Our Score


User Score

Review Price £220.00

Key Features: 3.2in, 320 x 480 pixel screen; Android 2.3 Operating System

Manufacturer: HTC

The trouble with people is they're not all the same. Some like it hot, some like smearing jam on themselves, some like football, some even like the iPad! And when it comes to smartphones, it's no different. Are you a speed freak, is the screen size all important, or is it all about what apps you can get? Well, if your preference is for a smaller than average smartphone, that's a bit cheaper as well, then the HTC Wildfire S should be right up your street.

The latest addition to HTC's smartphone lineup is the successor to last year's Wildfire and targets the same audience; those looking for a phone both smaller and cheaper than your average smartphone. It comes with a few notable improvements, including a higher resolution screen, so considering how much we liked the original, this one's sure to impress… right?

Well, yes, it does, mostly. For a start the chassis is beautifully crafted. There aren't the great swathes of aluminium found on the Desire S but the screen surround is made from this material while the back has a nice soft touch plastic finish. Combined with the glass screen and some subtle touches, like the slim band of lighter coloured plastic that sits between the front and back plates and the plain silver strips that make up the volume and power buttons, you have a device that is elegant and strong yet cute.

Okay, so the mauve colour of our review sample probably has something of a niche appeal but even despite this, we rather like it.

General handling is also excellent. The shorter stance makes it feel noticeably more secure in the hand than larger phones, aided by the soft touch backing - the power button is also easy to reach. At 12.3mm thick, it's actually a bit porkier than many larger smartphones but this in fact aids usability, making it easier to grip. Only width is on par with most smartphones, its 59.4mm statistic almost equalling that of the 59.8mm Desire S.

There aren't too many slip ups when it comes to features, either. You get a microUSB socket, a headphone jack, a microSD card slot under the battery cover for adding more storage, and a rear facing 5 megapixel camera with LED flash. Only a front facing camera and microHDMI video output are obvious omissions, and neither is yet commonplace or essential.

What you most obviously sacrifice when opting for a smaller phone is screen size, and indeed the Wildfire packs only a 3.2in model. While technically only 0.3in smaller than that of an iPhone, the difference is noticeable, and of course the iPhone screen is already looking a bit small compared to some smartphones.

For general navigation, web browsing, looking up a contact and such like the Wildfire does fine, indeed the quality of the display is excellent. Its viewing angles are good, colours are punchy but accurate and the improved screen resolution (up from 240 x 320 to 320 x 480) makes all the difference over the original.

However, it's a bit small for sitting back and watching a video of any length and more importantly it feels a little cramped for typing. Indeed, this is for many people going to be this phone's Achilles heel. Typing at a steady pace was fine, but as soon as we tried to crank up our speed it simply couldn't cope, getting almost every word wrong. We're talking typing pretty fast here and of course there's a large degree of human error but at the speed we type comfortably on a Sony Ericssson Xperia Arc, the Wildfire S was hopeless. It isn't helped by the addition of HTC's own on screen keyboard, which we actually think is worse than the standard Android one. Then again, as long as you're more of a tortoise than a hair when it comes to typing, you should be fine. Those with small fingers may also have more luck.

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Matt McGuire

May 4, 2011, 9:14 pm


For a brand new phone where the advice is:

"to type slower heeds better results" and "turning everything off" helps.

Once again another Android fail.
How can it be, that a device which is far worse than the original iPhone receive an 8/10?

If a smartphone can't keep with my typing, it deserves a 1/10.
That's not smart. It is rubbish.

Seriously, I'm not anti-android - but this is unacceptable especially given the San Francisco alternative.


May 4, 2011, 10:15 pm

@Matt: If my HTC Hero is anything to go by, none of the screen size or related keyboard issues are as bad as this review makes them sound. If you find the keyboard to be too cramped, then perhaps you should get used to using the landscape keyboard more often. These are some of the compromises you have to put up with when owning a cheaper, more compact device. If you consider that to be a compromise too far, then this phone is not intended for you.

Don't get me wrong, I certainly see the benefits of a larger screen, and for most people the San Francisco is the smarter choice. It's just that terms like 'fundamental issue' might be a bit strong considering that 3.2in 320x480 screens were the smartphone standard not so long ago.


May 5, 2011, 12:12 am

In my experience the SF is also laggy and underpowered although the price makes up for it.

I also never found typing on my old Hero a problem and think the HTC Keyboard is great.

Why do people always seem to compare budget Android phones to iPhones and expect them to match up? How about like for like, a Galaxy S2 perhaps. If you're buying a cheaper phone there's always going to be a compromise.

Hamish Campbell

May 5, 2011, 12:05 pm

Isn't this not only an increase in resolution for the wildfire, but also screen size?

I'm pretty sure the old wildfire had a smaller screen size as well as lower res, perhaps as wide but not as long? Or is it just the resolution that gives that impression?

Anyway, this update actually bumps the specs up to the level of my HTC Legend, which also struggles with games, although I haven't noticed any typing issues, apart from the slightly cramped keyboard due to the narrower screen. But I'll admit I drop flashy widgets etc to help the processor out...good for the battery too.


May 5, 2011, 2:51 pm

The old Wildfire had the same diagonal - 3.2 inches. However, the older model had a more square aspect ratio due to its 240x320 resolution, so it may have been a little wider.

Sam Wright

May 5, 2011, 3:10 pm

I really get annoyed when a consumer, if they dont like one facet of a product, automatically give it a 1/10. You need to remember that professional reviews are looking at what the device is trying to do in which niche. And while the screen is small, so not great for large hands, just because you dont like it, doesnt mean its a bad device for its target audience.
Frankly a small screen wont be an issue for the vast majority of people. You get used to not just blundering around screen, and its only recently the truly giant touchphones have come into play, and before then people were absolutely fine.


May 8, 2011, 11:51 pm

I was considering this as my other half's first smartphone but when the specs were checked I got a cracking deal on a HTC Desire with a contract, compared to this. For the keyboard complains, please do yourself a favour and sign up for the Swype beta - truly incredible tech from the inventors of T9 apparently.


July 29, 2011, 9:22 pm

The review is not of the phone I bought, so I will meekly move on to another review site...

(Maybe there's an objectivity failure? After all, TR has a good reputation.)


June 13, 2012, 5:40 pm

I have no problem with the basic functionality of this phone, but I have had "Insufficient Storage" issues on this phone since the first week! Neither Orange, not HTC were able to resolve them. I have done 3 factory resets in the last 12 months. I have to say I thought my problems with the HTC Hero were a one-off, but I will never buy an HTC phone again and I will (and have) actively discourage friends and relatives from getting one.

What's the point of having access to the apps on Marketplace if you can't actually use them because you have to delete them to be able to receive messages or view photos etc.


Manoj Luintel

September 25, 2013, 1:48 pm

Is it possible to make Skype calls thru Htc wildfire?!

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