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Samsung Wave S8500 Review

Samsung Wave

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On top of bada OS, the Samsung Wave S8500 uses TouchWiz 3.0, which looks a lot like what we have previously seen from Samsung's touchscreen devices, bringing some nice visual improvements. However, to start with, we would like to note that the Wave runs perfectly smooth. There's no lag almost anywhere in the interface, which comes as a surprise from Samsung's TouchWiz UI, as it has been suffering from severe lag from time immemorial. Now, we are not sure if the Wave's flawless performance is due only to the 1GHz processor inside it, or it’s bada that makes things run smoothly, but we can tell you that it is way more enjoyable to use the Wave, than any other TouchWiz phone . Using the Samsung Wave S8500 is like using the iPhone 3GS - you get a perfectly smooth experience, which isn't something you see every day.

The Samsung Wave S8500 uses TouchWiz 3.0 - Samsung Wave S8500 Review
The Samsung Wave S8500 uses TouchWiz 3.0 - Samsung Wave S8500 Review
The Samsung Wave S8500 uses TouchWiz 3.0 - Samsung Wave S8500 Review
The Samsung Wave S8500 uses TouchWiz 3.0 - Samsung Wave S8500 Review

We have described the new (and even the insignificant) design changes in our Samsung Wave S8500 Preview, so here, in our review, we would like to pay more attention to the ease of use of the operating system, as well as the overall experience that the user gets with it.

Let us put it this way: we are experienced users (e.g. professionals), as we've tested and reviewed many phones and smartphones, so if bada is to be an intuitive platform, chances are we wouldn't experience any problems with it. Well, that's not the case. Using basic features of the OS, such as arranging widgets on the homescreen, or starting apps and creating calendar entries is as easy as on every modern touch cell phone out there. However, we found it extremely hard to set our custom email correctly, so that we could send and receive messages. Alright, we coped with the receiving part, but we still couldn't send emails. The answer is probably somewhere deep in the settings menus, but we just can't see why we would have no problems setting everything right on every other phone and not here.

We also had some troubles starting bada's app store, named Samsung Apps. In short, sometimes the app starts, sometimes it doesn't.  And we can't really tell you what the cause of this is, since we have not done any changes in settings between the attempts. It just... happens.


Phonebook and Organizer:

The phonebook allows you to store IM information for your contacts (you can choose from AIM, Windows Live, Yahoo!, Skype, QQ and Google Talk), as well as import you social network friends from MySpace and Twitter. Facebook was not available as an option in our unit, which is rather strange (in the negative way), but that might be depending on your region. You can track each contact’s latest online activity through the phonebook application, which is called SNS functionality (from Social Network Service). SNS is also used in various other phones such as the LG GW620, LG Pop and Samsung Lindy. The good thing is that your contacts appear with their online images, which makes the phonebook way more colorful and enjoyable. The bad thing is that you'll have to manually link your phone contacts and the imported social network friends.

The phonebook of the Samsung Wave S8500 - Samsung Wave S8500 Review
The phonebook of the Samsung Wave S8500 - Samsung Wave S8500 Review
The phonebook of the Samsung Wave S8500 - Samsung Wave S8500 Review

Of course, you can store a lot of information for each contact. Searching by typing a name is well-made - once you tap the "Search" button, the QWERTY comes on screen and results start to appear as you type. Simple and elegant, as it should be. However, Samsung hasn't missed the opportunity to "innovate", the bar on the right with the alphabet, which is also used to find a certain contact quickly, misses some of the letters. And no, you do not get to see only the letters of the contacts you have. You might have contacts starting with "B" (like Bill, for example), but the letter "B" is missing. Still, as you start using the alphabetical bar, "B" and all the other missing letters are there, it's just that the phone passes those names faster than the letters that are present on the bar... What?! Did you... did you really manage to follow that? You might have 10 contacts starting with "B", and only one with "D", but no - you'll pass "B" with the speed of light and the phone would stay longer while over the "D". Yep, it's a small detail, but as more and more such small details start to appear, one begins to wonder what's the problem with these guys! Why don't they make things in a normal and intelligent way? Why is the "Next" key always on the left side, and the "Cancel" one on the right? It simply doesn't make any sense. Still, you will be able to get used to that last one, since it's a widely used concept in bada.

Anyways, on to one of the most widely used features of any phone - the calendar. You can synchronize the calendar with Facebook and Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync, which is great. Switching between day, week and month view is also easy, as is adding an appointment. We wanted to try how fast we can add an appointment on the Samsung Wave S8500. So we placed the Calendar widget on the homescreen (which acts like a simple shortcut), started the calendar from there, then quickly chose the desired date from month view with a double-tap. That opened the appointment creation screen, and the event was automatically scheduled to begin at 9:00. We changed the start time to 16:00 and went on to save the appointment. Oh, no you don't! We got a message telling us that we can't save an appointment with an end time that's earlier than its start time. Oh, excuse us, we didn't know it was our job to adjust that manually! Listen, if we've only entered our start time and want to save the appointment, then that means that end time doesn't matter to us. We just want a reminder about something that begins at a certain time, and we want to add it quickly... You know, Samsung's bada OS is not particularly smart when it comes to some pretty simple everyday stuff.

Calendar - Samsung Wave S8500 Review

Other organizing tools that you'll find in the Samsung Wave S8500 are Task, Memo, Voice recorder and Mini diary apps. Nothing out of the ordinary there, they work fine.


Messaging and Connectivity:

We already told you about our little gripes we had with the email app. Still, we like Samsung's  Ultimate Inbox feature, which lets you see all your emails in a single place. It's really nice that emails from your different inboxes are designated with different colors, which lets you easily distinguish them.

Ultimate Inbox is a new feature - Email - Samsung Wave S8500 Review
Email - Samsung Wave S8500 Review
Email - Samsung Wave S8500 Review
Email - Samsung Wave S8500 Review

Ultimate Inbox is a new feature

   

The Messages app that takes care of your short texts or multimedia messages can be viewed in either Conversation, or Folder view. The first one is great, because it displays your correspondences in threaded view, while the second one's layout is very similar to the email app's interface.
On the whole, we are pretty satisfied with the messaging experience and options on the first bada handset, the Samsung Wave S8500. Moreover, the manufacturer has done a pretty good job with the on-screen QWERTY keyboards. Although the screen is not very big, at 3.3 inches, the portrait keyboard is pretty well-made, as it takes advantage of all the available space. The same goes for the landscape one, which is very comfortable to type with. We also believe we made so few mistakes while typing because of the decent amount of space between the keys.

Samsung Wave S8500 Review

The built-in Dolfin 2.0 browser gets the job done. It loads pages very fast, it scrolls and zooms smoothly and without any noticeable lag. So, the technology is there, but how it has been implemented is another story. While scrolling, you'll notice that the page kind of snaps at certain positions and this can really get you out of your mind. The bad news is that this kind of "snapping" is seen almost everywhere in the OS, making things feel unnatural and even irritating at times. At least double tap and pinch-to-zoom work (almost) flawlessly. See the browser in action in our video review!

The browser also seems to compress images too much, in order to get that impressive loading times. In this case, we believe the makers of the app have gone a little too far. We absolutely wouldn't mind having to wait for a few more seconds, if that was the price to be paid for the ability to enjoy the full beauty of the web. Plus, the Super AMOLED screen is great for viewing images, but its over-saturation is a bit awkward for the web browsing experience.

The built-in Dolfin 2.0 browser gets the job done. - Samsung Wave S8500 Review
The built-in Dolfin 2.0 browser gets the job done. - Samsung Wave S8500 Review
The built-in Dolfin 2.0 browser gets the job done. - Samsung Wave S8500 Review
The built-in Dolfin 2.0 browser gets the job done. - Samsung Wave S8500 Review

Dolfin 2.0 supports Flash Lite content. You can play YouTube videos, but their playback starts to lag as you zoom in. The content is also only usable to an extent, because the Flash elements simply disappear and present you with the Flash logo in case you zoom in too much. Not cool at all. Don't get us wrong - it's a decent browser, but one that we would expect to see in a mid-end offering.

Dolfin 2.0 supports Flash Lite content - Samsung Wave S8500 Review
Dolfin 2.0 supports Flash Lite content - Samsung Wave S8500 Review
Dolfin 2.0 supports Flash Lite content - Samsung Wave S8500 Review

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PhoneArena rating:
7.5Good
Display3.3 inches, 480 x 800 pixels (283 ppi) Super AMOLED
Camera5 megapixels
Hardware
1000 MHz
Size4.65 x 2.20 x 0.43 inches
(118 x 56 x 10.9 mm)
4.09 oz  (116 g)
Battery1500 mAh, 15 hours talk time

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