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HTC Wildfire S review:

HTC Wildfire S

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Typical Price: £200.00
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The Good Truly pocket-sized; Improved screen resolution; Up to date Android 2.3 software.

The Bad Slow processor means sluggish performance; Not suitable for large-handed users; Camera is disappointing.

The Bottom Line With a better screen and more alluring design, the Wildfire S builds on its popular predecessor. The phone remains underpowered, but is still a compact and pocket-friendly Android handset.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.5 Overall

Review Sections

The sequel to the pint-sized Android wonder that was the HTC Wildfire, this subtle revision manages to rectify some of its predecessor's niggles, but those expecting a cutting-edge experience may be disappointed.

The Wildfire S is available for around £15 on a monthly contract. Expect to part with approximately £200 for a SIM-free version.


Released alongside the best-selling HTC Desire, the first Wildfire was pitched as an entry-level Android device for mobile users on a budget. While it closely mimicked the look of the Desire, its poor screen and lack of processing power prevented it from truly shining. Being launched so soon after the similarly specced (but much more attractive) HTC Legend didn't help, either, although great deals made it very popular.

The once-proud trackpad has been banished in favour of a row of touch-senstive buttons.

HTC has returned for another attempt at scoring gold, and there's no denying the Wildfire S is successful in solving the major issue that blighted its forerunner: the screen.

With its pitiful 240x320-pixel resolution, the Wildfire's display was woefully inadequate -- so low-res that some Android apps refused to function on it. While the Wildfire S retains the same 3.2-inch LCD panel, the resolution is now a more agreeable 320x480 pixels. It may not be in a position to challenge the iPhone 4's retina display, but it's a step in the right direction.

Metallic body

The Wildfire S' metallic body instantly reminds you of the Desire S and its single-piece aluminium frame. The Wildfire S doesn't actually boast a unibody construction, so it's not as robust as its bigger brother, but the predominant use of metal gives the phone a reassuring feel.

Like its ancestor, the Wildfire S is a diminutive little handset -- it's not amazingly thin at 12.4mm thick, but it's only 101mm tall and 59mm wide. It may even be a little too dinky for those of you with large mitts. The benefit of such a svelte frame is that the phone slips effortlessly into almost any pocket, and is a million miles away from behemoth blowers such as the Dell Venue Pro.

HTC's Sense UI proves its worth once again with useful features and handy widgets.

Another area where the Wildfire S improves on its earlier incarnation is the inclusion of Android 2.3, otherwise known as Gingerbread. To be more precise, it's actually running 2.3.3 -- very nearly the most bang up-to-date iteration of Google's mobile OS.

Android Gingerbread

Sadly, the Wildfire S isn't actually capable of taking advantage of many of Gingerbread's best features. There's no front-facing camera so video calls are off the menu, and the lack of an NFC chip means you won't be able to take advantage of wireless payments (when they eventually become commonplace in the UK, that is).

There's further disappointment when you investigate a little further into the Wildfire S' specifications. Just like its predecessor, it's lumbered with a slow processor -- although at 600MHz it is at least a slight bump up from the 528MHz chip that was inside last year's Wildfire. While this is the norm for modestly priced Android handsets, such a CPU simply isn't up to the task of running the latest Android apps and games.

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