Editors' note: In this review, we'll focus more on the different features and performance of the Alltel HTC Wildfire. Portions of the Features section were from our full review of the unlocked HTC Wildfire, where you can also read about the phone's design.
In early August, we reviewed the unlocked version of the HTC Wildfire, an entry-level Android smartphone. At the time, we couldn't really recommend as it didn't have U.S. carrier backing, and thus cost $350 unlocked. It was a pretty stiff price to pay for a lower-end device; plus, there were more affordable options out there that offered more features and better performance. Now, the HTC Wildfire has spread to North American regional carriers, including Alltel Wireless, and at just $29.99 with a two-year contract and after a $50 mail-in rebate, it's certainly an attractive smartphone option for the budget-conscious. Of course, it comes with some trade-offs. For example, the Wildfire has a smaller, low-resolution screen that makes Web browsing and typing a bit difficult. The Android 2.1 smartphone also has a slower processor, which causes it to be sluggish at times. Still, you're getting a solidly built phone and a decent set of features for a rock-bottom price, so those in need of a wallet-friendly smartphone should check out the HTC Wildfire.
Despite being a budget-friendly phone, the HTC Wildfire doesn't skimp on the major features. The smartphone ships with Android 2.1 and the latest version of HTC Sense, which includes the Friend Stream widget and Leap screen. Aside from the standard Android features, HTC also throws in some a few extra apps, such as its Twitter client, Peep, and its geotagging and travel app, Footprints. Of course, more apps are available through the Android Market, which now has more than 100,000 apps, and there's even an App Sharing app on the Wildfire that lets you send links of your favorite apps via e-mail, text message, Friend Stream, or Twitter.
As with other Android phones, the Wildfire can handle multiple e-mail and social networking accounts, including Gmail, Yahoo, Exchange, Facebook, and Twitter. Setup is easy; aside from Exchange, which will require a bit more information, it's just a matter of entering your log-in ID and password. We had no problems adding our Gmail, Exchange, Facebook and Twitter accounts to our review unit. The smartphone offers a unified in-box and calendar, though you can choose to keep your accounts separate if you prefer.
The Wildfire's voice features include a speakerphone, speed dial, smart dialing, voice commands, conference calling, and text and multimedia messaging. The phone is also 3G-capable and has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Android's WebKit HTML Web browser is quite capable in functionality and performance. It supports multiple windows and Adobe Flash Lite, and it includes a feature that lets you look up words and phrases in the dictionary or Wikipedia by performing a long press over some text on a Web site. You can also select a whole paragraph to send to Google Translate.
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.