The HTC Wildfire is now in the wild, in Europe and Asia. The unit seems to be a merger of the HTC Desire and the now defunct Google Nexus One. Based on its profile and features, it is a 2.1 replacement for the entry-level Tattoo. HTC has built an expectation of quality and the HTC Wildfire continues that legend.
While inheriting the looks and design of the HTC Desire, the HTC Wildfire feels more like the Tattoo in use. It is shorter than the Desire at 4.2-inches by 2.4-inches wide, giving it a squat, solid hand feel. There is no physical keyboard, but this HTC relies on its well-developed onscreen keyboard and it works just fin for the job intended. The unit’s weight is 4.2 ounces, complete with an installed battery.
The HTC Wildfire is available a few colors including red, white, black, and brown and it sports a wide, HTC HD2 style metal band on the back. While it can be deceptive in its looks, this is not the battery cover, which takes a greater effort to remove. It must be peeled off similar to the HTC Desire. The touch buttons and the back texture are very much like the Nexus One. As to the optical track pad, earpiece and body frame, they appear to come right of the body of the Desire, because it is certainly not a Nexus style unibody. Over all it is a smart and solid unit.
The HTC Wildfire sports a 3.2-inch capacitive AMOLED touchscreen with Pinch-to-Zoom capability. The first big limitation with the Wildfire is its resolution. While the screen is larger than the Tattoo, the resolution is only 320-pixels by 200-pixels, quite underperforming as compared to other HTC smartphones. This means that video playback and picture viewing, along with some web applications, will be less than stellar and is presumably what contributes to the units low cost, which is a big draw. The off the shelf price is just £320 ($346) and with a two year contract, it is free on T-Mobile. Vodaphone also offers it free with a lower monthly cost, but fewer minutes.
As to its Media features, the Wildfire is equipped with a 5-megapixel camera and it is quite typical of most HTC smartphones (with the exception of the EVO 4G, which has an 8-megapixel). With an attached flash and autofocus, it is a fairly well built feature and performs well enough. Video playback includes .3gp, 3g2, .MP4, and .WMV (Windows Media) and can record video in .3gp. A standard 3.5 mm headphone jack and playback capability for a wide range of audio formats in the manner that HTC customers are accustomed to, are quite reliable and easy to use. The screen resolution limits video playback and there can be some lag problems, but because the Wildfire is considered an entry-level smartphone, this is one of the limitations that was traded off to lower the cost. The only tethering is via the built-in USB 2.0 port, although with a Froyo 2.2 update, it would also offer Wi-Fi tethering as well.
It’s Android Baby!
This is the big selling point for any HTC Smartphone and it is no less true with the HTC Wildfire. Android 2.1 and the famous HTC Sense UI are a seriously perfect combination. The power of this operating system is well known to HTC customers and it is an advantage here as well. The power of the UI helps the unit perform a little better on 3D graphics due to the lower resolution while video may not be big-screen quality; the Wildfire’s UI performance makes it a pleasant experience for the user. This version is equipped with the Leap-Home screen viewer as well as Friend Stream these features make access to menu features and the systems widgets quick and easy. There are a calculator, calendar, bookmarks, FM Radio, and a long list of other applications that are standard.
For the Social Networkie Types
Targeted for the entry-level market, the Wildfire is a social networking powerhouse that could easily rank among the top smartphones in this feature area. Completely new systems for working apps and updates with a socially aware address book make it simple to use. Capitalizing on the growing Android Marketplace, the Wildfire allows users to share their favorite apps with friends on Twitter and Facebook directly or right over email. The integration with Facebook in general is much better than many units that are not “Entry-Level.” It even has Social Caller ID showing the caller’s (or called parties) Facebook information such as status, birthdays, and profile; never forget an old friend, huh? The Wildfire offers Flickr, and Twitter photo sharing, YouTube video sharing and sports HTC’s Peep app for tweeting on the fly.
The Wildfire offers full Adobe Flash support, although performance is mediocre due to the resolution. It also has a built-in Flashlight that includes a dimmer. The internal GPS coupled with Google Maps and the HTC Footprints app allows the user to easily locate themselves and navigate anywhere. The ringer is easy on the ears and has auto muting and volume reduction features that detect if the unit is on the downside. Additionally, Proximity sensor, G-sensor and ambient light sensors are also built-in.
The HTC Wildfire’s connectivity capabilities are impressive with Bluetooth 2.1 (EDR), AVRCP, GAP, SPP and Service Discovery applications. Wireless is well done along with the units 3G, which runs up to 7.2 Mbps, for downloads and 384 Kbps for uploading maximum speeds. GPRS, EDGE and Wi-Fi standard IEEE 802.11 b/g are included. The HTC Wildfire operates on HSDPA/WCDMA/GSM in Asia and Europe.
The Wildfire has a 1300mAh Lithium-ion battery that delivers 440 minutes of talk time and 690 hours standby on WCDMA and 490 minutes talk time and 480 hours standby on GSM. This depends upon your usage profile, but is a fairly impressive statistic. This brings us to the processor; the HTC Wildfire has the same 528 MHz CPU as the HTC Hero does, which is the other major trade-off to lower the cost. It is an older, slower, and out of date CPU and is part of the reason for the mediocre performance of video playback and Web flash apps (which can take a minute or so to load). The user will also notice some lag in system speed depending on workload. The Wildfire has 384 MB of RAM and 512 MB of ROM, which is adequate. Storage is provided via an on-board microSD card slot supporting up to 32GB cards
The Overall Verdict
The HTC Wildfire is a very budget friendly Smartphone. For parents looking to meet their children’s needs or for those not wanting to break the bank this is perfect. This is a three and a half star Smartphone. The trade offs are a little disappointing but for those not looking for laptop quality media performance and still wanting the complete Smartphone experience this is a perfect balance of features and price. The social networking functions are stellar and add to its value. Marketing did their job on this one and it shows. This is much recommended for those on a budget looking for the best value for money.
HTC Wildfire Feature Overview
Richard Lai, “HTC Wildfire Review,” Engadget