HTC Wildfire S review

We take a look at the HTC Wildfire S — HTC’s Android 2.3-powered follow-up to last year’s massively popular HTC Wildfire

Rating: 
4
Pros: 
Android 2.3, fluid interface, very little lag, improved display, nice design, premium build quality
Cons: 
It's a bit chunky, the camera isn't very good, no front-facing camera, limited internal storage
Verdict: 
In short: if you want a well specced Android 2.3 handset that’ll do pretty much anything you can throw at it — within reason — but you don’t want to spend a fortune, then the HTC Wildfire S is probably the handset for you.

HTC redefined the budget smartphone with its original HTC Wildfire. Not only did it bring Android to a whole new demographic of mobile users, but it also introduced lots of key functionality, such as tethering and Flash-support, to lower-cost handsets.

It also looked a lot like the high-flying HTC Desire as well, which no doubt did it a lot of favours.

The HTC Wildfire S features Android 2.3, an all-new design, is extremely pocketable and also boasts an improved display. HTC has been rather busy in this respect, completely overhauling the device’s physical features whilst keeping in place everything that made the original such an attractive prospect.

 

But did all this tinkering work? We investigate.

Looks
We said the HTC Wildfire S is pocketable. That might be something of an understatement – the HTC Wildfire S is tiny, despite having the same 3.2-inch display as the original. The exact measurements are 101.3x59.4x12.4 mm specifically, but when you compare these to the original Wildfire’s vitals (106.8x60.4x12 mm) it’s obvious where the cuts come into play: length.

Losing that much length translates into 13g of weight loss, despite the fact the newer device is actually slightly thicker. Just as before, the Wildfire S is remarkably similar looking to it’s older brother the HTC Desire S. This is definitely a good thing, although it was to be expected – HTC is a stickler for consistency, after all.

Of course, the device does lack a lot of the Desire S’s premium features, such as ‘that’ metallic unibody HTC is so fond of – it’s only present on the front on the Wildfire S. The back panel is crafted entirely from soft-touch material and, like on the HTC Sensation, you can completely remove it to access the SIM, battery and microSD slot.

 

Virtual keys have replaced hardware ones and the only physical buttons (both of which are metallic silver) are the volume rocker on the left-hand side and the power/unlock button that’s atop the handset on the right hand-side for ease of use.

Put simply: the HTC Wildfire S looks like a stubby version of the HTC Desire S, which does sound bad, but we don’t mean it to. The Wildfire S, on the whole, is a very neat little package. Yes, it does lack some of the premium styling features of the Desire S but what it loses in this respect it makes up for in terms of sheer pocketability.

Internals
Skip back 18 months or so and the Wildfire S’s 600MHz Qualcomm MSM7227 processor and 512MB or RAM would have been a flagship handset. These days it’s not going to give any of the top-flight dual-core handsets much trouble, but it’s this isn’t the point of the Wildfire S – and HTC knows this. So while a 600MHz processor might sound a little paltry by today’s 1.5GHz dual core CPU standards, it ain’t – at least, not in this context.

The touchscreen fluidity is spot on and we didn’t experience any detrimental forms of lag whilst testing. Obviously, there’s still a bit of slow down here and there, but it’s no way near the level we’ve experienced on other handsets, such as the HTC Hero. And this shows just how far HTC has come in terms of integrating its hardware with Google’s Android platform.

The Wildfire S also packs in speedy 3G (HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 384 Kbps) as well as Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, GPS, GPRS and EDGE. In this sense, it’s got all the connectivity you’d expect from a premium-grade handset – so, no complaints here then. We were also impressed by the all-important inclusion of Wi-Fi (n)-support, which makes things like streaming HD quality video that little bit smoother.

Storage is predictably tight at 512MB, although we don’t really expect more from HTC these days, but you’ve got the ability to expand it up to 32GB externally via the microSD slot. On top of the device is a 3.5mm jack input for headphones and there’s a USB port on the lower left-hand side for charging and linking to a PC.

Specifications

Typical Price £220
UK Launch May 2011
Network TBC
Frequency Quad
Phone Style Touchscreen
Thickness 12.4mm
Length 101.3mm
Width 59.4mm
Weight 105 grams
Built-in Memory 512MB
Additional Memory 32GB via microSD
High-speed Data GPRS, HSDPA,
Connectivity Bluetooth, USB
Screen Size 3.2-inch touch screen with 320 x 480 resolution
Screen Colours 16M
Camera Yes
Designer Lens No
Camera Resolution 5-megapixel
Zoom Yes
Flash Yes
Ringtones Yes
Music Player Yes
Music Formats aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma (Windows Media Audio 9)
Radio Yes
Speaker Yes
Video Calling No
Internet Yes
Browser HTML
Games Yes
Battery Standby Up to 360 h (2G) / Up to 570 h (3G)

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