Reviewed: Samsung Wave
A new player enters the smartphone game. We thoroughly kick the tyres and play with its apps.
OK, I have to admit it; I was a little too easy on the Sony Ericsson Vivaz. I acted like a concerned parent who sent their kid to school with a reassuring kiss on the forehead and hoped the bigger boys of HTC and Apple would be nice and include it in their playground games.
No such allowances will be made in future, I promised myself before picking up the Samsung Wave. As it turns out, the Wave brushed aside my offerings of reassurance, instead making me figuratively wait by the school gate so as not to embarrass it in front of the smartphone cool kids.
Playground analogies will have to stop here, this phone is not child's play. Boasting an impressive 1Ghz processor, this phone is a serious piece of equipment and uses the added speed to its advantage. With such a fast processor it would be excused for merely sitting back and enjoying running the basics as efficiently as possible, but the Wave doesn't do things by halves and makes the best use of the added speed and runs multiple functions seamlessly.
The overall look and feel of the phone is a joy. Unlike so many others that hit the market this year, the Wave actually feels like a phone rather than a fashion accessory. That's not to say it isn't pretty, far from it, but what I will say is that the Wave combines being sleek with being extremely functional with ease.
I must admit I was drawn in with the display on the Wave. Samsung has finally realised that it makes some of the best LCD televisions on the market and should try to emulate what makes them great when designing its phones. With that in mind, The Wave features Samsung's "super AMOLED" technology on a 3.3-inch 480 x 800 pixel touchscreen, and believe me when I say viewing the screen contrast is like having your eyeballs massaged.
Terrible similes aside, the display really stands out as one of the best seen on a smartphone and works well with Samsung's TouchWiz overlay. Some will have mixed feelings about using TouchWiz, having been exposed to it with earlier Samsung models, Jet et al.
Earlier versions could be described as "functional" at best and "finicky" if we were refraining from using expletives, but the new 3.0 version has fixed any niggling issues and works an absolute treat with the display.
Samsung has taken a giant leap of faith with the Wave and launched it with its own operating system Bada, which I'm assured does not come from a Flying Pickets song but is Korean for 'ocean' (ah, the penny drops).
So what does Bada bring to the smartphone table? Well, for a start, it supports Flash (take that Apple!), runs multipoint-touch functions, enhanced UI and super fast download and installation of apps. It should also be pointed out that the phone's reaction to movement is very intuitive, based on Samsung's smart accelerometer. This proudly links me to my next point ...
Apps and widgets
The Bada platform is in its infancy at present but every hour or so I have gone back to check how it is getting on and to its credit there does appear to be a catalogue of applications building up. Although it must be pointed out that I had some experiences with apps crashing when trying to exit them, more a fault on the developer's side I feel, however with such a shortage at the moment it is a little worrying that nearly 10pc of the apps I tried had this problem.
Samsung can't be blamed for the shortage of apps but what it has done is include some mightily useful ones as standard on the Wave. Samsung's Social Network Service (SNS) function is pretty intuitive and allows the user to sync contacts from his or her phone book to Facebook pages/Twitter accounts.
The SNS also features a Feed & Update widget which will refresh with the latest tweets and Facebook status updates, and can be added to the main display screen. Other widget highlights include an email sync, multi-functional calendar, birthday reminders and daily briefings. Not much to shout about, I hear you say; however, each one works really well and on the display and make you want to use them.
Calling and messaging
As I mentioned above, the Wave actually feels like a phone and not just a fashion accessory, so using it for the basic function should work well, to clarify this statement. To get me off the hook, thankfully, it does do the basics with aplomb. The sound quality doesn't wane when making phone calls and the clarity holds up even in noise-polluted areas. The Wave also features video calling with high-end quality.
Messaging has the standard QWERTY keyboard layout which works well; however, I have heard others complain about the poor predictive text, but with a full QWERTY keyboard is anyone really that bothered with predictive text, anyway? One of the great features about the messaging function, too, is that you can sync multiple email and social media accounts together and post to all simultaneously. The Wave also has a pretty neat IM function and is actually enjoyable to use based on the display and functional layout.
The Wave rubs shoulders with the main players in the smartphone market with its internet capabilities. It boasts full HTML browsing and as mentioned above, supports Flash, so it really is a no-holds-barred internet experience for the user. However, I must point out that even with the Flash support some videos did appear a bit grainy.
Overall, browsing the net on the Wave is a good experience and the aforementioned speedy processor ensures it runs pretty quick. If I mention how pretty everything looks on the screen again I think my bitterness organ may tear itself from my body so I'll just have to assume it goes without saying at this stage.
There's not much more I can say about the Wave, really. It's functionally sound, looks and feels good and the Samsung custom-built attributes (Bada, TouchWiz, etc) work with immense precision. But I'm still left with a large sense of doubt about it, probably because I've never been this nice to something before and I'm waiting for the disappointment to come; however it hasn't and so I must applaud The Wave.
Naturally, it will be hard to ignore the proverbial "elephant in the room" and someone will pipe up with the question, "So should I get the Wave over other smartphones?" I think this question doesn't need an answer. Chances are you have already decided on what phone to get. If you like shiny things and own a credit card, then you'll get an iPhone, and why not? The iPhone, despite my personal hatred, is still a fantastic, genre defining piece of technology.
If you want something that performs just as well but want the added satisfaction of being able to bash Apple fan-boys, then something on the Android platform will appeal and the HTC Desire is making a big splash in that ocean.
And speaking of ocean (see what I did there?) you could do a hell of a lot worse than getting a Samsung Wave. As I said, I'm not normally this nice to something and with good cause. If you assume everything will ultimately disappoint then when it eventually happens you have the smug satisfaction of being right. The Wave, however, proved me wrong.
A new player has entered the game, and it's already one up on me.
By Adam Renardson