With the plethora of Android devices entering the market every day, the process of making the right choice becomes difficult. When a user decides to go for Android mobiles, his next question would be the budget. Currently there are many mobiles available in the high end segment compared to the low and mid segment. When HTC introduced Wildfire in Indian market, it marked its entry into the mid-segment of Android Mobile market. HTC Wildfire has received mixed reactions from customers and critics around the globe. Let us now check out the model and see how relevant it is to the Great Indian Mobile market.
From the distance, the mobile look very much like its big brother HTC Desire. They share the same aesthetics, optical track pad and capacitive touch buttons. But on closer inspection, you would discover that Wildfire is smaller in physical dimension. Further investigation reveals that it has a 3.2” QVGA LCD panel. The display panel needs in-depth analysis, so let’s coming back to it later. At the back there is a 5 MP camera assisted by a single LED flash. The USB connector is located at one side with the volume rocker. The other side practically has no buttons or slots. The 3.5mm audio and power button are at the top. The power button alternates as the display lock/unlock button as well. The bottom is clean except for the small mic slot. The front has its 3.2” LCD display along with the 4 Android buttons. The buttons are capacitive and there is a optical track pad. In my opinion the track pad is a redundant hardware and it would be seldom useful. The front camera is absent. But there is a proximity sensor and LED notification light. The mono loudspeaker is placed near the camera and the telephony speaker is present on the front.
The design is minimal and stylish. It would definitely appeal the market segment at which the mobile is targeted at. The build quality is very good and the phone fits into the palm very comfortably. The device is 12.19mm thick, 60 mm tall and weights 118g. Arguably this is one of the smallest Smartphone available out there. It’s very comfortable to hold the mobile, talk and operate with one hand. The grip of the phone is quite good. The plastic used is of high quality and it accounts for the rubbery feel. The back cover snugly fits into the front panel with a very clever design. Removing the back cover reveals the hot-swappable microSD slot and battery. The retail package includes a 2GB microSD card. The battery is 1300 mAH lithium ion battery. Under the battery, is the SIM slot.
Under the bonnet, the device is powered by Qualcomm MSM7225 chipset clocked at 528 Mhz. It has 512 MB ROM and 384 MB RAM. Wildfire also has a digital compass, accelerometer, wifi, Bluetooth, FM radio aGPS its 3G enabled. Now let’s power up the device and check what it’s got to offer.
Instantly when you switch on the device the display resolution is the first thing that strikes you. It’s one of the worst combinations of screen resolution and screen size we have come across. This makes images and fonts appear dithered throughout the user experience. The display experience is worse when you browse the media gallery and in the Internet browser. HTC is capable of delivering high quality experience across all it models. But I really don’t understand why they decided to release such a bad display in Wildfire.
Wildfire excels in the connectivity department with its excellent support for multiple mode of connectivity. The handset has microUSB v2.0 connectivity for data transfer and battery charging. The Bluetooth connectivity is quite fast and has A2DP capability. With A2DP capability, you can connect Bluetooth headsets and stream music. FM radio is part of the specifications sheet and the application is quite user friendly. It supports RDS, loudspeaker and auto save facility. The audio jack is present at the top and unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to check it out as our review piece didn’t have the factory provided headsets. The mobile is 3G enabled with HSDPA and speeds capable upto 7.2 Mbps. We didn’t get chance to validate that as well. Wildfire is wifi enabled and it has class 10 EDGE capable upto 236 kbps and GPRS capable upto 48 kbps.
The browser is really great as in all the Android devices. The interface is clean and minimal. It supports multi-touch pinch zooming. Zooming automatically reflows the text to fit the screen. It also supports tabbed browsing, but the highlight is the support for HTML5 and Flash available out of the box. But the display resolution makes the fonts appear dithered in the browser. A better display would have multiplied the excellent browsing experience manifolds.
At first thought you may think that the Wildfire has the same 5MP camera as the HTC Desire and would expect a similar experience. But in contract, the camera performance is quite weak. There is auto-focus and touch focus. But due to the poor display, the pictures you snap appear to be smudged. Once you transfer to PC, the photos are quite decent but still the white balance and contrasts don’t fit well. The LED flash is weak and it seldom helps night photography. The camera interface is not very user friendly with its collapsible / draggable hidden menu. Many of the modern offerings like scene selection, face detection, etc is not available. The camera records video at 15 fps which is very low and produces low quality CIF videos.
Wildfire comes with the goodness of Android 2.1 loaded with the HTC Sense UI. With the specifications and processor capability, it’s a remote chance that this device will ever get a Froyo (2.2) update. But for this device, 2.1 is good enough and offers sufficient speed and performance. The ‘Force Close’ screens did pop up at a few instances, crashing the Sense UI. The device would have been better with the vanilla version of the Android 2.1 without Sense UI.
The device comes in packaged with a lot of applications and a few games by default. That’s particularly useful for anyone who is not yet familiar with the Android App market. But once the user gets a hang of the App Market, the possibilities of extending the device capabilities and customizing is endless.
The device is powered by a standard lithium ion battery of 1300 mAH ratings. With the low speed processor and the small display size, this battery is sufficient to power the device for upto 2 days in Indian network with moderate calls and internet usage. Overall the battery is a clear winner for this device, when you compare with the battery capabilities of the other Smartphones available in the market at present.
To conclude, HTC Wildfire is a good choice for the mid segment of the market. It’s ideal for anyone to get started with the Android mobiles. Other devices in the range are the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini, HTC tattoo and Samsung Galaxy Spica under the Android Family. But for user who wants superior performance and excellent display, this is definitely not the choice. Android has better choices available out there and HTC has tapped the full potential of Android in other devices like the HTC Desire.