HTC Wildfire S review: S-size droid

GSMArena team, 18 May 2011.
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Tags: HTC, Android, Touch UI

Economical retail package

The tiny box of the HTC Wildfire S has the essentials duly covered. You get the mandatory charger and an USB cable (to use with the charger as well as in data connections). Thereís a set of nice looking headphones and a complimentary 2GB microSD card inside too. The rest is the usual papers.

HTC Wildfire S Review HTC Wildfire S Review
HTC Wildfire S retail package

The white set of accessories is suspiciously similar to the iPhoneís, the earphones especially almost a complete replica.

HTC Wildfire S 360-degree spin

The HTC Wildfire S measures 101.3 x 59.4 x 12.4 mm and is smaller in real life than it appears on a picture. Itís made entirely of plastic, tipping the scales at the acceptable 105 grams. Maybe itís the similar styling but we got it wrong initially. No aluminum unibody in the HTC Wildfire S.

The phone feels great in your hand and Ė being so small, one-hand operation is hassle-free. 3.2Ē is still more than enough screen real estate to work with Ė you donít feel crammed for space.

Design and construction

The HTC Wildfire S borrows some styling ideas from its bigger brother the Desire S and has inherited others from the original Wildfire. Bottom line, the Wildfire S is neat and friendly, and delightfully compact. The finish hasnít suffered from the plastic build. The soft rubbery back contrasts nicely with the brushed finish of the front frame.

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A little Desire S

The phone will be available in a variety of colors and the selection makes sense for a phone targeted at the young. Size is still the key selling point though.

HTC Wildfire S Review
The Wildfire S next to the Galaxy S II, iPhone 4

The front of the Wildfire S is dominated by a 3.2Ē capacitive touchscreen of HVGA (320x480) resolution. Itís a reasonably bright LCD unit but with no automatic adjustment for the lack of an ambient light sensor - our unit is a pre-release one and doesn't offer it. The final market-ready unit will have this covered. The smallish screen is quite reflective Ė making it uncomfortable to use outdoors. The poor viewing angles donít help it either: colors quickly get washed out. Still itís enough of an improvement over the poor QVGA screen of the original Wildfire.

HTC Wildfire S Review HTC Wildfire S Review
The HVGA display of the Wildfire S

As you have every right to expect, the capacitive screen response is top-notch.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Sony Ericsson XPERIA Neo 0.19 299 1577 0.31 513 1670
LG Optimus Black P970 0.27 332 1228 0.65 749 1161
LG Optimus 2X 0.23 228 982 0.35 347 1001
HTC Wildfire S 0.43 256 603 0.76 314 414
HTC Incredible S 0.18 162 908 0.31 275 880
Motorola Atrix 4G 0.48 314 652 0.60 598 991

At the bottom of the device you get the usual four capacitive keys: Home, Menu, Back and Search. The major absence compared to the original Wildfire is the optical trackpad. It wonít be badly miss we guess Ė except perhaps in text editing.

The capacitive keys are small but well-spaced, with precise vibration feedback for comfortable use.

HTC Wildfire S Review HTC Wildfire S Review
Capacitive Home, Menu, Back and Search keys

On the left side of the Wildfire S youíll find the volume rocker and the MicroUSB port for charging/data connections. The volume control is unexpectedly big and prominent, with good press.

HTC Wildfire S Review
Volume rocker and MicroUSB slot

Thereíre no controls on the right, the asymmetrical contour of the battery cover a nice little accent.

HTC Wildfire S Review
The right side features nothing

At the top of the device there is a standard 3.5mm headphone jack and the power/lock button. Itís easy to locate by touch and bounces right back up after each press.

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Power/lock button and 3.5mm headphone jack

The mouthpiece and a tiny lanyard eyelet are the only things to note at the bottom.

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Microphone, lanyard eyelet

The back of the device is simple but attractive. We like the soft matt finish and the light-colored patch holding the loudspeaker grill, camera lens and LED flash that stands out against the darker finish of the surrounding surface. The camera is a 5 MP auto-focus unit and the LED flash looks quite powerful.

HTC Wildfire S Review HTC Wildfire S Review
5 MP auto-focus camera with LED flash and loudspeaker

Removing the back panel reveals the 1230 MAh Li-Ion battery. Itís quoted at 360-570 hours of stand-by and 430/350 minutes of talk time (between 2G and 3G). In reality our unit gave us about 5 days, used sparingly.

HTC Wildfire S Review
1230MAh Li-Ion battery

The HTC Wildfire S is a solid little mini whose key feature is its diminutive size. The premium feel is gone but getting a higher-res HVGA screen weíd call it a fair trade. And just to be clear, the phone has no aluminum unibody but the build and finish are up to the usual high HTC standards.

HTC Wildfire S Review HTC Wildfire S Review
HTC Wildfire S in hand

Itís a small phone that handles well and comes in a variety of colors to please any taste. Friendly and compact, the Wildfire S will let even less experienced users enjoy Android.

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