The Wildfire is a hybrid of HTC's other flagship devices, with the size and shape of the Tattoo and the classy matt feel of the Desire. As the Wildfire is wider than the Legend, the touch-screen keyboard is even more comfortable for typing. The optical trackpad lets you navigate without touching the display.
On a HTC handset, Android 2.1 provides a fun, easy to use platform. It supports multi-touch, with pinch and zoom in any home screen so you can view all in your programs in helicopter mode.
The five-megapixel camera was a disappointment, producing slight soft images, even in daylight. But the Wildfire's responsive capacitive touch-screen and impressive social networking abilities help it stand out from smartphone crowd.
Like the Desire and Legend, the Wildfire runs on Android 2.1, with HTC’s updated Sense interface. Apps, social networking and the internet all run smoothly, as you would expect, though a lot of webpages look pixelated due to the QVGA display. Touch-screen also had a tendency to lag when using memory intensive programs.
The battery life for the HTC Wildfire provides up to 490 minutes of talktime.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/7/2010 5:24:26 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Great social networking integration, app sharing feature, good value.
Pixelated display, occasional lags when running more than a few high memory apps.
Like Android? You’re a geek, you know that? But if any company is pushing the Android phone into the mainstream, it’s HTC and its line-up of easy to use handsets, customised with the charming HTC Sense interface. The Wildfire is the cheap’n’cheerful little bro to the Desire and Legend, and a slicker cousin to the Tattoo. Though its hardware is in line with the much older HTC Hero, its software flourishes give it enough mojo to stay in today’s smartphone game.
We’re in proper hybrid territory with the Wildfire – it’s the size and shape of the Tattoo, with the classy matt feel of the Desire. Where the Desire is made of Teflon though, the Wildfire is actually metallised plastic with a gentle sheen. It’s also squatter and wider than the Legend, which makes the touch-screen keyboard more comfortable for typing. The optical trackpad lets you navigate without touching the display, and four touch sensitive areas for home, menu, back and search sit above. Like the Desire and Legend, it runs on Android 2.1, with HTC’s updated Sense interface. It supports multi-touch, with pinch and zoom in any home screen so you can view all in helicopter mode, and all the HTC widgets are in play, including Friend Stream for social networking. One of the only things that marks its price is the pixelated QVGA display. There’s also a five-megapixel camera with auto-focus and flash, though there’s no dedicated camera button, with the optical trackpad doing the honours instead. Pictures come out slightly soft, even in daylight, but colours are warm and true.
For a handset that’s free on a £20 contract, the Wildfire has some serious social networking abilities – Friend Stream shows an aggregated feed from Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter, the calendar pulls birthdays from Facebook friends, and the contacts book is a super social feature that merges friends with their social networking profiles. It also displays all the communication you’ve had with them in a single place, as well as the status updates and pictures they’ve posted. The Wildfire even suggests links if it finds any match between a contact’s name and your Facebook, Twitter and Flickr lists. A great new feature is App Share, which isn’t yet available for other HTC phones – you can send friends a link to any of your downloaded Android apps. It’s an app you can link to on the home screen, and when you fire it up, you’re presented with a list of other apps, which you can share (one at a time) via Friend Stream, email, text or any other social networking apps. The update or message includes a link to the app, and will open up the download link at the Android Market when clicked on. It basically cuts out the part where you tell your friends about a cool app you’re using and they try not to forget it. Obviously they need an Android device – which is probably the closest this phone comes to the exclusivity employed by Apple products.
For some reason, Android phones have two different mail interfaces – one for Gmail, and one for all other email. Gmail is flawlessly synced and will even suggest email addresses you’ve typed before, whether you typed them on a desktop or another mobile. Once you log in with Gmail, you’ll also automatically sync the Google Calendar. The ‘other mail’ interface isn’t quite as full featured, but has some neat extras – you can select a tab and view emails as conversations, something not native to many webmail services such as Hotmail. Multi-touch also works in mail, which is cool. Zoomed in text looks smoother, and the words are also autofit so they never run off the page.
When it comes to actually typing out those missives, the touch-screen seems just a little slower than the Desire and Legend – perhaps to be expected, considering its humbler spec list – though the virtual keyboard is just as accurate. It’s still one of the better touch-screen keyboards out there, but there is some occasional jerkiness, which will probably get worse when the phone fills up with data.
The full HTML browser is pretty quick and was able to load non-mobile sites in around ten seconds. There’s some nifty coding going on where you can type in the addresses of certain well-known sites, and it’ll actually suggest the name of the website. An accelerometer means it’ll automatically reorient to landscape or portrait depending how you’re holding the phone, though we found it most comfortable to view in landscape. The QVGA display means a lot of webpages look quite pixelated though. However, zooming in results in smoother text and pictures. Mobile sites tend to look as they would on a higher-res screen, and we appreciate that text is always autofit when you zoom in.
You can also bookmark pages or share them via Friend Stream, email or text. Google Maps on the Wildfire is probably as good as it gets on a ‘budget’ device, with a digital compass that shows which direction you’re going, and support for Google’s voice navigation. Multi-touch also works here – strangely, it doesn’t work on the Legend. The GPS fix was fast though not the most accurate we’ve encountered – at an accuracy of 70m, it’ll never do for navigating the teeny, winding streets of Soho, but would be fine for driving navigation – or walking somewhere less labyrinthine. We noticed when using memory intensive programs like the web and GPS, the phone and touch-screen lagged a bit. Though usually responsive, it would sometimes freeze, and scrolling would get jerky.
You don’t get much more bang for your buck than with the Wildfire, which packs high-end features into a classy looking yet low cost chassis. Apps, social networking and fast internet are present and correct, and we love the small but crucial addition of App Share. Android may have a reputation as a geek-friendly OS at the moment, but HTC’s customised handsets are making it better known as a fun, easy to use platform.