Is this the beginning of a beautiful relationship? MetroPCS is the next carrier to get the HTC Wildfire S, a petite, stylish, and relatively inexpensive Android 2.3 Gingerbread starter phone. While it's already available for T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular, the Wildfire is MetroPCS' first HTC phone, ever.
The all-white handset has a 3.2-inch HVGA touch screen, a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash, and a 600MHz processor. It's small, a low point for some, but it's also nicely constructed and pretty packed with features, all things considered. Unfortunately, MetroPCS' far slower 2.5G network holds the phone back on the performance front, a real problem for anyone craving speed. It costs $179 without a contract.
Editors' note: Because it's almost identical to the version for T-Mobile, this review only covers differences in the HTC Wildfire S on MetroPCS. You can find more details in the T-Mobile review.
Android 2.3 Gingerbread runs beneath HTC's custom interface, known as Sense. I personally enjoy the graphical richness and extra capabilities that come with Sense, from access to system settings on the pull-down menu, to the way that the skin organizes apps. The Wildfire S runs an older version of Sense, 2.1, versus today's 3.5. While it isn't quite as advanced, this version of Sense still enhances the experience. Just look to the separate filter in the app tray that singles out MetroPCS' preloaded apps, for example.
The carrier apps include an app store, an IM and social networking app, Loopt's social network, M Studio, Metro Navigator, Metro 411, and MetroPCS Easy Wi-Fi. There are also apps for extras, myMetro, Pocket Express, Rhapsody music, and VC Pay, a virtual payment card.
I tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Wildfire S using MetroPCS' network in San Francisco. Call quality was poor in my conversations. Voices sounded garbled to my ears, and also muffled and sputtery, as if audio were being sprayed out in dollops instead of as a stream. On the other end of the line, my friend heard distortion and tinniness, but no background noise.