Review Price £220.00
Design and Features
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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