HTC Wildfire, a very decent and affordable Android phone
The HTC Wildfire is HTC’s midlevel Android 2.1 smartphone that occupies the Php15k price point range which is not yet populated by other manufacturers. Sony Ericsson’s X10 Mini Pro is the only other Android phone in that price range as of this writing.
I’ve been playing around with this red-hot HTC Wildfire for a week and it’s quite a nice surprise using this small but capable smartphone. Read on for the rest of the review.
Most would agree that the Wildfire looks like a cross between the HTC Desire and their Nexus One. Similar to other HTC phones, the wildfire is a finely-crafted, beautiful piece of device which doesn’t look or feel cheap.
The 3.2” display panel is scratch resistant which I didn’t bother to try. But I’ve been using it without any casing and it’s always stowed in my pocket along with keys and coins and the screen didn’t get any scratches at all.
There’s only one physical button in front which is the optical trackpad (that I hardly use). There are four dedicated-touch buttons for Home, Menu, Back and the universal Search. The speaker on top gives decently loud audio and there’s also a front-facing cam for video chat. On the left side is the typical volume rocker and the micro-USB jack.
On top is the 3.5mm stereo audio jack and the lock/sleep button. At the back is the 5-megapixel camera with LED flash that also acts as the light source for the built-in handy Flashlight app.
Perhaps the most glaring shortcoming of the HTC Wildfire is its sub-par display. With its 3.2” capacitive touchscreen display, it only has a 320 x 240 QVGA resolution. A far cry from the typical 480 x 320 resolution found in other HTC phones with the same size.
Here it is side-by side with the HTC HD Mini and its 480 x 320 HVGA display.
I don’t know if you can actually see any difference but the HD Mini has smoother and crispier icons compared to the Wildfire. Definitely don’t use this phone to view hi-res photos.
Despite only having a 528 MHz processor, using it feels snappy and responsive although there are the occasional hiccups like when browsing photos. Still, it’s more responsive than my HTC HD Mini which has a 600MHz processor. I think the low display res coupled with the Android OS has something to do with it.
The HTC Sense UI is really a boon to HTC smartphone users. You can add, remove, reposition widgets and apps that would suit your needs. Definitely put the power control widget in the main screen to easily toggle settings to save battery.
There are 7 home screen panels available by the way and there are lots of useful HTC and Android widgets to occupy them. One of them is HTC’s FriendStream which allows you to see status updates from your different social networking accounts and add new updates easily as well.
Texting is quite a challenge on this small phone because of the limited space for the keyboard. But since I’ve been using the HD Mini for quite a while before, I didn’t have any problems with it. I miss being able to use Swype though.
Browsing the net is fast and it renders pages correctly. However, layouts particularly on images may get messed up when zooming in to read text. Drawback from a small screen but the pinch-to-zoom feature is really nice.
Battery life for the Wildfire is roughly around 2 days (or even less) which is the standard for other Android smartphones that I’ve used. Remember, the power control widget is your friend if you want more juice from the Wildfire.
Camera and Multimedia
The 5-megapixel camera on the Wildfire produces not-so decent photos. It has a built-in LED flash though that you can use for low-light situations. I don’t know if I just didn’t focus the camera correctly or not.
Here are some sample shots that I took.
Not too impressive huh? Focusing is slow and taking the shot is a bit unwieldy. You use the optical track point as the shutter button although you can point and hold the focus area on the screen as well. Using both produces camera shake which will affect your shots.
Using it as a music player is very decent even without a stereo headset. The speakers are adequate already when used in a small room. As for video playback, I tried playing a TV series AVI file using Rock Player and the video was choppy but the sound was smooth. You need to convert your video to a smaller resolution to make this a viable portable media player.
The HTC Wildfire only has 384MB internal memory but it can support up to 32GB microSD for your photos and media files.
The HTC Wildfire is really a great, affordable smartphone if you want to dabble with the Android OS but don’t want to spend a lot of money. Despite the nuances with the small screen, which may not run some apps properly by the way, it is still capable of giving you the Android experience that you want.
I really don’t have much to complain about the Wildfire. I’m fine with the display resolution (despite using the Samsung Galaxy S beforehand) and it serves my basic purpose for a smartphone (integrating my Google accounts) really well. Although I prefer a better photo output with its camera.
In terms of usability and ease of use, the HTC Wildfire is a very capable phone. You want to buy this because you want to keep in touch with your social network, easily check e-mails, news or play music all in one convenient and compact package.
HTC Wildfire Specs:
- Qualcomm MSM 7225 528MHz processor
- Android™ 2.1 (Éclair) with HTC Sense™
- 3.2” QVGA Capacitive touch screen (240 x 320) with pinch-to-zoom capability
- 384MB RAM, 512MB ROM with up to 32GB microSD support
- WiFi 802.11 b/g
- Bluetooth 2.1 w/ A2DP
- 3G/HSDPA 7.2 Mbps
- 5MP autofocus camera w/ LED flash
- FM Radio with RDS
- GPS w/ aGPS support
- 1300mAh Li-Ion battery
- SRP: Php15,500