Review: HTC WildFire

Our score: 2/5
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August 5, 2010 11:33 AM
 
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Published: August 2, 2010 11:00 PM
By Florence Legrand
The HTC WildFire is an Android 2.1 smartphone from the same range as HTC's Legend and the top-of-the-range Desire. This entry-level model is aimed at younger mobile users looking for mobile access to social networks and messaging services at a price they can afford. The WildFire has a smaller touchscreen and watered-down tech specs compared with the Desire, but then it's also a fair bit less expensive too. Let's see if WildFire is bargain worth bagging!

Compact
& lightweight

HTC's handsets look very similar. The resemblance between the WildFire, the Desire and the Google Nexus One is quite striking. The WildFire has the same sturdy feel, excellent finish (the Teflon rear cover makes for excellent handling), sleek design and an optical trackpad that's just as accurate as the Desire's. Our model was also finished in the same smoky brown colour that you'll either love or hate.

The WildFire (left) next to the Apple iPhone 4

Design differences include the return of a row of touch-sensitive keys just under the screen. We prefer the physical keys found on the Desire though, as with the WildFire, we sometimes had to hit the keys twice to register our command or—quite the opposite—we sometimes found ourselves selecting the wrong option by accidentally brushing a key very, very slightly!



This being an entry-level handset, the WildFire has a 3.2-inch capacitive multitouch screen (compared with 3.7 inches for the Desire) with a resolution of 'just' 240 x 320 pixels. This effectively sets it apart from the latest models of smartphone with higher-end screens, such as the Super AMOLED on the Galaxy S, or the Retina display on the iPhone 4. That said, the screen actually does quite a good job, and is both sensitive and responsive. You'll just have to make do with seeing a little less of your favourite web pages and text-based applications, and you'll have to get used to playing around with the zoom!

Patience is a virtue

The HTC WildFire takes a long time to start up—too long, in fact! It takes over a minute to get going, whereas other smartphones average at around 30 seconds. BlackBerry handsets are a notable exception though, as these also take what feels like an age to switch on.

Users have seven customisable homescreen pages, including a few widgets supplied by HTC via its Sense interface. These widgets include Friend Stream, for a quick way to view all of your contacts' latest activity on various social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter.

Friend Stream

The WildFire has inherited the Desire's incredibly simple system for synchronising contacts from the phone's memory, Gmail and Facebook. If one of your contacts appears in all three places (as separate entries), for example, WildFire's contact entry will group together their Facebook profile picture with contact info from Gmail. Phew, that's complicated to explain for such a simple system!


 
The on-screen keyboard is generally accurate with effective predictive text. The interface, however, isn'tvery practical

On the whole, the handset is smooth and responsive to use. Although its processor is much less powerful than the one found in the Desire or the Samsung Galaxy S, it really won't hold you back, even with several applications running in the background. Remember to close applications fully when you exit them to help save battery life.

Multimedia

Let's start with the camera. The WildFire has a 5-Megapixel camera with flash, but with no image stabilisation. It's a shame there's no physical button for fast, direct access to the photo mode, as you'll have to use the optical trackpad to take snaps with the WildFire. Picture quality is OK, but only just. There's definitely room for improvement. Pictures aren't particularly detailed and have a red tinge, and focusing isn't particularly fast or accurate.
 
Video quality isn't the best, but it'll make a good back-up in those must-capture moments.

It's no surprise that web browsing isn't as pleasant as with an iPhone 4, Desire or Galaxy S. This is mainly due to the small screen size, which is really noticeable when surfing the Internet. In fact, you have to zoom in to see pretty much anything properly, and the zoom function can sometimes be a little slow to focus.



Battery life isn't the WildFire's strong point. We found it barely lasted a day before it needed recharging, and it'll run down even faster if you spend a lot of time connected to a Wi-Fi network. Don't forget, you can boost battery life by closing your most power-hungry applications fully rather than leaving them running in the background. You can do this by downloading the Task Killer app from Android Market, which doesn't come installed as standard.
2/5 HTC WildFire DigitalVersus 2010-08-03 00:00:00

Pros

  • Design and handling
  • High-quality finish
  • Google services (Gmail, Gtalk, Google Maps Navigation etc.)
  • Responsiveness / Smooth operation

Cons

  • Start-up time
  • Touch-sensitive keys either too sensitive or not sensitive enough
  • Screen a bit small for web browsing or watching videos
  • Battery life
  • SMS interface not the most practical

Conclusion

The WildFire is a good basic version of the Desire. It's less powerful than its high-end counterpart but it's also a fair bit less expensive. In other words, this handset is good value for money for shoppers with limited budgets. It's compact and lightweight, but you'll have to make do with a reduced screen size and resolution. Its main let-down is its poor battery life.

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