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We guess it's fashionable to roll out new operating systems. Google stepped up with Android, Nokia are making a new start in touchscreen with the Maemo, HTC have gone a step backwards with the Brew Mobile (is this an operating system at all?). So, it was about time Samsung introduced their own OS as well. Meet the Bada OS.
To get it straight, the Bada OS looks just like TouchWiz - 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 five minutes for the S8500 Wave to feel like just another neat touchscreen feature phone Samsung seem to have in excess.
Here goes a short video shot in our studio demonstrating the new Bada interface and its capabilities.
In a way, it did feel like a revamped Samsung i8910 Omnia HD too: the Omnia HD has TouchWiz running on top of Symbian. Though the performance of the S8500 Wave is unmatched by the Omnia HD in every respect.
At its launch the Bada application store will offer around 100 apps and this number will grow with time. Our test unit couldn't bring us to the Bada app store so we were unable to even take a look at it.
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. Only 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.
The other 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.
When you activate Wi-Fi from the dropdown, you get a list with all available networks.
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 Back button so you can easily switch between currently active applications or terminate them.
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.
Scrolling the menu screens is looped, so when you reach the last one you don’t have to sweep all the way back.
Capacitive touchscreens usually won't give you handwriting recognition but the S8500 Wave is among the few exceptions. It certainly doesn't have the largest screen possible but handwriting recognition is there. As expected, you can hardly draw more than one character at a time but that's still something!
If you prefer typing to drawing, go for the on-screen keyboards. You get two options - a portrait numpad and a landscape full-QWERTY keyboard. Given the not so big screen, the the QWERTY keyboard is not the most comfortable. The keys could've been a bit bigger and better arranged - after all, the messages you compose don't need that much space.