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Sunday, January 30, 2011

HTC Wildfire

HTC is on sabbatical from its high-end line with the Wildfire. There is nothing really wild or fiery in the specs of this mid-end Android handset. Compared to most of the company's Android offerings, it naturally has smaller screen with paltry resolution, and a low-end CPU. They don't promise much of a performance, but the phone is certainly a looker. When we add the familiar sturdy construction HTC is in the hall of fame for, the company's foray into the budget Android line with the Wildfire might just do it justice.

What's in the box:
  • HTC Wildfire
  • 1300 mAh Li-Ion Battery
  • Quick start guide and warranty card
  • Charger
  • microUSB cable
  • Headset with microphone

The handset strays away from the usual tall and narrow look of pure touchscreen phones lately, boasting a more squarish, intriguingly disproportionate shape, which makes it pleasant to look at, and comfortable to hold. Plus the weight is just right, so that the phone doesn't feel like a toy in the hand.

 The HTC Wildfire's 3.2” screen has a 240x320 pixels QVGA resolution, which we are more accustomed to see in cheapo 2.8” types. At 3.2”, the pixel density lets you almost count the individual dots when close to the display, and we are not exaggerating. On top of that legibility and viewing angles really suffer outside under direct sun rays, unless brightness is at the fullest. At least the screen supports up to 16M colors, and is capacitive with multitouch, which brings a world of difference in terms of scrolling and responsiveness.

Underneath that wonder of nature, the Wildfire's screen, are the four Android navigational buttons in capacitive touch form, backlit in white. They return haptic feedback, if that feature is turned on for the touchscreen. The phone comes with HTC's trademark optical trackpad, which also serves as a shutter button. The ear speaker above the screen looks like a BMW grill, the way it is split in two parts, and is a nice design decision, similar to what we have on the Desire. Beneath it on the left of the HTC logo is the notification LED.

HTC Wildfire Review
HTC Wildfire Review
Underneath the screen of the HTC Wildfire are the four Android navigational buttons

The lock/power button is situated on the top right, while on the top left is the standard audio jack. The left side houses the volume rocker – a whole piece – and the unprotected microUSB port. All keys are chromed and with a good travel click to them.

HTC Wildfire Review
HTC Wildfire Review
The sides of the HTC Wildfire

The HTC Wildfire sports a 5MP camera with LED light, the lens of which are elevated above the back cover like a periscope. It looks different, but we can imagine all sorts of scratches and bruises arising from that frivolity. The back has a wide strip of plastic with brushed metallic looks running across it. It obviously got inherited from the HTC Desire, as it's even the same brown color. The material also surrounds the screen and the sides, with the exception of the curvy bottom where the soft touch plastic of the back panel transitions to the front up to the optical trackpad, thus making the lower front side look like a three-layered cake. That soft touch plastic is above the back metallic strip as well, surrounding the camera, and, as usual, brings an air of comfort to holding a phone. Thanks to these touches the overall look and feel of the HTC Wildfire is that of a high quality designer handset. If the brown finish of our review unit doesn't click with you, there are versions dressed in white and red as well.
Interface and Functionality:

HTC Sense at that pixel density looks stretched, and its elements jagged. We won't dwell on it too much since we already reviewed the last changes to Sense UI brought in by the HTC Legend - that's exactly what you will find on the HTC Wildfire, from the widgets and messaging to the gallery. The HTC Desire had live wallpapers behind the latest Sense UI - a nice perk that Android 2.1 brought - but they are absent on the Wildfire. Most probably HTC wisely concluded that the interactive wallpapers might choke the slow 528MHz Qualcomm processor, and omitted them, as they did with the Legend. The interface is actually smooth since the CPU speed, and the 384MB RAM, are obviously enough for   Sense UI. The helicopter view (where the seven homescreens appear as six cards circling the minimized default one with the clock) can be most easily accessed on the HTC Wildfire with the usual homescreen pinch-in with two fingers.

HTC Wildfire Review
HTC Wildfire Review

A 3.2” screen size is certainly not great for an on-screen keyboard, especially for bigger thumbs. The HTC Wildfire's default Sense UI keyboard does make you look at it all the time for mistypes, since responsiveness is a bit slow. Same goes for the screen reaction to the accelerometer - it takes just a tad more than it should.

check out the images clicked by HTC wildfire :

HTC Wildfire Review
The incoming call volume was good in the ear speaker, and the voice quality was acceptable. The other party was hearing us fine as far as strength, but the voice was distorted, especially high-pitched conversations. There is no videocalling on the HTC Wildfire as there isn't any front-facing camera, and no application to use the primary one is preinstalled. The loudspeaker is of average strength, and sounds tin and hollow.

Battery life certainly benefits from the slower CPU and the unpretentious screen. With the default 1300mAh unit the phone is rated to clock in as a minimum 8 hours of talk time, even in 3G mode, which is very good for an Android handset.


The HTC Wildfire's display seems to be the main sacrifice on the altar of affordability, along with the fairly timid processor. We think there should be a law forbidding phones with great design to be underpowered and paired to low-res screens. Joking aside, if we didn't have these gripes with the camera quality, the HTC Wildfire would be a decent first stop for inexpensive introduction to the world of Android touchscreen phones. We certainly enjoy the phone's proportions and battery life, though, plus HTC's tradition of coining phones with great design and superb build quality is exemplified fully in the HTC Wildfire, despite its low-range specs status.

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