Samsung Wave 723 Review

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Introduction and Design
This is a global GSM phone, it can be used with AT&T and T-Mobile USA, but without 3G.

Introduction:


The first smartphone with Samsung's proprietary bada mobile OS  –  the Samsung Wave - had a thin aluminum chassis, the world's first Super AMOLED screen, and it was the handset where the 1GHz Hummingbird chipset made its debit. This was a lot of “firsts” to miss out on, be it only of curiosity.

Samsung Wave 723 is the fourth bada phone announced (after the lowly Wave 2 and Wave 2 Pro), and it is already coming to market. Now we have our own unit here to examine how bada feels without all the hardware bells and whistles of the original Wave. Samsung Wave 723 does have one unorthodox feature to be distinguished by, a permanently attached leather flap that covers the touchscreen completely, making you feel like you carry a small notepad around. Is this enough to compensate for the lack of a high-end chipset and a brilliant screen, like the ones in the Wave? Read on to find out...

Design:

The Samsung Wave 723 has a streamlined rectangular design with curvy edges, and the back is made of aluminum, like the body of the original Wave. It is smaller than the Wave, but slightly thicker at 4.31 x2.12 x0.46 inches (109.5 x 53.9 x 11.8 mm). The 3.2” capacitive LCD display is of WQVGA (240x400-pixel) resolution, and there are three physical buttons underneath it – menu key in the middle, flanked by the send and end buttons. Being LCD, the screen boasts a pretty decent visibility outdoors, even if you don't crank up the brightness.




You can compare the Samsung Wave 723 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The sides of the Samsung Wave 723 host the volume rocker on the left, and the lock/power button, plus the camera shutter key, on the right. The top houses the microUSB port with a sliding cover, and on the back we have the back panel made from light brushed aluminum, which certainly adds to the solid design feel of the phone. The 5MP camera on the back has an LED flash.





One very interesting design decision is to include a leather cover for the touchscreen, and attach it firmly at the bottom of the phone. Thus you need to flip it open every time you want to use the screen, even if only for checking the time. Not that it is extremely inconvenient, but the positioning is not well thought out. We are glad that Samsung has provided the option to remove it completely. It gets in the way annoyingly when talking on the phone, and when trying to type on the virtual keyboard.



One thing the contraption did bring, is that we never worried about placing our phone with the screen down, no matter how coarse the surface was. In summary, the Samsung Wave 723 has a classy design with some high-end elements, fits nice in the hand, and feels solid.



Interface and Functionality:

Samsung's TouchWiz UI rears its head above bada on the Wave 723, and presents you with up to nine  initial homescreens to place your widgets, and three shortcut icons on the dock at the bottom of the screen.  More homescreens are added as you place more widgets. Pressing the end key calls back the homescreen from wherever you are in the menus. The middle button is the only way to enter the main menu from the homescreen, since the dock strip only hosts the messaging, contacts and keypad icons. The main menu spans initially on three pages full of icons, which look consistently the same throughout Samsung's phones with this version of TouchWiz. The Samsung Wave  723 supports multitouch, and UI auto-rotation, thanks to the built-in accelerometer, both of which work quite well.



The interface looks a bit grainy and washed out, compared to the way it looks on the high-res Super AMOLED screen of the Wave, and the handset clogs at times – kinetic scrolling slowed to a crawl upon initial boot when we had to choose the time zone. After that stage, though, things returned to normalcy. Well, if you want a Hummingbird chipset, you have to pay extra for it. What we really like about TouchWiz 3.0 in Samsung's smartphones is the ability to toggle connectivity and profile options straight from the notification bar at the top, this useful feature is present in the Wave 723 as well.




Messaging, Browser and Connectivity:

Text messaging on the Samsung Wave 723 appears in threaded view, is searchable, and you can use the Social Hub to shoot a message via different means – text, email, Facebook. Email allows for an easy setup of most popular web services, and you can download your messages for offline viewing in full HTML up to 10MB of size, one of the great features in bada. Email, similar to text messaging, is searchable.




Samsung's Dolphin 2.0 browser is fairly quick and minimalistic, but at this resolution, websites look scraggy. Also, Adobe Flash is not properly supported, so embedded videos sometimes don't show up at all. Samsung has included in the Wave 723 all kinds of connectivity options such as 3G, A-GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.




Software:

Now here's an important part where bada is concerned, since there aren't so many applications for this mobile OS yet. The Samsung Wave 723 runs the newest version, and the bada SDK 1.1, which was outed together with the handset, allows for easy porting of existing Wave-only applications over to the lower resolution of the Wave 723. The phone comes with fairly well-executed options for the everyday tasks already built in the platform. Messaging, multimedia and productivity apps like calendar, document viewing, and multimedia editing, are fairly well taken care of out of the box, without the need to install 3rd party apps.



One of the biggest issues with bada is the lack of choice for the GPS software. Only a handful of companies have ported their software over to bada, so that leaves you stuck with whatever countries Route 66 is covering on the Wave 723, in particular. If you want offline GPS, you will be paying additionally for the program. Upon initial cold-starting of the GPS, it located us in about four minutes, then locked signal within seconds subsequently, especially if there was Wi-Fi nearby to download location data.





Camera and Multimedia:

The 5MP shooter of the Samsung Wave 723 produced quite decent images. The pictures are with accurate colors and sharp focus, although lacking a bit in the detail department. Indoor shots with moderate lighting, and in full darkness with flash, were also very good. Images can be seen together with the captured videos in the Media Gallery app as a scrollable grid of thumbnails. The handset offers numerous ways to edit pictures on the handset and add effects. Videos can also be stitched together, and have background music added to them, straight from the gallery.






Video capture is in QVGA resolution with 15fps, and the results are only good for attaching to an MMS, or a quick Facebook update - video taken with the Wave 723 can't fool anyone it is HD.




The music player
supports all bells and whistles like album art and sorting your track by playlists, albums, artists, and even genres, composers and years. The ability to recognize the song currently played around you, similar to Shazam, is built-in and called directly from the player, which is a very welcome feature. There are a bunch of visualization options, equalizer presets and music effects you can use to enrich the listening experience. The surround sound in headset mode that is present on the higher-end Wave, is becoming the norm in Samsung handsets. The loudspeaker produces weak, feeble sound, with the ubiquitous for such small speakers “tinny”effect.



Video playback is not that great in terms of format support, which is usually the case with Samsung's handsets. The Wave 723 supports the MPEG-4 format, but it hiccuped even on the default WQVGA resolution. We had to go lower for something to start showing on the screen, and the sound was sometimes lacking during playback. Codec support still needs work on the Samsung Wave 723, and we didn't see any application you can download from Samsung Apps to remedy that.






Performance:

Talk quality on the Samsung Wave 723 is pretty decent, we were hearing our friends nicely, with clear sounding voices. The ear speaker could do with a little more volume, though.  The other party had no issues hearing us, both in terms of volume, and voice clarity.  We couldn't find official ratings for the 1200mAh battery; it lasted a good two days with us, while examining the handset.

Conclusion:

Samsung has created a pretty compelling mid-rangе bada device with the Samsung Wave 723. Some elements like web browsing and stability are still rough around the edges in Samsung's mobile OS, but it shows good promise. If only Samsung could speed up applications development, it will have decent alternative to the major mobile operating systems in the low- to mid-range smartphones, where bada was intended for.

The distinguishable feature of the Wave 723 – that leather flap that covers the screen – is also its Achilles heel. It gets to you in more ways than one, and makes talking and typing very uncomfortable. Even for a simple task, like checking the time, you have to flip it open. Honestly, without it, the Samsung Wave 723 is a much better handset designwise. Thankfully, Samsung has provided a way to change it, or remove it completely, for those of us who like the Wave 723 better without it.

Plenty of Android phones offer the same functionalities that bada has, but have the added advantage of access to Android Market – Samsung's own Galaxy 3 is a decent alternative to the Wave 723, as well as the HTC Wildfire.

Samsung Wave 723 Video Review:




Pros

  • Solid design
  • Very good picture quality
  • Picture and video editing come standard

Cons

  • The default leather cover gets in the way
  • Display resolution is rather low

PhoneArena Rating:

7.0

User Rating:

9.5
2 Reviews

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