In the land of the Android Mobile the competition is getting fierce but HTC has always had a pretty high vantage point being the guys who made the first device and all. One of their latest devices to the hit the Indian market is the Wildfire that’s catering to the mid range segment. Here’s a closer look.
The device is well balanced and light weight making it easy to carry around and comfortable to use with just one hand. The 3.2-inch touchscreen sadly has a resolution of just 240 x 320 pixels (16 million colors) which tends to take a little away from the overall clarity. Nevertheless it’s not something that one would complain about as the large size with multi-touch support, the touch-sensitive controls below it and the optical trackball do help compensate a bit.A standard 3.5mm handsfree socket strategically placed at the top and so is the power/screen lock button. Volume keys are on the same side as the micro USB port for PC connectivity and charging. A microSD hot swap (2GB card included) is located just under the rear panel.
There’s absolutely nothing to dislike about the Wildfire’s neat yet slick form.
Features and Performance
Sense UI is just about the best interface there is when it comes to Android mobiles, very few will argue with that I’m sure. From the moment you start up the device you’re guided through simple steps that include setting up email and social networking accounts to the more mundane tasks to letting setting the date and time. There are plenty of handy widgets for the multiple desktops. I found the UI to be extremely sluggish the first time I used the handset even with its 528MHz processor which was very unusual. After resetting it a couple of times though, it seemed a little better but still just a tad slow when it came to auto rotating images, screens or pinch zooming. I’m attributing that to a faulty test piece, however, if any of you readers have faced the similar issues with speed please let the rest of us know.
The social networking integration with your contacts is simple and well designed. The Wildfire also comes with a Turn to Mute function for incoming calls. Another couple of very handy pre-loaded applications included were the Application Share app that allows you to transfer downloaded apps with other Android users. Then there was also the Transfer Data function that was very similar to Nokia’s version that does the same. You can connect to another device with the same feature and transfer contacts and calendar entries to this one. HTC likes making the interface as colorful and easy to manage as possible and they’ve done so with this Android 2.1 device as well.
The native music player is all you’ll need although there are other options that you can avail of via the Android market. The player is loud and tones are crisp and clear. Playlists can be created on the go if you need to. The FM radio also turned to be an asset to the handset’s audio functionality. In most places the reception was good. One disappointment was with the video player. It reads only standard MPEG4 and 3GP file formats that are scaled down to a 320 x 240 pixel resolution. Still, the large display does make viewing easy on the eyes, if you’re ok with the low-res clarity of your videos. The only pre-loaded game the Wildfire comes with is Teeter that’s become a stereotype for HTC devices.
The Wildfire is a 3G enabled device. Since that’s a redundant feature at the moment, you’ll have to settle for its EDGE/GPRS or Wi-Fi capabilities. From social networking with FriendStream, HTC’s Twitter application Peep and Plurk, Gtalk, YouTube to Push Mail, Microsoft Activesync and Exchange support and even a stock market and Weather update apps, the Wildfire is well equipped for al kinds of net connectivity. What you don’t see can be easily downloaded off the Android Market. Images and videos can be quickly uploaded to your Facebook, Flickr or YouTube accounts or emailed or sent via Bluetooth. Incidentally the Wildfire is A2DP compatible and offers USB 2.0. A News apps allows you to add feeds from your favorite news sites so you’re always updated on what’s going on.
GPS is also a built-in feature to be used with Google Maps or any third party GPS application compatible with Android. HTC’s Footprints application let’s you take images with geotags, locate it on the map with the co-ordinates, get the address, add it to a contact ad a voice memo and even notes to that spot. The camera also does geotagging as well.
Aside from the basics like an Alarm Clock, Calendar (syncs with Google/Facebook and PC) World Clocks and calculator, HTC has included a few additional goodies. The Flash light app allows you to control the intensity of the LED that’s actually the camera’s flash. It’s quite handy for those dark places we can sometimes wind up in. A Java application allows you to add Java apps that can be run from there. A read only version of Quick Office is pre-loaded and so is a PD reader. Like all other Android handsets the Wildfire also does text to Speech once you’ve downloaded the module.
The Wildfire is equipped with a 5 megapixel autofocus camera with a single LED flash. The features that this camera comes with include touch-focus, White Balance and self timer, color settings, Brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness adjustment and ISO adjustment up to 800. It also comes with face Detection.
Image quality was not bad at all. Even in some low light conditions outdoors pictures were quite focused as long as you remained steady.
The battery was the biggest disappointment. It seemed like I had to charge the handset on a daily basis. With the same amount of functionality I get out of my MILESTONE, the Wildfire’s battery was just not able to cope at all. On a single charge with a few calls messages and emails, no video, a little music and no auto sync or Wi-Fi options active I got just a little over a day’s usage. Talk time averaged in at about 2 hours and 40 minutes. One major issue was that the handset would heat up considerably if any function like uploading an image or video was running. It was the same when I was on long calls. With reports of batteries exploding this is a cause of serious concern.
The Bottom Line
With a price tag of Rs. 16,590, I would have said that the Wildfire is a great device with a lot to offer, and even though it is, it does have a few issues to contend with. The slightly sluggish UI can be swept under the rug but bigger issues like the poor battery life and handset heating issues stand out like a rickety Maruti 800 in a fleet of Mercedes. You’re better off with the Samsung Spica which is also priced a little better although the features may not be as high end as the Wildfires.
For all of you readers, who are using the handset, send in your views via our comments. Let us know if you’re having similar issues with your device.