Samsung Wave 2 Review
This is quite a rarity these days, a Samsung phone that doesn't have the Galaxy brand name. The Samsung Wave 2 is the successor to the relatively popular Wave from last year. It has a few really nice improvements that are evident from the off, all of which you will discover as you progress through the review.
James reviewed the original Samsung Wave last year and it got a pretty good review, especially for a new OS. The Wave 2 has lost the AMOLED screen that its predecessor had I am afraid but I wont let dampen my thoughts.
So will the Wave 2 be a worthy entry into the mass smartphone market? Or will it just be another entry that gets left behind?
Read on to find out.
The ten Second Review:
Product: Samsung Wave 2 (GT-S8530)
Price: £288 inc VAT SIM Free, free from £20 on contract
Summary: A really nice handset with a very average operating system that disappoints in some areas but excels in others.
Best of: Super LCD display, camera, video/audio playback, battery life.
Worst of: Bada operating system, lack of applications, internet browser.
Buy now from: Various retailers
What's in the box:
. Wave 2
. 3-pin UK charger
. Wired headset
. User Manual
. Warranty card
. Samsung apps leaflet
Samsung Wave 2 product specification:
. HSDPA 3.6Mbps 900/2100
. EDGE 850/900/1800/1900
. 3.7" WVGA (480x800) 16M Super Clear LCD
. Anti-scratch, Anti-smudge, Anti-reflective
. 5.0 Megapixel AF camera with LED Flash
. Image Editor, Face Detection, Smile Shot, Mosaic Shot, Panorama Shot
. 1GHz (Cortex A8, Humming Bird)
. HD (1280 x 720 @ 30fps) video playing & recording (5.1ch, mDNIe support)
. DivX, XviD, MPEG4, H.263, H.264, WMV, Real, MKV, ASF, Video editor
. Music Player with SoundAlive EQ, Music Recognition, Music Match
. 3.5mm Ear Jack, Stereo FM Radio with RDS, Recording
. Open Smartphone Platform 'bada'
. Multi-touch zoom, QuickType by t9 Trace
. Samsung Apps (*Availability of Samsung Apps differs by country)
- Integrated Contacts, Integrated Calendar, Widget, Unified Inbox
- Social Hub Premium: SNS push notification, Push Email & Push IM
- Social Hub Basic: POP3/IMAP Email & IM
(* Availability of Social Hub differs by country and mobile operator)
. TouchWiz 3.0
. Dolfin Browser 2.0 (HTML 5.0 partially supported)
. A-GPS, Social Mapping (Geo-tagging), On/Off Board Navigation (3D Map)
. SMS, MMS, IM, Email, Video Messaging, Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync
. Accelerator Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Digital Compass
. Smart Search, Smart Unlock, Multi-task Manager
. Bluetooth technology v 3.0
. USB 2.0 (Full -Speed)
. Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
. 2GB + microSD (up to 32GB)
. 123.9 x 59.8 x 11.8 mm, 135g
. 1,500 mAh
On the top of the device is the loudspeaker, 3.5mm headphone jack and the MicroUSB slot with protective cover.
Samsung Wave 2 Top
On the left hand side there is just the up/down volume rocker.
Samsung Wave 2 Left Side
The right is where the power/lock/unlock button and dedicated camera button are.
Samsung Wave 2 Right Side
On the bottom there is just a little hole which is where the microphone is.
Samsung Wave 2 Bottom
The back is where the 5 megapixel autofocus camera and LED flash are, and just underneath them is the removable back cover and the little button in which to remove the cover.
Samsung Wave 2 Back
Finally on the front of the device is where the 3.7" Super LCD display is along with at the bottom, 3 push buttons. The answer call button, end call/back button, and in the middle of those is the menu button. Also, just above the screen is where the speaker is along with the sensors and the front facing camera.
Samsung Wave 2 Front
So here I am with another review but this time it's a phone that honestly I didn't know much about and wasn't all that interested in. That was before I received it that is. When I opened the box for the first time I was really pleasantly surprised by the look and feel of the handset. It is made from plush metal and has a really nice smooth surface that feels great in the hand. Unfortunately though with the materials used comes added weight, so when you hold the Wave 2 in your hand you do really notice how heavy it is. Fortunately I have larger hands so It was easy for me to get used to the weight difference compared to my phone but for others with smaller hands it may not be so simple.
Although the phone looks and feels nice in the hand once you get used to how heavy it is, it does have a couple of design issues that really got on my nerves. The worst thing I found was having the MicroSD card slot underneath the battery which meant having to remove the back cover and battery to allow me to access it. I am one of those people who doesn't like that at all. I think that this is a piece of poor design because surely it can't be too difficult to put the slot on the outside with easy access? Especially with a handset such as this one, with all of the empty space around the edge of it.
Another thing that is a little less annoying but still bugged me is the buttons around the edge are a bit flimsy and small. For my liking anyway which could mean the same feeling for lots of other people or it could be that I am a bit fussy? I have been told that a few times! Other than those 2 problems I have found nothing else that annoys me design wise so I would say overall it's a good job done by Samsung to provide a robust very well built handset.
Let's now take a look at the OS of the device which in this phone's case is called BADA. This has been created by Samsung to offer something different to other smartphone OS's.
Almost all of the top smartphone operating systems have a swipe the screen to unlock mechanism and with the Wave 2 this is no different. Unlocking the device is done by pressing the lock/unlock button on the right of the handset and the lock screen will appear (As shown below). Then you swipe the screen left or right and the phone will be unlocked, simple as that really.
One thing that I think I have to mention is the Super LCD display, it is absolutely beautiful! The colours stand out so much it's quite possibly the best screen I've ever seen on a mobile phone (I must mention that I've not seen an AMOLED or Super AMOLED for myself to compare) Even at low brightness the colours still look amazing, I was truly shocked when I first saw the screen if I'm honest because I am used to an iPhone 3GS display which isn't the greatest anymore, so when I saw this I was blown away.
Onto the home screens now.This is where you start to see similarities between other operating systems such as Android because you have a number of home screens all of which are customizable to a certain point that is, and you can also add multiple screens to the default 3 that you are given to start with. Below are screenshots of how I've been using the phone during my time with it.
As you can see in the above screenshots they all have something similar and that is the 3 tabs at the bottom of the page. They stay there all of the time whether you are in the menu or swiping through your different home screens. The tabs are pretty self explanatory. Keypad is what you press to access the phone dialer to make phone calls. Contacts is where your saved contact phone numbers are and finally messages, which is what you can press to easily access your messages menu to write or read messages in your inbox.
As well as the 3 tabs at the bottom if you look at the top of each screen there is the usual information like Wi-Fi signal strength, Network signal strength, battery level and time. In addition to those things you should notice two little white horizontal lines right in the middle. If you press or slide those down a notifications bar will appear with the ability to easily turn Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on/off and also to turn your phone to silent mode. In the screenshot below you will also see a Facebook notification, it doesn't just notify you of Facebook messages it will notify you of any kind of message like an E-mail, text message, Twitter message etc. What this allows you to do is press the notification and it will take you to the message, it works really well actually but it is simple enough to ignore it as all you have to do is press clear and the notification will be removed from the bar.
As well as the notifications bar there is also a little bit of customisation that can be done to the home screens (providing you have widgets downloaded and available). As shown below it is a very simple process as all you have to do is press the Widget button at the top left of the screen and then at the bottom the list of widgets available will appear. All you have to do then with your choice of widget is drag and drop onto the screen. Very straightforward really as it is very similar to the way Android integrates customisation.
As you can see in the above screenshots the widget list can be scrolled to the right and back to the left to choose which widget you want to put on your home screens.
One thing that was evident during testing was the fact that to access social networking features like Facebook and Twitter I had to go into the menu and manually go into the applications instead of there being widgets available to put on the home screens, a little disappointing to be honest.
Wallpaper customisation can be done very easily by pressing the menu button and then going into settings-display and light-wallpaper and a list of available wallpapers and pictures will appear for you to choose from. Once chosen just press the picture and set, and there the new wallpaper will be. I have to mention that the different wallpapers have a lot of different shades of colours etc and they seriously show off how incredible the screen is on this phone!
The menu is quite nice on the Wave 2. Once you press the menu button at the bottom of the handset twelve icons will appear in tile format and by default there are three pages Two have twelve tiles and one has three tiles and I was relieved to find out that I could move the tiles around onto the different pages which became very helpful. That process is also very simple all you have to do is press 'Edit' and then drag and drop the tiles wherever you want them to go.
Going into the settings menu on your mobile phone can at times be a daunting experience, especially if it's a new phone but with this phone changing the settings to how you want them is so easy even a beginner could work them out in an instant, everything is laid out in a nice order so that it is simple to understand.
Now I've spoken to you about the slightly boring stuff I will move onto the applications that this phone has to offer. As with this phones' predecessor BADA OS is installed and as such the applications/widgets installed won't be seen on other platforms.
Social networking is becoming more and more popular so as you would expect these days the Wave 2 possesses both a Facebook and Twitter applications. These both of have their individual qualities but unfortunately they also both have their floors as I shall explain now.
Starting with the facebook app then. To begin with this app you press it and the log in page will appear and the next stage is self explanatory but the stage after that is very simple because once you've logged in all of the status updates and posts will have appeared very quickly so you can pretty much dive straight into reading them. Well you would think you could right? Wrong, because one of this applications major floors is the fact that when the statuses are updated it jumps straight to the most recent post instead of when you last looked at it. Now I know that may not sound annoying at first but when you use it day in day out you get really annoyed with it because you literally have to scroll down to the last post you read before closing it last time you used it. Other than that the application is OK, it does its job in a none spectacular fashion which is all well and good but I personally expected something brilliant from a new operating system but all I found was OK.
The BADA twitter application has a very similar layout to its Facebook counterpart as you will see in the shots below. You have the three tabs at the top of the screen, Home-@Mentions and direct messages, and at the bottom of the page there are two other tabs, Search and Refresh and just in between those is a rectangular bar with three white dots in the middle of it, this brings up the menu which is as you would expect quite basic.
On top of having the above applications pre-installed on the Wave 2 there are a few others to note such as BBC news/sports widget which basically is a link to both the BBC sport and BBC news mobile websites but the transition between loading is really fast. As well as that one there is an Accuweather widget that you can put on your home screen. This also is really nice, the widget allows you to choose your location from its database of cities/towns etc and it will use the phones Wi-Fi or GPS signal to locate the chosen city or town and it will display a nice picture of what the current weather is and then if you tap the picture the application will show up. This is a bit more in depth and it shows you the weekly forecast, quite nice I think.
Other than the above mentioned applications there isn't really much to shout about, the reason for this is the operating system, I think that because it is a relatively new application developers are choosing the more successful platforms to develop their apps. In turn this makes BADA a less desirable platform for many people I would imagine, which is a shame really because I think it has some potential for the future. For now the Samsung Apps marketplace is very poor as there aren't many applications available for BADA OS so you are very limited with the type of thing you can download to be honest. One of the big problems with Samsung Apps are the prices that it charges for the half decent things, for example Need for Speed Shift Game is £3.50 when on other platforms it's either Free or little over £1.00 which is a shame really as I wanted to see what the Wave 2 was capable of.
Below are some screenshots of the marketplace to show you the interface.
One other pretty cool widget/app pre-installed on the Wave 2 is the Mini Diary. This application allows you to record events in your life. As the name suggests it is a digital diary. It isn't just text you can save and you can also include photos and not only will the phone store the time and date but you can also include the weather conditions. I am not entirely sure though why weather conditions on the day you wrote an entry would be of any use? Anyway below is a screenshot for you.
Onto the web browser now and I must say that overall the experience is pretty good but there is the odd time when the browser decides that it really doesn't like something and it shows as you will see in the pictures below. The browser is based on Webkit which is also what is used to form the Android browser but the issue with this browser is the fact that it is so basic. Yes, it does the job 90% of the time but the other 10% of the time it really plays up something stupid, for example our website www.tracyandmatt.co.uk refused to load properly at all! It loaded the top of the page and the text with picture in the middle but blindly refused to load the sides, to which I was pretty annoyed about.
Now as you can see the text is readable and so is the picture that belongs to it but the sides are none existent and I have never encountered this before with any phone, even a feature phone loaded the page correctly so I have no idea why this browser decided not to.
Anyway back to business and with the phone having an accelerometer you can easily switch from portrait to landscape with a flick of your hand and on this phone it works quite quickly, obviously this is helped by the 1GHz processor. Below is a picture of the keyboard within the browser. Bare in mind that the keyboard is no different for any other use such as messaging-e-mail etc.
The Wave 2 also supports pinch to zoom as well as the usual double tap method of zooming in and out, it works really smoothly. I am pretty sure anyone who browses the internet on their phones everyday that this feature is a real bonus?
Tapping the screen brings up the address bar at the top with two little buttons, one either side of the bar and also at the bottom a grey bar will appear with four tabs and two arrows. First the address bar is straight forward, you press into it and all of the text highlights in black ready for you to type something into it but also next to the address bar appears a Google search tool which allows you to type anything into it and Google will search it out for you. The button to the left of the address bar is what you press to add a bookmark. It makes things easy to be honest, all you have to do is press it then give it a title, save then it's a bookmark. The button to the right of the address bar is the refresh button.
The tabs in the grey bar at the bottom come in handy too when browsing, the three white dots is the internet browser menu which consists of, Go to homepage, Send URL via, search text, filter images and internet settings. The internet settings are quite basic but again they do the job, they allow you to change your homepage, delete history and cookies etc the usual stuff really.
The next tab in the grey bar is what you press to easily access your bookmarks, most visited, RSS feeds and browsing history. Pictured below.
The penultimate tab is the tab button funnily enough! It allows you to open up new pages with a press and if you have a homepage set up it will automatically load it. The very last tab in the grey bar is the exit button and this takes you out of the internet completely and back to the menu screen.
There is a massive drawback to the web browser and to be quite honest the operating system as a whole. This I think this is due to flash content not really working. Flash enabled websites don't load properly all of the time and flash video is a whole other. According to forums all over the web flash video content is supposed to work on the Wave 2 but as I have gathered, it certainly doesn't! Disappointing to say the least.
Overall though I have to be honest and say that due to the speed the browser loaded MOST pages. It deserves some sort of praise but for someone who is flash video/content crazy this may not be the phone for you at the moment.
Let's talk about e-mail now. Setting up your e-mail addresses to synchronize with the handset was very easy and to top that off the interface is quite nice too but...I have found so many problems with the e-mailing system that I had to literally give up using it! Once you have set up your multiple accounts of which I had two synchronized, the application downloads as many e-mails as it can find from the servers. Trouble with that though is the fact that it doesn't actually download anything but it does provide a link for you to manually retrieve the e-mails. Very annoying! One other thing I have to mention to you guys is the fact that I wasn't ALLOWED to send an e-mail on 3G and it took way too long to send one whilst connected to Wi-Fi so to me I can barely call it an e-mail application.
I think I will talk about the most impressive things about this handset now, Media. I know that sounds a little generalised but media as a whole on this device has really impressed me which if I'm honest surprised me whilst I was using it.
First I will talk about the music player, one word: AWESOME! It has some really cool features that make it a joy to use and on top of that if you have a really good set of headphones such as some ibeats which I have then the sound quality is nothing short of immense! The clarity is just as good as iPod and a lot better than some other smartphones I've used in the past. The provided headset is actually really good too which surprised me a lot considering almost every set of headphones bundled with phones these days are quite poor so to get a decent set for a change was nice to see.
You will see below the interface is really cool and also very simple to navigate as everything is laid out so well.
There are a couple of methods to play your music with this music player. One of them is to search for a particular song in your library and it will appear for you to play. Another method is to go into your library of music and as you will see in the 1st screenshot there are some tabs at the top of the page consisting of All tracks, Albums, Artists etc. This is the best way to find and play your music but not the coolest that the phone has to offer. The coolest is the last screen shot, this is a scrolling wheel of your music 'CDs' if you have album artwork it will show up on the CDs which I think is pretty cool.
When playing your music there is visualization in the background which can be customised. It just makes listening to music look better. As you will also see there are again three tabs at the bottom of the screen when listening to music. Add to quick list which is a default playlist that you can add your tracks to, there is also a back button and in the middle is the menu button which pops up with a few options such as music recognition which works a bit like Sony Ericssons' Track ID service where the phone looks on the internet to discover unknown track names etc, also in the menu is the settings which allows the user to change the equalizer with a choice of 8 all of which add a little bit of a difference but I just left it on auto as I am a bit lazy! The settings also allows you to change the visualisation and the effect when music is playing so for example one of the options to choose from is Concert hall which makes the music sound as if you were sat in a concert hall.
As I am on the subject of music I think I will mention the FM radio that the Wave 2 has built in. The interface is quite nice and simple to use. When you first open the application it will ask you if you want it to auto search for stations, in my case I said yes and I was surprised with the results because usually phones find one or two stations where I live but this one found twelve! The radio signal was superb as well. There seemed to be no interference whatsoever which was brilliant. Once the auto search has come back with a list of stations it doesn't store them automatically but you can do that yourself by pressing the preferred station of choice and pressing one of the + on screen and it will be added. Other than that there isn't really much else I can say as it is after all just an FM radio.
As I mentioned earlier in the review Samsung Apps isn't amazing but...i did manage to find something really cool called Tune In Radio which is an internet streaming radio application that is available on most if not all platforms. The interface of this application is the best of all of the platforms because of the epic screen to be honest. I am also very impressed with how the application streams radio, and it finds stations with ease as the menus are so well laid out everything is so easy to use. I have the app on iPhone and yes it works exactly the same and just as fast but on BADA they've created a very good looking app also as you will hopefully be able to notice in the below screenshots.
Now the video playback on this device is absolutely superb, the screen yet again makes this an absolute joy! I found myself watching all types of videos everyday.Anything from YouTube to music videos that I randomly decided to load onto it. Overall I was very impressed with all types of playback so if you haven't done so already then I would recommend going into your local phone store and having a play, even if it's just to watch a video just to see how lovely the screen is.
Now that I have mentioned me watching YouTube I might as well mention that there is technically an application installed on the device but unfortunately it is once again more of a link to the mobile website, I am not saying that it is a bad thing not to have an app for YouTube but it would have been nice.
I think the natural progression from music/video is to talk about the camera and 720p video recording so I will do just that.
The camera interface on the Wave 2 is very nice indeed, everything is laid out just right so that everything is easily accessible. As for the amount of settings available to the user I was pleasantly surprised with the depth that Samsung have added into the camera. it is after all a mobile phone but nevertheless they have added lots of very useful features such as different shooting modes of which there are six and they are- Single, smile shot, panorama, beauty, continuous and vintage. All of them offer something different whilst mostly keeping the same sort of quality, the only mode that seems to be less useful was continuous, I found that due to it automatically reducing the resolution down to 640 x 480 the quality was dampened a little too much for my liking.
Other features of the camera include different scene modes of which there are two and a bit pages worth so I will show you most of them instead. The different scene modes do work really well but for obvious reasons I was unable to test them all out while I had the phone.
As for the quality of photographs that the 5 megapixel autofocus camera can take. Well I think I will let you judge for yourself by looking at the following photos taken on the phone.
Now I will tell you about the video recording, it is OK meaning it does its job well enough for a temporary replacement of a camcorder and nothing more really. The reason I say that is due to its relatively poor playback on a PC monitor. Running at 720p it is very grainy to say the least but having said that for a 5 megapixel camera it isn't as bad as some of the others on the market today.
Here is a video I took to show you the quality so that you can judge for yourselves how good or bad it is.
As this is in fact a mobile PHONE I think I had better talk about call quality and text messaging hadn't I? To start with network signal with my Orange Sim card made my iPhone look like a damp squid to be honest. In my house no word of a lie my iPhone only manages a maximum of 3-4 bars of 2G signal now get ready for a shock...the Wave 2 managed to get 3-4 bars of consistent 3G signal! I was bowled over I really was that surprised, the antenna must have been designed by NASA or something because I've never got that good of a signal on Orange in my house!
Call quality as you would expect was brilliant, there was never any noise other than the person on the other end of the phone and the clarity was really great so a massive great big thumbs up to Samsung for doing the simple things brilliantly there!
Here's a picture of the keypad just so you know it is in fact a phone.
Text messaging on this handset was also a joy because of the lovely keyboard as shown below.
As I mentioned way back in the review the keyboard is no different anywhere in the phone, hence why I haven't shown you a landscape shot. There are different input methods in the messaging application and they are as follows: QWERTY keyboard, handwriting, normal old school keypad. But the thing is when the keyboard is set to QWERTY there is a wicked cool feature called continuous input which is basically exactly the same as Swype on Android handsets. You can trace a line to type your words instead of tapping them. The feature works really quite well but you hit stumbling blocks when the database of words doesn't recognise a word as it doesn't have any suggestions for a change. It is very simple to add a recipient of your message too as all you have to do is tap where it says 'to' and it will then show three tabs- Recent, Contacts and Groups. Recent displays all of the recent people that you have sent or received a message to/from, contacts takes you straight to your contacts page and groups takes you to your created groups page. Very simple but effective way of messaging which I found was really nice to use.
As I always do when reviewing mobile phones I leave the battery life until last and this review is no different.There are a few things that you should know. 1-the battery life is amazing! 2-It lasted me three days with a lot of use. 3- When left to its own devices with very little use it managed to do a whopping five days out of one 100% charge! Amazing!
Here we are at the end of another review. I have enjoyed most of my time with the Samsung Wave 2 and I hope I have explained well enough what my experiences were like as I really do think BADA as a smartphone operating system has some potential. But at the moment it just cannot compete with the behemoths like Apple and Android so for that reason I would decline the chance of owning this handset for myself unfortunately.
The target market I think is anyone looking for a simple, lovely to use phone without the heavy contract costs every month and for those who don't like other platforms.
Reviewed by: Chris