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printed October 25, 2014
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Review: HTC Wildfire S

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Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's  

The Wildfire S is a compact touch phone that strikes a good balance between size and performance. It lacks the mega power that some of its larger HTC siblings do, but it makes up that with a much smaller, more portable, and more comfortable-to-use phone. It is slightly on the chubby side and wrapped in white plastics. It also has a small chin at the bottom, keeping up the old HTC Android bloodlines (remember the G1?). In addition to the white plastics, it has silver accents around the black display. Overall, it is an attractive mix of hues.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

It feels great in the hand. The rounded side edges make for an extremely comfortable fit in the palm. There are no sharp angles, just a lot of nice, gentle curves. The Wildfire S has a good weight to it: heavy enough that it feels solid and well made, but not so heavy as to be annoying. Though the majority of surfaces feel plasticky, the build quality is excellent. HTC knows how to put phones together, and the Wildfire S is no exception. Everything fits together tightly. This is one of the more pocket-friendly devices I've reviewed in a while. It'll go with you anywhere, and won't be a burden, even if your jeans are the spray-on variety.

About three-quarters of the front fascia is taken up by the display. Under it, HTC has placed four capacitive buttons for the standard Android controls (Home, Menu, Back, Search). These touch buttons worked well, though I didn't think they lit up enough, which meant it could be hard to tell which one you're about to press when using the phone in the dark.

HTC's signature sliver-of-a-volume toggle is on the left side of the Wildfire S. It's a good 1.5 inches long, and though it doesn't have any nubs or notches, but it has the best travel and feedback of any HTC volume toggle I've used this year.

Other controls are left to a minimum. There's a microUSB port below the volume toggle. There's no hatch covering it, making it easy to use at any time. The power/lock button is on the top. It also has excellent travel and feedback. The 3.5mm headset jack is also on top, right where I like the headphone jack to be.

Looking for a dedicated camera button? You won't find one. Nor will you find easy access to the microSD slot. You'll have to remove the battery cover to get to that. The cover comes off easily.

For a phone this small, HTC's minimalistic design approach really works well. It is not covered in buttons and other distractions. It has clear, clean lines that define the different aspects of the design, and has highly functional controls.

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