In addition to the standard Google services, the Wildfire S comes preloaded with a number of extra applications from T-Mobile and HTC. This includes HTC Peep, HTC Likes, T-Mobile Mall, and Slacker. The amount of bloatware isn't as bad as on some other phones, but there's no way to uninstall it, either.
The Wildfire S also includes a DoubleTwist link to help you get started syncing your music, videos, and photos with the smartphone. The handset supports the standard set of music and video formats, but note that the device doesn't have a ton of internal memory (512MB) so if you have a large library, it's best to save the files to a microSD card.
The Wildfire S comes equipped with a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash, which can also record video of up to 640x480 pixels in resolution. The camera app offers a number of editing options and tools, including white-balance controls, ISO settings, face detection, and a number of built-in effects. Picture quality didn't exactly knock our socks off. The camera did OK with shots taken outdoors, but photos taken indoors or in dim lighting looked soft and had a pinkish-gray hue. We got similar results with recorded video.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) HTC Wildfire S in New York using T-Mobile service and call quality was pretty good. We had no problems hearing our callers, and voices sounded true to life. During lulls in the conversation, we could hear a bit of a background hiss, but it wasn't disruptive or terribly distracting. Friends gave mostly positive feedback, noting the clear call quality. However, several people mentioned that we sounded a bit tinny.
HTC Wildfire S call quality sample
Speakerphone quality was decent. The audio was sharp, without sounding too hollow, and there was enough volume to hear our callers in a noisier environment. We also paired the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones and were able to make calls and listen to music without problems.
We didn't experience any dropped calls during our review period, and we got reliable 3G coverage here in Manhattan. Using the Wildfire's stock Android browser, CNET's full site loaded in 29 seconds, and the mobile sites for CNN and ESPN came up in 8 seconds and 13 seconds, respectively. The Wildfire can play high-quality YouTube videos; they took a few seconds to load but played back continuously.
Under the hood of the Wildfire S is a 600MHz processor. It's certainly not the fastest processor, but the smartphone felt quite responsive. Most apps launched as soon as we tapped them, and we were able to switch between tasks easily. There were times when the smartphone would lag, but the delays were minimal.
The HTC Wildfire S ships with a 1,230mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 6.7 hours and up to 13 days of standby time. Generally speaking, we had to recharge the smartphone by late afternoon or early afternoon after moderate to heavy usage. In our battery drain tests we were only able to get 5.5 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge. According to FCC radiation tests, the smartphone has a digital SAR rating of 0.92W/kg.
The HTC Wildfire S fits a solid set of features and good performance into a nice little package. Understandably, its smaller screen will be a problem for some customers, but T-Mobile also offers the similarly featured and priced Samsung Exhibit 4G, which has a slightly larger display. Still, for those on a budget or new to smartphones, the Wildfire S is worth consideration.