HTC Wildfire S vs HTC Wildfire

HTC confirmed the Wildfire S as the follow-up model to its popular mid-range Android handset, the Wildfire, at the recent MWC show in Barcelona. But if you've already got an HTC Wildfire, does the new model offer enough improvement for you to consider upgrading? We put the two handsets head to head in a spec-off to see which looks like the best bet. Read on to find out more.


Form Factor

1st: Wildfire S
101.3 x 59.4 x 12.4mm, 105g

2nd: Wildfire
106.75 x 60.4 x 12.19mm, 118g



By their very nature, mid-range phones tend to be smaller than their top-tier counterparts and HTC's Wildfire S is no exception. The original model wasn't exactly massive, but HTC has managed to shave precious mm off the new handset, which is both shorter and less wide than the Wildfire and also a few mm slimmer. The Wildfire S has also been on a crash diet when it comes to its weight, tipping the scales at just 105g, while the previous model weighed in at 118g. Although a relatively inexpensive handset, the HTC Wildfire S hasn't scrimped on build quality, offering the unibody design found elsewhere in the HTC range. What's more, the company has done away with the optical trackpad found on the older model. So, not only does the HTC Wildfire S have a more alluring profile but it's also better looking too.

 

Display

1st: Wildfire S
3.2-inch, 320x480, TFT LCD
2nd: Wildfire
3.2-inch, 240×320, TFT LCD



When it comes to the displays on smartphones, you get what you pay for, so it's no surprise that this compact mid-range handset can only muster a 3.2-inch screen, just like its predecessor. Both models use a capacitive TFT LCD screen, although the new phone has upped its game slightly. While the old Wildfire has a somewhat fuzzy screen resolution of just 240x320, the new Wildfire S has an improved panel that sports a 320x480-pixel resolution. It might not seem like much, but it should make a noticeable difference to the clarity of onscreen text and graphics on the brand's Sense UI.

 

Engine Room

1st: Wildfire S
600Hz Qualcomm MSM7227, 512MB

2nd: Wildfire
528MHz Qualcomm MSM7225, 384MB


With an ever-increasing number of apps and functions, it's important for a handset to have a decent processor, even if it doesn't count as a high-end smartphone. The Wildfire S includes an improved chipset in the form of the 600Hz Qualcomm MSM7227. This represents a logical step up from the Wildfire's 528MHz Qualcomm MSM7225, although both processors have an Adreno 200 GPU, so there's no massive leap in graphics processing capability. However, this is unlikely to be a problem as this isn't really a gaming handset anyway. The Wildfire S also has an improved RAM count of 512MB, bringing it in line with the general smartphone standard, while the previous model only had 384MB of RAM

 

Imaging

1st: Wildfire S
5MP, LED flash, 720p video capture

2nd: Wildfire
5MP, LED flash, 452x288 video capture



The camera offering on the the original Wildfire is fairly basic, with the handset sporting a 5MP camera with an LED flash, while video capture is limited to a maximum of 352x288 pixels, at around 15fps. The Wildfire S sports the same rear-facing camera, but where the new handset really sets itself apart from its predecessor is with the inclusion of 720p video capture for taking hi-def footage - a significant step up from the the Wildfire's slightly disappointing video capabilities.

 

Connectivity

Tie: Wildfire S
3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1

Tie: Wildfire
3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1



When it comes to connectivity on a smartphone we expect to see both 3G and Wi-Fi as standard and unsurprisingly both of these are offered by the Wildfire S, as well as by its predecessor. The two handsets are identical in terms of connections, both offering Bluetooth 2.1 as well. We might have expected the new model to up the game slightly by including an HDMI port or DLNA connectivity, but then as the Wildfire S is only a mid-range phone we can't complain too much. We have no choice but to call this round a draw.

 

Battery Life

1st: Wildfire
1300mAh, up to 490 mins talk time

2nd: wildfire s
1230mAh, up to 430 mins talk time



Battery life is obviously an important consideration for a mobile, unless you want to be constantly looking for a power point all day long in order to charge up your flagging handset. Both the Wildfire S and the older version include rechargeable Li-ion batteries with the Wildfire featuring 1300mAh pack and the Wildfire S, somewhat strangely, sporting a battery with a slightly lower capacity of 1230mAh. The Wildfire S will supposedly give you up to 430 minutes of talk time, while the older version offers a longer talk time of up to 490 minutes). We can only assume that the difference in battery capacity is down to the fact that newer versions of Android should be able to manage power more efficiently, although we would have expected to see longer talk times as a result.

 

Software

1st: Wildfire S
Android 2.4 Gingerbread + Sense

2nd: Wildfire
Android 2.2 Froyo + Sense




Like its predecessor, the pint-sized Wildfire S is also an Android handset, only this time it will have version 2.4, compared to the Wildfire's Froyo (2.2) OS. Bizarrely, like vesion 2.3, Android 2.4 will also be known as Gingerbread, and not Ice Cream as everyone assumed it would be (that chilly moniker will probably now be reserved for version 3.1). Obviously having the newest version of the software is an advantage for the Wildfire S, with the benefits including support for multiple camera and video calling. This round is a no-brainer - 2.4 beats 2.2, hands down.

 

Storage

Tie: Wildfire S
512MB, expandable to 32GB

Tie: Wildfire
512MB, expandable to 32GB



The two handsets seem fairly evenly matched here, both quoting 512MB of ROM, while making use of an expandable memory via the microSD card slot. You'll need to pop a microSD card in to make use of both phones' full capabilities, with both models supporting cards up to 32GB. This isn't great news if you're planning to run a lot of apps as even though newer versions of Android allow these to be stored on microSD, not all of the developers have caught up yet. That means that most apps still need to be stored on the handset's built-in memory, so if it's lacking, this could spell trouble.

 

Conclusions

The Wildfire is currently available from £20 on a contract, from £149.99 on PAYG or £222.99 SIM free and although we don't have any confirmed prices for the Wildfire S just yet, we'd imagine that it will cost around the same when it launches in the next few months, possibly a little more. What we do know is that it will be offered by Orange, Vodafone, Three and T-Mobile in the UK so you should be able to shop around and get yourself the best deal going.

The HTC Wildfire S certainly looks like a decent mid-range handset and comes out on top in almost every category compared to its predecessor. However, the differences aren't huge, although it is slightly smaller and a tad more powerful. The main upgrades are to do with the improved screen resolution, the inclusion of Gingerbread, the front-facing cam and 720p video capture. If any of these things are vital to you then a handset upgrade is probably in order. However, if the price is more than a few quid more than the Wildfire per month then it's probably not worth it unless you're desperate to have the most up-to-date version of Android possible.

You can check out all the news from the show at Pocket-lint's MWC 2011 page.