By May 3, 2011

HTC Wildfire S review

HTC Wildfire S review Back in February of this year HTC announced a number of new handsets including 3 that were direct upgrades/replacements of existing models. We’ve already had a look at the HTC Desire S and the HTC Incredible S so now it’s time for the HTC Wildfire S to go on test.

Its predecessor, the HTC Wildfire, has been on sale for almost a year and sales have been good for HTC as the handsets has been available both SIM free and through a number of UK operators both PAYG and on contract. In fact, as an entry level Android handset, I’d say that the Wildfire was responsible for introducing a whole new group of users to the wonders of Android.

The Wildfire S is similar to last years model, virtually the same size and just a little bit lighter. Main difference is in the screen being twice the number of pixels at 320×480 HVGA resolution but still remaining 3.2″ in size.

HTC have also done away with the optical trackpad in each of this years models and the Wildfire S is no different so the area below the screen is a lot more ‘clean’ if a little bland.

Other changes go beyond the cosmetic and we’ll look at these throughout the review so be sure to read on to learn more.


The 10 Second review:

  • Device: HTC Wildfire S
  • Price: around £240
  • Summary: A great little Android handset that crams a lot in to a small package
  • Best of: compact design and quality build/feel
  • Worst of: CPU somewhat lacking with some tasks
  • Buy it now from: Clove Technology
  • Also consider: Samsung Galaxy Ace


What’s in the box?

  • HTC Widefire S
  • 1230mAh battery
  • Mains charger
  • Battery
  • MicroUSB sync/charge cable
  • Wired Headset

Bear in mind that although our review unit is final ROM and final hardware we haven’t yet seen the final retail packaging so you can expect to get more in the box if you buy one than we have with ours! Check out my HTC Wildfire S unboxing video for a closer look.



HTC Wildfire S specification:

  • Operating System: Android Version 2.3.3 Gingerbread with HTC Sense 2.1
  • Processor: Speed 600 MHz Qualcomm
  • Expansion Slot: MicroSDHC Capacity (Up to) 32GB
  • RAM: 512MB
  • ROM: 512 MB
  • Display/Screen: 3.2″ Resolution 320 x 480 HVGA
  • GSM/GPRS: Frequencies 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • 3G/HSPA: Frequencies 900/2100 MHz
  • Bluetooth: Version 3.0 FTP/OPP, A2DP, PBAP, HSP
  • WiFi: IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
  • Audio: 3.5 mm audio jack
  • GPS: Internal A-GPS
  • Camera: 5 Megapixels Auto Focus and flash
  • Sensors: G-Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Light Sensor
  • FM Radio: yes
  • Battery: Capacity 1230mAh Lithium-ion
  • Dimensions: 101.3 x 59.4 x 12.4mm
  • Weight: 105 grams (3.7 ounces) with battery



So starting at the front of the handset, as always, we have a 3.2″ capacitive touchscreen running at 320×480 HVGA resolution which is twice the pixel count of the original Wildfire. It’s worth noting that although the screen is a ‘normal’ LCD  clearly HTC have been tweaking the screen settings lately and whilst it may not be quite as good as the likes of Super-LCD or AMOLED it’s still bright and colourful.

The LCD screen is surrounded by a thick but not-excessive black bezel and where the screen meets the chassis of the phone the polished edge of the aluminium body can be seen.

Above the screen is large earpiece divided between two grilles. On the right side, behind the grille is a small multicolour LED that’s used to indicate such things as charge status.

Below the screen are four capacitive touch buttons, Home, Menu, Back and Search.

HTC Wildfire S front view

HTC Wildfire S front view


Looking to the top of the Wildfire S there is a large and well placed power button that stands about half a millimetre  proud of the surround making is nice and east to locate and press with your index finger. Next to that a 3.5mm headphone connector sits ready to receive your own headphones or the supplied wired headset. The 3.5mm socket is flush on top but slightly bulbous on the rear of the phone.

HTC Wildfire S top view HTC Wildfire S top detail view

HTC Wildfire S front view


The bottom of the handset has rather less to see with just two holes apparent, the larger is for connecting a phone-charm or lanyard where the smaller of the two is simply the microphone.

HTC Wildfire S bottom view

HTC Wildfire S bottom view


Looking at the left side there’s the almost obligatory volume control rocker. As a left-handed user I prefer the placement of the volume-control on the left of the screen as it’s easier to operate with your thumb, especially in-call.

Towards the bottom is the Micro-USB connector through which the device is charged and synced with your computer. Many manufacturers have started placing the on the side rather than the bottom now and although I’d rather see it on the bottom, it’s better there for car kits, I can see why HTC have located it on the side as the bottom has that ‘chin’.

HTC Wildfire S left side

HTC Wildfire S left-side


The right side of the handset has no controls or connectors. A shame, perhaps, that there’s no dedicated camera button here.

HTC Wildfire S right-side

HTC Wildfire S right-side


On the back there’s a 5 megapixel autofocus camera and LED flash. There’s also a loudspeaker for ringer/speakerphone. These are all surrounded by a lighter grey lozenge-shaped piece. This doesn’t really serve a purpose other than as a bit of visual interest.

HTC Wildfire S back view

HTC Wildfire S back view


The whole of the back cover removes up to and including the chin portion at the bottom. Under the cover you’ll find the battery cavity and the micro-SD card socket. You have to remove the battery in order to gain access to the SIM-card.

WildfireS-angled-back-off WildfireS-memory

HTC Wildfire S back-off





  • Small & Lightweight
  • Good Wi-Fi and mobile reception
  • Value for money
  • HTC Sense


  • Slow CPU can struggle with some apps.
  • Camera just ‘ok’
  • No 720p video recording



HTC look like having another busy year again with 5 new phones and a tablet announced at MWC and another super-phone, the HTC Sensation, announced just a few weeks ago.

James and I have already reviewed the HTC Desire S and HTC Incredible S between us and we’ve been fairly impressed with the performance of both handsets. For the most part the Desire S and the Incredible S are just incremental updates of the previous models and to same extent the Wildfire S is too. However the Wildfire S does offer a bit more of an upgrade compared to the other two with a higher-res screen, slightly faster CPU, more RAM and latest version of Android being the headline changes.

The Wildfire has done very well to date, I’ve seen a lot of people with them and have a number of friends that wanted smaller handsets and decided to try Android for the first time. The Wildfire S is more of an entry level handset for HTC costing just under £200 plus VAT at the moment. I feel sure that the price will drop over the next few months too as they start shipping in greater volumes. Im sure too that the operators currently offering the HTC Wildfire will begin to add the Wildfire S to their inventory.

So lets start at the beginning with the HTC Wildfire S and see what it has to offer.


Taking the device from the box for the first time you are going to have to install the battery and a SIM card before you can use it. Removing the back cover on the Wildfire is a little tricky as the whole of the back comes off and a portion of the bottom, up to the chin, comes along with it. Whilst the actual removal isn’t a problem it’s just a case of knowing where to hold the device as you do it. It’s easier to lay the handset face-down in palm of one hand while you insert your thumb nail from the other hand in the cut out at the top and feel the back off.

The back is quite flimsy once removed, made of fairly thin plastic. It is secure and solid enough when clipped in place on the back of the handset but I wonder how much punishment it would stand up to given that the memory card is under the cover. If you are a frequent card-swapper you may want to take extra care.

Unlike the Desire S and the Incredible S the Wildfire S isn’t an all aluminium construction. The front half is metal but the rear and ‘guts’ are plastic. As such there is no need of the antennas to be attached within the battery cover as with the other two handsets mentioned.


Just as we’ve found with Android handsets from HTC recently there is a really good setup wizard to guide you through the basics when you boot up for the first time. I think this is particularly important for the Wildfire S as I would imagine that a higher that average number of purchasers will the first-time Androiders.

setup1 setup2 setup3 setup4 setup6 device6a setup7 setup8

So you’ll see from the images above there are 8 screens to take you through the setup. Language, onscreen keyboard, transfer from old phone, internet connection, sync, WiFi Setup, Google location, email setup. Each of these screens require you to ask a few simple questions. The onscreen keyboard page also will take you though how auto-correction works.

If you are no novice or are simply too impatient to go try out your new handset you can skip the wizard and either set things up yourself manually as you go or else come back to the wizard at a later date.


Once you either complete or skip the setup you’ll be dropped in to the homescreen. The first time you start up the Wildfire S it may take a minute or so to start up properly and to load all the apps/widgets. This is normal and is much quicker in future.

So the HTC Sense homescreen will no doubt be familiar to many, HTC Sense has been around for quite some time now and is almost certainly one of the main reasons that people flock to the HTC devices. Personally I like the Sense overlay, I don’t find it as over the top as some overlays from other manufacturers and I’ve used it for so long now it feels like a bit of an old friend.

So the homescreen itself is made up of 7 pages or panels that an be customised with widgets and shortcuts.

home1 home2 home3 home4 home5 home6 home7

The home view starts off in the middle and there are three additional screens on each side that are accessed by swiping from side to side. From far left to right they are:

  1. Full page weather that uses your current location and provides a 5 day forecast.
  2. The messages widget. This shows you the most recent of your SMS messages and also allows you to compase a new message from here.
  3. Friendstream. First introduced on the HTC Desire and HTC Legend last year, Friendstream brings your Facebook, Twitter and Flickr accounts together in one location.
  4. The middle, ‘home’ screen has the now iconic flip style clock with a weather summary. The lower half of the display has shortcuts to Tips, Messages, Email, Web Browser, Camera and Android Market.
  5. The next screen has the Google search bar complete with voice search option. Below is the People widget which displays favourite people and groups for quick access to contact them.
  6. The next screen has a full page music player widget. I you have music on your device it will be playable and searchable through this widget.
  7. Finally, the 7th page is left blank for you to fill yourself.

These layouts and widgets are just the default setup. You can add and remove items as you see fit.

If navigating backwards and forwards between the 7 homescreen pages seems like a faff then help is at hand in the form of the helicopter view that HTC call Leap. You can either pinch any of the homescreen pages or press the home button twice to be presented with a zoomed out overview of what’s happening on each page. This view can be handy if you don’t know which screen you’ve put a widget on but overall I’d say that it’s more for show-off factor than practical use.


The lockscreen on the Wildfire S is also fairly standard HTC fare with the time shown and a large swipe-down bar to unlock. The upper area of the lockscreen is used to alerts such as calendar events or to tell you you’re in airplane mode for example.



The pull-down bar has been expanded to include, at the top, a list of the most recently used applications. This list can scroll to show a more used items and provides another way of getting quick access to things that you use frequently. In practice I think you’d want to add your favourite apps to the homescreen but this is another option.

Below the most recently used list you’ll see more detail for the notifications shown in top-most bar. These may include message alerts, WiFi networks found, tweets and Facebook message updates. Anything that requires attention should be listed here.

Just as with the HTC Desire S, you’ll notice here too that there is an additional Quick Settings tab in here. This provides quick access to common control panel items allowing you to easily go in and switch WiFi, GPS or Bluetooth on/off for example. This I found particularly useful as it saves a lot of clicking or menu navigation that would otherwise be required to change these through the normal settings menu. Obviously you wont find everything in this list but the last item will take you to the full settings menu if you want to go via this page rather than from the homescreen.

 pulldown1 quicksettings


For many people Android is all about being able to customise their phone. Last year, with the Desire and Legend, HTC introduced a new feature to HTC Sense called Scenes. This allows you to have multiple homescreen profiles so that you can set them up and switch between them at any time. This may be particularly useful if you use your phone for both work and personal being able to set up the homescreen with various widgets for each profile. Out of the box HTC provide Social, Work, Play and Travel Scenes on top of the default HTC Scene. On top of that you can also download more Scenes. The Scene selection is a lot easier now too as each one now provides you with a small preview image rather that a named selection list.

 sceneselection socialscene workscene playscene travelscene



If Widgets and Scenes aren’t enough to keep you busy customising your new Wildfire S, you can now also change the skin of the interface too. There were 5 skins supplied with the Desire S but the Wildfire S has just the two. However you can also download more skins if you want to.

skin1 skin2


I’ve mentioned widgets several times already but HTC have really gone to town with the default widgets that the offer. There are far too many to mention them all but on top of the standard widgets that you get with every Android phone there are a further 41 HTC widgets to choose from. These cover things such as email, calendar, time and social networking. We’ll look at a few of these later.



As you would expect from a sophisticated handset such as the Wildfire S, there are a lot settings that you can tinker with in the settings menu. We can also look in the ‘about’ section to confirm that we are running Android 2.3.3 here.

settings about



The pre-installed apps on the Wildfire S cover a wide range of topics and there are over two-and-a-half pages worth of apps to play with here. Some I am sure you will find familiar where others are rather more obscure.

apps1 apps2 apps3


As I mentioned when I did the HTC Desire S review, one thing we are very often asked to show when we do unboxing and demo videos is the phone screen so not wanting to miss that out you can see a couple of screen grabs of that below.

There isn’t anything particularly unusual about the dialler. It has large number keys that make it easy to tap away the number you want to dial. On top of that there’s the smart dial feature. Simply by tapping a few numbers or letter on the number pad you’ll see suggestions for contacts that match have matching numbers and letters within their contact card.

Once you place a call you’ll see the call status and, if you have one, the photo of the person you are calling, otherwise you’ll see the green android.

phone phone2



Email is one thing that I feel Android handsets do handle particularly well. In general Android supports multiple email accounts and account types from IMAP and POP to Exchange server accounts. HTC extend the standard email functionality:

 email1 email2 email3 email4 email5 email6 email7

The email client has multiple views to help deal with your email. If you have a large volume of mail then this definitely useful. As you can see from the screenshots above there are several ways to see your messages. From left to right:

  1. The main inbox view has all of your email in one list. The nice thing here is that you can see the messages from all the email accounts you have configured in one consolidated view. You’ll notice the coloured bar on the left of each message denotes the account it belongs to.
  2. Conversation view groups messages in a threaded format by subject.
  3. Favourites view allows you to see only email from those people on your favourites list. This works hand in hand with the favourites you have in contacts and as speed-dials. You can also have a favourites group and email everyone in that group with one click.
  4. Unread view. Can you guess?
  5. Marked messages or those that you have flagged for followup.
  6. Meeting invitations are shown in the next tab and new meetings can also be set up here.
  7. Finally the attachments view. Only messages with attachments are shown here. I find this useful as I frequently search email for attachments when looking for a file.

On top of the filters that are available for email there are HTC widgets for email too. There are three flavours of widget, but they are all the full-screen kind. Examples can be seen below, from the left: Simple email view showing a preview of just the most recent email message. An email list with detailed preview of each message and finally email list with single-line preview.

mail1 mail2 mail3

For those using a Gmail account your emails are accessed through a separate application on the phone. Personally I only use a Gmail account for testing review handsets and for signing in to Android Market. If you do use Gmail as well as other mail services though you may find it annoying to have to use two separate apps for each one as the main email view, although it can combine multiple email accounts, doesn’t combine with Gmail.

gmail gmail2




The calendar is another area in which HTC have hugely expanded on the standard Android functionality. Not only is the calendar app better looking and more feature-rich but there are also a number of calendar widgets that can be used.

So for example on the left below you have the calendar app showing a summary of activity for the month of April. Each day has a grey bar next to it that fills up in green as more meetings or activities are added. Of course you can switch to a more detailed view and add new appointments through this screen.

For me the power of the calendar is truly unleashed when you begin adding widgets to the homescreen. When adding a calendar widget you are give the choice of three different types.

There’s the small or single event style (2nd screenshot below) that takes up only a small amount of space on the screen and shows only the next appointment in your calendar. Once that appointment passes the next one shall be shown.

The other two widgets types are both full-screen so obviously will take up a whole page on the homescreen. One provides a month view of upcoming appointments with a small triangle on the days where you have any activities. The agenda view lists only upcoming appointments skipping days where you have nothing at all.

Once you have selected the type of widget you want to add you have a choice of which calendar(s) you want to show data from. You can show all or one or any combination. The beauty of this is that you could add more than one calendar widget and have one for each diary you maintain. This would be particularly helpful when used in conjunction with Scenes in that you could have a personal calendar set in one Scene and business in another.

calendar-app calendar-week calendar-agenda

cal1 cal2 cal3

Calendar events also appear on the lockscreen if they have an associated reminder time.



Keyboard & Text Entry

Just as with the Desire S, the Wildfire S offers three different options for text entry. When you first set up a standard-looking QWERTY keyboard will be the default option. This is what I suspect that most people will use and it works very well. It also has predictive text that suggests words as you type. Personally I find predictive more annoying than helpful so generally turn it off but it’s there if you choose to use it.

Two other entry options exist. First is a compact QWERTY keyboard, sometimes referred to as a 20-key. I’ve never liked compact QWERTY keyboards, I cant seem to get on with them, I wonder how many people still use the compact QWERTY option?

The third layout is a phonepad style or 12-key. This allows you to enter text in a more T9 style which again I know suits some people more than others. The advantage here is that it gives you much larger buttons to press which is handy if you have fat-fingers!

No matter which keyboard style you choose it will revert to a full-QWERTY when you rotate the screen in to landscape orientation.

keyboardport  keyboardland compact phonepad

The keyboard on HTC handsets isn’t the standard Android one but is instead their own version of it. There isn’t a huger difference but the normal Gingerbread keyboard has slightly different spacing which is better in my opinion.

There are other keyboards that you may choose to install from Android market and as we have mentioned in the past, the SWYPE version is particularly good.



Browsing the internet on the original HTC Wildfire wasn’t the best experience ever really this was all down to the QVGA display. 240×320 pixels on a 3.2″ screen just wasn’t enough and the result was that the pages in the browser we a bit fuzzy/blocky and hard to read. This meant that you had to continuously zoom in to see text and scroll around websites in order to read them.

As the Wildfire S has a HVGA, 320×480 pixel display it does a MUCH better job at displaying web pages. Granted it wont begin to compete with the likes of the Incredible S or XPERIA Arc with their 480×800 and 480×854 pixel displays respectively but the it does a decent job considering the size and resolution. Extended web browsing is a much more reasonable proposition.

HTC introduced text reflow when they launched the HTC Diamond about 3 years ago. When you zoom to a section of text on a page rather then the text be too wide for the screen and force you to have to scroll the page from left to right repeatedly to be able to read it the browser will re-flow or re-justify the text so that it fits the width and you only need to scroll up/down to read a whole passage of text. Handy.

Naturally the browser also makes use of the built in accelerometer so will rotate the display to suit whenever you rotate the device allowing you to easily switch between portrait and landscape browsing. There is very little lag when rotating.

One thing that Android phones and tablets have over their Apple based counterparts is that they are capable of displaying flash-based content through the web browser. So then you’ll be able to use your favourite Flash based sites and those that have flashed based video. However, don’t expect desktop-like experience from the browser where Flash content is concerned. If the Flash content is simple then there wont be any problems but if you visit a site built entirely in flash or one that uses particularly complex Flash content you will definitely notice the 600MHz CPU start to struggle. You can pretty much forget about playing flash based games unless you are very patient.

Overall though the Wildfire S is a competent handset when it comes to browsing the web, just remember that it is a more compact handset with a small screen crammed in.

 browser-port browser-land

The YouTube application is the same as you would find on most Android handsets. I still think Android has the best of the YouTube applications, not only in terms of how it looks but also its functionality. YouTube videos look so much better on Android than on the iPhone for example.

You can browse through videos, look at the top videos and recommendations as well as search for a specific video or channel. As you can see below, a search for leodee (my YouTube account name) brings up my channel and all the unboxing videos I have available (nearly 500 now!). YouTube videos then playback pretty much flawlessly on the screen (depending of course on your internet connection) but for me they play back smoothly over WiFi in HQ format.

When playing back in portrait orientation the video sits in the top half of the screen with the title, description and comments underneath. When you turn the handset in to landscape mode the video rotates and is played back full-screen.

youtube1 youtube2 youtube3


Social Networking

Social networking is well covered on all HTC handsets thanks to the Friendstream app and widget built in to HTC Sense. We first saw Friendstream last year on the HTC Legend and then on all other HTC devices since. This brings together three social network feeds in to one place. Twitter, Facebook and Flickr are supported so any time there is an update from one if your friends you’ll see it in one list. It’s a social network aggregator.

From the desktop widget you can post your own status updates. When you post an update it’ll go to each account you have configured, there doesn’t appear to be a way to say you just want a particular update to appear in just Twitter or just Facebook. As with the email and calendar widgets there’s a choice of sizes so you can have a full page or half page widget.

From the homescreen widget you can click through to the main app where you have a little more control over your status updates and you can post photos and video from within the app itself.

The app has different tabs to allow you to search or filter friends updates. The first has all updates, then status updates, photo and video updates, posted links, lists and finally notifications.

 friendstream-app1 friendstream-app2 friendstream-app3 friendstream-app4 friendstream-app5 friendstream-app6

There are literally hundreds of twitter clients out there and I’m sure that we all have our favourites. Pre-installed on all HTC handsets these days you’ll find HTC’s own ‘Peep’ app. This works closely with the Friendstream app too. Peep is actually one of my favourite Android twitter clients, it’s nice and simple but still has the essential features and it also looks appealing too.

If you don’t like Peep then you can try the official twitter app. That doesn’t do too bad a job but if you don’t like either of the supplied apps there’s a raft of them to choose from on Android Market.

peep peep2

If using a feed aggregator isn’t your cup of tea you can choose not to use it and instead use the individual Facebook and Twitter applications.

There have been recent improvements to the Facebook application for Android with more features and an improved interface. It now has a photo stream at the bottom of the main window which is pretty cool.



GPS & Navigation

Naturally you’ll find Google maps pre-installed and there’s nothing special about it’s implementation here. Two finger zooming is supported and now you can use two fingers to rotate the display as well.

There’s street view and satellite views too or you can layer them together.

maps1 maps2

Google Maps does provide for directions and this maybe enough for some people as it plots routes from point A to point B for either car, public transport or walking routes. I often use Google Maps when in London to find my way to various meetings. It’s nice and easy to use.

GPS technology has been improving steadily over the past few years. I remember a time when finding a GPS signal was a hit or miss affair and you had to stand still in one place and be quite patient for a GPS fix and you could forget about getting a fix indoors!

This was particularly frustrating when you got in to a built up city, such as London, where the GPS was often lost having been blocked out by the ‘urban canyons’.

navigation1 navigation2


Android Market & HTC Hub

Android market on Wildfire S is just the same as you would find on any other Android handset at the moment. I think Apple could learn a thing or two from Google here in terms of the way Android market is laid out and the categories that everything is broken down in to.

As mentioned already HTC give you the ability to download additional content for your new phone whether it be a new skin or a sound scheme. HTC Hub takes that a step further though and once you sign in you’ll a whole variety of Apps, Widgets, Sound Sets, Scenes etc. All of which are exclusive to HTC.

For some reason I wasn’t able to sign in to my HTC Sense account for the duration of this HTC Wildfire S review. I’m not sure it this is due to an issue with my account of that I’m looking at a yet to be released handset but in any case I wasn’t able to get in to HTC Hub or HTC Likes in order to do some screen shots. I trust that this is just a temporary issue though.



Music & Media

I mentioned the music widget earlier. This enables you to access your music collection from the homescreen so that you can find the track or album you are looking for, play, pause and skip the music and also see the play time and album art. It’s a nice simple widget.

On top of that there is a music app. This has a similar appearance to the widget but has additional functionality to allow you to filter your music collection but Artist, Album, Playlist or Song Title. In addition there are other views for now-playing and other playlist views.

To be honest I don’t think the music app or widget comes close to what you get from you iPod or iPhone but it does an OK job.

music-widget music-app fmradio

For when you run out of music there is also the FM radio to play with. I found that it didn’t work particularly well for me. I was only able to pick up two radio stations and even they were pretty fuzzy. Because the headphones have to be plugged in for the radio to work (it uses the headphone cable as an aerial)  it’s very sensitive to the orientation and therefore the movement of the headphone cable. You can turn on the loudspeaker for the radio and in practice, whilst sitting at my review desk, this was a little better as I was able to move the lead around to get a better signal.


News & Weather

I’m not sure if smartphone owners are as pre-occupied with news and weather has the handset designers think we are or perhaps I am just the exception to the rule but here on the Wildfire S you’ll find that news and weather are well covered with not only the weather widget but also a news and weather app.

This app has a series of tabs along the top and starts with the weather and a 7-day forecast for your current area. Then there are additional tabs for the Top Stories, UK news, Sports and Entertainment. These just provide headlines and tapping on a story loads it in the web browser.

 news&weather1 news&weather2

The other news app is more like an RSS reader. There are a number of pre configured feeds and others to choose from or you can add your own by entering the URL of the relevant RSS feed.

I tried this out with our own site and found it quite useful. You get a summary and image for each post on the site and then you can click through for the full article and share/email this to others. There is also an image based version of this as you can see below.

news-rss1 news-rss2 news-rss3


Wi-Fi Hotspot

Not long ago, if you wanted to use your mobile to connect your PC to the internet you’d have to use a data cable and set it up as a wireless modem. More recently some third-party apps emerged that would enable you to share the internet connection from your mobile phone to your PC. Obviously HTC realised how popular this was and now include a ‘Portable WiFi router’ app on most of their handsets.

The Wildfire S also has this feature. You simply run the app, give your phone an SSID, set up security and it will then host incoming connections and share out your 3G over WiFi. Excellent.

 hotspot hotspot2



If you read my review of the HTC Desire S you’ll know that I really gave the camera a bashing. I expected far better from the 8MP camera in that especially as the camera in the Incredible S was so good. There seems to be a tendency for the image processor on HTC handsets to go a bit too far with the compression. Now before some of you shout at your screens, I know that you can improve this quite a bit if you want to play with the settings and tinker with the exposure or reedit with your favourite photo app on your desktop but I feel that doing so somewhat defeats the object of having a camera in your phone. For me its all about having the camera there to take a quick snap when something happens and your DSLR or HD camcorder aren’t there or are not appropriate to use. Making me have to mess with the settings to take that candid shot seems daft.

So I wasn’t expecting much from the 5MP camera in the Wildfire S, not least because it’s the same as the one in last years model albeit with an updated camera interface. There is features and settings in here such as self-timer, geo-tag, auto-enhance as well as a number of image effects.

In practice the camera isn’t terrible, I’ve seen better and worse. It takes snaps pretty quickly so you wont miss that all important shot and the colours come out quite vividly.

The LED flash is bright enough to use at a distance in a dark room but don’t use it too close as you’ll end up with shadows as the coverage isn’t ideal.

Once you’ve taken your photos they are shown in a camera roll as reasonably large thumbnails which you then have the option to share via a wide range of services from Facebook to Flickr.

 camera media mediashare


In the sample shots below you the colours of the blue sky and green grass have come out rather nicely. There is a decent amount of detail in the tree against the sky and in the grass but as with the Desire S there is evidence of some nasty compression artefacts but seems not to be as bad as with the Desire S. This baffles me as the file size of the resulting JPG images aren’t that small on the memory card.  That said the photos are quite acceptable really.

IMAG0007 IMAG0008 IMAG0009

In the close-up shots below you can see that there’s good colour and detail production again but despite there being heaps of available light in the image on the left the image is still noisy which one would expect to be more likely in low light.

On the right is a close up in low light with the flash which shows the lack of flash spread when too close. The IQ is good though.


Overall the camera is acceptable, phone cameras being anything like as good as DSLR’s are a long way off in my opinion.

Just for sake of comparison take a look at the detail in the two images below taken with my cheapest DSLR with its in-the-box lens. These are just to give you an idea!

DSC_0002 DSC_0001

Video recording on the Wildfire S is unremarkable. The highest recording resolution is 640×480 VGA. I’m guessing that it’s because there isn’t enough CPU power to go 720p. A bit of a shame perhaps but to be expected from a small handset such as this.

There’s no forward-facing camera so you wont be able to video call on skype. However if you want to take a self-portrait picture this is handled in a clver way through software. Simply enable to self portrait mode and point the camera at your own face. With face-detection the camera will take a picture of you when you are properly in-frame. Clever.


Signal, reception and overall performance

I’ve mentioned many times in other reviews that the area in which I live is a virtual black spot for the mobile networks. the only one that I generally get any degree of service on is Vodafone and even then it’s just one or two bars and I can forget all about 3G!

Some handsets are better at picking up a mobile signal than others, for example my BlackBerry 9780 is on Vodafone and gets a service a lot of the time but my Vodafone iPhone 4 is off more than it’s on. For my review I used a Giffgaff SIM card as not only do we like the Giffgaff service (unlimited data for £10 per month) but it also uses the O2 network which for me has some degree of hope for a signal.

During the review, which was written on and off over the course of a few days, there were times where I as able to get up to two bars of coverage on the Wildfire S but there were other times when there was nothing at all. Now this says a lot more for the network coverage then for the phone itself but give that it worked for at least part of the time it’s a good sign that the phone is pretty good when it comes to picking up a mobile signal.

WiFi too was quite impressive. I’ve written most of this review in our new studio which is away from the house, it has it’s own network and broadband but I was actually able to connect to the WiFi in the house and what’s more it was usable! This is pretty unusual as many handsets that we review are pretty deaf when it comes to WiFi networks so much so that I have three wireless access points in our house just so that I can use WiFi on my iPhone and BlackBerry in every room rather than just when I am sitting in the study.


When I first read the spec sheet for the Wildfire S I must admit that I questioned why the CPU speed was only 600MHz, last years model was 528MHz and one would expect that after 12 months the increase should have been greater especially with competitors putting 800MHz CPUs in their equivalent models, look at the Galaxy Ace for example so I did think that the performance would be rather lacking.

In reality there weren’t many times when I noticed that the CPU was a bit slow. There were times when some apps would have a bit of thinking time and some complex Flash based sites were really quite slow but the overall day-to-day performance was really quite good. Quick to open and run most apps and to go in and out of email for example.


In my XPERIA Arc review I decided that we’d benchmark handsets in future purely so that we had some measure of the performance rather than me just so, it’s ok or it’s a bit slow. In the benchmark above you’ll see that it didn’t do a bad job considering the cost and specification of the handsets that were faster than the Wildfire S and indeed the ones that it beat too. Even more impressive when you consider that there’s no GPU where others have one.





If you are looking for a compact yet full featured Android smartphone then don’t look any further than the HTC Wildfire S. It’s a great compromise between features and performance, in fact there isn’t too much of a trade off here anyway. Whether you are considering Android for the first time or even if you are an Android veteran simply wanting a small second phone then there is plenty to like about this phone.

There are a few things I would change perhaps, most of all I would much rather have a dedicated camera button than shooting from the touchscreen but for the money it’s hard to find more faults. Perhaps more CPU horsepower would have been nice though, 528MHz to 600MHz is a pretty small increase in the grand scheme.

There is enough difference between this and last years model to make it worth existing Wildfire owners splashing out on the upgrade, the screen alone would be worth it.

Another well-designed and executed smartphone from HTC.


Review by: Matt

[ Post Tags: HTC Wildfire S, Android,, smartphone, Gingerbread ]

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
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About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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