HTC Wildfire S

Style and handling summary for HTC Wildfire S review
Pocket-sized and sporting a Teflon reverse, the HTC Wildfire S looks good, but lacks the wow factor
HTC Wildfire S

User friendliness summary for HTC Sensation review
The display proves responsive, while HTC's Sense user interface is the most user friendly there is

Feature set summary for HTC Sensation review
There's plenty connectivity-wise, with Wi-Fi, HSDPA, A-GPS plus a five-megapixel snapper sporting LED flash - lots of features for such an affordable smartphone

Performance summary for HTC Sensation review
Snapper aside, all the phone's features work well, although its 600MHz chip means not everything works speedily

Battery power summary for HTC Sensation review
Battery life is decent, offering 350 minutes of talktime (3G) and 570 hours (3G) of standby time

Full Review and Specification for the HTC Wildfire S
The HTC Wildfire was a real pioneer - it showed that a smartphone could be produced at an affordable price, as it was offered for free by some operators, with contracts for around £15 a month. In fact it proved such a good-value handset that it walked away with the Best Value Phone title at our Consumer Awards last year - but since then, other phone makers have managed to produced smartphones with even more features at even lower prices. So can its sequel, the HTC Wildfire S, fare as well in an ever-more crowded market?


First impressions
Like its older brother, the Wildfire S is pocket-sized - in fact its 5mm smaller than its predecessor. It has curved edges and is smooth in character, although the power key and volume bar both stick out - so much in fact that you'll need to be careful when phoning someone.

Unlike its big brother, the Wildfire S lacks an optical pad - instead there are four touch keys for setting menu, back, search and home. While this is all very well, note that it does mean you need to wake the handset with a press on the power key and then a screen swipe to unlock it - plus there is no dedicated camera key, which is a nuisance. The Wildfire S is not unattractive, but nor does it have the wow factor - that Teflon back now looks somewhat out of date.

This handset runs on the latest version of Android - 2.3 Gingerbread - but you'll miss out on much that the new OS has to offer, For instance, you can't make video calls as there's no front-facing camera and there's no NFC facility for making contactless payments. Multitasking is a nice touch, but don't expect it to be speedy with that 600MHz processor under the bonnet.

Like many HTC phones, the OS is skinned with the top-notch user interface, Sense. This allows for plenty of customisation - in fact there's a dedicated personalisation key in the bottom corner of each home screen. The phone has seven home screens - to view as seven thumbnails just pinch and pull. There's less pixelation than on the original Wildfire, and you'll be pleased by the clear and vibrant screen. Having said that, we still thought the vertically scrolling menu looked a tad pixelated.

You've got a friend
HTC's FriendStream is probably the best social networking integration feed on any mobile platform. It does all kinds of clever things - from syncing social network contacts with your existing list to listing and updating news feeds from Flickr, Twitter and Facebook and pulling it into the handset's calendar. You can then see all your contacts with one person, whether they have been through text, Twitter or Facebook, as well as their links, videos, status and pictures.

One issue we did have was that when we first started inputting passwords and user IDs, we tried turning the phone on its side to use the more spacious QWERTY keyboard, and the enter key did not allow us to log on. So we had to turn the handset back into a vertical position, where the keyboard then showed us a virtual log-in key. Not a deal-breaker, but rather annoying.

Despite having five megapixels and an LED flash, the camera is a disappointment. The resulting images lacked detail and colour was unimpressive, and it really had problems taking macro (close-up) pictures.

The verdict
While the Wildfire S is a nice addition to the range of affordable smartphones already available, it suffers from the amount of competition that its big brother never experienced, and with no stand-out features it may disappear into the crowd.