Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Flashback - the HTC Wildfire. The only thing it burns is the battery

In our lastest June Flashback, we harp back to a time when I was the happy owner of an HTC Wildfire. I remember I didn't stay happy for long...

From April 2011: Ahh shiny new phones, they're fun to play with aren't they? When a new piece of mobile phone technology lands in my lap, before my previous model has a chance to play its final ringtone, it's switched off, sim card removed and thrown into the back of the cupboard (usually because I can't wait to get rid of the old dinosaur). Then I spend the next two days with my new prize, pressing each button and option to death: to make sure a) it works and b) I know how to fix it when it doesn't.
My latest acquisition? The HTC Wildfire.
Oh dear..
With 6 months before my current contract ran out, the nice manager at the phone shop gave me one to try until I upgraded. Why? Because he couldn't beleive my Samsung F480 was still going strong. In fact his words were something along the lines of 'Get rid of that f****** heap of s*** and try this instead.' Normally one for the pre-paid crowd, it works fine with contracts and looks a lot newer, shinier and even smells better than what it replaced:

Thank god for smartphones nowadays..

So until my current contract is up, it's HTC Wildfire all the way (trying not to scratch it on the way as I'll pass it to my better half when I'm done). And after a week of dialing, smsing, Haytelling (never tried the app Haytel? Grab it - it's free and awesome), downloading, customizing  and just about everything else I could do it, here's the lowdown.

The good: Budget entry level smart phone with Android? It sure is. And it makes you quite happy to show off what apps you have, what you can do and prove that you don't have to spend a motza to get a phone with plenty of bits to play around with. Very easy to surf around and if you get stuck, just hit the home button and you're back to the starting screen. The touch pads are the right sensitivity, you don't have to squint to read the screen and it's quite comfy to hold.  Callers sound good, alarms work well and while the qwerty style sms does take a while to get used to (for a guy like me) but is easy to adapt to. Range is also pretty good - i haven't found a place where I can't call out of yet.

The bad: When trying to customize this phone with your own alarms, tones, whatever, it's like owning a foreign car and hoping that someone knows what you're talking about when you take it to a mechanic. It can be done but not without some work and a trip to Google to find out how. Luckily plenty of people have worked it out but it'd be nice if there was drag and drop options instead of writing new pathways on the memory card and lots of fiddling around on a computer.
Depending on the size of your fingers, you will hit the wrong letter. A lot. This gets annoying quickly.

The ugly: The HTC Wildfire has the battery longevity of a cold crisp beer at an AA meeting. Just me writing that sentence has resulted in it chewing through more of its power supply and it's currently in my pocket remaining quiet. Calling, gaming, surfing, application, anything at all really and it runs out of puff more than an asthmatic marathoner. This of course does not bode well when your fiance has just downloaded Angry Birds on it and wonders why she can't play it all afternoon.
On top of that is it's non call service - or rather the struggles it has with them. Trying to send a picture to my own email address resulted in having to work out 3 different workarounds to finally get the picture on Facebook and none of them involved a simple process. My twitter feed updated once...in three days. To actually get it to refresh, I had to delete my profile address out of the phone and start all over again. Some apps refresh, some don't. When apps work, they're great - when they don't, it's a big hassle.
And a lot of users are complaining about the software that comes with it that syncs your Wildfire to Outlook at the like - the problem is that namely: it doesn't work. Or works partly. Or fully for the first time and then grinds to a halt straight after...

Overall: If it lasted longer than a day (sometimes not even that), did everything it was supposed to when it was supposed to and was easier to customize, it'd be brilliant. Sadly with the hiccups that it comes packaged with, it drops from brilliant to 'good'. As a budget level smart phone it's a nice entry, provided you use it lightly and don't have to rely on it too often... 6/10

(Score in 2014? Now 1/10/..)


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