The smartphone's multimedia capabilities are fairly standard. The built-in music and video player supports a range of music and video codecs, including MP3, AAC, WAV, AMR, OGG, M4A, WMV, MP4, 3GP, and 3GP2. Alltel includes a 2GB microSD card but the expansion slot supports up to 32GB cards, so you can load up. The music player features an attractive Cover Flow-like interface and also supports on-the-fly playlist creation, shuffle/repeat modes, and a share-via-Bluetooth feature. The Wildfire also has an FM radio and a dedicated YouTube player.
The Wildfire is equipped with a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash. You get a good helping of editing options, such as adjustable settings for brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, ISO, and effects. Picture quality was OK. We could make out the objects in the image just fine, but the overall photo looked a bit dull and colors weren't all that bright. Recorded video also had a hazy look.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900; EV-DO Rev. A) HTC Wildfire in San Francisco using Alltel roaming service and call quality was decent. On our side, calls sounded mostly clear with plenty of volume, but the audio would occasionally cut out and there could be some background static. Meanwhile, friends didn't have any major complaints, though we did get a couple of mentions of tinny-sounding audio.
HTC Wildfire call quality sample
Speakerphone quality wasn't surprising--slightly hollow-sounding but still clear and with enough volume to hold calls in louder environments. We had no problems pairing the Wildfire with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset or the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones. Unfortunately, the smartphone doesn't currently support voice dialing over Bluetooth.
Using roaming service, we were able to get 3G data on the Wildfire. CNET's full site took 1 minute and 15 seconds to load, while the mobile sites for CNN and ESPN came up in 10 seconds and 9 seconds, respectively. The Wildfire's smaller, lower-resolution screen wasn't ideal for Web browsing, though the pinch-to-zoom gesture works just fine for enlarging text. YouTube videos loaded within a couple of seconds and played back without needing to re-buffer. Audio and picture were also synchronized.
The Wildfire is powered by a 528MHz processor and has 512MB ROM/384MB RAM. For the most part, the smartphone offers smooth performance. We didn't experience any system crashes, and we never had to reboot the device. That said, the smartphone could be sluggish at times, particularly as we worked in multiple apps, and though the delays weren't crippling, we certainly noticed the lag.
The HTC Wildfire has a 1,300mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 6.7 hours and up to 12.5 days of standby time. Unfortunately, in our battery drain tests, the Wildfire lasted only 4.5 hours before needing a recharge.