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printed November 28, 2014
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Review: HTC Wildfire S

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Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's  

Screen

The Wildfire S's display measures a tight 3.2 inches, and it sticks to 320 x 480 pixels in order to keep costs down. While this is a low-rez display by today's standards, it still manages to look good. The "screen door" effect is visible from time to time, and you can see slightly jagged edges on some of the graphical elements, but it's mostly good. Brightness was decent, though not as good as HTC's Super LCDs are. It manages indoors just fine. Outdoors, however, it was nearly useless and had me running for shade.

Signal

The Wildfire S does pretty well as far as T-Mobile phones go. It was able to find T-Mobile's network no matter where I took it, and never lost the signal entirely. It registered anywhere from one to four bars at any given time, but low bars didn't have an impact on the ability to make calls or connect to the data network for some surfing. The Wildfire S never dropped any calls, but it missed several.

Sound

The Wildfire S surprised me a bit. Voice quality was excellent, and the earpiece speaker was loud enough to overcome an extremely noisy coffee shop (as well as other places). Even in loud environments, calls were very clear and easy to understand. With the volume set to the max, there was no distortion in the speaker, just clear, loud voices on the other end. The same can't quite be said for ringers, alert tones, and the speakerphone. These three all lose some steam relative to the earpiece speaker. Sure, you'll hear the phone when it's nearby, but if you're on a different floor, forget it. Same with the speakerphone. It's OK, but could be much, much louder. Call quality through the speakerphone was still good, however. The vibrate alert was a bit weak. I can easily imagine missing texts or other messages while in a club, at a bar, or even at dinner in a busy restaurant.

Battery

With its smaller screen and less power-hungry processor, the Wildfire S did very well with respect to battery life. It quite often lasted from 7AM one day to about 5PM the next, or 33 hours in total. That's decent in my book. Heavy use, such as streaming media via the 3G network, sapped the battery faster, but even then it lasted for more than a full 24 hours. I expect most users will want to charge every night just to be sure they can get through a whole day consistently, but if left unplugged for a night, you're not going to be up a creek.

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