By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
We've seen our share of micro-smartphones this year. We recently reviewed the Motorola DEFY, the HP-Palm Pre 2 and Sony's Xperia X10 Mini. HTC's Widlfire S joins the ranks of undersized yet over achieving smartphones that make perfect partners to today's various tablets or smartphones for casual users.
What is most remarkable about the HTC Widlfire S is that you can't tell how small it is from looking at photos. Oddly enough, it looks just like any of its bigger HTC brethren with many of HTC's design elements intact. Upon closer inspection one realizes how truly and surprisingly small yet functional the HTC Wildfire S is.
The 3.2" inch screen is thoroughly serviceable but we found our larger fingers stumbling when typing text on the keyboard in portrait mode. Still, with HTC Sense running things, information and news as well as social feeds are easily within reach.
The HTC Wildfire S ($249 no contract price from Bell) feels good in the hand and is both lightweight yet strangely substantial in terms of build. While this is one of the cheaper Android smartphones in the market, it is also one of the most versatile.
It is compatible with Bell's advertised 4G HSPA network which claims to have the fastest wireless data speeds available. It ships with the latest Android 2.3 OS but rejigged with bountiful helpings of HTC's own functionality. As an up-to-date Android smartphone, the HTC Wildfire S will do most anything that larger, more expensive Android phones will.
The only limitations in this form factor are screen size (which as stated earlier only becomes a factor with larger fingered folk) and the battery life. Battery life becomes an even bigger concern if users will consider using the HTC Wildfire S as a mobile hotspot with a tablet then the experience might not be optimal.
Battery life on most Android smartphones is dicey, we've had to purchase a Mugen extended battery for our Google Nexus S just to make sure it will last a few days (we do use it as a mobile hotspot for notebooks and tablets). With the HTC Wildfire S, which has a 1230 mAh, heavy web and email users who also engage in wireless hotspot sharing via WiFi will find themselves wanting.
What we like about the HTC Wildfire S, aside from its small size and solid build, is that for almost half the price of a premium Android smartphone you get most of the features you would need to play in Google's Android sandbox and a fully functional smartphone.
The specs are groovy. Powered by a 600MHz CPU, 512MB of memory, a 5 megapixel camera, microSD expansion and a full retinue of sensors (ambient light, G sensor, digital compass and proximity sensor) which means for 85 per cent of users, this smartphone will be more than adequate for most communication and interactive tasks.
We feel that the HTC Wildfire S presents a unique opportunity for users who want something cute, compact and capable. Power users who might need all day battery life or who are surgically connected to their smartphones might benefit from a larger model with a bigger screen (better for their eyes) and a more lavish software keyboard.
For tablet users who just need to make occasional phone calls but need a WiFi conduit then the HTC Wildfire S is one of the best options available today.
Rating: 4 out of 5