The Samsung S8500 Wave is the first smartphone to sport the brand new Bada mobile OS.
- Vibrant Super AMOLED Display
- Responsive Touch UI
- Wi-Fi, 3G and GPS Support
- Good Camera
- Very Good Music Playback
- OS Still Has Some Niggles
- Apps Store Doesn’t Have Many Apps
The S8500 Wave represents a bold move from Samsung. Instead of coming out with another smartphone based on Symbian, Android or Windows Mobile, Samsung decided that through the Wave they would debut their very own OS- Bada (and not just a UI like TouchWIZ). Although, with all the various mobile OSes floating about, what we needed least was another OS fragmenting the smartphone ecosystem, Bada seems determined to impress and so does the Samsung Wave.
Colors on the screen look very rich and vibrant and it even maintains visibility under sunlight making the Wave’s screen one of the best smartphone screens in the market today.
The Bada OS- Larger Than Life?
Although the inception of a brand new OS seems like a risky move, one look at Bada suggests that Samsung wanted to work from what they already knew.
Therefore, if I was to casually generalize what the OS was, I would say it was a mix-up of Android with Samsung’s own TouchWIZ interface. There are many small and noticeable touches that Bada shares with Google’s mobile OS, the primary being the notification bar. Like in Android, the top of the Wave’s screen hides a notification bar that displays if you have a missed call, a message/e-mail and the status of the battery, Wi-Fi etc. You can slide it down to get further details and the bar remains constant throughout the UI except when you are in certain apps and games.
Another similarity is the homescreen (or should I say homescreens). Like in Android, Bada allows you to have multiple homescreens which can host your widgets, shortcuts, favorite contacts etc. There is even a slowly panning wallpaper that slightly shifts as you flick between homescreens. Even the settings menus are arranged in a clean and organized manner that’s similar to Android. And finally, most apps will throw up a context sensitive menu from the bottom
just the way Android does it.
Design & Usability
The Samsung’s 3.3-inch capacitive touchscreen offers a very smooth touch experience. In fact, this was probably the best touch experience that I have had on a phone after the iPhone 3GS. Of course, the screen itself is marvelous to look out. It’s a Super AMOLED display capable of 16M color output at a resolution of 480×800 pixels. Colors on the screen look very rich and vibrant and it even maintains visibility under sunlight making the Wave’s screen one of the best smartphone screens in the market today.
The Wave itself is a sleek phone with the right mixture of glass, matte metal and glossy plastic. It offers solid build quality, is quite slim and has a slim profile.
The Samsung Wave ticks all the right boxes in terms of connectivity features. It offers support for Wi-Fi, 3G and GPS. The Wave also has a 5MP camera (capable of recording 720p video) with an LED flash and internal storage of 1.5GB, 390MB of which is usable by the user. It comes bundled with a 2GB microSD card and its slot can accept cards up to 32GB.
Multimedia, Browsing etc.
When it comes to multimedia performance, the Samsung Wave is an exceptional performer. Its 5MP camera takes good looking (albeit color-wise slightly dull) pictures with very low noise levels. Its LED flash is really powerful and you will definitely have no problems taking night shots. As mentioned before, the camera can shoot 720p videos. The videos I shot were crisp and were comparable to videos shot by many entry-level cameras.
(An outdoor image and a close-up image shot with the Samsung Wave’s 5MP camera (click on images to enlarge in new window).
Predictably, the Samsung’s music playback is also very good. Music (especially acoustic, jazz and classical tracks) sounded natural with no unnatural sound coloring. The Wave offers plenty of sound enhancements and EQ options and comes bundled with a high quality pair of in-ear phones. The external speaker could have been louder and looking at how plenty of phones nowadays come with external stereo speakers, I’m surprised Samsung didn’t pack the Wave with a pair.
The Wave supports playback of plenty of video formats including DivX/XviD. So, I popped in plenty of DivX movies and even some 720p .MKV movies and the Wave played them all without fault. The video player also has a cool feature which splits a video into multiple segments letting you choose and jump directly to that segment instead of blindly dragging the timeline around. Of course, the screen makes even full-length movies watchable in spite of the relatively small size.
The Wave sports a WebKit based browser that has features such as multi-tab/window support, bookmarks manager and Flash support. Unfortunately, the browser doesn’t fit text on webpages automatically to the screen so you will be forced to use your fingers to zoom in to the text. Apart from that, I had no complaints with either the browser’s rendering or speed.
The Samsung Wave’s battery is surprisingly powerful and although the phone heats up after gaming for about 45 mins, the battery had just gone down by a bar. The Wave’s call quality was also good except that at times voices on the line tended to go a little soft.
At its Indian price of Rs. 18,000, the closest competition that the Samsung Wave has is from Nokia’s N97mini, another touchscreen phone with good multimedia features. However, irrespective of a hardware QWERTY keyboard and a more mature OS with app support to match, I would pick the Wave for its great screen, excellent touch UI and top-notch multimedia performance.
Specs at a glance:
|Internal Storage||1.5GB (390MB usable)|
|Memory Card Slot||Yes|