The Samsung S8530 Wave II is obviously bigger and more masculine than its predecessor. It’s built around a different screen, so it can’t help it. Other than that, the two phones are virtually identical: the same finish and the same layout of controls. The handset’s styling is economic and effective.
At 123 x 59.8 x 11.8 mm the Wave II is still reasonably compact and pocket-friendly.
The phone weighs a good 135 grams. The weight is great to handle though, the solid feel and durability an added gain.
It was obviously the design team’s day off. They hardly had anything to do on the S8530 Wave II. The goal was clear – don’t change anything just make the phone bigger to accommodate the larger screen.
The only difference in terms of design is the navigation deck up front. The buttons below the screen do look nicer this time but are not as comfortable to use. The call keys are set on a rather thin plastic strip, which doesn’t quite make sense against the added width of the phone.
All in all, the buttons are OK to use – just not as clicky as before. The other thing is the phone is now taller and heavier – it doesn’t allow as secure a grip, while reaching to the buttons at the bottom.
The slim metallic body is very elegant, and just as solid. As before, the only part of the handset to have fingerprint issues is the touchscreen (despite its anti-smudge coating). The rest of the sleek Wave II body is resistant to fingerprints.
Beneath the screen, the Call and End buttons are either side of the central Menu key.
The End key doubles as a power button. It will terminate the currently running app and take you to the homescreen wherever you are in the interface. Pressing and holding the Menu key launches the task switcher.
Above the display are the earpiece and the video-call camera, along with the proximity sensor. The Samsung S8530 Wave II has no ambient light senor to automatically adjust screen brightness.
On the left-hand side of the Samsung S8530 Wave II we find the volume rocker, which, however thin, is prominent enough and with distinct press. It’s suitably placed to allow comfortable use as a zoom lever in camera mode – it falls right under your left thumb, just like your right index finger sticks to the shutter key.
Speaking of which, the right side of the phone features the dedicated camera key and the lock button. Both are pretty tiny knobs but properly raised and tactile. The shutter key is soft and responsive, with distinct half-press position. The camera launches almost instantly and that’s another point in favor of the Wave II.
The top accommodates the microUSB port hidden under a neat plastic lid that slides softly in and out. The uncovered 3.5mm audio jack and the loudspeaker grill are also there. At the bare bottom you’ll only see nothing but the mouthpiece.
At the Wave II rear we only find the unprotected 5-megapixel camera lens. There is a small LED flash next to it to help in low-lit scenes. They once again chose to stick to the original Wave styling. Both the lens and the flash have the trademark diamond shape.
The brushed aluminum surface of the battery cover is very pleasant to touch. The whole thing is quite usable too – the rear cover will pop softly up when you pull the latch at the bottom. Underneath is the 1500 mAh Li-Ion battery.
Both the microSD card slot and the SIM compartment are under the battery. The memory card isn’t hot-swappable and that’s one design decision we’re not happy with. It was the price to pay perhaps for the extra slim metal unibody. On a positive note, the phone handles a 16GB microSDHC card trouble-free.
The Samsung S8530 Wave II is the successor that the circumstances have forced on the original Wave. These are virtually two identical phones: the attractive styling and solid build go without saying. The Wave II is just bigger and manlier that the original – a guy’s gain is a gal’s loss we’re afraid. But in the end, it all boils down to the screen – and we don’t mean size this time. It’s Super Clear LCD against SuperAMOLED. We have the score on the next page.
The greatest change that the Wave II brings is the new 3.7” Super Clear LCD screen. It packs the exact same resolution as the 3.3” SuperAMOLED unit of the original but the technology used makes a big difference in image quality.
LCDs are simply unable to provide the same contrast as SuperAMOLED, which is the key feature of a display indoors. We did like the saturated colors of the S8500 Wave unit more than the slightly colder hues of the S8530 Wave II. This however could simply be a matter of taste.
The SuperAMOLED unit has wider viewing angles, its colors remain unchanged to the very edge. The Super Clear LCD on the other hand tends to lose some contrast when looked at a wider angle and this is certainly a step down.
At least the new Wave’s sunlight legibility is still spotless and you will easily see what’s on the screen even in the brightly shining sun.
We’d still pick SuperAMOLED over the new generation LCD any day. It’s a pity Samsung were forced to make that change. By the way, we think Samsung’s Super Clear LCD is just a more personal name for Super LCD that we’re about to see more and more of.
Anyway, the Wave II is trying to cover its image quality losses with sheer size. The extra 0.4 inches of diagonal should make at least some difference. It’s obviously a matter of quality vs quantity here and we are afraid it’s a choice you’ll just have to make. At least for as long as the supplies of the original Wave last in the stores.