Telstra snaps up HTC Wildfire for the prepaid social networking set

It’s hard to believe that less than four months ago Telstra didn’t have a single Android phone on the books. That changed starting on April 27 with the launch of HTC’s Desire and now The Big T is adding a second HTC handset to the Android range.

The Wildfire is a somewhat pared-back Android phone which takes aim at the mainstream market with Telstra offering the smartphone on pre-paid plans with an outright cost of $349 (as well as post-paid plans with the handset free from $49/month).

It’s got the same slick Sense UI and Friendstream social networking app as the Desire plus an identical 5 megapixel camera and runs Android 2.1 with an upgrade to Android 2.2 Froyo on the cards.

But in many ways the Wildfire is best thought of as an upgrade for last year’s
Tattoo. Its processor burbles along at 528MHz rather than the supercharged 1GHz Snapdragon of higher-end handsets and the touchscreen is a smaller 3.2 inch 240 x 320 pixel panel compared to the Desire’s 3.7 inch 480 x 800 display.

New to the Android mix is version 3.0 of HTC’s Windows-based Sync software which adds music and podcast synchronisation against iTunes and Windows Media Player alongside the regular desktop Outlook sync. There’s no sign of a Mac version at this stage alas.

The Wildfire also gets ‘enahnced caller ID’ which shows the caller’s latest social networking status; plus the same Swype text input as introduced on Samsung’s Galaxy S which is more akin to a ‘join the dots’ approach where you glide your finger across the virtual keyboard rather than tap each individual character.