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HTC Wildfire S - Multimedia, Camera and Verdict

By Edward Chester

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

User Score:

The lack of HDMI output will be a disappointment for some but with such a modest CPU onboard and such lowly multimedia support, it's a feature that would've been next to useless anyway. We loaded the Wildfire S up with a selection of videos and found that only the most basic mp4 format was supported and even then quality has to be pretty low for the phone to cope playing it back.

Thankfully, due to the quality of the screen, headphone jack and speaker whatever you're watching is generally easy to make out both visually and aurally. The music player has a fairly crude interface but if you load a microSD card up with correctly tagged mp3s and pop it in, it quickly and easily sets about arranging them into a neat library. Playback quality is decent too.

HTC has never been known for its cameras and the Wildfire S isn't going to break that trend. The 5 megapixel shooter does the basics with autofocus onboard allowing for in-focus up close shots and an LED keeping things visible in the dark. However, colour accuracy is a bit hit and miss and general sharpness is pretty poor.

Video is also available but it's not HD. Moreover, the framerate is only 24fps, resulting in a juddery look to any form of motion. It's also poor at handling changes from dark to light areas with noticeable steps as it changes from one to the other, instead of a smooth transition.

Thankfully call quality is much more acceptable with no obvious deficiencies to note. Battery life is likewise better than we might have expected, though realistically you're still going to want to charge it every other night.

When it comes to price, the Wildfire S comes up against that perennial nuisance of the budget smartphone market, the Orange San Francisco (ZTE Blade), which with its large high resolution screen for just £90 or so is still an incredible steal. However, on most other fronts this phone's ~£220 price is on the money. Certainly it's at a similar level to most other alternative smaller Android smartphones.

Ultimately, then, this phone's appeal comes down to whether you can accept the compromise of a smaller slower smartphone. If you can then it's definitely one of the better examples but if not, well then I'm impressed you're still reading!

Verdict

If you find most smartphones too large and expensive then the HTC Wildfire S could be right up your street. It's cute, well built and packs in all the essential features, and most importantly has a higher resolution screen than its predecessor. However, it is a bit slow and still hasn't fixed the fundamental issues of being a smaller touchscreen phone, namely the screen being too small. So, if you really have your heart set on a smaller smartphone then the compromises you have to accept are manageable and it compares well to the competition. However, if you're just after a cheaper smartphone, there are better, larger alternatives, especially discounted models from last year.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

Matt McGuire

May 4, 2011, 9:14 pm

8/10

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.

Chris

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.

rav

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.

Chris

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

@Matt
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.

MarioM

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 beta.swype.com - truly incredible tech from the inventors of T9 apparently.

ThatOne

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.)

ladeda

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.

Useless!

Manoj Luintel

September 25, 2013, 1:48 pm

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

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