There’s no doubting telcos and retailers are hoping this will be a very “smart” Christmas. And it’s likely high on the shopping list will be tablets and smartphones. While giving an HTC Desire with two-year contract might be a bit rich for most of us, there’s plenty of heat on in the prepaid market.

Two of the most popular options slugging it out are the HTC Wildfire and Samsung’s Galaxy 5 i5500.

Both are sold in Australia through Telstra stores but you’ll also pick them up through Dick Smith electronics stores as well.

The Wildfire is the cheapest in the HTC lineup for now, selling for $299 while the Samsung model comes in at a very tidy $199 price tag.

The price difference is important to keep in mind because the Wildfire, in general, has slightly more of everything than the 5500, in keeping with its price. The real question is whether the Wildfire does enough to justify its $100 premium over the 5500.

In terms of basic features, the Wildfire comes with a 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen, the 5500 has a smaller 2.8-inch capacitive screen. Both feature 240×320-pixel resolution so neither is going to give you a brilliant experience. The Wildfire does gain a couple of extra points from the excellent HTC Sense user interface but with the same resolution as the 5500, the extra size just makes it easier to tap, not necessarily easier to see.

Both phones features Android 2.1 (Eclair) and at this stage, there is no concrete work on Froyo (Android 2.2) updates for either.

We’ll talk more about the specs after the jump.

Model HTC Wildfire Samsung Galaxy 5 i5500
Operating system Google Android 2.1-update 1 Google Android 2.1
Screen technology
- Size (inches) 3.2 2.8
- Resolution (pixels) 240×320 240×320
- touchscreen type Capacitive pinch-to-zoom Capacitive pinch-to-zoom
Processor 528MHz Qualcomm MSM7225 600MHz
RAM/ROM (MB) 384/512 256/512
Expansion slot MicroSD (32GB max) MicroSD (16GB max)
Wireless data connectivity
3G (Mbps) Up to 7.2Mbps Up to 7.2Mbps (down)
GPRS (Kbps) Up to 114Kbps N/S
EDGE (Kbps) Up to 560Kbps N/S
Wi-Fi standard 802.11b/g 802.11b/g
Bluetooth standard 2.1+EDR 2.1+EDR
Camera technology
- image sensor 5MP 2MP
- video recording resolution/fps N/S 240×320-pixels @ 15fps
Codec support
- audio AAC, AMR, OGG, M4A, MID, MP3, WAV, WMA MP3, AAC
- video 3GP, 3G2, MP4, WMV MPEG-4, H.264, H.263
Power technology
- Battery type/capacity 1300mAh Lithium-ion 1200mAh Lithium-ion
- Runtime – WCDMA (talk/standby) 7.3hrs/690hrs 6.5hrs/375hrs
- Runtime – GSM (talk/standby) 8.2hrs/480hrs 9.5hrs/521hrs
Network coverage
HSPA/WCDMA 850/2100MHz 850/900/1800/1900MHz
GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz 900/2100MHz
Features included
- tethering Yes N/S
- GPS Yes Yes
- G-sensor Yes N/S
- Digital compass Yes N/S
- Proximity sensor Yes N/S
- Light sensor Yes N/S
- FM radio Yes Yes
Weight & dimensions
- weight (grams) 118 102
- size (w x h x d – mm) 60x107x12 56x108x13

Samsung delivers 256MB of memory in the 5500 while HTC gives the Wildfire 384MB, which may make a difference if you want to load up your phone with apps. Battery life results are mixed with the Wildfire doing better on 3G but the Samsung getting the better of GSM usage.

Both should be able to handle up to 32GB in MicroSD card storage.

The other major difference is the image sensor, which is a big 5MP option for the Wildfire but only a 2MP sensor inside the Galaxy 5.This will affect still images rather than video as Eclair only offers 640×480-pixel video capture in any case.

The Galaxy 5 has a higher clock speed processor (600MHz vs 528MHz for the Wildfire) however, there’s no word on exactly what the processor inside the Galaxy 5 actually is so it’s difficult to work out which is the faster phone.

In terms of Linkpack benchmark results, the Galaxy 5 typically gets around 4Mflops while the Wildfire sits around 2.4 so it looks like the 5500 is a reasonable performer but without Froyo and higher-end SnapDragon processors, don’t expect either phone to give you bone-jarringly fast performance.

For build quality, we’d lean towards the HTC Wildfire with its heavier, more solid design. It feels like it will take more punishment than the 5500, although you shouldn’t aim to be throwing either of these phones around.

Bottom line, we think that given the basic screen resolution on both phones, you’re going to quickly outgrow either model if you start using it for any serious length of time. On that basis, the Samsung Galaxy 5 at least keeps $100 in your pocket while you’re getting started with Android, allowing you to either save up or move to a better model sooner.

Model HTC Wildfire Samsung Galaxy 5 i5500
Operating system Google Android 2.1-update 1 Google Android 2.1
Screen technology
- Size (inches) 3.2 2.8
- Resolution (pixels) 240×320 240×320
- touchscreen type Capacitive pinch-to-zoom Capacitive pinch-to-zoom
Processor 528MHz Qualcomm MSM7225 600MHz
RAM/ROM (MB) 384/512 TBC
Expansion slot MicroSD (32GB max) MicroSD (16GB max)
Wireless data connectivity
3G (Mbps) Up to 7.2Mbps Up to 7.2Mbps (down)
GPRS (Kbps) Up to 114Kbps N/S
EDGE (Kbps) Up to 560Kbps N/S
Wi-Fi standard 802.11b/g 802.11b/g
Bluetooth standard 2.1+EDR 2.1+EDR
Camera technology
- image sensor 5MP 2MP
- video recording resolution/fps N/S 240×320-pixels @ 15fps
Codec support
- audio AAC, AMR, OGG, M4A, MID, MP3, WAV, WMA MP3, AAC
- video 3GP, 3G2, MP4, WMV MPEG-4, H.264, H.263
Power technology
- Battery type/capacity 1300mAh Lithium-ion 1200mAh Lithium-ion
- Runtime – WCDMA (talk/standby) 7.3hrs/690hrs 6.5hrs/375hrs
- Runtime – GSM (talk/standby) 8.2hrs/480hrs 9.5hrs/521hrs
Network coverage
HSPA/WCDMA 850/2100MHz 850/900/1800/1900MHz
GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz 900/2100MHz
Features included
- tethering Yes N/S
- GPS Yes Yes
- G-sensor Yes N/S
- Digital compass Yes N/S
- Proximity sensor Yes N/S
- Light sensor Yes N/S
- FM radio Yes Yes
Weight & dimensions
- weight (grams) 118 102
- size (w x h x d – mm) 60x107x12 56x108x13

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