Review: Samsung makes waves

By James Lawson, ITWeb journalist
Johannesburg, 07 Jul 2010

The Samsung Wave (S8500) is the Korean company's first touchscreen mobile phone running the new Bada operating system, and is planned for release in SA this month.

The Wave is also the first mobile phone to feature Super-Amoled technology, which promises 16 million colours, and is said to reduce the phone's power consumption by as much as 20% when in use. The phone sports a 480x800 WVGA resolution, and unlike the BlackBerry Storm 2, has a strong body, with a back cover that fits in securely.

Both the touchscreen and the OS are responsive, with no delays when switching between applications or browsing through menus. This is thanks to Samsung's Hummingbird 1GHz processor, which according to Engadget, is reputed to be a relative to the processor in the iPad. Coupled with its ability to use OpenGL, the phone supports some very graphically appealing games and interfaces.

The Wave connects to social networking sites Facebook and Twitter with pre-installed applications, but I found them rather slow and lacking in features. It has support for e-mail through IMAP and POP3, and features two cameras, one for video and photos (5-megapixel) and the other for voice calling. It records video in HD, and has various photo taking options.

With the release of the Bada OS, Samsung has opened its own application store. Currently, the number of applications is fairly low in SA, although there is some free content available for download.

The battery life on the phone with moderate usage is relatively good. On average, I charged the phone every two to three days with connectivity to the Internet over 3G, but mileage may vary depending on usage. Turn on features like WiFi, and the power drains fairly quickly, although this is a problem with most, if not all smartphones.

The annoying aspect of the phone is that when it's running low on power, it makes this clear every 10 minutes. If the phone is on silent, it vibrates, leaving you wondering if power could be better spent if it weren't for these constant reminders. Unfortunately, there is no menu to disable the warning tones for low battery power - hopefully Samsung will fix this in an operating system update.

Samsung's application for computer usage, Kies, is a disappointment. If they spent less time trying to recreate the visual cue of the desktop and worked instead on providing functionality, say, in actually detecting the phone, it would be more useful to the end-user.

My attempts to connect the phone to Kies, both on Windows 7 Professional and Windows XP, failed, as the software was unable to connect to the device. Furthermore, there isn't sufficient help online to troubleshoot the issues, leaving one rather unsatisfied with the end result.

While I applaud Samsung for providing the option to choose which connection type you would like to use, I also found the phone was unable to properly install its networking driver on Windows 7 Professional. This left a dangling driver that could not be uninstalled from the operating system.

In summary:

Computer-software issues aside, I found the Samsung Wave a pleasure to use. The interface is fast, visually appealing, and responsive. If the company fixes some of the minor flaws, the phone could very likely be an iPhone replacement.

I say: Definitely a contender for those who aren't supporters of Apple's technology and are looking for a decent smartphone solution
Plus: Fast, flexible smartphone supporting the latest technology
Minus: Poor software integration from the PC to phone