My earlier brief experience with the HTC Desire and HTC Legend tell me that HTC is maturing as a manufacturer of high end smartphones. The days when HTC rolls out cheesy, toy-looking, cheap phones are coming to an end. I think HTC is discovering what Apple has learned, you can make good margins with quality phones. Market researcher iSuppli estimates that the bill of materials for the latest Apple iPhone comes comes to US$187.51. At US$699 for a 32GB no contract phone, that is a whopping 274% market. Of course this percentage profit is wrong as it doesn’t include the software cost of the device as well as whatever Apple estimates is the cost of keeping iTunes up and running to make the iPhone the much sought after platform by developers and customers alike (ok I exaggerate on that last part).

Stay focus on the review

HTC Wildfire

HTC Wildfire

The HTC Wildfire (Wildfire) looks like a slightly smaller version of the HTC Desire. It is  12.2mm shorter (by length). The form factor is pocket friend for both sexes. The devices feels as solid as the Desire.

HTC Desire

HTC Desire

Where you start to see the difference is when you turn on the screen. The Desire uses an AMOLED display compared to a standard TFT screen for the Desire. AMOLED gives you better colors and sharper contrasts. Ove the two weeks I used the HTC Wildfire though I can’t really complain much about the reduced contrast or less vibrant color compared to my earlier experience on the Desire (even when I was watching Star Trek on Wildfire). But for those who like to compare spec, the Wildfire has a resolution of 320×240 pixels versus the Desire’s 480×800 pixels.

HTC Sense is the only reason why you’d ever keep using an HTC phone powered by Windows mobile operating system. Can HTC smartphones running Android OS run without Sense? I understand this is possible and hackers are using this to bypass the official approach to upgrading the HTC phone. But for the average user, HTC Sense just makes it easier to use the phone – irrespective of whether you got Android or Windows Mobile as the operating environment.
WHAT I LIKE
Android 2.1 is a saving grace for this phone. Despite a less powerful proecssor compared to its bigger sibling – the HTC Desire, the Qualcomm MSM7225 528 MHz gives the Wildfire just enough uummph to run your favorite apps like video, music, browsing the Internet or any one of those free games available on Andrioid market (Google’s answer to Apple‘s priorietary appstore). But set your expectations, the slower processor will mean that launching apps will take a few milliseconds slower than on the Desire. If you want to bitch about it, you can always say that the WIldfire comes with only 384MB RAM compared to 512MB on the Desire (but does it really matter? I can’t be certain).

A common occurance in my line of business is people waving their iPhones in my face swearing by the ease of use, the thousands of apps available online, and the great experience they have browsing the Internet. Most of them get stump though when I ask them to go to Wall Street Journal website, and play one of the video interviews for me. Fortunately this is not a problem on phones running Android or Windows Mobile – just devices made by Apple (everything from computers to mobile devices).
WHAT I DON’T LIKE
For the most part the glass screen remains a magnet for smudges and fingerprints. At times it can be annoying but I have the same experience with nearly all mobile devices including my iPod Touch. I hope someday someone will develop a screen that is both bright, easy to read and will resist the smudges that come with oily fingers.

I took quite a bit of pictures with the Wildfire and I can tell you its far from perfect despite having a 5MB camera. For one thing, even holding it up as steady as I could still produces blurred images when you zoom in the photos. So if you are taking photos with the WIldfire, hold the phone camera with both hands, find a way to steady your hands, and take several shots. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that first shot is perfect. Yes the Wildfire has the same advance features as the Desire: geo-tagging, face detection, auto focus and flash.

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls

Taken with HTC Wildfire: jet

closeup of jet

Taken with HTC Wildfire: the garden at night

the garden at night

Live wallpapers remain disabled on the Wildfire as they do on the Desire but I am not really sure whether its worth running a fancy ‘live’ desktop screen if it draws computing power and battery life.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
I understand that the HTC Wildfire is for the budget conscious mobile user.
In Hong Kong, the HTC Desire comes with a suggested retail price of HKD4,598 (USD589). The HTC Wildfire is priced considerably lower at HKD2798 (359).  At two-thirds the cost of the Desire, the Wildfire certainly presents an affordable pricetag to people like me who find price an easy excuse not to upgrade to a better phone.

Bravo to HTC for bringing to the masses a phone deserving of the title of “smartphone”.
HTC Wildfire Technical Spec
Network: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, HSPA/WCDMA 900/2100 MHz
Operating system: Google Android 2.1
Processor: Qualcomm MSM7225 528 MHz
Built-in Memory: 384 MB RAM / 512 MB ROM
Display: 3.2-inch TFT capacitive with pinch-to-zoom capability / 240 x 320 pixels
Camera: 5-megapixel / Autofocus / LED flash
Video Support: MP4 / H.263 / H.264 / WMV9
Audio Support: MP3 / AAC+ / WAV / WMA9
Connectivity: Built-in GPS with A-GPS and Google Maps / Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP support / microUSB 2.0 WLAN 802.11b/g / HSDPA 7.2Mbps
Storage Type: microSD expandability / SDHC supported (up to 32GB)
Battery 1300mAh
Standby / Talk time: Up to 690 hours / Up to 490 minutes
Dimensions: 106.8 x 60.4 x 12.9mm
Weight: 118g
Full spec: http://www.htc.com/www/product/wildfire/specification.html

HTC Desire Technical Spec
Network: GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, HSPA/WCDMA: 900/2100 MHz
Built-in Memory: 576MB RAM / 512MB ROM
Operating system: Google Android 2.1
Processor: SnapDragon 1GHz
Display: 3.7-inch TFT capacitive with pinch-to-zoom capability / 480 x 800 pixels
Camera: 5-megapixel / Autofocus / LED flash
Video Support: MP4 / H.263 / H.264 / WMV9
Audio Support: MP3 / AAC+ / WAV / WMA9
Connectivity: Built-in GPS with A-GPS and Google Maps / Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP support / microUSB 2.0 WLAN 802.11b/g / HSDPA 7.2Mbps
Storage Type: microSD expandability / SDHC supported (up to 32GB)
Battery 1400mAh
Standby / Talk time: Up to 360 hours / Up to 400 minutes
Dimensions: 119 x 60 x 11.9mm
Weight: 118g

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