Samsung S8600 Wave 3 review: Third time's the charm

GSMArena team, 7 December 2011.
Pages: «123456789»

Unboxing the Wave 3 brings no surprises

The Samsung S8600 Wave 3 comes in a small box with a microUSB charger, a microUSB data cable and an in-ear headset.

Samsung S8600 Wave 3 Samsung S8600 Wave 3
The Wave 3 retail package

There's no microSD card in the bundle. The available built-in storage includes 1GB for user files and 2GB for system storage and apps.

Samsung S8600 Wave 3 360-degree spin

The Samsung S86000 Wave 3 measures 125.9 x 64.2 x 9.9mm. It's almost the same size as the preceding S8530 Wave II but they managed to squeeze in a bigger 4" screen. The Wave 3 weighs 122g – 13g lighter than its predecessor – and it's impressively slim.

Design and build quality

The Samsung S8600 Wave 3 has a solid metal body with the traditional brushed finish. It's a slim and very stylish handset with a consciously minimalist exterior and what comes close to a unibody design. The rear cover doesn't completely detach from the body - once unhinged it slides up to let you access the battery and memory and SIM slots. The aluminium cover wraps around the sides of the phone. The rounded edges feel great in hand and the design is almost seamless.

Samsung S8600 Wave 3 Samsung S8600 Wave 3
Samsung S8600 Wave 3

The front is dominated by the 4" SuperAMOLED screen, which makes the otherwise subtle design come alive.

Samsung S8600 Wave 3 Samsung S8600 Wave 3 Samsung S8600 Wave 3 Samsung S8600 Wave 3
Samsung Wave 3 next to the Wave M and Wave Y • Samsung Wave 3 next to Galaxy S and iPhone 4

The display is the same unit as the one in the original Galaxy S, a 4" SuperAMOLED of WVGA resolution. The deep blacks are quick to impress and even though the screen is not as bright as LCDs, it has very good sunlight legibility.

The display uses a PenTile matrix, which reduces the sharpness of the display - it only has two subpixels per pixel, instead of three. It's still one of the better mobile screens around and undoubtedly an asset of the S8600 Wave 3. You may recall that the Wave 2 wasn't that lucky - it had an LCD display.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Nokia N9 0 349 0596
Nokia Lumia 800 0 108 0369
Samsung S8600 Wave 3 0 137 0349
Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II 0 231 0 362
Samsung I9000 Galaxy S 0 263 0 395
HTC Sensation 0.21 173 809 0.61 438 720
Motorola Atrix 4G 0.48 314 652 0.60 598 991
LG Optimus 2X 0.23 228 982 0.35 347 1001
HTC Incredible S 0.18 162 908 0.31 275 880

Unlike its two predecessors, the Wave 3 uses capacitive call keys around the Home key. They're not backlit when idle and the single massive Home key is a prominent accent on the minimalist front.

Samsung S8600 Wave 3 Samsung S8600 Wave 3
The Home key is now flanked by two capacitive call keys

Above the display are the earpiece and the video-call camera, along with the proximity sensor. Samsung Wave 3 also adds an ambient light sensor to the mix, which was missing on the Wave and Wave II.

Samsung S8600 Wave 3
The earpiece and the video-call camera are at the top plus a couple of sensors

The left side of the Samsung S8600 Wave 3 features the volume rocker, which is rather thin and not very comfortable to use. The Lock key on the right is even smaller but placed conveniently under your thumb - that goes for right-handed users though. There's no camera shutter key this time around.

Samsung S8600 Wave 3 Samsung S8600 Wave 3 Samsung S8600 Wave 3 Samsung S8600 Wave 3
The volume rocker is on the left • Power/lock button on the right-hand side

There's nothing at the top of the handset, with all the connectivity ports at the bottom. Here we find the microUSB port and the 3.5mm audio jack, and the mouthpiece in between. The bottom is not the most convenient place for the headphone jack but the peculiar sliding battery cover forced that solution on the designers.

Samsung S8600 Wave 3 Samsung S8600 Wave 3 Samsung S8600 Wave 3
Nothing on top • The microUSB port, mic pinhole and the 3.5mm audio jack

Around back, the interesting bits are concentrated near the top. The 5MP camera comes with a LED flash and the loudspeaker grill is next to them.

The camera lens is sufficiently recessed into the body of the phone, which keeps it out of the way of scratches and fingerprints. The loudspeaker on the other hand only has a small nub, which doesn't help against the sound getting muffled.

Samsung S8600 Wave 3 Samsung S8600 Wave 3
The camera lens and the LED flash

The brushed aluminium on the back is a big part of the phone's appeal and is in a way a certificate of ancestry. The downside is the polished metal surface doesn't allow a secure grip. Pressing a latch at the bottom lets you to slide the entire case up.

It slides up to a point, enough to reveal the 1500mAh battery, the SIM compartment and the microSD card slot. The battery is rated at 8 and a half hours of talk time and 480 hours of standby.

Both the SIM and microSD card slot are blocked by the battery, which needs to be out if you're going to be ejecting or inserting a card in either slot. That's something we wish Samsung had fixed - the Wave and Wave II didn’t have a hot-swappable microSD slot either.

Samsung S8600 Wave 3 Samsung S8600 Wave 3 Samsung S8600 Wave 3 Samsung S8600 Wave 3
This is as far as you can slide the back cover • The 1500mAh battery blocks the SIM and microSD card slots

The Samsung S8600 Wave 3 is well-built and has the appearance of a true flagship. Many high-end droids would kill for looks like that. The brushed metal case is impressive and the unibody slider design is a novelty you'd be eager to show off. On the front, the Gorilla Glass covered SuperAMOLED looks great and adds to the phone's overall durability.

The Wave 3 is not a small set by any measure, but not much bigger than a I9000 Galaxy S. It's as slim as the I9000 Galaxy S and barely heavier (just 3 grams more) despite the metal on the back. It should slip into most pockets trouble free and feels great in the hand too.

Samsung S8600 Wave 3 Samsung S8600 Wave 3
The Samsung S8600 Wave 3 held in hand

Next Page »

Pages: «123456789»