Samsung Wave 533 Review

14
Introduction and Design
This is a global GSM phone. It can be used with AT&T and T-Mobile USA.

Introduction:


After reviewing our first low-range bada OS handset in the form of the Samsung Wave 525, now time has come to take a closer look at its version with a physical keyboard – the Samsung Wave 533. It is the first handset with Samsung's own mobile OS to sport a slide-out QWERTY.

Thus, we will keep most of the software part, which duplicates what we found on the Samsung Wave 525, and focus on the design differences and keyboard performance instead, so read on to find out what they are...

Design:

The Samsung Wave 533 is a plain looking all-plastic handset, with a chrome-like rim around it, which marks the separation of the screen and keyboard halves. The 3.2" capacitive touchscreen has the lowly 240x400 pixels of resolution, which makes everything on the display look jagged. The viewing angles are decent, though, and it has average sunlight visibility on full brightness. Below the screen is the  menu button, as well as send and end keys, in a typical bada OS handset fashion.



You can compare the Samsung Wave 533 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The rest of the buttons are found on the keyboard half. There is a volume rocker on the left side, protected microUSB port and 3.5mm audio jack on top, as well as a lock/power button and a dedicated camera key on the right. Every button is easy to find and press, with the exception of the rather smallish lock/power key.


The back is flat, with a 3MP camera centered in its upper part, and the speaker grill down right. The usual piano black plastic Samsung is using in most of its handsets of late, is replaced for a battery cover with dotted pattern, which makes the phone easier to grip and hold. The 0.59” (15.1 mm) thickness is average for a phone with a physical keyboard, and adds to the easy grip feeling. At 4.09 oz (116 g), it is a heavier than the 3.53 oz (100 g) Samsung Wave 525, but not by much, and feels pretty light in the hand. Similar to the other two basic bada phones, the Samsung Wave 533 will be available in three colors - black, white and pink.


The physical keyboard is what makes the phone stand out in the tsunami of bada handsets, so let’s slide the screen half away open and check how are the keys' spacing and tactile feedback. The keyboard  is pushed out with a rather tight and controlled movement, revealing four rows of keys, which light up in white when used. The additional symbols, including the number row on top, are colored in yellow, and the mode switch is down left, colored the same.


Samsung has included four grey dedicated cursor arrow keys, which we pencil as one of the advantages of physical keyboards over virtual ones, together with the fact that the whole screen remains visible when typing. Each individual key is placed in a frame independently, with enough space in between, and the key travel has reasonable depth. Long-pressing the spacebar mutes the phone. The screen slides back over the keyboard with a significant push, making the spring mechanism feel rather solid. Overall, we were quite satisfied with the physical keyboard, and feel it can be a major selling point for the Samsung Wave 533.

Samsung Wave 533 360-degree View:





Interface, Messaging, Software and Functionality:

The phone runs bada 1.1 underneath Samsung's TouchWiz 3.0 user interface. We extensively reviewed how this combination looks like on a 240x400 pixel resolution, when we talked about the Samsung Wave 723, and we didn't notice many differences, but the lack of some apps in the menu, chief of them being a dedicated gallery icon. There are 100MB of memory, which seem enough for the low-footprint mobile OS.


There is social networking integration in the contacts app, which brings in your Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and even Exchange contacts. The text messaging and email applications possess all the basic functionalities a modern smartphone OS offers, even text body search. Typing on the virtual keyboard is easy, and the keys positions are well chosen in both landscape and portrait modes. Of note is the almost instant change of orientation, there isn’t the lag we are used to see on so many low and mid-range handsets.



Right now a few decent games, such as Assassin’s Creed II and some applications are free for the latest bada phones, so you can enrich your collection until Samsung decides to pull the plug on the freebies.

Browser and Connectivity:

Samsung's Dolphin 2.0 browser is fairly decent, but lacks proper Flash support and the interface looks unpolished at this resolution. Samsung Wave 533 has EDGE connectivity, Wi-Fi, A-GPS (which takes 3-4 minutes to lock position when cold-started, or mere seconds if there is Internet connection present), Bluetooth 3.0 and FM radio. The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios can be easily turned on and off from the switches in the notification bar.



Camera and Multimedia:

The 3MP shooter in the Samsung Wave 533 has the typical TouchWiz 3.0 camera interface, which is well-optimized for finger usage, and with a lot of functionalities. The pictures themselves turned out with a decent amount of detail and pretty accurate color representation, but exposure compensation was hit-and-miss, especially when there were bright objects present. Indoors in low light the shots were rather noisy, but passable if there was a lot of light around. The phone shoots QVGA video at 15fps, which is good only for viewing on the handset's screen.




We mentioned the lack of a dedicated gallery app icon in the main menu, but it can be accessed through the camera interface, and has photo editing options built-in, for basic alterations to your photos on the handset.

The music player is pretty decent with a lot of sorting options for your tracks, a music recognition service that you can fire straight from the app, and faux 5.1 channel SRS sound in headset mode. The loudspeaker is above average, both in terms of output volume and distortion.


Video playing is not up to par with Samsung’s traditionally excellent codec support, as it lacks DivX/Xvid capabilities, and only plays clips up to the screen’s resolution.



Performance:

The voices in the earpiece sounded loud and clear, while people were able to hear us well. Samsung Wave 533 has a 1200mAh battery with no official talk time specs yet, but we achieved about two days of using the handset, so we are at least positive that it hits the average mark.

Conclusion:

The Samsung Wave 533 is the first bada OS phone with a physical keyboard, and it is a good one – with ample space between keys, and enough travel to them. The handset has most daily tasks covered, and integrates some extra functionalities, such as image editing or music recognition. Last time we checked, there were over 500 applications on Samsung Apps for the handset, some being pretty useful, but as a whole Samsung's application store needs to catch up in variety. The QWERTY-laden bada handset has all the prerequisites to make a good messaging phone for those of us who do a lot of typing, and won't break your budget.

As alternatives we would guide you to the Android-powered Samsung i5510, which has a very similar keyboard, and adds the flexibility of the Android Market plus 3G connectivity to the mix. If typing is not your thing, but you like what bada OS is offering, the Samsung Wave 525, which has identical specs, might be for you.

If you don't mind some Symbian alternatives, the Nokia 5250 is a basic smartphone with EDGE-only connectivity. Provided that you need the keyboard, you can step it up with the Nokia C6, which, however, might be priced higher.

Samsung Wave 533 Video Review:





Pros

  • Well-spaced keyboard
  • Surround sound in headset mode
  • Decent loudspeaker and earpiece

Cons

  • Screen resolution is too low
  • Lack of DivX/Xvid support
  • No dedicated gallery app

PhoneArena Rating:

6.5

User Rating:

6.5
2 Reviews

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless