The Samsung Wave retail box is not nearly as inspiring as the phone itself. It covers the basics – a Nokia copy-cat charger, a microUSB cable, a one-piece wired headset and some manuals.
Also enclosed is a 1GB microSD card but we suspect it won’t be enough for long HD video recording sessions. If you decide to go for the Wave you will surely need to buy a much larger memory card.
At 118 x 56 x 10.9 mm Samsung S8500 Wave is pretty compact and easy to slip in a pocket. Extra slim and solid, the handset’s the style is economic and effective. There isn't much space wasted around the screen either. The phone weighs 118 g, which is mostly attributed to the metallic body and scratch-resistant glass covering the screen. The phone feels nice to handle and looks quite durable too.
The Wave is a sleek device indeed and the styling is undeniably Samsung. We’re not quite sure about the diamond-shaped accents (Home key, camera lens, LED flash) but other than that, the exterior is handsome and conservative. There’s nothing to take the focus away from the brilliant screen. The slim metallic body is elegant and solid, and well resistant to fingerprints too.
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.
The End key doubles as a power button. It will terminate the currently running app and take you to the homescreen wherever you are in the interface. Pressing and holding the Menu key launches the task switcher.
Above the display are the earpiece and the video-call camera, along with the proximity sensor. Samsung Wave doesn't make use of an ambient light senor to change the display brightness dynamically.
The left side of the Samsung S8500 Wave hosts the volume rocker, which, however thin, is prominent enough and very comfortable to use. On the right we only find the camera key and the lock button. Both are pretty tiny knobs but properly raised and tactile. The shutter key is soft and responsive, with distinct half-press position. The camera launches almost instantly.
At the top we find the microUSB port, hiding under a neat plastic lid that slides softly in and out. The uncovered 3.5mm audio jack and the loudspeaker grill are also there. At the bare bottom you’ll only see a mic hole.
The Samsung S8500 Wave rear only hosts the unprotected 5-megapixel camera lens. There is a small LED flash next to it to help in low-light shoots.
The brushed aluminum surface on the metallic back is a real pleasure to use. Our only grudge is with the Samsung S8500 manufacturing. Obviously the battery cover is made separately and out of the five-or-so Samsung Wave units we saw recently most had their battery covers slightly off the color of the surrounding body panels.
That's easily noticeable on the well-lit studio shots below. The difference varied on all units so when shopping for a Samsung Wave it’s perhaps better to check all the units available in store and pick the best one.
The aluminum battery cover gets released by pressing a small knob at the bottom. Underneath is the 1500 mAh Li-Ion battery which is quoted at up to 450 hours of stand-by, up to 8 hours 30 minutes of talk-time and up to 35 hours of non-stop music playback. Those are solid numbers and in reality the Samsung Wave lasted more than 3 full days of some pretty heavy usage. You can check out the dedicated battery test on the Samsung Wave in our blog.
Below the battery we find the microSD card slot and the SIM compartment. The memory card isn’t hot-swappable and we’re not happy with this design decision. It was the price to pay perhaps for the extra slim metal body. On a positive note, the phone handled a 16GB microSDHC card trouble-free.
The Samsung S8500 Wave is very well built and that’s a good way to start. The economic styling befits the slim and solid phone, and the overall feel of the device is sharp and mature. We have no complaints about the controls and handling. And the screen… words can hardly describe the difference to regular LCD displays. It’s just beautiful simply to look at.