Samsung S8500 Wave review: Hello, world!

GSMArena team, 01 June 2010.

Beauty on display

No surprise in this form factor, the front of the Samsung S8500 Wave is dominated by the touchscreen, a 3.3” unit of WVGA resolution. But that’s dry stats – a look at it is the beginning of a love affair. This phone does have a killer feature, only it’s not evident by just scanning the spec sheet.

The 3.3” 16M-color capacitive touchscreen on the Samsung S8500 Wave is no match for the 4” splendor of the Galaxy S. In terms of size, that is. All the rest is there.

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The display is just incredible

The AMOLED display technology has a great edge over LCD in terms of contrast that’s no news. Super AMOLED screens have the deepest blacks we’ve seen on a mobile phone. Besides, color vibrance has got a boost too, which makes the S8500 Wave display image quality all the more impressive. The viewing angles are the best in business and outdoor visibility is remarkable too.

Unfortunately, Samsung Wave doesn't make use of an ambient light senor to change the display brightness dynamically.

TouchWiz + Android = Bada

We guess it's fashionable to roll out new operating systems. Google stepped up with Android, Nokia are making a new start with MeeGo, HTC have gone a step backwards with the Brew Mobile (is this a true operating system at all?). So, it was about time Samsung introduced their own OS as well. Meet the Bada OS.

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Meet the Bada OS: homescreen, notifications bar, main menu,

To get it straight, the Bada OS looks just like TouchWiz at first glance - with even more eye candy and with the option of running native apps on it. Samsung are waving the "Smartphones for everyone" flag but maybe it has less to do with affordability than ease of use. It took us only five minutes to start feeling right at home with the S8500 Wave UI.

Here goes a short video shot in our studio demonstrating the new Bada interface and its capabilities.

So, you know what to expect in a device that screams TouchWiz: not one, not two but as many as ten homescreens full of widgets. Each homescreen is like a part of a single panoramic desktop.The difference in scrolling between the icons and the background image add for a feeling of depth and added dimension – just like in Android OS.

This time widgets don't hide in a tray at the side but at the bottom - we saw a similar solution for the first time on the Samsung S5620 Monte. By the way, the TouchWiz UI on the Monte is made to resemble the look and feel of the Bada OS pretty closely.

Turning the Wave landscape while editing the widgets allows you to add or remove homescreens.

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A homescreen full of widgets

A certain novelty is the notification area. It's is a thin bar at the top of the screen with status info like battery, time and switches for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc. When you pull it down you get a list of all recent notifications. Did we hear Android cry thief?

Along with the most recent events or the minimized music player, for example, the notification bar also gives you a convenient 3-button control used for turning Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or sound alerts on and off.

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The notifications area

TouchWiz or else, we're talking smartphone, so real multitasking is one thing you can count on with the S8500 Wave. The task manager is accessed by a long press on the Menu button so you can easily switch between currently active applications or terminate them.

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The task manager

The main menu structure is flat, all available items and applications initially spreading across three screens of icons. If needed, you can add up to 7 more. Icons form a 3 x 4 grid and you can change their order the way you like, you can also move icons from one screen to another.

Similar to the homescreen, you can add or delete menu pages when you turn the phone landscape while you’re in edit menu mode.

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The S8500 Wave menu

Scrolling the menu screens is looped, so when you reach the last one you don’t have to sweep all the way back.

Finally, if you lock the screen while playing some music, you can easily access the dedicated music bar with a single tap. You’ll notice a small CD icon at the top of your lockscreen which opens а music console.

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The Wave's lockscreen

The Samsung Wave comes with 2GB internal storage and a 1GB microSD card bundled in the retail package. Unfortunately, the 2GB of on-board storage is divided into three partitions and you may use only one (390MB) for storing general files (that’s the one that mounts as a drive on the computer in Mass Storage mode. The rest two partitions are reserved for your Bada apps (1GB) and messaging (550MB). We can understand reserving some storage for apps, but dedicating that hefty 550MB to messaging purposes is beyond us.
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