HTC – Wildfire review

impressive low cost Android smartphone
Photo of HTC – Wildfire
£229 (SIM-free), free on contract

HTC prides itself on having some of the most feature packed smartphones on the market, but the Wildfire is something different. Specifically designed to be a low cost smartphone, it nevertheless runs Android 2.1, which puts it almost at the top of the tree as far as Android is concerned.

Of course, at a relatively low price there have been compromises, but it isn’t that easy to spot them and many people won’t think they are particularly significant.

Wi-Fi, GPS and 3G are all here, and HTC adds some of its own special extras such as Footprints into the mix too. This is a GPS app that lets you tag places so you can return to them later. HTC also adds its own Twitter application called Peep and another app called FriendStream which brings Tweets and Facebook updates together in one place.

You also get a relatively new idea from HTC in the shape of AppSharer. If you have downloaded an app and you like it, this provides an easy way to send a link to it to friends via SMS, Facebook or Twitter. It isn’t the most exciting thing we’ve ever seen, to be honest. We can very easily text a mate with the name of a good app or even, though it is terribly old fashioned, use the spoken word.

We prefer the HTC Leap view which, if you press the Home key, shows thumbnails of all seven home screens so that you can tap the one you want to be on. HTC Leap gives you a very quick way to get around what can be quite a scrum of widgets and shortcuts.

And there is a 5-megapixel camera with flash which can be used to shoot images of perfectly passable quality.

The chassis design is pretty nifty too. HTC has brought the miniature optical trackpad that caused such delight in the Desire and Legend into play. Responsive as well as visually appealing, this is an excellent alternative to tapping at the screen and in some cases, such as when web browsing, we actually found it preferable. The other touch buttons, Home, Menu, Back and Search, are all touch sensitive and located right beneath the screen.

The screen represents one of the key compromises made to keep the HTC Wildfire price down. It measures just 3.2 inches, which makes it only just large enough for web browsing and cramped for text entry. It delivers 320 x 240 pixels, which is the minimum any smartphone can get away with. But it is capacitive so it supports pinch to zoom, and it is sharp and bright.

The processor is another compromise area. At 528MHz it is a long way behind the leading edge, but to be honest we didn’t find it caused huge problems. Battery life might disappoint you more. There is the usual need to charge at some point during the day if you are a heavy user, and if you are very keen on mobile music (there is a top mounted 3.5mm headset slot) or GPS in particular, you might find the battery gets quite challenged.

Company: HTC

HTC has produced a super good value smartphone with the Wildfire. The screen is small and it is rather confined for some uses, but overall the HTC Wildfire offers the key elements that a modern smartphone needs plus some useful extras.