HTC’s Wildfire was, ahem, wildly popular with cost-conscious Android fans last year. And now its successor, the Wildfire S is here. What’s changed? Is it worth upgrading? And has HTC managed to maintain its position as the number-one budget Android manufacturer? Read our full review now to find out.
Pick up the Wildfire S and its hard to see where it differs from its predecessor. Fire it up though, and it’s clear that this is very much a beefed up-version of the original. The screen’s resolution has been bumped up, Android 2.3 is sitting pretty under the hood and HTC Sense makes it every bit as sharp as some of its pricier stablemates and rivals. In a nutshell: this is an Android phone that showcases everything that’s good about Google’s OS.
The aluminium design is a step up from the somewhat plasticky finish of the first-gen Wildfire, with the frame feeling sturdy and solid in the hand. It’s actually a smidgeon thicker than the older version, measuring 12.4mm compared to 12.19mm. In truth, though, this is hardly an issue. The small 3.2-inch screen is great, although it’s a tad squat and can cause your hands to cramp up when you set about typing out an email any longer than a few lines.
The camera here is the real star of the show, even if it hasn’t changed much from the original Wildfire. The ample five megapixel sensor, coupled with some excellent filters, white balance tweaks and deeply integrated sharing smarts make it the perfect camera phone for loading up snaps to the likes of Facebook and Twitter. The music player is sleek and intuitive, with great design and easy functionality. Android and HTC are definitely catching up to iOS and Apple in this regard.
Android 2.3.3, AKA Gingerbread, is the OS of choice here and is definitely the one thing that sets the Wildfire S apart from its budget rivals. It means the phone has the same software as top-end blowers like the Desire S and Nexus S, with mobile hotspot skills, an ace, improved virtual keyboard and a much snappier approach. Everything feels bleeding-edge when you zip through menu systems and it makes phones in the same price category look ordinary by comparison.
The version of HTC Sense here is 2.1, with the Taiwanese tech titan stating that the phone won’t get a boost to the recently revealed HTC Sense 3.0, despite only being unveiled in February. That’s a real shame, but is hardly something to moan about when you take the cost into consideration. Friend Stream is still a delight, the seven homescreens are easily controlled and the vast number of widgets make the Wildfire S a multimedia maven’s dream.
The touchscreen on the Wildfire S is top notch and feels assured at every turn. The only complaint we had was with the pesky haptic feedback, which can be turned off, even if it takes a while to find the relevant menu tree to use in order to do this. Typing is accurate and autocorrect is well thought out and very rarely wrong. As with all Google phones, single sign-in makes set up a doddle. This is a phone for those looking to cut costs but still rock a handset at the cutting edge.