Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Samsung Wave smartphone
The Samsung Wave is a great debut for the Bada OS, although only a limited number of apps are currently available
- Excellent build quality, zippy performance, Super AMOLED display, slick and intuitive UI, Samsung App Store, social-networking integration, flash support, Wi-Fi hotspot
- App Store is in its infancy, can't group menu items in folders, keyboard is a little small in portrait orientation, won't auto-merge contacts from multiple accounts
The Samsung Wave morphs a mid-range feature phone into fully fledged smartphone thanks to the new open-source Bada OS. The Wave possesses excellent build quality, an outstanding display, great multimedia capabilities and impressive performance - all wrapped up in a slick, easy to use interface that will only get better.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
The first smartphone to run Samsung's new Bada operating system, the Samsung Wave is a mid-range smartphone with high-end features. Possessing excellent build quality, an outstanding Super AMOLED display and a fast and functional user interface, the Samsung Wave is a great debut for Bada, but the platform currently lacks the wide range of apps available on the iPhone and Android smartphones.
The Samsung Wave is a superb piece of industrial design. While perhaps not matching the upcoming iPhone 4 or the HTC Legend (which we think is the best looking smartphone on the market), its brushed metallic body, scratch-resistant screen and polished look and feel make it an excellent alternative. The Samsung Wave feels sturdy and well constructed, and definitely looks like a premium piece of technology. We didn't notice any creaks or rattles, and the rear battery covers snaps on and off with ease.
The Samsung Wave smartphone is controlled largely via its 3.3in capacitive touchscreen. Utilising the same super AMOLED technology fitted on Samsung's Galaxy S, the Wave's display is one of the best on the market. It's bright, crisp and clear, and its performance in direct sunlight is exceptional. Text on the capacitive touchscreen can clearly be read even if you're at an almost 90-degree angle from it, and there is no colour shift when viewing the display from off centre. There is no ambient light sensor, so you need to adjust the brightness manually. Below the touchscreen are answer and end call buttons, and a large diamond-shaped menu key, while external volume controls, and dedicated camera and screen lock keys round out the physical buttons.
The Wave runs the open-source Bada operating system, complete with Samsung's own App Store, a widget-based home screen and plenty of nifty features that look like the company has borrowed them from Android and the iPhone OS. Bada offers up to 10 home screens for widgets and has a similar look and feel to the Galaxy S's TouchWIZ overlay. Samsung has included plenty of widgets to get you started including Daily Briefing (customisable weather, finance and news information), Feeds and Updates (Facebook, Twitter and MySpace aggregator), Buddies Now (a rolodex of photo contacts), as well as a number of clocks and a reminder widget called 'Days' that lets you create an advanced memo with an image. You can also place three icons at the bottom of the home screen, default set to keypad, contacts, and messages icons.
Though the Feeds and Updates widget is fairly useful and stops you having to log in to separate applications all the time, it lacks some advanced features, such support for multiple Twitter accounts and URL shortening when tweeting. Other handy widgets we like include a birthday calendar, a dual clock and a Google search widget that includes one-tap access to Google Maps and Gmail. Samsung will provide more widgets to download in the future through the Samsung App Store. Although it can't match the big two app stores when it comes to variety — around 1000 apps are available — it benefits from a slick, straightforward interface. Users also don't require an account to download free applications, while paid apps can be purchased with a credit card, and your details saved for quick and easy future downloads.
The Samsung Wave's main menu has a standard 4x3 grid layout, but you can't group applications into folders, so be prepared for plenty of menu pages should you regularly download applications from Samsung's app store. A couple of nice touches are the ability to arrange main menu icons by most used, being able to swipe anyway across the screen to unlock it, and sliding down the notifications bar to quickly access Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and silent toggles — an excellent feature similar to Android's notifications taskbar, and one that we've been crying out for on the iPhone. Though it's more eye candy than anything else, we also loved the incoming message and missed call notification when the screen is locked — each notification appears as a jigsaw puzzle piece and can be viewed by dragging the piece into a marked empty slot on the home screen.
Text entry on the Samsung Wave is a mixed bag. The responsiveness of the display makes for a pleasant typing experience, but we feel the on-screen QWERTY keyboard is too small in regular portrait mode. The larger keyboard that appears when the phone is held in landscape mode is more efficient. Adjustable haptic feedback is available, but Bada's auto-correction software doesn't work as well as its iPhone and Android counterparts. The Samsung Wave also has handwriting recognition, but you can only draw one letter at a time, making it much slower than typing.
Bada also offers a number of other interesting and handy features. You can double tap the physical menu button to search through the phone or the Internet (through Google or Bing), swipe left on a contact in your phonebook to quickly send a message, and swipe right to call the default phone number. You can also link Twitter, Facebook and MySpace accounts, as well as instant messaging details (Windows Live, Yahoo!, Google Talk, AIM, ICQ, Skype, Jabber and QQ) to your contacts. Unfortunately the Wave won't merge contact information from multiple accounts — for example, if you sync a Google contact and a Facebook contact with the same name, they appear in the phonebook as separate entries. Unified messaging inboxes and a synchronised calendar are also features.
The Samsung Wave has Flash support for Web browsing, but pages render a little slower than expected and the smaller screen makes browsing a little less comfortable than on smartphones with slightly larger 3.5in screens. On a positive note, the accelerometer is fast and punchy, and the multitouch pinch to zoom is smooth and accurate. However there is no auto-formatting of text when zooming. A feature normally reserved for top end smartphones is Mobile AP — the ability to run the Wave as a Wi-Fi hotspot and share its mobile Internet connection with other devices. A real positive is the zippy speed and excellent general performance of the Samsung Wave, largely thanks to the 1GHz processor on board.
The Samsung Wave is an excellent multimedia smartphone. In addition to the Super AMOLED display for crisp, clear video, it features a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, and supports DivX and Xvid playback and "virtual" 5.1 surround sound when listening through headphones. The Wave's 5-megapixel camera also doubles as a 720p video recorder, and the handset supports HD video playback. You can also upload photos and videos direct to a number of social networking sites, including Flickr, Facebook, MySpace and Photobucket. A cool video feature is mosaic search, quickly allowing you to browse through video thumbnails at three-minute intervals.
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