Samsung are certainly hoping the Wave is the future, but is the smartphone buying public ready to embrace yet another new operating system? We think the answer is yes, but perhaps not for the reasons you expect. The Samsung Wave, also known as the GT-S8500 was introduced with a huge fanfare – dancers, a light show and TV presenter Jake Humphrey did the job – at this years Mobile World Congress and it’s the first Samsung mobile to feature their newest operating system, Bada.
You may remember Bada from late 2009, when Samsung unveiled it as their in-house OS, stating their intention had been to build a smartphone system for everybody, and what better way to get us excited about such a thing than debuting it on a brand-new powerhouse phone like the Wave.
Categorising the Wave as simply Samsung’s range-topper would be to label it as just another powerful mobile phone, but this is a lot more than that. Think of it as Samsung’s Nexus One. It shares many features with Google’s phone, it has a stylish but slightly faceless design and runs the company’s own operating system. It’s designed around the current hardware pinnacle, while representing a departure from the manufacturers previous output. What separates the two is who the phones are aimed at. The geeky crowd look dewy-eyed upon a Nexus One, but with the Wave, Samsung intend the average mobile user to be enchanted by a handset with smartphone power and feature phone accessibility.
A Brave New World?
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipset may feel like the only 1GHz option on the block, as it seems to inhabit almost every new superphone introduced onto the market recently, but Samsung have chosen to use the ARM Cortex A8 1GHz chipset instead. Introduced with the codename Hummingbird during the middle of 2009, the Wave is the first phone to include the highly energy efficient chip.
Samsung have yet to confirm the RAM and ROM figures for the Wave, but the phone will have a 2GB or 8GB version along with microSD card memory expansion.
Bada itself won’t really be seen, as Samsung have opted to use TouchWiz 3.0 as the Wave’s user interface. The Android-style icons, multiple homescreens, applications and widgets will be familiar to all smartphone users, along with anyone who has previously used a TouchWiz-enabled mobile phone. Now do you see why Samsung have great expectations for the Wave? Just think of the number of people using a Jet or F480 Tocco who are ready for the next level!
The whole system feels super-fast and highly responsive to your touch, with screens zipping by and applications opening instantly. This really will dispel any mistaken notion that smartphones are slower than their feature phone cousins.
Is the Wave a great looking phone? Well, that’s for you to decide, but there is no denying it’s instantly recognisable as a Samsung phone, with an all-in-one metallic shell covered with subtle curves and the now-familiar diamond shaped Home button flanked by call and end keys.
Dominating the front panel is the 3.3″ Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen. Even if you’ve only seen video of it in action, its pin-sharp level of detail, stunning contrast and deep black levels are all clearly visible. Samsung have been at the forefront of OLED screen technology for a while and the Wave’s 480×800 pixel resolution item confirms this.
What Else Can It Do?
- Connectivity. Naturally, the Wave is a 3G phone with GPRS and EDGE data connections along with HSDPA and HSUPA. Wi-Fi is also built-in.
- Bluetooth 3.0. The Wave will be one of the first to feature the latest version of Bluetooth with its super-fast transfer speeds.
- GPS. Assisted GPS is built-in, as is a digital compass and Samsung Mobile Navigator software.
- Media Player. With such a strong processor onboard, it should come as no surprise that the Wave is great for video, however it may surprise you to hear that the phone is perfectly happy with 720p HD video playback! The phone supports DivX/XviD out of the box, along with the regular MPEG4, WMV, H.263 and H.264 file formats.
- Two Keyboard Options. Select either a landscape or portrait virtual QWERTY keyboard or revert to a standard alphanumeric items. Again, another great way to help smartphone newcomers adapt. Handwriting recognition is also onboard.
- 5 Megapixel Camera. Joining the 5 megapixel camera is face and smile recognition, blink detection, geo-tagging, autofocus and an LED flash. On the video side, the camera will shoot at 30fps and 720p.
- Music Player. The Wave uses Samsung’s DNSe technology along with an equaliser to adapt the sound to your preferences. A 3.5mm jack socket will let you use your own headphones and the phone also has an FM RDS radio.
- Widgets. This being based around TouchWiz, there are plenty of standard widgets and even more to download later.
- Samsung Apps. Potentially, that which makes or breaks Bada as a true Android/iPhone alternative. Many top names are already producing applications for Samsung, and they are likely to also be working on Bada versions. The powerful processor and gorgeous screen make the Wave perfect for many of the high quality games iPhone owners enjoy, so we can’t wait to see what they have on offer at launch.
- Samsung Kies. This is the new sync software which the Wave will use. A very clear and simple to use system should see everyone happily syncing new apps, music and video with the Wave. The phone will also support apps being downloaded directly onto the handset.
- The Unknown. For a new OS to be a success, it must first be embraced. Only time will tell if the Wave, and therefore Bada, captures the public’s imagination.
- Applications. Without a healthy app store, a smartphone today simply won’t make it.
- Style. As a piece of technology, the Wave is really superb, as an exercise in design, it’s possibly a little too subtle.
The Samsung Wave is perfectly placed to exploit the current interest in smartphones by attracting their legions of feature phone users over with the minimum of upgrade fuss. If you’re already using a smartphone, Samsung’s inclusion of all the must-have features, a super-quick processor, a stunning AMOLED screen and the promise of a packed app store, means that you’ll likely to be joining the queue for a GT-S8500 Wave too!