Last year HTC’s Wildfire delivered a fair compromise between specifications and price. Nearly a year on, HTC has updated the Wildfire. As time has passed our expectations of a budget smartphone have changed.
So does the Wildfire S do enough to emulate its predecessor’s successes?
There’s one thing immediately against the Wildfire S, and this is that the £200 to £250 price area is awash with smartphones. It is a tough place to carve out a niche.
The good news is that the Wildfire S looks great and delivers a fairly strong array of features, but everything is not rosy.
In the looks department, the shrunken, somewhat squat design means the Wildfire S is comfy for small hands, and for small pockets too. At just 105g in weight it is, in smartphone terms, feather-light.
The Home, Back, Search and Menu touch buttons beneath the screen are familiar, and there’s a small lip along the bottom edge of the chassis which is reminiscent of the HTC Desire S, and a rather distinctive feature.
There are some things not to like about the design. The microUSB charge connector is on the bottom left edge of the chassis. It is much more ergonomic if located on the bottom edge, but that lip in the design means it can’t go there.
Also, while most of the chassis feels robust thanks to a metal front, the backplate is a somewhat flimsy plastic. However, on the whole, the physical design is pleasing enough.
Many of the specifications show off the budget nature of this handset. The screen resolution at 480 x 320 is way below what we’re used to seeing in higher end smartphones, though it is up from the 320 x 240 of the original Wildfire.
At least the fact that the screen measures just 3.2 inches means it looks pretty sharp and crisp.
At that size the screen is not really up to serious web browsing or media viewing. We wouldn’t want to rely on it for streamed video and anyone who is a serious user of the mobile web might want something bigger.
You might also want to steer clear if you are keen on SMS messaging or mobile email unless you have very small hands, for again the screen size means that, even in wide mode, the keyboard is a little cramped.
The processor is somewhat light being a 600MHz Qualcomm offering. And memory is short with just 512MB each of RAM and ROM. Thanks goodness for the 2GB microSD card lurking under the backplate.
At least the HTC Wildfire S runs on Android 2.3 making it bang up to date as far as the operating system is concerned.
HTC Sense is slimmed down, though, in terms of what you get on higher end devices. There’s no Car Panel, for example, and no navigation or e-reader options.
The core smartphone specifications such as Wi-Fi with 802.11b, g and n, HSDPA, GPS, Google Maps and compatibility with Google email and third party email, are all present, and the camera, a 5 megapixel shooter does a good job.
Battery life too, is not bad as smartphones go. The 1230mAh battery managed to get us through a day without a charge.
Still, even with that nod to fair battery life, we aren’t sure the Wildfire S is quite the strong contender that the original Wildfire was.
It is a fine average offering at a mid-range price, and ought to suit those whose demands are not too high, especially in areas such as video or web browsing, but check out the competition before buying and think about whether you need a larger screen.