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HTC, Mobile Phones, Reviews
April 10, 2011 by Dean Quinn
Cripes! Those Taiwanese tech-lords must have smoke coming off their fingers, such is the speed and frequency that they’re knocking out new devices. A slew of techy bits and bobs all bearing the legend HTC have popped up of late, including some Facebook-themed blowers, a snazzy tablet thing and a mystery shrouded handset which is purportedly the company’s first go at one of those dual-core smartphones that everyone is going radio rental over just now. The company sure know a good thing when the see it though and have decided to revisit a couple of their most successful blowers of recent times and give them a bit of a pepping up, namely the HTC Desire (which becomes the HTC Desire S) and the little bundle of joy we’re going to run the rule over today; the HTC Wildfire S.
The original Wildfire was a dinky little number which crammed all the stuff that makes a smartphone, a smartphone, into a neat, and perhaps more importantly, affordable package. Fans of the first Wildfire will be pleased to learn that all the good bits remain and that HTC have even chucked in some extra bits for good measure; no more evident than in some subtle, yet pleasing design changes. Now the Wildfire that preceded this supercharged version was the smartphone embodiment of the word ‘diminutive’, with its shortarse 106.75 x 60.4 x 12.19mm frame and weighing in at 118g. Somehow though, the HTC fellas have managed to shrink this down even further with the new version, squeezing all that smartphone tech into a compact 101.3 x 59.4 x 12.4mm which tips the scales at just 105g. Proof that like rich ladies from LA, phones can undergo impressive cosmetic surgery providing they have the means to get it done properly by people who know what they’re doing.
Perhaps the only thing that could be described as big on the original incarnation of the Wildfire was the problem it had with its feeble screen, a screen which had a resolution so low, it often looked as if its face had been pixelated, possibly as a result of it currently standing trial for some sort of crime it’s possible for phones to commit and therefore had to have its mug blurred to protect its identity (have you taken your medication today? – Ed). Basically, what we’re trying to say is that it was rubbish. And blurry. Thankfully, HTC listened to criticism and have shoved a 320×480 pixel resolution display in to replace the substandard 240×320 one it had before. The screen is still an economical 3.2 inches, but the visual experience has been improved no end.
The HTC pocket-rocket comes in a variety of colours too, including white, a silvery grey, a grey-y grey, black and purple. The one which we had to play with was a kind of white with a shimmery silver bezel thing, which was quite fetching really. In fact, it looks very much like a Desire would if you shrunk it in the wash and put a bit of sparkle on it. And while that might sound a bit rubbish, we can assure you that it isn’t and that the new Wildfire really is a lovely little tech pebble you’ll be shooting fleeting glances at when you’re not holding it, and caressing it when you are.
The new and improved HTC Wildfire S comes with the 2.4 version of the little green robot software and as such, zips around like a Gecko on a jet ski. This means that navigating around the Aladdin’s cave of features and menus is a streamlined pleasure and you won’t be subjected to stutters or lag. Customisability is also a walk in the park thanks to the myriad of apps available from the Android market and the seven homescreens the ‘Droid chucks in for you to pin all of your most used widgets to. This is perhaps the main plus point of this blower – it’s aimed at those who ain’t that fussed about all that extraneous smartphone functionality and being able to easily personalise it with fun stuff is what it’s all about.
HTC’s Sense user interface crops up again as it does on each and every Android, only this time, it’s been subjected to a bit of a revamp too. A new menu has been added that allows you to filter your apps so you can see only the ones you’ve downloaded from the Android Market, or just the ones you mess about with most frequently. Also getting a refresh are those cool as flip weather animations we all love so much, and now you can actually hear the screech of the little windscreen wiper that pops up and swishes away the droplets that appear on your screen when it’s raining out. Sense also does a fine line in Facebook and Twitter contacts/address book integration and pulls your social media chum’s profile pictures and shoves them next to their address-book entries.
You might be wondering if this widgety,social-networky, animationy business slows things up to the pace of a dyspraxic snail? Well, you’d think so wouldn’t you? But thanks to a more than reasonable 600MHz Qualcomm processor, everything goes swimmingly and it can more than handle everyday tasks like web-browsing, email perusing and media watching without even the slightest of hitches. The photographic hardware of the original Wildfire remains with the handset sporting a 5 megapixel camera with an LED flash, however, the new version shoot vids at 720p, taking care of all your hi-definition whims.
The Final Word
If you liked the first version of the Wildfire, the chances are that you aren’t one of those people who demand that their phone can accomplish all kinds of highfalutin technological tasks like guiding a space probe around the surface of Mars or performing open heart surgery or whatever else smartphones can do these days. In that case, you’ll probably love the HTC Wildfire S as it retains all the fun-sized functionality of the original as well as fixing some of the things that were a bit ‘meh’ (we’re looking at you substandard resolution display of old). If you’re looking for a stylish and cheap(ish) smartphone with all the latest wares that Android had to offer, you’ll go wild for the HTC Wildfire S.
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