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!
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.