By June 22, 2010

Samsung S8500 Wave Review

Wave-main

I first got my hands on the Samsung Wave all the way back in February when I was at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Back then it was pretty exciting, firstly because it was the first Samsung phone with the new Super AMOLED screen, and secondly because it has Samsungs own new operating system – BADA.

Five months on is the Wave still as exciting? I should say so but how does this new OS compare with other already established ones and also is the hardware up to scratch?

Read on to find out the verdict.

What’s in the box:

  • Device
  • Batter
  • Charger
  • USB Cable
  • Headphones
  • Manual/user guide

 

Samsung Wave_GT-S8500_1

 

The ten second review:

  • Device: Samsung S8500 Wave
  • Price: 323.13
  • Summary: A feature packed touch screen device with an amazing Super AMOLED display
  • Best of: Super AMOLED Screen, Media, HD Video Recording
  • Worst of: Speaker grill in silly position, Lock button
  • Buy it now from: Clove

 

Samsung Wave specification:

  • Operating System – BADA O/S
  • Processor – 1 GHz processor
  • Memory -Internal 2GB
  • Display – 3.3 inch Super AMOLED screen with wide high resolution (800 x 480 pixels)
  • Contract – No Contract SIM Free/Unlocked
  • Network -GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900MHz
    3G/HSDPA 900/2100MHz
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth v 3.0
  • microUSB v2.0
  • GPS -A-GPS
  • Audio -3.5mm audio jack
  • Music Player with DNSe and SRS Sound Effect
  • Expansion Slot – microSD memory card up to 32GB
  • Camera -5 megapixel with LED Flash, Geo-Tagging and Face/Blink Detection 
  • Device Control – TouchWiz 3.0 with integrated phonebook, voice and motion user interface
  • Dolfin Browser 2.0
  • Battery –
  • Rechargeable Lithium-ion 1500 mAh
  • Dimensions –
  • 118 x 56 x 10.9mm
  • Accelerator Sensor
  • Proximity Sensor
  • Digital Compass
  • FM Radio

 

General:

The left side of the  Wave houses only the up/down volume rocker.

Wave-left

Samsung Wave left side

On the right we find the camera button and also the lock button.

Wave-right

Samsung Wave right side

The camera lens and flash are located on the rear of the Wave.

Wave-back

Samsung Wave rear

On top is the microUSB port, the headset jack and also the speaker grill.

Wave-top

Samsung Wave top

The front of the Wave is typical Samsung. Call send and end keys and a menu button beneath the screen. Above the screen is the proximity sensor, the front facing camera and the ear speaker

Wave-front

Samsung Wave front

 

 

 

Highlights:

  • HD Video recording
  • Super AMOLED Screen
  • Social Media apps built in

 

Lowlights:

  • Screen Lock Button
  • No YouTube app

 

Review:

In terms of build quality the Samsung Wave feels pretty rock solid. It is beautifully smooth and sits well in the hand. My only criticism is that it is quite tall. I prefer a phone to be a little wider therefore giving a slightly chunky feel but that’s just my preference.

Under the screen are the three hardware buttons. These are simply call send/end and the menu button. The call buttons are flush where as the menu button is slightly raised. I am glad Samsung moved away from fitting in as many buttons as possible like on the Galaxy Portal that I reviewed recently.

Samsung Wave_GT-S8500_7

".Samsung have clearly put a lot of effort into the design of the Wave"

The hardware buttons on the sides of the device are also very nice. They are the same colour as the shell and are all quite small and minimalistic. They feel sturdy and are a pleasure to use.
The other hardware feature I like is the microUSB port on the top side. It has a nice sliding door over it to prevent any dirt or debris getting in when not in use. The door is made from hard plastic unlike on some phones when you get a soft rubbery one that flaps about. Samsung have clearly put a lot of effort into the design of the Wave. Nice work chaps!

So let’s take a look at this new OS and see what’s going on inside the Wave.
Like all recent Samsung devices the screen locks. Unlocking is achieved by pressing the lock key on the right side of the phone. This really gets on my nerves as when you do press it the screen is still locked and requires you to sweep the screen either up, down, left or right.
The lock screen though is quite beautiful as this is when you see the wonderful Super AMOLED screen in action for the first time.

lock

Although locked the colours on the screen look amazing. Once you do a swipe and the screen jumps to full brightness it’s a case of BOOM! The richness of the colours is insane. They almost stand out from the screen. The screenshots and videos that we show you really do not do the Wave justice. You need to get to a phone shop and Check it out
with your own eyes.

The home screen setup on the Wave is very similar to some Android devices. You have multiple home screens and I think initially the Wave comes with three but you can add several more. The additional ones can be accessed by swiping to the right.
At the bottom of the screen are three tabs. These are keypad, contacts and messages. I couldn’t find a way to customize these but as they are are more than likely the most common used features it makes sense to leave them there.
At the top of the screen you are given all the usual info you would expect such as the time, battery level and signal strength. In addition there is also a secret notification bar. If you look at the top you will see two horizontal lines. Pull this down and you will be shown any notifications you may have. You are also given quick access to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and switching the phone to silent. All very Android like!

home home 2 home 3

 

Like in the past with Samsungs TouchWiz UI all the home screens can be customized with widgets. At the top left of the screen is a widgets icon and a tap of this produces the widgets at the base of the screen. Here you can scroll left or right through them. There were not as many as I thought there would be and also there were some missing that I really thought should be there like Facebook and Twitter.

widgets

A simple tap of the widget will enable it and put in on the screen. Here you can move it about to any position you like. If there is not room on the screen for the widget then the phone will automatically create another home screen.
The only other home screen feature I can think to tell you is an expected one. That you can customize the home screen wallpaper.
Pressing the menu key under the screen takes you to the menu funnily enough. Here you are presented with twelve icons. Scroll right and you get another twelve and so on. The icons can thankfully be moved from screen to screen allowing you to put your most used ones on screen one. You still get the home screen keypad, contacts and messages icons at the bottom of the screen so it is easy to jump straight into a phone call etc.
As the icons are sitting over a black background they really stand out. In particular the blues, greens and oranges. You may get sick of me saying it but the screen is just so yummy!

 

Tweaking the settings on the Samsung Wave is simple pimple. The settings tab is held within the main menu and here you can set up the device just how you want it. Nothing is too complicated and it is very user friendly.

settings settings 2

 

Let’s a have a more in depth look at what features and apps are held within the menu.
I will start with the social media apps that come preinstalled. Because the Samsung Wave runs the new Bada OS these apps would not have been seen before although they are similar to ones on other platforms.

The Bada Facebook app doesn’t appear to be as in depth as some other platforms however it does do the main stuff. Upon opening the app you are greeted with the homepage where you will see all your fiends status updates and photo uploads etc. At the top of the timeline you have a a text entry bar for updating your own status. At the bottom are tabs to upload a photo and also to refresh.
At the very top of the page are three tabs. Home, profile and friends, however you can scroll these tabs to the right and find your message inbox.
Overall it’s a nice version of a Facebook app. Easy to use and pleasant on the eye.

fb2 fb3

 

The Bada Twitter app is very similar in layout to the Facebook one. Once again we have three tabs at the top of the page, home, @mentions and direct messages. Below them is the text entry bar for sending a Tweet and at the bottom of the page is a search tab as well as a refresh one.
Like the Facebook Bada app the Twitter one will never be a replacement for the full web experience however it is not bad for Samsungs first effort and for use while out and about it will serve it’s purpose.

 twitter twitter 2 twitter 4 

 

Using the web browser on the Wave is a pretty nice. With a built in accelerometer a quick flip of the phone into landscape mode it gives you an automatically zoomed in view of the web page.
Pages seem to load quickly and the browser, although basic, does exactly as it should. The Wave supports pinch to zoom which is always a bonus and makes using a mobile browser a much nicer experience.
Once you tap the screen three grey tabs appear at the base.  On the left we have a brightness adjuster and on the right is an exit tab and in between the two is a little upwards pointing arrow. Tap this and at the top of the page an address bar appears. To the left of this is a yellow star icon. A tap of this allows you to quickly add the current page as a bookmark and also change it’s name. To the right in green is a refresh tab. At the bottom you have forward and back arrows, a bookmarks list and also a tab for viewing multiple open windows. Another bonus feature which the Wave has that many other phones do not is flash support. For example you can watch on screen videos without having to be redirected to a third party page such as YouTube.

web web 3

 

web 2

".Another decent effort Samsung. Here, have a virtual pat on the back!"

bookmarks

Overall I was pretty impressed with the browser. Another decent effort Samsung. Here, have a virtual pat on the back!

Let’s have a look at messaging on the Samsung Wave. Setting up email accounts was painless and you can have multiple accounts which is good. The interface is very attractive, once again set on a black background with the different accounts having a different coloured icon bedside them.

email

Once you have chosen which account to use you get a similar interface to the social media apps with tabs at the top and bottom of the screen. I certainly didn’t find emailing as easy on the Wave as many other platforms but it does look nice!
This maybe a good time to mention the onscreen keyboard. Whenever I review a touch screen phone I always struggle to type in portrait mode just because of the size of the keys and the Wave was no different for me. This is however probably due to me being a BlackBerry user. Once the phone has been rotated into landscape it made things a lot easier for me. It was a little slow going though. In typical Samsung fashion every time you touch an onscreen button you get a beep but I wanted haptic feedback. Could I find it? No. It may be there somewhere hidden away but I coolant locate it. Shame.
The onscreen keyboard works just fine but if the screen had been a little bigger it would make things a whole lot easier. In particular some of the keys on the bottom row when in landscape were really small and fast typing was hard work for me  I suspect this won’t be an issue on the Samsung Galaxy S.

email 3

 

email 4

 

The Samsung Wave has an instant messaging tab in it’s menu and pressing this opens up Palringo. If you have not used Palringo before let me tell you it is excellent. Basically it let’s you instant message your friends as it rolls lots of different IM clients together. I use it for Windows Live Messenger and Facebook chat but you can add many others including Yahoo, AIM and Google Talk. As the Samsung Wave can multi task you can leave Palringo running in the background so your buddies can always get in touch.
While on the subject of multiple tasking I had better mention that if you hold down the main menu button for two seconds it opens a task manager. Here you can see what is running on the Wave and close apps that you have finished with. Another huge bonus Samsung.

IM

 

Another app on the Wave which is reaaaallly cool is Daily Briefing. As a bonus it is also a widget on the device so you can have it on one of the home screens. To sum it up Daily Briefing is a app which gives you certain up to date info. That’s a rubbish way of explaining it! Let me show you.

Screen one is AccuWeather and as the name suggests it shows you both current and forecast weather for where you are.

daily breifing

Scroll to the right and you get the next page which is Yahoo Finance. If you follow stocks and shares this will show you if your shares are going up or down. Not much use to me though! You can remove the ones don’t want.

daily B 2

Next is  AP Mobile. This is a news service. The app will bring you up to date headlines and if you want to read more about a certain story you can click it to be taken into the web browser.

daily B 3

The fourth screen I had set up was Schedule. Here the app shows you any forthcoming appointments from your calendar.
As I said, it is a decent app, in particular when used as a widget. The app auto updates so you can always see what is new.

Like all the recent Samsung phones the Wave has a lovely calendar so keeping track of meetings and reminders will be a breeze. We get the nice black interface again and as you can see you have various ways of viewing.

calendar calendar 2

 

Making an entry is simple. Just tap the day you want and fill in the boxes. You have options for the Wave to notify you of appointments either on time, 5 mins, 15 mins, an hour, a day, two days or a week before. You can even make your own. I chose 13 mins for no reason at all!

calendar 3

"Stop being greedy…"

With Bada being a new OS Samsung needed a place to download apps so we have Samsung Apps. There is a pretty good selection in the store already and this will grow soon as Samsung held a developer day in London last week.
I have one criticism with Samsung Apps and it isn’t good! Prices. Although there are loads and loads of free apps, the paid ones are a little over priced in my opinion. There are some for £1 or £1.50 but most were between £2.50 and £3.00. This may be good value in your opinion but in mine it is not. I am comparing this with Apples App Store where you can get thousands of fantastic games for 59 or 79 pence. Sorry Samsung but I have said this before with some of your feature phones and I will say it again. Stop being greedy you naughty peoples!

samsung apps samsung apps 2

Game play however on the Wave is well cool. Having the super nice screen helps a bunch but the whole touch experience was very much on par with the likes of the iPhone or Android.
The Wave comes with Asphalt 5 pre installed and it’s a great racing game. The accelerometer works well and and the sensitive capacitive screen reacts well to taps.
There is one downside that I found though and that is the location of the phones speaker grill. The problem I had was that as the speaker is on the top of the device I found that when playing games the lower part of my left index finger would be pressing on the speaker therefore muffling the sound. This really got on my nerves.

As you can see below there are other games pre loaded on the Wave. Some are trials but they all look fantastic on the Super AMOLED screen.

games

 

There is quite a nice searching app on the Wave. It is in the main menu and is called Smart Search. As the names suggests it just allows you to find content on your phone but in addition there is a web search option. Here you are given three options to search from. Either Google, Bing or Twitter. A nice idea Samsung.

smart search

 

Within the main menu I was pleased to see a tab for YouTube. I was soon disappointed though as when I clicked it it just took me to the mobile YouTube site. Although there is nothing wrong with this I do prefer a stand alone app so it’s a bit of a shame. I am sure Samsung will work on this for the future as all the other Smartphone platforms have one, even BlackBerry.

youtube

 

Another cool new app on the Wave is Mini Diary. This app allows you to record events in your life, just like a diary funnily enough. As you can see below it is not just text you can save. You can also include photos and not only will the phone store the time and date but you can also include the weather conditions although I don’t really see why you would want to!

mini diary

As well as storing the events on the phone you can also publish them and there is a huge selection of places to do so. They are:

  • Flickr
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Photobucket
  • Picasa
  • YouTube
  • Bebo
  • Fotki
  • Hyves 

 

I had better not forget that the Samsung Wave is a phone. When dialing, the onscreen numbers are nice and big and I am loving the green and orange! Contacts can be listed as groups or favorites which will make life easier.

phone phone 2

 

If you tend to set yourself a lot of tasks or reminders then the Wave has a great little memo pad to help you keep track of things you need to do. You can even select which colour screen you are writing on. A nice touch.

memo memo3 memo 2

 

 

The camera interface on the Wave was really easy to use like on all there recent devices. I much prefer using a dedicated camera button rather than an onscreen one for taking snaps and Wave took the pictures instantly when pressing the button. No lag at all which is a huge plus. Autofocus was also achieved quickly so the whole experience was a welcomed one.

Wave Cam 2

Switching between camera and video camera is done with a single screen tap on the top left hand side and like all the onscreen settings options each action is pretty much instant.

camera

 

I was more than happy with the camera on the Wave although not perfect. In bright outside conditions it took a good picture. It was not as good indoors. As you can see with the picture of the coffee cup it didn’t handle the low light conditions too well. I didn’t use the flash for this picture as the flash was so powerful that with close up pictures it just produced too much light.

cup ducks 

Samsung Wave Camera Samples

The Samsung Wave records video in HD. Now although this sounds great I have found from other devices that the quality is rarely, if ever on par with a HD camcorder. I was reasonably happy with the results of the Wave. As you will see with the below videos, if you watch full screen on a big monitor the results are far from perfect but good for a mobile. Reduce the size a wee bit or watch as YouTube initially wants you to and the quality looks quite nice.

Mobiles still have a way to go with their video recording but they are getting there.

 

Samsung S8500 Wave dog sample video

 

Samsung S8500 Wave pond video

 

 ".the Super AMOLED display kind of makes up for it…"

Watching videos on the Wave is awesome thanks to the Super AMOLED screen. The device also supports DivX format so there is no need to worry about installing a third party video player. I dropped an MP4 movie onto the memory card and it played straight away. Although not the biggest screen, the Super AMOLED display kind of makes up for it and I could watch a whole movie on it with ease. Perfect for travelling.

 

The music player on the Wave was as i expected it to be, great. As usual Samsungs supplied headphones are fantastic. Not only very comfortable but they deliver really good quality.  The UI is basic but this means it is easy to use. When playing tracks you have the options to not only set as ringtone, alarm tone etc but also to send via email and Bluetooth. Nice

All the media files can be quickly accessed from the ‘My Files’ tab within the main menu.

media

 

The Samsung Wave supports GPS and if you want to use the Wave as a sat nav you can do. Samsung Mobile Navigator is pre loaded although only a 30 day trial. After that you need to pay. I did have a slight problem when using the navigator. Although it picked up my location i think i must have missed something when setting it up as I couldn’t get it to work properly. I am pretty well experienced when it comes to sat nav so I was a little disheartened with the Wave but it may have just been something silly i didn’t do.

 

Conclusion:

Overall I really liked the Samsung Wave but I must admit that it was the Super AMOLED screen that did it for me. The whole BADA experience was quite good. Nothing revolutionary. Kind of a mixture of previous Samsung feature phones and a bit Android like.

In terms of its competition I would say that the Samsung Wave lies in the same group as the HTC Legend. Which is best? I would have to go for the Legend to be honest. It just does most things a little better apart from the screen and the HD video recording. Of course this is just my opinion. The Wave is now in store in many high street retailers so I would suggest popping in and having a play. That Super AMOLED screen may just make your mind up for you. It is truly wonderful.

 

Posted by: James

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

Five year veteran of the site. BlackBerry specialist, but experienced in most operating systems. Enjoys flower arranging and cross stitch.
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