HTC Wildfire S

The HTC Wildfire S is a small, classy smartphone that's great for basic social networking, texting and calls.


7.6
CNET Rating
5.0
User Rating

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Design

HTC is a company that's no stranger to great design, with iconic devices such as the Nexus One and the HD2 under its belt. The Wildfire S sticks firmly to HTC's 2011 design ethos, with a sleek, classy and appealing look, with curved edges that make the device sit kindly in your hand. There's even a little chin at the bottom of the Wildfire S, which brings back memories of the HTC Hero.

The casing of the device is plastic, but it doesn't feel cheap and nasty; instead, it gives you a nice, grippy feel — so don't think that you're going to drop this one easily. There are chrome accents around major features, such as the display, front speaker and rear camera (there's no front-facing camera), as well as the volume rocker and power button.

(Credit: Buzz Moody)

The screen is 3.2 inches in size, with a resolution of 320x480 (HVGA), which doesn't look too bad when you're holding the device a reasonable distance away from your overly attractive face. Colour reproduction is quite good, and it's nice and responsive when the CPU isn't bogged down.

The four capacitive buttons below the screen — in home, menu, back and search order — are placed a little bit too close to the screen for our liking, as we found ourselves accidentally hitting them instead of on-screen options near the bottom of the screen.

(Credit: Buzz Moody)

Getting the back cover off can be difficult if you're a nail biter, as you need to peel it off from the top. Be prepared to use a knife or similar object to open it up if you need to get to the battery, SIM card and/or microSD slot below the cover.

User experience and performance

HTC takes great pride in its Sense user experience atop of Android 2.3, but when it's coupled with the underpowered 600MHz Qualcomm CPU in the Wildfire S, it can become quite annoying to use. Although 512MB seems like an adequate amount of RAM, we saw the device get bogged down and needing to "force close" certain apps. While this didn't happen constantly, it did happen enough for it to become an annoyance.

When using the Wildfire S for the simple tasks of reading emails, browsing Twitter and Facebook, sending texts and making calls, we didn't encounter any significant issues. Opening up the browser and expecting to load a fully blown website (ie, not the mobile site) such as CNET will leave you with a frown on your face. It's really slow, and pinch-to-zoom is hit and miss.

It's clear that HTC has cut back on specs in order to keep the price low, so that means the overall experience takes a hit as well. As we said earlier, if you're planning to use the device for simple tasks, then you won't have much to worry about.

Camera

The camera is 5MP with autofocus, which is higher resolution than most cameras on devices in this price range. I'm not going to lie; the photos aren't great. However, if you're just going to post a few pics on Facebook and Twitter, or get all trendy-hipster and use Instagram, then you'll have very few problems. There is a single LED flash, but don't expect it to do you any massive favours.

(Credit: Buzz Moody )

(Credit: Buzz Moody )

Overall

If you're not all that fussed about overall performance, and just want a phone that looks pretty darn classy, then the HTC Wildfire S is a device you should definitely take a look at. If you're wanting something with a little less glam and a little more power, then perhaps something like the Huawei Vision would be worth taking a look at.



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DonL Facebook
1
Rating
 

"Horrible"

DonL posted a review   

The Good:None

The Bad:Would Never Buy This product

Horrible product. Never works. They are tweakers and they steal icons....plus, they talk **** from behind a computer which I get...because they are pussies that can only talk **** from behind a computer...

I is batman
7
Rating
 

"Not so great for a long term phone"

I is batman posted a review   
Australia

Ive had this phone for nearly a year now, and it's a half-decent phone for its price. Around two months ago, I would go to put my phone in the charger, and let it charge overnight while I slept, only to see in the morning - that it had only charged one or two bars! considering i am not able to access a charger throughout the day while i am working or studying, this is beyond inconvenient. I found that pulling the back cover off, and removing the battery works, but it is definitely not convenient. I am constantly working out and listening to music. Around three weeks ago, I went to go put more music onto my phone - and the image set for the song had changed to that of another! and even after wiping my music library and resetting my phone to factory default, the same would happen. Not pleased HTC, not pleased.

 

Im Batman posted a comment   
Australia

Buzz... what you doing here?? have you finally given up on that token website you started : þ

Nice review, the wildfire S and others fill a still required market, of small form factor/functional devices. Sad to see that the Wildfire S didn't really give a good experience overall.

Will1505 Facebook
7
Rating
 

Will1505 posted a review   

The Good:Build Quality

The Bad:Those damn touch buttons

I must say, this phone goes in the cool category for me. Its a shame that the battery life of the original didn't come across to the S, but that is because the screen is far better on this one. I must warn people though, if you have even slightly fat thumbs, this phone will kill your inner child. Becomes even more frustrating on landscape mode because you push the touch buttons all the time.

To be honest, even though the build quality will beat anything up to about $300, the LG spirit seems to be a better choice. $99 and the processor is faster and its a bluetick phone (granted the camera is only 3mp without a flash. Also a heads up, you can get the spirit for $49.50 atm from coles with a flybys card. Not bad for a gingerbread phone running at 800mhz.

 

petelawrence posted a comment   
Australia

Ironically, i was checking CNET for this review about 3 days ago, and bought this phone yesterday. its actually a really decent little device.

oh, and btw, thats a desire s in the top pic.

 

Craig Simms posted a reply   
Australia

Cheers Pete, this should now be corrected.

 

gregory.opera posted a comment   
Australia

Um, this smartphone came out what, nine months ago?


CNet do some fantastic reviews, but nine months after a handsets is a bit of a joke... I'm not trying to sound rude and I apologize if it does (it does!), but a site as big as CNet should be reviewing products AS they come out, not nearly a year later.

Heck, if you're strapped for staff - and in our current economic conditions, this would be perfectly understandable - get some of your readers to do a "reader review" in the interim, labeling it as so...

 

Craig Simms posted a reply   
Australia

Sometimes things slip through the cracks, especially budget products, as the whole chain from vendor to reader tends to prioritise big launches being covered in a timely fashion.

In this case, we've had the opportunity to cover a device that's still on sale; think of it as rounding out of our portfolio :)




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User Reviews / Comments  HTC Wildfire S

  • DonL

    DonL

    Rating1

    "Horrible product. Never works. They are tweakers and they steal icons....plus, they talk **** from behind a computer which I get...because they are pussies that can only talk **** from behind a com..."

  • I is batman

    I is batman

    Rating7

    "Ive had this phone for nearly a year now, and it's a half-decent phone for its price. Around two months ago, I would go to put my phone in the charger, and let it charge overnight while I slept, on..."

  • Im Batman

    Im Batman

    "Buzz... what you doing here?? have you finally given up on that token website you started : þ

    Nice review, the wildfire S and others fill a still required market, of small form factor..."

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