Samsung Wave S8500 Review : 3 days with the Wave

Samsung's New Open Platform OS
Samsung’s highly-anticipated Bada-powered phone Samsung Wave was launched in India a couple of weeks ago. Samsung Wave really boasts of some impressive tech specs that include a ‘Super AMOLED’ screen, a 1GHz processor, a 5MP still photo camera, HD 720p video recording, 1080p HD payback and a slim design.

Being the first of a kind has its implications. A brand new OS needs a flagship capable of facing up to the sizable competition. A chat with Samsung India’s President of Mobile Sales Atul Jain and the Developer Head at the recent Samsung Bloggers Meet, Mumbai blew away all the scepticism I had about the new Bada OS. 3 days into this phone and I must confess, I’m in love with this phone!

Build Quality

At 118 x 56 x 10.9 mm Samsung S8500 Wave is pretty compact and easy to slip into the pocket. The seamless brushed aluminium body makes the phone very solid and a joy to hold on to. The metallic exterior is slim, elegant, ergonomic, conservative and undeniably Samsung.

It has the usual volume rocker buttons on the left, camera and lock buttons on the right. A Speaker, a 3.5mm jack and a mini-usb port with a sliding cover on top. The 3.5mm doubles up as a TV out port which will allow you to view movies or games on a big screen!

The front is dominated by the 3.3 inch Super AMOLED tempered glass display, which is scratch-resistant. Under the display, are the only three hardware keys on the Samsung S8500 Wave front panel. The Call and End buttons are either side of central diamond-inspired Menu key. All controls are large enough and solid to press with excellent tactility.

Turn on the awesome display and the rest of the world just fades away. The ‘Super AMOLED’ screen is supposedly 20% brighter, 80% less sunlight reflective and yields 20% longer battery life. The screen is also supposed to be oleophobic (resistant to oil and thus fingerprints). Mind you, I put on a screen protector and the advantage was gone.

Below the aluminium battery cover is a 1500mAh Li-Ion battery which promises upto 35 hours of nonstop music playback. Below the battery we find the microSD card slot and the SIM compartment. The memory card isn’t hot-swappable since you would have to take out the battery everytime. Not Cool!

I give the phone a solid 4.5/5 on build quality. The only problem is the memory card slot but then, having having a really slim body has its quirks.

Score: 4.5 / 5

User Interface

The Wave features the TouchWhiz 3.0 UI which takes time getting used to if you are not familiar with Samsung’s TouchWiz interface. However the 3.0 incorporates a few much need functional tweaks. The 1Ghz processor ensures there is absolutely no lag in the interface.

At the top of the screen is a la Android pull down mini-menu that houses neat buttons for toggling WiFi, Bluetooth and Silent mode on your phone. It also shows notifications from your call list, messages, emails and file transfers.

Samsung Wave unread messages swipe screen Samsung wave locked screen music player Samsung wave android like notifications

As with previous phones you can add widgets to your home screens. Unlike previous phones which had an irritating floating column to the left out of which widgets had to be dragged out, TouchWhiz 3.0 tucks away those widgets neatly into a panel at the bottom of the screen which can be seen by taping on the small button on the top left of the screen. A refreshing change is the number of home screens that you can have. You can add upto 10 different home screens and lace them with different widgets! Yeah you read it right. 10 home screens!!

Samsung Bada customizable home screens

Jump into the menu screen and you see an iOS style home screen. Similar to the homescreen, you can add or delete menu pages when you turn the phone landscape while you’re in edit menu mode. Scrolling the menu screens is looped, so when you reach the last one you don’t have to sweep all the way back. You can very easily rearrange icons on the home screens. With 10 menu pages at your disposal, you could group relevant icons and give them their separate pages!

The UI would please people of ages and sizes. You can use the interface the way it is and it would work just fine. If you are an enthusiast, you could spice it up with considerate ease! I give the new TouchWiz 3.0 UI a 4/5

Score : 4 / 5

Phonebook

One functional difference is the phonebook, which now allows you to link your contacts to their IM (you can choose from AIM, Windows Live, Yahoo, Skype, QQ and Google Talk) and social accounts (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter). You can track each contact’s latest online activity through the phonebook application, which is called SNS functionality. The phonebook has rich functionality and practically limitless capacity.

You can flick through your contacts or use the alphabet scroll at the right side of the screen. Another cool feature to the phonebook is the side-sweep. In the main contact list, a swipe to the right on a name will dial the contact’s default number, while a swipe to the left will start the New message interface! (Check out the video below for a demo)

Open up a contact and you will see 4 tabs on top.
Phonebook Info Tab Samsung wave phonebook History Tab Samsung wave Phonebook Activities page

Info displays the contact’s personal details. History shows all your recent messages, calls and emails with that contact. The activities tab pulls up that contact’s recent updates on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace etc. The Media tab shows photo albums from your contact’s Facebook page.

For having all that most smartphones have these days plus a few tricks up it’s sleeve, I have the Wave’s phonebook a 4.5 on 5

Score : 4.5 / 5

Telephony and in-call functions and gestures

I had no real problems with calls on the Wave. The phone encourages smart dialing wherein as you start to dial a number it searches the number in your contacts and pulls up that contact for you. Not a very handy feature though. Does Samsung think we remember all our contact numbers??

The in-call gestures deserve a special mention. When your phone is ringing, simply place it face-down on the table to silence the ring. The call isn’t rejected but the ringing stops. If you can’t receive a phone call, you could reject it with a ‘I’m busy’ text to the caller. With a simple tap of the screen you could send an appropriate SMS to the caller!

SAmsung Wave's in call menu the I'm Busy message options on the Samsung Wave S8500 Notice the reject with message button..

When on a call, simply place the phone down on the table and the phone automatically turns on the speakerphone for everyone around to hear! Cool eh?? (See video below for more)

The Samsung Wave deserves a resounding 5 on 5 here!

Score : 5 / 5

Messaging

The message inbox offers two views – Tabbed and Conversation. The Samsung S8500 Wave supports sending and receiving SMS, MMS, and email messages. SMS and MMS share the same editor.
Setting up email on your Wave is hassle-free. Both POP3 and IMAP4 protocols are supported. For popular email clients like Gmail, all you have to do is enter your username and password and the phone does the rest!

Handwriting recognition works decently on the Samsung Wave. Given that it’s a capacitive screen, you need not necessarily type one character at a time (see screenshot below). However if you do not like the idea of drawing your messages, it also gives you a few onscreen options. You can use the QWERTY keyboard in both landscape and portrait modes. Given the size of the screen, QWERTY in the portrait mode is almost impossible to use. But you can use the alpha-numeric keypad style keyboard in the portrait mode.

Samsung Wave's keypad in portrait mode Samsung Wave's keypad in landscape mode Handwriting Recognition on the Samsung Wave

For lack of a physical keyboard, I give this phone a 2.5 on 5. Nothing magical about this phone’s on-screen keypad.

Score : 2.5 / 5

Multimedia

Multimedia has always been Samsung’s forte. The S8500 tops it all. The Samsung S8500 Wave supports DivX/XviD files out of the box. It played DivX, XviD, MP4 and even MKV files (all in 720p resolution) with ease. It has a minimalist yet highly functional video player with all necessary settings at the tap of a finger stored away neatly into the bottom. If using the tiny bar at the bottom to skip to your favourite scene is painful you can search for a specific scene using the “Mosaic search” feature. It breaks the clip down to 16 or 36 parts and displays the first frame of each to help you find the scene you’re looking for!!

The Music Browser has seen a few improvements too. While in the landscape mode, it shows your tracks/albums as an array of CDs arranged in a circular fashion using the track’s Album Art. The list is scrollable with good inertia-like effect. Tapping on an album reveals all songs from that album.

Albums arranged as an array of CDs Mosaic Search on Samsung Wave

The Samsung S8500 Wave is also equipped with an FM radio with RDS.

720p videos are a joy to watch on this phone. Given a 1GHz processor, the Mosaic Search works in a snap. The clutter-free video browser combined with a nifty music player earn the Wave GT-S8500 a 4.5 on 5.

Score : 4.5 / 5

Applications

Samsung has bundled quite a few applications with the Wave S8500. Most notable is the System Manager which has 4 tabs on it. The System Manager is a nifty tool to check your device information (model number, firmware version, MAC addresses), battery info, CPU usage and memory usage.

Daily Briefing is an app dedicated for weather, stock, news and your day’s schedule. It is a wonderful application to wake up to every morning, check out your stocks on it, get news updates and glance over that day’s schedule!

Daily Briefing on Samsung Wave Weather Tab on Daily Briefing on Samsung Wave News Tab on Daily Briefing on Samsung Wave Stock on Daily Briefing on Samsung Wave

Memo, Mini Dairy, Twitter, Facebook, Voice recorder and Palringo IM are some of the colourful and pleasant apps the Wave comes bundled with.

Memo on Samsung Wave Calendar on Samsung Wave Facebook app on Samsung Wave Twitter app on Samsung Wave

The preloaded apps on this device are decent enough. But creating apps for this OS is upto the developer community. I’ll just reserve the score for a later date when there are more Bada apps in the Samsung Apps store.

Score : Reserved for later

Games

The game comes preloaded with Asphalt 5. This latest title of the popular series used the phone’s Accelerometer to control the car. Plus, you could connect your Samsung Wave to your TV using the TV-out port (same as the 3.5mm headphone port) to enjoy gaming on a bigger screen! Check out this video of a bunch of Bloggers playing Asphalt5 on the big screen at the Samsung Blogger Meet, Mumbai. The winner got a brand new Samsung Wave!!

Asphalt 5 on the Samsung Wave
Asphalt 5 being played on the Samsung Wave (actual photo)

Electronic Arts is also giving away Need For Speed Shift to the first 1 million users who download the game from Samsung Apps. You however need to download Kies to install apps on your device.

However this phone also comes bundled with many games that are actually demo versions! They run 2 min trials before a ‘Buy Now’ screen pops up. Notable games among the ones that can be currently downloaded are Real Football 2010, NFS Shift, BumpCrash, MasterMinds and SlidingLeaf. The overall gaming experience is exhilarating hence the S8500 gets a 4 on 5 here.

Score : 4 / 5

Browser

The Samsung Wave GT-S8500 comes preinstalled with the Dolphin v2.0 Mobile Browser. It is an open source webkit based browser which also supports flash. Support for webkit allows it to render nice smooth rounded corners. As a website designer, rounded corners ring a bell deep down in me. This browser also supports multi-touch zoom and pan. Pinch your fingers to zoom in and out of pages or simply double-tap. The Browser however does not reflow text when a page is zoomed. What this means is that for pages with wide columns, you have to pan around every line which is a big turn off.

Samsung Wave's Dolphin Browser Samsung wave browser zoomed in

Positives – flash, Webkit, pinch to zoom. Negatives – No text reflow! This simply robs the browser of all its points. I give the Dolphin a 2 out of 5

Score : 2 / 5

Final Score

I give the phone a 31 / 40 which is roughly 3.9 / 5

Street price of the phone

Price in India : Rs 18,000/-
Price in the UK : £ 366.99
Price in Europe : 380 Euros

Conclusion

The Bada OS
The BADA is the Koreans’ first strike into taking on the might of Android and the iPhone in the smartphone market. The Wave does full justice to the Bada OS. Having said that, I see the Bada OS becoming the next big thing in the mobile world. Love or hate, but Samsung is the biggest phone manufacturer in the world (in terms of number of manufacturer). Samsung insists that by the end of this year Bada would have come to many of it’s mid-range phones, a section dominated by the Corbys, Genios and the STARs. For people who still stuck with the question, ‘Why a new OS??’, my answer is that Samsung should have done it long ago! But now its finally here and it is definitely here to stay!!

The only reason you might choose not to get this phone is if you are an Android enthusiast. In the coming few months you might just find that perfect Android phone you’ve been waiting for but definitely at a price higher than that of the Wave.

A gorgeous 3.3 inch Super AMOLED which simply oozes color, Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi 802.11n, Wi-Fi Tethering, 5 MegaPixels camera, 720p HD recording, 1020p HD playback, AutoFocus, LED Flash, tightly-integrated Social Networking, super customizable Home screens and Menu screens all packed into a beautiful pocket-friendly slim brushed aluminium chassis makes the Samsung Wave GT-S8500 wave a phone to look out for in the future!

Below is a video compilation of some of the features that I have really liked in the phone and a few niggles that I don’t really like. There is so much to this phone that cannot be described through words. Check it out:

(Pardon the poor quality of the video. Something went horribly wrong during the editing process and it also is my very first video!)

49 thoughts on “Samsung Wave S8500 Review : 3 days with the Wave

    1. When buying from a dealer, the quality of the screen and how the phone feels in the hand are two things that actually entice the customer. The Wave scores in both areas!

  1. What ? You can see the output on the TV ??? I think TV out is not there. Is it really possible to get the video output on tv ??

      1. Thanks for all the screencaps of the phone. That's something that was missing in a lot of reviews of this phone on the web. I've been considering buying a new phone for awhile and this is one of my considerations.

  2. I love tech gadgets and i think its really the awesome invention from Samsung. Lots of features and elegant slim design. I gonna check it out on Google and wanna know about it more. thanks for the good article post.

  3. Hi Angad, great to see you back blogging again, I hope this new posts means we may be getting some more in the near future? Fantastic work on your review of the Samsung Wave, I will be in need a new phone very soon, and with my birthday coming up in August, the Wave will not be on my mind or sure! Great job also with your first video, looking forward to more!

    Till then,

    Jean

  4. It actually is a good point that many of Samsung’s high end phones have a lot less internal memory than the competition. A decent 16 or 32 GB microSDHC card is really expensive, and it is something that most people needs with this multimedia machine.

  5. Hey Angad,

    Really impressed with your detailed review.

    Can you please shed some light about the Picsel File Viewer on the WAVE? — Does it come pre-installed on the Bada OS? or Do we have to buy it from the samsung apps store?

  6. Hi,

    I got myself a Samsung Wave and I have to say that it is the best purchase I have done for a long time.

    But I have a small issue. For some reason I am not able to see the Info, Activity, History and Media tab on my contact panel. Is there something to do with the settings? Would be great if someone could help me out.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Neil,

      You should be able to see the tabs on the contact panel. There is no setting for it. Last week Samsung came out with a firmware upgrade for the Wave. Try doing that. Maybe it will help.

  7. Can any one tell me how to apply handwriting recognisation in Samsung wave 8500.. as i have tried many a times but not getting option to do so .. while composing limited options are there .. where will i get the option of handwriting recognition

    1. Hey Sandeep,

      When you are at the compose message screen, long press the button which says 'EN' (or your default language). Then click 'Keyboard Type'. And then select either 'Writing full screen' or 'Writing box'. Check out both options!

  8. Thanks for the superior article, so I've been a samsung consumer for roughly five years now, and I recently upgraded from a samsung omnia i910 to the Samsung Wave and thus far I am loving it! (I do pass over a few options of my omnia even though) I'm from Halifax Nova Scotia in Canada, I was originaly going to wait it out for the galaxy s to reach at the bell network but decided to buy the wave as a substitute and save myself $400.

  9. do we have feature to record phone call conversation in Wave? I bought this phone few days back. Just looking for that feature in this.

  10. When u go to

    Applications > email accounts > I have tried creating my google account in but it is asking for below settings:

    SMTP server

    SMtp port

    Secure connection

    Incoming server type

    Imap4 server

    Imap4 port

    Apop Login

    Secure connection

    Download limit

    Imap4 incoming email

    Retrieving option

    Keep on Server

    Pop Before SMTP

    SMTP auth

    Same as POP#/IMAP4

    These are the things which i need to fill .

    2nd Can u tell me do I need any thing more to activate my gmail account in my phone . like i am using voda phone 95 rupee plan for month.. do i need to activate any thing else or that's enough

    1. Hey Sandeep, you could get these settings through your gmail account's settings tab.

      Try these values:

      SMTP server:smtp.gmail.com

      SMTP port:465

      Secure connection : SSL

      IMAP4 server: imap.gmail.com

      IMAP4 port: 993

      Apop Login : <selected>

      Secure connection : SSL

      Download limit : depending on your usage eg 50

      POP before SMTP, SMTP auth, Same as POP3/IMAP4 : <all selected> (although you might want to play around with these settings)

      If you can access a site through the browser using your GPRS account, you should be able to use gmail with the above settings at no extra costs!

      1. Thanks a lot again… now 1more question.

        Can we access Gtalk in wave…??

        If yes then how.. and what abt the themes in samsung wave>>??Only 1 theme ..

  11. Please let me know how much days does the Charge last for you?

    Mine fully charged comes only for 2 days even without Simcard, No Wifi and no SD card.

    Also, the phones gets heated up while charging. Is that normal?

    How to add yahoo account in Palringo. I see only gtalk and AIM.

    1. I get about 2 days on a single charge with moderate use (no games being played) and Wifi on for about 4-5 hrs a day. The battery doesn't heat up significantly during charging. Maybe you should take your handset to a Samsung service center.

      In my opinion, if it lasts you a full day with heavy usage it is good enough. You have the option of charging it overnight while you sleep. Measuring a phones battery by its 'talktime' is a thing of a past now. We've come a long way from using our phones just for talking.. :)

      1. Battery life is also my main concern with my Wave. It only lasts a day. The sad thing is I still need to make more calls whenever the charge runs out. Im thinking, is it a good idea to buy an extra battery to maximize my phone for calls?

    1. 281 messages in my inbox and still goin strong, mate! :)

      I guess the limit is 1200 but the partition is not rigid as in other Samsung phones. So you could have 1200 texts in the inbox and none in all others.

      However, if you send a text to 10 people it is stored in the sent box as 10 different messages! Really lame in my opinion.

      1. Hey Angad thanx fr d reply.. i ve got my samsung wave a week back.. Im facing a few problems can u help me out? I am being unable to connect to the Internet using Airtel Live settings.Also i cannot log into facebook using the facebook app although i can synchronise the contacts using facebook. Is it dat the handset does not support Airtel Live or any prob with the phone?

  12. Hey Angad , I have noticed that the Mobile heats up when you play any game .. as per the manual it says that when the battery is charging the phone will be heated which is normal…

    however i feel the same when playing any games and also when the mobile is kept in the pocket….

    is it something to do with the 1 GH processor that the mobile heats up…

    and also i feel the mobile should not heat even when kept in pocket…

    1. Yes Santosh, the phone does get heated up a bit when you play games on it. Your guess is as good as mine! Must be something to do with the 1Ghz proc. But then, a proc that churns out stunning graphics is bound to generate a lil heat.

      It should not heat up in your pocket though! Something is definitely amiss! Make sure your WiFi and Bluetooth is turned off when you are not using it. When playing games, use the earphones instead of the phone speaker. Your phone will heat up a little less! Do let us all know if you notice any change..

  13. hi angad, d most frequent problem with wave that i've seen in many forums is the installation of kies and phone not been detecting in kies. Did u face any of these problems yet??? this is the major flaw that is stopping me from buying this phone. other doubts are :-

    1. does it play youtube videos smoothly

    2. can we install third party softwares like gtalk, google maps, etc.

    3. can we view pdf files

    a little big list of queries….. expecting a nice feedback from u…. thanks

    1. Hey Jags,

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

      1. Videos from YouTube play very smoothly. YouTube recently launched a new mobile site which works a lil differently on phones that support streaming of videos. When you open up a video on youtube, it opens the phone's media browser itself. You get a short delay during the initial buffer and then the videos are absolutely smooth (depending on your WiFi /3G connections). However the buffer is not very big and hence you can't jump back more than a few seconds on videos. While youtube videos show up just fine, the same cannot be said about other sites. It depends on which version of Flash their video player is based on. For eg, Vimeo works fine but Fb videos don't.

      2. You'll be surprised to read this. Google probably detects the Wave8500 as an iPhone! The Wave shows all Google pages that were made for the iphone. Try Google maps thru the phone's browser. It can do everything that a standalone Google Maps app would do! Officially there is no Google Maps app for the Wave but you would definitely not miss it. Theres no app for Gtalk but nimbuzz works just fine.

      3. PDF files can be opened using the Picsel File Viewer that comes bundled with the phone. However, there is a limit on how big a file can be opened. Don't know the exact size limit but very big PDFs do not open!

      Even I had heard of problems with Kies. Kies works fine on WinXP. It does have a few niggles with Win7. Downloading apps is a pain with the Firewall turned on. Turn off your Firewall and the software works just fine.

  14. hey thanks a lot angad for these indepth feedback.

    Definately some sign of relief. :)

    I would like 2 ask some more things (I hope u don't mind. its my nature) :) and one of them is again related to kies. Does it work on Vista????

    and also it is easy to transfer dvd-rip movies downloaded from internet (size around 700-1000 mb) and blue-ray rip movies (approx 2.5 gb) onto to wave. And if transferred, does it play those movies smoothly b'coz my main purpose will b to watch movies. Obviously i'm not expecting such HD movies to play as smooth as it does in laptop or pc.

    one more thing… the wave supports dolphin browser, isn't it? so can we install some other browser. and also is it possible to download files through the internet like songs, etc. using dolphin or any other browser.

    Another point… can we download wallpapers and themes from samsung apps or any other site. I've seen in HTC Legend many good themes you can play with everyday.

    Another doubt i have is related to firmware thing… now i am not a techno freak having good knowledge about softwares n updates etc.

    How should we update firmware, like do we need to connect the device to pc or if we have a internet connection on the phone, can we update on the phone itself???? and have u seen any bugs or problem been sorted out after doing an update???

    and finally one last thing :). can we directly copy paste files from pc to wave without using kies???

    So Angad, d longest question paper u ever faced in ur life is ready :)

    Thanx veer, as ur name sounds… i guess u'll understand d word "veer".

  15. My question is:

    I wanna buy the samsung wave. I like all the features & have seen almost all reviews there are on the best mobile websites such as GSM Arena…but the customer reviews states that the battery life is really horrible. Is it true ? Sometimes it drains out after one day & sometimes after half a day even if there's no activity on the phone. Not 1, many wavers are complaining about the battery life. Now I am having a hick-up in buying Samsung Wave. What about your battery life ? Can we chat on gtalk & facebook on the wave ?

    1. Hi Rajarshri, Samsung probably makes the best batteries in the market today. Phones today have come a long way and battery life can no longer be measured in 'talktime'. Even with heavy usage, the battery lasts a full day. It lasts me about one and a half days but the half day is pointless according to me.

      As I've said before, if you are a power user you could charge the phone overnight everyday. As long as it lasts you a full day, I would not worry about battery life. Without any usage at all, the phone lasted me about 3 days! (no big surprise here as most phones do last that long these days)

  16. Hi Angad,

    Can you tell me the colors in which samsung wave comes and which one is better to choose and is there is memory card which comes with it in the box?

    thanks.

    1. Hey Vineet. The Wave comes only in one color. It is an black aluminium seamless design that looks and feels great. Check it out in a store. Love at first sight, I promise!

  17. Hey,

    Make Kies work on Win 7:

    1) Open Kies- dont connect the phone to the PC yet.

    2) Click the 'Kies' button on the top left button corner of the screen.

    3) The drop down has a buttonalled 'Driver Recovery'

    4) Click on it and let the computer recover drivers.

    5) Hold the menu (middle) button on the phone for a few seconds.

    6) Kill all the applications on the phone.

    7) Connect it with PC using the USB cable.

    Kies should be able to detect your phone now.

    Anant

  18. after watching this videos i think this phone is useful for young generation. The Samsung Wave has some unique features which can be useful for all. like the Divx support and high resolution camera. the phone has also big screen which is easy to use.

  19. hey angad i have a probz in dis phone man…..when i send multiple messages and for doing dat i forward a message and select all my friends for sending message…..at dis moment while all my friends are selected if i suddenly receive a message my phone gets switched off suddenly and gets restarted……..do u hav any solution to dis????please help me out buddy…..!!!!

  20. Hi, Angad, I have samsung galaxy wave II bada os, my problem is that my phone cannot open pdf file. plz help me.

    thanks.

    Lalit

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