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

GSMArena team, 7 December 2011.
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Bada OS 2 premieres here

The Samsung S8600 Wave 3 runs the latest v2.0 of the Bada OS, decisively better looking and with deep-running changes to how things are done. On the face of it, the Bada looks like Android more than ever. But well, yes, that one goes down to TouchWiz.The custom skin Samsung put on their droids started off as feature phone platform to evolve into a stand-alone smartphone OS. We're now looking at a major overhaul of Bada and we like what we see. Now, let's talk about how it handles.

Here goes a video of the Samsung Wave 3 user interface in action.

Bada 2.0 brings a new element to the homescreen - the Live Panel, essentially a scrollable dedicated pane of full-sized widgets. There are new contextual menus, the gallery, media players and the web browser have been updated. Much has changed since Bada 1.2 so let’s get down to the details.

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Meet the Bada OS v2.0

Some basic weather info has been added to the lockscreen. It's not a dynamic weather widget, all you get is a simple temperature reading and a current weather icon. In case of a missed event, swiping on the notification will take relevant action. If the music player is running, you'll get the music widget at the top of the lockscreen.

Samsung S8600 Wave 3
The lockscreen

The homescreen can stretch over up to ten panes to fill with widgets and shortcuts. There's a scrollable widget dedicated homescreen pane, called Live Panel. It comes with full-size widgets such as AccuWeather, Yahoo Finance, AP mobile, calendar and search. You can choose their ordering and enable or disable them as you please. But you cannot remove them altogether or add new ones. The bottom of the Live Panel is reserved for contact shortcuts. You can place as many favourite contact pictures there as you please.

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The widget area • editing the widgets

The single hardware control on the Wave 3 (the Home key) switches between the regular homescreen and the Live Panel.

The regular homеscreen can be expanded into up to ten panes, which can be filled with shortcuts, widgets (again!) and folders. Our review unit offered a choice of a few standard widgets to place along these panes, such as an analog and digital clock, memo, calendar and weather. There are more at the app market for you to download.

The homescreen panes would also readily accommodate application shortcuts.

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The standard widgets

A tap-and-hold on any homescreen will allows to edit the contents of that specific pane, while a pinch zoom displays an aggregate view of all active panes.

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Editing a homescreens • add/remove shortcuts

The notification area is almost the same as before. The big difference to Android is you cannot pull it down bit by bit - it's a tap to expand, tap to collapse. There are switches for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, sound and auto rotation. Music controls are displayed too if the player is running in the background.

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The notifications area

Bada 2.0 is a proper multitasking platform, so naturally, you get that on the Wave 3. 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.

Samsung S8600 Wave 3
The task manager

The main menu structure is flat, all available items and applications initially spreading across two screens of icons. If needed, you can add up to 7 more. Icons align in a 4 x 4 grid and you can reposition them the way you like. Scrolling the menu screens is looped, so when you reach the last pane you don’t have to sweep all the way back.

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The Wave 3 menu • editing the menu

The Wave 3 looks a lot like a droid. A big part of this is TouchWiz, which creates a consistent and familiar environment for all Samsung users. Although the Bada OS is heavily indebted to Android, there are some important differences. The Samsung S8600 Wave 3 has a single hardware control. A Menu key is the first thing experienced Android users are likely to miss. One thing directly resulting from this absence is the fact that all application-specific settings are packed together in the general settings.

So, if you're adding a contact for example, you won't be able to access the phonebook settings. You'll have to go back to the main menu.

In the absence of Menu and Back buttons, the previous Bada edition relied heavily on on-screen soft keys. We like it how the new version pretty much gets rid of them. The swipe gestures in the phonebook and inbox are nothing new but they did well to keep them. Now, that's another thing you get in Android too.

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