HTC Wildfire review

Full review: A budget alternative to the HTC Desire?

Image 1 of 3 HTC Wildfire all angles
HTC Wildfire all angles
Image 2 of 3 HTC Wildfire main
HTC Wildfire main
Image 3 of 3 HTC Wildfire camera
HTC Wildfire camera

HTC's new entry level Android effort is here. But can it match budget with brains?

The HTC Wildfire is supposedly a budget blower. You can snaffle it right now for just £20 a month, free on contract. But with HSDPA, a sleek capacitive touchscreen and Android 2.1, it’s got all the characteristics of its pricier siblings, the Desire and the Legend. So how exactly has HTC trimmed the Wildfire down to get it so cheap?

Well, the screen is where the most savings have been made, and really the only place you’ll realise that this is supposed to be at the more affordable end of the Android spectrum. At only 240 x 320 pixels, it’s a marked step down from the eyeball-stroking HTC Desire and sits right up against key rivals, the T-Mobile Pulse Mini and Motorola Flipout

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Likewise, the 528 MHz processor means that the Wildfire doesn’t half chug when you start trying to do more than one thing at a time, or simply want to slip through web pages. It can feel painfully slow at times, although not so often that it causes you to lose the will to live, a la the Pulse Mini.

HTC Wildfire: UI and keyboard

Elsewhere though, this really is a winning budget effort. The UI is the same HTC Sense skin found on the Legend and Desire, with the ace Leap feature for scooching around home menus, Friend Stream for social networking aggregation and, perhaps best of all, HTC Caller ID, which lets you see a friend’s Facebook status before you pick up the call. It’s a winner if you want to avoid nattering with an overly loquacious pal.

Where the Wildfire really sets itself apart though is its virtual keyboard. The HTC version of the peerless Android 2.1 panel is stunning and handles almost as well here as it does on the Desire. Of course, being cheaper, it doesn’t quite feel as assured as that top end cell. But it’s head and shoulders above resistive versions like that on the LG Optimus.

HTC Wildfire: Battery and multimedia

The Wildfire is a bit of a warrior when it comes to battery too. The low res panel means this keeps chugging for upwards of 48 hours, which is well above expectations in these days of ‘do-it-all’ smartphones. If you want great features but don’t like having to search out a power source every day, then this could be the phone you were waiting for.

Music and video are handled in the standard Android manner, with the media player still well short of Apple’s peerless iPod but easily manageable. Creating playlists is a breeze, but watching back video can be a chore, again because of that QVGA screen slapped on the front.

If you’re gagging to get on the Android bandwagon, fancy some HTC action, but find the HTC Desire too expensive, then the Wildfire is where it’s at. We won’t lie: the screen is nowhere near up to snuff, but when you’re paying just twenty notes a month for the privilege of some killer features, we’re willing to forgive HTC for this oversight. The Wildfire sets the standard for affordable phones across the board.

The HTC Wildfire is out now, find out more from HTC

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SPECIFICATIONS
OS: Android 2.1
Processor: 528MHz
Storage: 512MB, MicroSD
Screen: 3.2-inch QVGA capacitive toucscreen
Connectivity HSDPA 7.2MBps, Wi-Fi (b/g), EDGE, aGPS, 3.5mm jack, Bluetooth 2.1,
Camera: 5MP with autofocus and flash
Video: 640x480
3G Talk time: 490 mins
Dimensions 106.75x60.4x12.19mm
Weight 118g

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