First Looks: HTC Wildfire S – The Little Smartphone That Can
Punching Above Its Weight Class
Introduced to the world in February along with the other “S” designated HTC smartphones, the HTC Wildfire S arrived on local shores with much fanfare last month, along with the much bigger HTC Sensation. Comparing it to the original Wildfire, the most obvious difference is the absence of the optical trackpad, which makes the Wildfire S an all-touch affair, just like its bigger “S” sibling, the HTC Desire S. Side by side, the Wildfire S actually looks like a shrunken version of the Desire S minus the front-facing camera. The much-lauded HTC minimalist styling and solid build quality are definitely apparent. The little smartphone’s gentle contours feel great in your hands, whether in landscape or portrait orientation, which is no mean feat.
Struggling With Sense
Powering the palm-sized Android smartphone is a 600Mhz Snapdragon CPU, up from 528Mhz ARM unit in the original Wildfire. RAM is also up from 384MB to 512MB, matching its internal memory. It features the same version (2.1) of HTC’s Sense user interface on top of the Android 2.3 “Gingerbread” OS as almost all of the smartphones in HTC’s lineup, but even with the increase in RAM and processor speed, the Wildfire S noticeably struggles with it. There is a definite lag between presses on the touch buttons and keys and their actual execution, making it feel unresponsive. At times, we weren’t sure if we hit the right button or the screen simply didn’t register the stroke. Even if we did hit the right one, it was a rare occurrence because of the small screen space. The Wildfire S’ small size is convenient, but it’s almost too small. You have to be a little more careful when typing on it, compared to its bigger siblings. The internal memory’s smaller size compared to the other HTC models was also rather limiting, especially since it comes pre-loaded with the usual HTC apps. We found ourselves constantly having to free space up for new apps. During our tests, which included some browsing, texts, calls and app downloading, its battery lasted a reasonable 9 hours before it needed to be charged. Charging is rather quick though, as the battery leaped from zero to 30% within half an hour.
In terms of its 5-megapixel camera, It's not going to win any awards, but it does a more than decent job in both photo and video. Its autofocus is a little slow however. We were pretty satisfied with it on the whole, given the size of the smartphone.
Despite its apparent faults, we can’t help but feel a certain affinity for HTC’s little Wildfire S. It still has the wonderfully-intuitive Sense user interface, which is arguably one of the better Android based smartphone UI’s out there. Plus, in the end, even if it does require a bit more patience and a more delicate touch, the HTC Wildfire S delivers practically 90% of what it the Desire S does at half the price. Just don't push it.