HTC announced its latest entry-level Android smartphone, the HTC Wildfire S which follows the 2009 released HTC Tattoo and last year's launched HTC Wildfire, back in February. And this time, HTC made less compromises which makes the Wildfire S a little bit more expensive but also feature-richer to most of its competing smartphones. For instance it's already running Google's latest Android smartphone version - Android 2.3/Gingerbread - and quite typical for HTC, the Wildfire S runs HTC's own Sense 2.1 user interface on top of Android. Even if the Wildfire S isn't the most powerful Android smartphone today, the Qualcomm CPU at 600 MHz does a decent job for an entry-level device.
Quadband GSM/GPRS/EDGE as well as dualband UMTS/HSDPA (up to 7.2 Mbps) provides connectivity on the road. Unfortunately HTC left support for HSUPA and therefore, photos and videos can be uploaded to Facebook and Twitter via the slower UMTS (384 Mbps) technology only. Nevertheless, at home the Wildfire S connects via WiFi b/g/n as well as accessories can be connected via Bluetooth 3.0. On the road, the Wildfire S also provides aGPS for navigation as well as an FM radio for entertainment and for sure it also comes with the Android typical sensors like a digital compass, etc.
The device comes with a 3.2" Gorilla Glass protected capacitive LCD touchscreen which only supports HVGA (320 x 480 pixel) but the 5 megapixel camera, with supporting LED flash, supports 5 megapixel. Unfortunately it's unable to record HD videos but supports VGA (640 x 480 pixel) videos only.
The HTC Wildfire S comes with 512 MB of RAM and 512 MB of ROM which can be expanded with microSD memory cards up to 32 GB. Being one of the smaller Android devices, the Wildfire S measures 101.3 x 59.4 x 12.4 mm and weights 105 grams - including the 1230 mAh Li-ion battery.
The device features the Android-typical touch sensitive menu keys as well as the device sports a 3.5 mm stereo headset jack on the top and the nowadays typical micro USB port for charging and synchronization.
The new HTC Wildfire S closely follows the current HTC design language, even if it's not an aluminum unibody device like the HTC Desire-line of devices but made of high quality plastic which feels rocking solid.
Running Google latest Android version - Android 2.3/Gingerbread - the Wildfire S supports all Google Mobile services including Search, Maps, YouTube as well as featuring Google Android Market. However, the Wildfire S features HTC's own user interface called HTC Sense. HTC Sense is an experience designed around many little insightful ideas.
HTC Sense features its own application launcher and is people-centric which organizes all calls, messages and social network updates by people, not by applications. It also comes with a customizable homescreen which allows to add everything that is important to you to your homescreen and also features HTC specific widgets.
HTC's own Friend Stream application lists all friends' Facebook updates, Tweets and Flickr photos on the same screen and also the web browser is improved to the original Android browser by supporting a Desktop and Mobile mode as well as Flash Lite.
However, the HTC Sense improvements doesn't stop here but also includes the camera user interface, picture gallery E-Mail and calendar application. And again, it's the little insightful ideas which makes Sense so unique and useful. For instance the camera allows to snap self portraits with the main camera by detecting the face and automatically snap the photo as soon as the user's face was detected.
But the camera interface also comes with plenty of further enhancements and improvements, the original Android camera application isn't featuring.
If you are looking for a great smartphone with a small price, don't look further - you found it! If you are looking for the latest and greatest technology, stop reading here - the Wildfire S is the wrong device! The HTC Wildfire S isn't sporting the latest and greatest hardware, but it's still state-of-the-art for regular users and the typical smartphone use cases! No question, the Wildfire S isn't leading edge spec'd but that's not what it was designed for. The Wildfire S was designed for the regular price sensitive consumer and therefore it's the perfect device for teenagers or any user who wants to do regular smartphone stuff like web surfing, reading and writing E-Mails, mobile social networking, listening music, etc. For all these users, the Wildfire S is just perfect especially because it comes in a handy size and modern design. It's a kind of fashion-smartphone and it doesn't want to be anything more or less. It isn't promising anything it can't fulfill after!
In terms of the specs the Wildfire S is well equipped. The HVGA capacitive touchscreen is the minimum an Android smartphone should feature today but thanks to Corning's Gorilla Glass it should even survive most handbags. Unfortunately it's neither a Super-LCD nor a Super AMOLED screen but just a LCD screen which makes it a little bit grainy, if compared to high class smartphone screens. On the other hand, a phone like Apple's iPhone 3GS had the same screen resolution at 3.5" and not long ago, this was absolutely state of the art! So there's nothing really wrong with HTC's Wildfire S screen.
The 5 megapixel camera is quite okay for this price class and good enough for sharing photos via Facebook, Twitter or MMS.
Some Android users really dislike HTC's Sense UI but I think it provides the perfect user experience for non-tech savvy users. While HTC added a good amount of innovation and features to HTC Sense 2.1 it kept the balance between usability and usefulness and therefore even smartphone beginners should easily find their ways to the user interface and possibilities. Nevertheless, here and there it always surprises with a hidden but useful feature, even after months of use.
All together the HTC Wildfire S is really recommendable for everybody who's either new to smartphones and just looking for something serious or for anyone who's looking for something small. It's the most affordable HTC Android smartphone at the moment. Sure, some competitive smartphone are even cheaper but neither featuring Google's latest Android version nor coming with an enhanced user interface like HTC Sense. For an entry-level smartphone, the HTC Wildfire S might be the best money can buy today!
The HTC Wildfire S is now available across Eurpe and comes in one of three different colors: black, silver/white and purple. HTC's suggested retail price without a contract is 279 Euro but many online shops are already offering it cheaper.
Cheers ~ Arne