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HTC Wildfire: Student-inspired handset

HTC’s Android line-up is unquestionably impressive at the high end of the specs-trum, but the lower-end handsets tend to be a little less satisfying – the HTC Tattoo, for example, was not up to the standard we’ve come to expect. Luckily, HTC knows it wasn’t up to scratch and has been busy in the development department. The result is the HTC Wildfire – a handset that’s intended to be a Desire-lite: big on action, low on cost.

The Wildfire is intended for tech-savvy but financially-challenged students who want to be able to text, call, email and social network from their handsets without it costing them too much.

It’s light on new features, but there are two notable ones; the first is the Facebook integration. We’re already au fait with integrating Facebook contacts into the address book and all that, but the Wildfire takes things one step further by showing you a contact’s Facebook photo, latest status update and their birthday on the call screen. HTC told us that this is all about merging your real life with your online life, like a personal relationship management system. There’s a chance that this feature will be retro-fitted to the rest of the HTC Android range, but it’s by no means a given.

The other new feature is an app sharing process – the Wildfire will offer a shortcut to allow you to text links to your favourite apps to friends. All they have to do is click the link on their Android handset and they’ll be taken to the app’s page in the Android market which is much quicker and easier than having to search for it.

Other than these new features, the HTC Wildfire is rocking Android 2.1 with HTC’s fabulous Sense interface, as well as a 3.2-inch QVGA screen (capacitive, thank goodness!), 5-megapixel camera with flash, optical trackpad, Wi-Fi, GPS and the same processing power as the HTC Hero. The lower-spec processor and screen keep the costs down, but with no 3D-effects there’s no lag as you swipe around the handset, and although it’s nowhere near as crisp and lovely as the Desire’s, the Wildfire’s screen was still pleasant to use.

Looks-wise, it’s quite svelte – although we still have a little of that HTC chin, it’s much more subtle than that of the Hero or Legend. It comes in a range of colours – brown, black, white and red.

HTC described the Wildfire as the handset which “makes good on the promise of the HTC Tattoo” – with a bigger screen, more grown-up design and the ditching of the resistive screen, it’s an altogether nicer handset to use. The HTC Wildfire also marks the end of the line for resistive touchscreens from HTC – to which we say HURRAH!

No word yet on operator deals or prices, but look out for the Wildfire very early in Q3.

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