Samsung S8600 Wave 3 review: Third time's the charm
Rich input options, Siri-like voice commands
Capacitive touchscreens usually won't give you handwriting recognition but, just like the previous two versions, the S8600 Wave 3 is among the few exceptions. The handwriting screen has two viewing modes – full screen or a dedicated handwriting box (usually taking about half of your screen).
If you prefer typing to drawing, go for the on-screen keyboards. You get diverse options - a portrait numpad and a landscape full-QWERTY keyboard with or without the T9 Trace enabled. The so-called Continuous input is similar to the popular Swype. You tap on the screen and move from letter to letter without lifting the finger. Just like Swype, the Continuous input guesses the word you’re trying to write (even if you weren’t that accurate) and places suggestions in the text above the keyboard.
That should allow you to write up to 40 words per minute. Now, that’s fast typing! Plus, if you prefer the old way of typing letter-by-letter, it’s still available.
The Wave 3 supports voice dictation and voice commands very similar to the iPhone 4S’s Siri. The major difference is your Wave 3 can’t actually speak.
So, the voice dictation works just like on the iPhone 4S – you tap on the Mic key on your virtual keyboard and speak. Then your Wave 3 will write everything down for you. The service is powered by Vlingo and is not as smooth as the Siri, but most of the time it works just fine.
If you double tap on the Home key you’ll get to the Voice Commands interface. You can do things Siri-style, but the software isn’t that smart. For example to compose a message you say the relevant command and the name of the addressee. After you've said the name though, you must say something like Message or Tell for the software to know where the actual text of the message starts. If you want proper punctuation, you’ll have to specifically dictate all the commas and question marks.
Voice commands can be used for voice dialling, text messages, emails, web searches, memos, playing songs or playlists, and social updates (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). You can’t create appointments and alarms, and no - you will not get replies to the questions you ask.
There are voice alerts too for things like incoming messages and status updates. Your phone can read messages out. You can download different voices for free at the Samsung Apps store.
Credit to Samsung for trying to expand the voice recognition capabilities of the Bada OS, even if it isn’t the next Siri.
The gallery has gone Android-ish
Another thing that got redesigned under Bada 2.0 is the gallery, which - no surprise - takes after Android. It's fluid and efficient, and prettier than before.
The different albums and folders appear as piles of photos, which fall in neat grids once selected. If you have online albums over at Picasa those show up as separate stacks as well.
The gallery supports kinetic scrolling or panning so you can skip images without having to return to the default view. Just swipe to the left or right when viewing a photo in fullscreen mode and the previous/next image will appear.
The pinch zooming is also available here thanks to the Samsung Wave 3 multi-touch support but you can also double tap on the screen to zoom in and out.
The Wave 3 gallery shows the pictures in full resolution unlike most Android handsets, so zooming on a picture will reveal much more detail. Like the Android galleries, the Wave 3 offers rotate and crop tools too.
Still the best video player
Media is certainly a S8600 Wave 3 forte. The large Super AMOLED screen is great for watching videos. The interface of the video player is quite simple, yet powerful.
The Wave 3 supports DivX/XviD/MP4/H.264/MKV files and the AC3 audio codec is on board too. And what is even more impressive, subtitles are welcome as well.
Higher-res playback is impressively glitch-free – the Wave 3 handled 720p videos with ease. Not a big surprise considering the Wave 3 records 720p videos itself, but it’s still impressive for a mobile phone. We threw everything we had at it – DivX, XviD, MP4 and even MKV files - all in 720p resolution. The Samsung Wave 3 played them silky-smooth.