminiscent of the Desire S, keeping its elegant curves and sleek glossy finish. We're also pleased to see that HTC has done away with the optical trackpad on the its latest model, instead relying on the touchscreen and capacitive keys.
Within its tiny casing sits a 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen, boasting a bumped up HVGA resolution of 320 x 480 pixels. It's still fairly low, but this bump up from the Wildfire's QVGA resolution is really noticeable, with colours seeming brighter and images more detailed.
Sadly, the bump up from a 528MHz CPU to Qualcomm's 600MHz MSM7227 processor isn't so noticeable. Of course, HTC have to keep the device cheap, but compared to the 1GHz chipset of the Desire S, we noticed the handset struggle at times.
OS & Interface
It may be "low-end", but the Wildfire S arrives with Android 2.3.3 as its OS of choice, coupled with the familar goodness of HTC Sense 2.1 layered on top. As with many of HTC's handsets, this custom overlay is a much-welcomed feature, and despite the handset's pint-sized screen, the UI scales reasonably well.
With the handset skinned with Sense, social networking is well covered thanks to HTC's FriendStream app. This aggregates all of your social networking updates into one handy list, and does it much more smoothly than other similar efforts. Asides from catering to Facebook addicts, HTC Sense offers up to 7 customizable homescreens, the iconic flip-style clock and weather combo, a full music player widget, and of course, access to thousands of apps from the Android Market.
With Gingerbread onboard, the homescreen also comes equipped with an all-new "quick connections" tab, offering one-touch control of internet connectivity, GPS and Bluetooth. This worked much smoother than we were expecting on the Wildfire S, along with the responsive new keypad.
Multimedia & Storage
While it's by no means on par with its Incredible S sibling, the Wildfire S certainly tries when it comes to media. On its rear, there's a 5 megapixel camera, complete with autofocus and single LED flash. We weren't expecting much from the snapper, but it seemed to take photos quickly and surprisingly vividly. However, some snaps lacked clarity despite the included autofocus, and the LED flash struggled in poorly lit conditionals. Still, there perfectly good enough for zipping to Facebook, which can be done in one-touch thanks to HTC Sense.
We weren't as impressed with its video capture however, as due to its laggy processor, the highest recording resolution of just 640 x 580 VGA - and we can't help but thinking 720p HD video capture could have been a selling-point for this miniature handset.
Another disappointment is the handset's lack of front-facing camera, but it made up for this with its self portrait feature, which takes a picture of your face when you're sitting properly in frame. Very clever.
Other media features included HTC's usual skinned music player, a built-in stereo FM with RDS and a host of supported video files.
The HTC Wildfire S may be a cheaper alternative to the Desire S, but it still comes equipped with HSDPA and WiFi internet speeds. Despite it's 3.2-inch low-resolution screen, pages rendered clearly - and surprisingly quickly. However, we did have trouble trying to read small text, and had to zoom in and out in order to read it.
Getting a one-up on its Apple-branded rival, the HTC Wildfire S is capable of displaying Adobe Flash based content. Granted, it's by no means on par with the Xperia Arc, but Flash content renders well, albeit slowly, on the condensed display. Just don't go expecting a desktop experience, as we started to notice the rendering judder from the slow CPU.
We've concluded that it's small, but that doesn't mean the same has to be said about its battery. The Wildfire S managed to pack a 1230mAh juice-box, promising over 7 hours of talk time on a single charge.
There's no doubting that the HTC Wildfire S has it's faults, but if you're looking for a compact and affordable Android smartphone, you'd struggle to find such a feature-packed competitor at the same price. Of course, we'd like to see a 1GHz CPU and a higher-resolution screen, but considering its price-tag and bump up in features, it's definitely worth upgrading your 2010 Wildfire.
HTC Wildfire S News
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Phones 4u has launched a girly pink variant of the HTC Wildfire S, for those of you seeking to quench your inner Barbie. Available now at the UK retailer, the handset can be grabbed on O2, Orange, T-Mobile or Vodafone. Prices start from a mere £15.00 per month, bagging you a reasonable 100 minutes, unlimited [...]
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HTC Wildfire S Specifications
101.3mm x 59.4mm x 12.4mm
Full capacitive touch screen
Type: TFT LCD
Size: 3.2 inches
Resolution: 320 x 480
Interface: HTC Sense 2.1 UI
External: microSD up to 32GB
A-GPS with maps
Up to 7.2 Mbps download speed
Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
Audio: 3.5mm stereo jack
Data: Standard microUSB
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
A2DP for wireless stereo headsets
5.0 megapixel camera
Auto Focus and LED Flash
640p Video Recording
Battery Capacity: 1230 mAh
Talk Time: 430 minutes
Standby Time: 570 hours
Radio: FM with RDS
Audio supported formats
Playback: MP3, AAC+, WAV, AMR, WMA
Video supported formats
Playback: 3GP, MP4, H.263, H.264, WMV