Samsung Wave II Review

Introduction and Design
This is a global GSM phone. It can beused with T-Mobile USA andAT&T, but without 3G.


The first bada phone, the Samsung Wave, was somewhat of a trailblazer for the company. Being the handset where the Super AMOLED screen technology, and the 1GHz Hummingbird chipset made their debut, it will always have a special place in our techy hearts. Samsung needed a smashing phone to get the word out about its own mobile OS bada to the world, before it puts the same technologies into the Galaxy S, with the much more popular Android, that was sure to steal the spotlight.

Bada is slowly creeping into the company’s portfolio, and the Wave family is now big and happy, including everything from the lowly Samsung Wave 525, to the above mentioned flagship. Thus we were really curious what surprises Sammy had in store for us, when it announced the Samsung Wave II. Will it live up to the popularity of the original, or will it be scrutinized like every sequel to something successful? Read on to find out...

What’s in the box:

  • Samsung Wave II handset
  • Charger
  • 1500mAh battery
  • 1GB microSD card
  • microUSB cable
  • Stereo headset with microphone
  • Warranty and quick guide leaflets


The Samsung Wave II is way bigger than its predecessor, in every way but the silicon. Not that we expected the Hummingbird chipset to be replaced with something else here, as there is nothing better with one core - even NVIDIA Tegra 2 barely equals it in the graphics department.

The phone’s screen has grown in size to 3.7”, quite larger than the 3.3-incher on the Samsung Wave, which brought along an increase in all three spacial dimensions. It is a quite respectable handset now at 4.88x2.35x0.46 inches (123.9x59.8x11.8mm), with the more palpable 4.76oz (135 g) of weight. To be frank, the original Samsung Wave looks spectacular, but is made for smaller hands - it is so thin, that only the metal casing prevents it from being lost in our grubby mitts. Samsung Wave II keeps the aluminum chassis, but we welcome the growth in size and thickness, which makes it easier to handle, if you have bigger hands.

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

It is still a looker, actually it looks almost the same as its founding father - same metallic color and same diamond-shaped opening for the 5MP camera lens on the back. The only differences are the middle menu key beneath the screen, which is a flat inverted trapezoid now, rather than the protruding diamond-shaped key before. The handset is now also offered in four colors – ebony gray, white, pink and black.

The screen part is also completely flat, not slightly recessed at both ends like on the Samsung Wave. And here comes the biggest surprise - instead of a bigger, brighter Super AMOLED screen, the 3.7-incher is of the Super Clear LCD variety with the same 480x800 pixels of resolution. Oh, well, we guess Sammy was hit by its own Super AMOLED supply problems here. Don’t get us wrong, the display is still one of the best the LCD technology can offer in terms of sunlight visibility, color gamut and viewing angles, but the punchy, oversaturated colors, and almost infinite contrast of the Super AMOLED will be missed regardless. The lack of an ambient light sensor to automatically adjust the screen's brightness is a letdown.

Overall, in the Samsung Wave II the design centers around the larger screen size, making the handset taller, thicker and more solid to handle with our paws. It keeps all the elements of the original’s chick appearance, like the brushed metal body and laser-etched branding. We are especially pleased that the screen lock is comfortably placed on the right side, so we won’t have to look for it at the top every time we want to check the hour of the day, like with so many handsets lately (cough, HTC, cough).

Samsung Wave II 360-degree View:

Interface and Functionality:

We have previewed the bada operating system of Samsung quite extensively in the original Wave review, as well as with the Samsung Wave 723, so we will just mention here that the Samsung Wave II has the latest 1.2 bada version. It brings over some big fixes, such as being able to operate the phone while connected via USB, but also a couple of new features - Swype-like text input, improved browser, and OpenGL ES implementation for game development.

Bada has all the prerequisites of a modern mobile OS - homescreens with widgets, social networking integration in the phonebook, copy and paste, song recognition, basic image/video editing, as well as excellent stock video and music players with DivX/Xvid and FLAC codec support. The major downside is that it doesn’t have many 3rd party apps yet, with which to fill the 2GB internal memory.

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The ones you download from Samsung Apps can’t run simultaneously - multitasking is supported only for the base apps, like Calendar and Email, for instance. True multitasking and Adobe Flash support are coming to the Samsung Wave II with bada 2.0, which will be rolled out in the summer.

Internet, Connectivity and Software:

The WebKit-based Dolphin browser in bada 1.2 has some improvements, mainly in terms of speed, but the basic support of HTML5 and Flash Lite 3.xx stays the same, i.e. some Flash ads and YouTube videos play fine. Flash Lite 4 support should come with the launch of bada 2.0 in the summer, but it's yet uncertain when the OS might get the real deal, which is Flash Player 10.1 support. Also, the browser still doesn’t support text reflow properly, or rather makes everything too small when it tries to fit it in the screen size, so the text is barely readable on the 3.7” Samsung Wave II.

The bada browser uses high compression for web pictures, so as to load the page quickly, but the resulting looks are pretty bad. It also offers some nice perks, like moving you from one drop-down menu to another with a simple press of the “next” button, which speeds up form-filling on websites.

The Samsung Wave II offers a full set of connectivity options - 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, A-GPS, DLNA for media sharing, as well as FM radio.

As usual, the Microsoft Office and PDF document Picsel viewer is included in the package, along with Samsung LBS - a voice-guided GPS software by Route66, which offers a lifetime license deal for Wave phones for $40. The GPS fix was fairly quick when we were connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot, or the carrier's data network. Locking us in position with only the GPS chip on, however, required several minutes. As usual with bada handsets, Samsung has included music recognition software, as well as basic image and video editors, which are built right into the music player and the gallery themselves.

Camera and Multimedia:

The 5MP camera with LED flash is of the same resolution we have on the first Samsung Wave, and as a whole we have no complaints towards this. The camera interface is  the tried-and-true Samsung creation, which is very touch friendly, and a pleasure to use, with a number of useful additional settings, preset scenes and shooting modes present out of the box. In addition, firing it up with the dedicated button, and shot-to-shot times, are almost instant.

The outdoor snaps with the Samsung Wave II turned out with correct exposure and color representation, as well as sharp focus, but detail was lacking a bit, probably due to the cloudy skies. The indoor shots are more than adequate for a phone camera, and the LED flash does a much better job at illuminating the scene than your average unit.

Video is captured at 720p HD resolution with the smooth 30fps, and it exhibits the same accurate color representation and exposure already seen in the still pictures.

Samsung Wave II Sample Video

Music playback on the Samsung Wave II is traditionally great, as in most bada devices, as Samsung’s mobile OS supports FLAC, the lossless audio format, as well as 5.1 channel surround sound in headset mode, dubbed DNSe - Digital Natural Sound Engine. The music player’s interface is nice, definitely better than the Froyo one, and it has music recognition software built into the player itself. We could use a better loudspeaker in the phone, though, as the default one sounds quite unnatural.

The handset plays whatever you throw at it, including DivX/Xvid files up to HD resolutions - great codec support out of the box, as is usually the case with Samsung’s smartphones.

Performance and Conclusion:

As for the calling capabilities, the Samsung Wave II performs very well. It doesn’t have dual mics for noise cancellation, but the single one does a commendable job at filtering out the background noise coming from around you. The earspeaker is loud enough, and the caller’s voice sounds natural, without any notable distortion. The loudspeaker is a bit on the weak and tinny side, which was explicable in a thin handset such as the first Samsung Wave, but here Sammy could have placed a punchier unit.

Battery life from the 1500mAh unit is rated at 6 hours of talk time with 3G turned on, and 20 days of standby.

Overall, the Samsung Wave II makes a very good impression as the younger, hulkier brother of the original. It has grown in size, thanks to the inclusion of a larger 3.7” screen, making it feel more solid and comfortable to operate. It’s somewhat disappointing that the screen is not Super AMOLED, as that would really make the handset stand out - currently we would say the Samsung Wave is still the flagship handset of the Wave family, thanks to its vibrant display and up-to-date hardware.

Other than that, the Wave II exhibits the same sweet characteristics we’ve come to expect from Samsung’s high-end smartphones lately - powerful 1GHz Hummingbird chipset, wide codec support both for audio and video, and excellent camera module. The bada OS has a lot of features for which, with other mobile operating systems, you need 3rd party apps, but the Samsung Apps store has to catch up significantly with the sheer number of applications available for the most popular platforms. One of the biggest software drawbacks is the browser with its high compression rates and lack of true Adobe Flash Player 10.1 support, which is not coming any time soon. If you can live past these though, the Wave II is a pretty nicely-balanced performer.

If you are looking for alternatives to the Samsung Wave II, and you don’t have big hands, you could opt for the original Wave, which is basically the same handset, but smaller, slimmer, and with a Super AMOLED screen. The also-metallic Nokia N8 will offer an amazing 12MP camera, and Android lovers might prefer the HTC Desire Z, which has a sliding keyboard.

Samsung Wave II Video Review:

Video Thumbnail


  • Very good camera
  • Solid metal construction
  • Rich support of video and audio codecs


  • No ambient light sensor for automatic adjustment of screen brightness
  • bada 1.2 browser still doesn't support Adobe Flash 10.1

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