HTC has recently put the WildfireS on sale in India and the little Android phone is one of the many smartphones that HTC is rolling out this month. The original Wildfire was one of the bestsellers, more for its price tag than feature set and this upgraded version again hits the market as an entry level smartphone. Priced Rs 13700, the Wildfire S upgrades features a sleek and small design along with a minor spec bump to the original Wildfire. Does it give Samsung’s Galaxy Ace and others in the price range a run for its money? Read on for our review of the HTC Wildfire S.
HTC Wildfire S Feature Set:
HTC hasn’t made any earth shattering change with the Wildfire S (at least on paper). The processor is bumped form 528Mhz on the original Wildfire to 600 Mhz on the Wildfire S. RAM goes up from 384MB to 512MB and the most important update, the resolution goes up from 240 x 320 to 320 x 480 on the same 3.2″ screen size (finally the OnlyGizmos App works on it). The camera remains same at 5MP and the battery goes down from 1300 mAh to 1230 mAh (perhaps to go accommodate the cut in size).
To our surprise the Wildfire S is running the latest version of Android i.e. 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) along with the HTC Sense UI. Other features like GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi and FM remain the same.
Design and Built
The Wildfire S is often referred as a tiny phone, but the only department where it actually takes a good cut is the height. At 101.3mm its a good 5mm shorter than its predecessor. It happens to be 0.4mm thicker than the original Wildfire, but you hardly feel the thickness with a good drop in weight. At 105 gms, the Wildfire S is not the lightest of devices, yet it feels just perfect to handle.
The body is a mix of plastic and metal with the entire back cover being plastic, while the front housing is metal (dark gray in our case). The front also has its touch of chrome around the display and earpiece. Overall an attractive phone and when you compare this to A Samsung Galaxy Ace you know much more work has been done on the design side.
Wildfire S sports touch buttons just below the display (home, settings/menu, back and search). On the left side there is one long button that acts as a volume toggle, the microSD slot is also on the same side. On the top you have the 3.5mm audio jack and the power button. No dedicated camera button.
Performance and Usability
HTC is running the Android 2.3.3 on Wildfire S and it has also implemented its Sense UI on the same. Sense UI worked without any lag for us and we love the soft touch it has. Pinch on the main screen to show all 5 homescreens together or a quickly swipe the button on the apps page to toggle between all apps, downloaded apps and frequently used. Sense UI improves usability of the OS and given the entry level nature of Wildfire S, this would really help new users. HTC also has its own keyboard (we like it) and browser on this device. You would notice the different treatment given to tabs/windows in the browser (see the video).
The notifications bar also gets a great usability upgrade with Sense UI. You can scroll across all running apps in a single line, followed by the regular notifications. You also have a quick settings bar at the bottom of the notification bar that lets you toggle WiFi, Bluetooth, WiFi Hotspot, GPS, Mobile Network or just jump into all settings. This is another great usability upgrade by HTC.
The weather widget on the homescreen is neat and gave us good visual and sound effects on this rainy day. The good part is that it doesn’t make the interface sluggish.
The Wildfire S packs a 600 MHz processor and 512 MB of RAM which is great for a low cost device, and the performance of this device is also not that bad, we could not find any lag on the home screen or the weather widget animation, the scrolling, pinch to zoom both on browser and gallery is fluid. The device starts to lag once you have more than 4 apps running which is not surprising for a device sporting a 600 MHz processor. There was also no performance issues with the sense UI, I should say that sense UI is well integrated with the hardware. The widgets and animations work perfectly. The device is really great for all your e-mailing, texting, social networking, etc. The performance of Wildfire S is way better than its predecessor.
The only disappointment of this device is its graphics, you will be able to play all minor low end games but to my surprise games like Angry Birds was also lagging leave alone the high end games. We would have loved to see HTC pushing a 800Mhz processor on this, apart from that some of you might also find the small screen size a let down for gaming.
There is nothing spectacular about the camera. The Wildfire S sports an average 5MP camera which gives a decent output. You can judge the images taken from the camera below (taken in evening). The video output is standard definition (sample video on youtube). The camera may not outperform, but does much better than something like the LG Optimus 7 which is supposed to be a high end device. This should work for most people, unless you are a camera fanatic.
Wrap up / Verdict
The HTC Wildfire S is one of few Androids between Rs 10000 – Rs 15000 and the reasons for buying this would be more design than performance. Don’t expect to do 3D gaming or run super powerful apps, but a good UI and design. A year or two back you had devices like the Corby Pro or Nokia 5800 in this price range, looking at the Wildfire S, we have come a long way since. Overall we like this device! Are there alternatives? Yes you have plenty of options.
This thing can do your social networking (FB, Twitter), Emails, Internet well enough. At the same time it has a polished UI that would help first time users, takes away the geeky nature of Android. Where is falls is performance. Even simple games like Angry Birds can give you a little lag at times. If you are looking for a budget smartphone, like the looks / colour of Wildfire S, go for it. But if you are a little more keen on performance, the Galaxy Ace is for you (costs a little more though).
You may also consider to sacrifice a little design and Sense UI and go for the LG Optimus One retailing at Rs 10,900 and the Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro retailing below Rs 11000 with a physical keyboard is also a decent Android to own.
A quick video tour of the HTC Wildfire S:
Ajit Pillai aka Ricky Droid contributed to this review