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

GSMArena team, 7 December 2011.
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Samsung Apps is your only app store, Music hub is for music

The Bada OS offers a native application repository from its start – the Samsung Apps. Samsung Apps is very similar to the Android Market. It has three tabs – featured, top and category view. There is also a download section and search option.

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Samsung Apps

The Samsung Apps store is expanding fast, but we can’t say the same for its quality. Still there are thousands apps inside, so you’ll probably find a lot useful tools and fun games in there.

And while this growth sure is impressive, the Samsung Apps store is far behind Apple’s App Store, Google’s Android Market or even the Windows Marketplace.

There is also a music store called Music Hub. Its functionality is pretty much the same as the iTunes store - you can buy signle tracks or whole albums from there.

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The Music Hub

GPS navigation costs a lot

The preinstalled navigation software on the Samsung S8600 Wave 3 can easily turn the handset in a fully functional SatNav system - especially thanks to the sensitive GPS receiver on board.

Wave 3 comes supplied with the Samsung LBS app, which is based on the ROUTE66 mobile application. Though its maps graphics have somewhat outdated looks, feature-wise there's really nothing missing. It has voice-guided navigation and a huge number of additional features, but the extra features come at a price.

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The GPS nagigation software

The navigation software comes with 30-day trial license for voice-guided navigation (drive and walk). After that you’ll need a subscription, which is quite expensive. All other goodies require some extra payment and the whole package will cost you a lot.

Unfortunately there is still no native Google Maps app.

Final words

The Bada OS may be squeezed for space in a market dominated by Android and with Windows Phone getting a boost from a software update and the emergence of a new major player. The platform's latest flagship though is a different story. Up against some formidable rivals, it's outnumbered and often outclassed - but not outwilled.

To begin with, it's a gorgeous metal-clad phone that will not shrink in the presence of Android or WinPho7 flagships. In fact, many high-end droids will gladly swap their stark plastic uniforms for the brushed aluminum outfit of the Wave 3.

The Samsung I9001 Galaxy Plus is a particularly relevant example. The two phones are practically the same - from the 4" SuperAMOLED screens to the 1.4GHz processors. But if you have to choose one and know nothing about phones - which one will it be? A boring piece of plastic or the solid metal bar.

Samsung I9001 Galaxy S Plus
Samsung I9001 Galaxy S Plus

The Wave 3 is the most powerful Bada device to date, designed to show the updated OS at its best. The 4” SuperAMOLED screen and the excellent design and build are an invitation to explore. And if you give it a try, you'd find a mature and good-looking OS, and a solid feature set with above average media capabilities. The video player alone was a pleasant surprise and the camera isn't bad either.

The Wave 3 is a solid upgrade too over a predecessor, which was essentially a step back for Bada. The S8530 Wave II had to sacrifice the SuperAMOLED screen for a Super Clear LCD unit, and had a less-capable processor. So, even if gets updated to the latest OS version, it won't be a threat.

Samsung S8530 Wave II
Samsung S8530 Wave II

The bigger threat of course will come from mid-to-high end droids like the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc s and the Xperia ray. The LG Optimus Black and the HTC Rhyme are also on the list of potential competitors. They all run Android 2.3 Gingerbread and there's screen size for all tastes in the sample.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S Sony Ericsson Xperia ray LG Optimus Black P970 HTC Rhyme
Sony Ericsson Xperia arc s • Sony Ericsson ray • LG Optimus Black • HTC Rhyme

It’s been almost two years since we first met the original Wave. The Bada OS has been around for some time now but it has failed to make the splash Samsung were hoping for. The OS is still around though, and getting better. There could hardly have been bigger proof of Samsung’s commitment to Bada than the beautiful new flagship, Wave 3.

Back at the start, the idea was to make a smartphone for the masses. Well, Android is already there. The Wave 3 could have been a smartphone for the bored with Android - but it's too much like it. Don't let this sound like the Samsung S8600 Wave 3 doesn't know where it's heading. It may as well be the same place where you're going. Meaning less third party apps but style to share.

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