Samsung is looking to make some waves in the smartphone space with this aptly-named model.
HERE we have another smartphone billed for an iPhone 3GS competitor but still far from the league. That seems to be the case with almost every single smartphone with a large touchscreen these days.
But unlike all the pretenders we've seen before, the upcoming Samsung Wave S8500 may just have the potential to make some inroads.
By way of introduction, the Wave is Samsung's first model to use its proprietary open mobile platform called Bada (which means "ocean" in Korean).
With Bada, Samsung says it has made it easier for developers to create more content for its Samsung Apps Store marketplace. More about this later.
Encased in a light and sleek aluminium body - and without a parting line on the side - the Wave combines modernity and sophistication.
The ergonomically designed body also makes it more comfortable to hold.
The front is dominated by the 3.3in Super Amoled tempered glass display, which is scratch-resistant.
Below the display are three access buttons for making and ending calls and accessing the menu interface. On the sides sit the volume, camera and display-toggle keys. A standard audio-in jack, speaker grill and a mini USB port are located at the top.
The mini USB port is protected by a sliding cover, which unlike the standard rubber cap, is not easily detached to go missing. Certainly a thoughtful design that we appreciate.
Equally useful are the options to silence incoming calls simply by turning over the phone and activating the speakerphone function by just putting it down on the table.
Oh my eyes!
The Wave's brilliant Super Amoled display is definitely a showstopper. Thanks to the use of Samsung's mDNIe (mobile Digital Natural Image engine) technology, the display offers vivid "in-your-face" colours and higher contrast images that seem almost alive. And we are not just being superfluous with our words here.
For the uninitiated, Super Amoled is an enhanced version of the already bright Amoled technology. Unlike its predecessor, this technology features an on-cell integrated touchscreen - gone are the air gaps between screen and touch sensor panel like in previous versions.
According to Samsung, the new screen delivers images that are up to 20% brighter, 80% less sunlight reflective and yields 20% longer battery life.
As an added bonus, the display and its whole body are covered by an anti-smudge coating to keep the smartphone looking clean and polished longer.
Fast just gets faster
The Wave loaded up very quick and it took a mere 23 seconds after pressing the On button to get to the Touch Wiz 3.0 user interface. This latest UI promises more intuitive and customisable options to users.
The super-charged 1GHz Samsung ARM Cortex A8 processor certainly makes navigation blazingly fast and smooth. The transition animations look great and are not laggy at all.
Even graphics-intensive racing games like Asphalt 5, which comes preinstalled with the device, ran smoothly. Lags did happen but only very rarely during intense action sequences when the car hits multiple items on the tracks.
Additionally, the built-in force feedback takes the gameplay experience to a whole new level.
In terms of the phone menu, the Wave has four homescreens which you can populate with widgets.
The background is made of a four-segment panoramic shot so when you slide your finger to the next homescreen, the background will switch to the next segment of the image.
Press the menu button and you will be presented with a screen with rows of colourful application icons, which suspiciously looks like you-know-which-smartphone.
The Wave's auto rotation feature works 360°, meaning whichever side you turn the device the screen will always be in the correct view.
Also available is the Social Hub application to enable you see all your online activities and updates in real-time from a single place. The app integrates e-mail, instant messaging and social networking services like Twitter and Facebook.
Internet surfing is done via the updated Dolphin 2.0 browser, which offers improved and faster access to webpages.
We have nothing much to say about the call function except it worked well, providing loud and clear audio. Also, there is a front camera when you need to make a video call.
And for the first time in the world in a smartphone - the Wave comes incorporated with Bluetooth 3.0 as well as the newest WiFi 802.11n standard.
A fun shooter
Carrying the Wave around is like having a 5-megapixel Samsung compact camera in your pocket. The camera has lots, and we do mean lots, of options normally only found in the company's standalone compact cameras.
The only thing missing is an optical zoom so users will just have to depend on the 4x digital zoom.
There are various shooting modes like single, smile shot, panaroma, beauty and vintage as well as up to 14 scene modes such as candlelight, fireworks, night, sport, portrait and party.
The smile shot feature takes a picture only when it detects a smile on the subject and surprisingly it worked like a charm even indoors under fluorescent lights.
Equally impressive was the panaroma shooting mode (up to four frames). You can simply select your direction - only one way, either to the left, right, up or down - and press the shutter once to take the first frame. Then, you need to slowly point the device to the next segment of the panaromic frame and when it is within the range (it will be marked by an orange box), it will take the shot automatically.
Meanwhile, the camcorder offers three recording modes - namely normal, MMS and slow motion. As the name suggests, slow motion slows down the action when viewed.
Suffice to say, we were quite impressed with both the still and video image quality which turned out to be above average and looked a lot better compared to almost all camera phones that we've tested before.
To make it easier when shooting outdoors, you can activate the "Outdoor Visibility" option in both shooting modes to enhance visibility on the LCD screen.
The must-have pinch-to-zoom feature is available when viewing images and it also worked smoothly.
The Wave supports DivX HD video playback at 720p resolution so it can be your perfect multimedia companion while travelling. We downloaded an HD video to the phone and thanks to its superb screen, the video looked awesome.
The device also supports other multimedia file formats including MPEG4, H.263, H.264, XviD, WMV and MP3. It also has built-in FM radio with recording and RDS functions.
Battery life is about two days despite heavy usage, which we consider great for a smartphone.
Bada bing bada boom
This review would not be complete if we don't elaborate on the Bada platform. According to Samsung, Bada allows developers to code in Flash, C++, Web Runtime as well as Java, so there is a lot of leeway when creating an application.
All applications will be available in the Samsung Apps Store, which users can access directly from their phone or through their PC via the Samsung's Kies software - which is what iTunes is to the iPhone.
With Kies, users can synchronise and back up data from their phone. Malaysia is one of the countries that the marketplace is supported. Understandably, it is currently very sparsely stocked at the moment but the good news is that all the apps are free.
In a nutshell, the Wave offers an eye-popping display, speedy performance, a responsive and intuitive user interface and a good camera.
The icing on the cake is that, at RM1,699, the Wave is a steal compared to other smartphones.
The only major drawback in our book is the virtual keyboard, which is too narrow for our fingers. Also there is no auto-correct feature to help speed up the typing.
Having said that, we had only four days to play with the device but in this short span of time, it did leave a lasting impression on us.
Suffice to say, if this is the tip of the iceberg of things to come from Samsung, then we say bring it on. The phone is scheduled to hit the market on June 8.