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