Samsung Wave 3 Review

Introduction and Design

The latest grandmaster of Samsung’s bada OS dropped by the office to say hi, and the first impression it brought was that of a pretty solid device designwise. Unlike the original Wave, though, which was the first smartphone with Super AMOLED display and Hummingbird processor, the third edition won’t steal the spotlight with anything “first”.

It sports the newest bada 2.0 OS, a single core processor pumped up to 1.4GHz, and a 4” Super AMOLED display. Is it enough to battle today's overcrowded mid-range Android and Windows Phone market? Read on to find our thoughts on the Samsung Wave 3


Overall, we are very satisfied with the outer appearance – the phone is slim at 0.39“ (9.9mm), with reasonable 4.30oz (122g) of heft, despite the largely metal chassis, and has all the curves in the right places that make it comfortable to hold. Both the power/lock key on the right, and the volume rocker left are easy to find and press.

You can compare the Samsung Wave 3 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Moreover, from the looks and materials one can immediately tell they are holding a high-end bada phone, so the Samsung Wave 3 has managed to both be distinctive, and keep the flagship design heritage alive, including using the trademark brushed metal looks. The only gripe is that it is a tad on the wide side, which makes it a bit unwieldy for people with smaller hands.

The 4” Super AMOLED display seems like taken directly from last year's Galaxy S editions. It has the same 480x800 resolution, wide viewing angles, gaudy colors and almost infinite contrast. Unfortunately, it still sports overly cold colors and the PenTile matrix, which places it a level below the Super AMOLED Plus display on the Galaxy S II, for example, and could use a tad more brightness for better use outside.

Half of the solid metal chassis simply slides up on rails when you push a thin button on the back, revealing the battery compartment with the SIM card and microSD slots – enough with ruining your manicure trying to pry open a back cover. You can insert the SIM and the memory card without removing the battery at all.

Samsung Wave 3 360-degrees View:

Interface and Functionality:

Bada OS 2.0 is standing loud and proud in front of you past the active lockscreen of the Samsung Wave 3, and there is a difference in visual candy compared to the previous iteration.  The  TouchWiz interface is very similar to the one found on the Android Galaxy S II, down to the default wallpaper and the grid that shows you where you can place each widget on the homescreen, and how much cells it will take.

The lock screen now shows the weather widget and message notifications. On the farthest left homescreen you can place widgets in a scrollable list, called Live Panel, with the only locked  one being the widget for your favorite contacts.Bada 2.0 looks way more polished in terms of iconography and fonts than its predecessor, too, as it should be. Transitional animations and transparency are ubiquitous now, bringing more pleasant looks to Samsung's homemade mobile OS. Almost every menu has been updated for better visuals, from the sliding switches that turn on/off different functions, to the rounded buttons within the apps, and a new, contrasting color scheme has taken over.

The eye candy draws well without hiccups, as should be the norm on a 1.4GHz processor. We have to also note that the touchscreen was very responsive with no lag following your finger movement, and kinetic scrolling feels like it has been given a nitro booster.

A major addition to the interface in bada 2.0 is voice recognition, which pops up often, inviting you to say a command or phrase. We found it to be pretty accurate, provided that you speak slowly and distinctly.

There is multitasking also – hold down the home key, and you get a list of the running apps (including 3rd party), between which you can toggle, or kill them altogether at once. In short, TouchWiz over bada 2.0 now gets to look a lot like the one on Android, sans the live wallpapers.

The messaging app has a helpful contacts bar under the recipient field, from where you can quickly choose a number from the call log, for instance, and a quick way to attach an image, video or sound file to your outgoing message is at a touch distance.

The email app supports automatic configuration for the most popular online services, and you can adjust a lot of font options, like size, shape and even color. Typing messages is very comfortable on the large 4” display, in both landscape and portrait modes. The virtual keyboard employs more rounded buttons with extra space between them now, which eases the process of typing correctly.

Internet and Connectivity:

Unfortunately, bada 2.0 doesn't support desktop Adobe Flash. The Dolphin 3.0 browser of Samsung, however, has a more polished UI now plus a new download manager, so it's a change for the better. Text reflow, panning and zooming also work flawlessly, so the only thing you are likely to miss is full Flash support at places.

The Samsun'g Wave 3 supports a full set of connectivity options – 14.4Mbps HSDPA,  Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, A-GPS, DLNA and FM radio. As with most high-end Samsung handsets of late, we have Wi-Fi Direct as well, so their owners can exchange big files quickly without the need of an access point. Of note is that the GPS chip locked position pretty quick on cold start – for about 20 seconds, and it also supports the Russian satellite system Glonass.


The 5MP shooter has some tricks up its camera interface sleeve like a Panorama mode and smile recognition, sprinkling the experience with a couple of effects you can apply to your photos and videos.

Outside the pictures turned out fine, with decent amount of detail, proper exposure and credible color representation, while the phone showed good dynamic range outlining the boundaries between light and dark places well. The photos could be a tad sharper, though.

Inside, however, the automatic white balance couldn't lock the colors properly, casting cold, greenish hues over the pictures. Noise was kept in check but for the sake of blurred details, and the flash did an average job for illuminating the scene at six feet distance.

With the daylight videos we also didn't encounter any major issues – the 720p HD clips were captured with consistent 30fps and enough detail, there was no botched color balance, and the Wave 3 was quick to adjust exposure while we were panning around with it. Indoors, however, we came across very grainy video capture, which got significantly worse when the light started to go down.

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Samsung Wave 3 Sample Video:

Samsung Wave 3 Indoor Sample Video:


The Gallery app UI has been redesigned completely, with cool page-turning effect when you switch on the slideshow function and so on. There is, however, no pictures or video editors embedded in the gallery, only a few basics like crop and rotate.The music player has also received an eye-candy boost, and it sports embedded song recognition functionality, as well as equalizer presets.

The video player has gotten a nice visual upgrade, too, with a transparent interface, and now carries the ability to display subtitles. It also played most formats we threw at it, including DivX/Xvid out of the box, up to 720p.


Call quality in the earpiece of the Samsung Wave 3 is adequate, with decent volume and clear sound, while the receiving end said they could hear us very well, both in terms of strength and clarity.

The 1500mAh battery is rated for 8 hours and 50 minutes of talk time in 3G mode, which is slightly above average for the category. Bada handsets traditionally sport good battery life, and during our review we didn't notice any excessive draining, you should be able to get through a day and a half on a full charge with normal usage.


The new flagship bada OS handset Samsung Wave 3 is thin, fairly light, and made of quality materials. When you look at its brushed metal shell, it looks diligently crafted, and, to top it off, it even has some unique chassis features like a sliding shell to reveal the battery compartment.

The new TouchWiz on bada 2.0 is an improvement over the previous version in terms of both eye candy and added functionality, but the OS still doesn't support Adobe Flash and multicore processors. When we consider, however, the 4” Super AMOLED display, good call quality, and the vast support of video codecs in the default player, the Wave 3 is indeed the best bada handset so far, and one that is showing how bada OS has matured.

Still, the bada flagship lacks a dual-core processor or a more resolute display and camera, yet at its current price it is positioned squarely against more advanced phones like the HTC Sensation or the Samsung Galaxy R with their dual-core chips and larger screens.

Considering the comparative lack of apps for bada, mid-range Android phones like Samsung's own Galaxy W or the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S with their 1.4GHz processors and large screens are an easy pick before the Wave 3. On top of it all they come with lower pricing, too, thus removing the advantages of bada as the “poor man's Android”.

Another alternative to the Wave 3 can be the Nokia Lumia 800 with the decent choice of apps at the Windows Phone Marketplace, 8MP camera, and its free offline voice navigation, although it is more expensive. The Samsung Omnia W also has a 1.4GHz processor and 5MP camera with LED flash, but sports a smaller 3.7” display at a price comparable to the Wave 3.

Software version of the reviewed unit: bada 2.0S8600XXKJC

Samsung Wave 3 Video Review:


  • Distinct brushed metal design
  • Ingenuous sliding chassis allows easy microSD and SIM card swaps
  • Prettified bada 2.0 runs flawlessly on the 1.4GHz processor


  • Pricey for a bada handset
  • Lousy pictures and video capture indoors
  • Only a modest upgrade from its predecessor Wave 2

PhoneArena Rating:


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