Samsung Wave S8500 Review - Specs, Price, Sample Photos, Videos, Verdict

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Samsung Wave GT-S8500

From time to time, manufacturers practice laudable 'kindness' and give consumers a phone they deserve; A handset that's feature-packed and powerful yet reasonably priced. Samsung Wave is such phone.

Samsung Wave GT-S8500


Samsung Wave is the first handset to run on Samsung's home-bred smartphone operating system, aptly named Bada (the Korean word for 'ocean' or 'sea') -- This OS is a product of the company's foray into the mobile platform business and the cornerstone of its efforts to bring the smartphone experience to all conventional customers.

“The Samsung Wave truly demonstrates our commitment to deliver rich, connected and innovative smartphone experiences to everyone,” said JK Shin, President and Head of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics.

“Samsung Wave sees our platform vision become a reality. For the first time, developers have the freedom to create applications across multiple platforms, for consumption on a huge range of devices. In the Wave, our developer partners can see the ocean of opportunity that is offered by the bada mobile platform and our device technology,” he added.

Design Identity and Form Factor:

In true TechPinas fashion, we're doing the panels --

Front panel shows the 3.3 inches 480 x 800 pixels resolution Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen made from scratch-and-smudge-resistant tempered glass. Above the screen, we have the secondary VGA camera for video calls and two sensors: One for proximity and the other for ambient light.

Below the screen are the hardware keys. The Home key in the middle serves more like a back button. (By default though, double clicking on it launches search feature while holding it down for 2 seconds shows all open applications.) On either sides, we have the Call and End knobs.

Top panel shows the microUSB port with small plastic sliding lid that protects it from dust and grime, the 3.5mm audio jack and the loudspeaker grill.

Left side has the volume rocker.

Samsung Wave has dimensions of 118 x 56 x 10.9 millimeters and weighs only 118 grams.

Right side shows the camera capture button (Pressing on it launches the camera when the application is not in use). Above it, we have the screen-lock button.

Back panel shows the 5 MP autofocus 2592 x 1944 pixels camera and its LED flash. The camera also takes HD videos at 720p@30fps (Note that when taking videos, LED flash can work like a torch video light).

Samsung Wave dons a brushed anodized aluminum metal body.

The battery cover, which is also made of metal, gets released by holding down a small plastic knob at its bottom. (Wave runs on a 1500 mAh battery, which gives stand-by time of up to 600 hours on 2G and up to 550 hours on 3G. Talk time is up to 15 hours on 2G and up to 7 hours on 3G). Under the battery, we have the SIM and microSD card slots.

Rear end only has the mouthpiece pinhole. As you can see here, both ends of the phone are encased with black carbon fiber plastic.

TP Verdict on Form Factor:

I mentioned in my Samsung Wave Initial Impressions post last June 19 that Wave is one of the best-looking phones I've seen. After three weeks of using the device, I still stand by the statement.

Samsung Wave's build quality is nothing short of stellar. The phone's metallic case and unibody construction delivers more than what's expected and gives the phone an incredibly solid feel.

Design-wise, Wave looks updated, sleek, elegant and conservative -- all at the same time.

SuperAMOLED Touchscreen:

Samsung Wave features the world’s first Super AMOLED display. Super AMOLED, simply put, is a much clearer, brighter, and less reflective AMOLED display on a mobile device. The one on Wave features a high resolution WVGA (800×480 pixels) screen with mDNIe (mobile Digital Natural Image engine) technology, which is also what's being used Samsung’s LCD TV and LED TV products.

We all know that AMOLED slays LCD in all visual aspects -- but Super AMOLED is in a league of its own. With the latter, you get deeper blacks and more vibrant colors. Improved outdoor visibility and image quality are also noticeable.

Samsung Bada:

Aside from being the first handset to don a SuperAMOLED display, Wave is also the first phone from Samsung to run on the company's recently rolled-out operating system, Bada.

Bada is the cornerstone of the Samsung’s commitment to provide a smartphone for every lifestyle and to bring the smartphone experience to all consumers. Samsung plans to achieve this by not having to buy rights to use third-party OS on a smartphone, hence, lowering its price.

Honestly, Samsung Bada looks and works a lot like TouchWiz UI -- only nicer looking and more powerful. Bada allows you to install games and applications albeit there are only around 100 or so apps available to the platform as yet. Samsung is currently running a Bada Apps Creation contest for all developers; so expect more apps for the platform to arrive within the year.

Watch Samsung Bada UI demo to get an idea of how it works:

While clearly not as powerful nor as robust as Nokia N900's Maemo OS nor Samsung Galaxy S' Android platform, Samsung Bada is nonetheless very easy to use and an absolute eye-candy.

Multimedia on the Go:

I've got nothing but praises for Wave's multimedia features. For me, this is absolutely one of the greatest strengths of the device.

The Super AMOLED screen brings video playback and image viewing to a whole new level. The display is - for the lack of a better word - brilliant. You're sure to marvel at how crisp details appear on Wave's 3.3" screen when you use the device to play your HD videos for the first time. (NOTE: Wave supports DivX/XviD playback.)

Sound quality, on the other hand, is equally amazing. The output is clear and loud.

Wave's music player dons a UI similar to that of iPhone's Cover Flow. In landscape view, you'll see a virtual album CD arch. Tapping on a CD will expand it, showing all tracks inside.

Connectivity Options and Internet Browsing Experience:

Like almost all other smartphones in this day and age, Samsung Wave supports practically all connectivity options you'll ever need -- Bluetooth, Wifi, GPRS, EDGE and 3G with HSDPA (7.2Mbps) and HSUPA (2.0Mbps). There's even a microUSB port, which comes in handy for syncing the device with a PC.

Samsung Wave's powerful 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor not only makes sure all apps run smoothly but also provides a rather good web browsing experience on the device. Here's a short video I made, which shows internet surfing via Wifi connection on Samsung Wave's native browser:

Wave's native browser is Webkit-based and is called Samsung Dolphin Browser 2.0. Dolphin supports multiple pages opened at the same time and Flash video on board. You also get multi-touch support -- allowing you to pinch zoom and double tap to zoom.

Virtual Keyboard

Wave's on-screen keyboard in landscape mode is one of the bigger ones I've used on a smartphone. In this orientation, the keys are big enough to use two thumbs for typing. In portrait mode, however, (as in all smartphones) the keys are cramped and a bit hard to type on.

Image and Video Capture:

Camera application features these basic options: White Balance, Stabilizer, ISO, Face and Blink detection, Geo-Tagging and Auto-Flash (as well as Flash On and Off). You can also switch the default storage between the phone memory, the microSD card and the built-in flash storage.

Here are a few photos I took using Samsung Wave's 5 MegaPixel camera under different lighting conditions --

Mom and Me

Image quality is just alright, I think. Noise levels are kept under control while contrast is OK. Colors could be more vivid though.

Watch Samsung Wave HD Video 720p Capture Short-Clip Samples via the link. I'll try to post more videos this weekend.

Samsung Wave shoots videos with 1280 x 720, 720 x 480, 640 x 480, 320 x 249 or 176 x 144 pixels resolution.

Like what I said in the previous post, I'm thoroughly impressed with Wave's HD video quality.

Pricing and Availability in the Philippines:

Samsung Wave S8500 is currently available in the Philippines with a suggested retail price of only Php 19,900. At this price point, Wave is easily one of the most affordable smartphones out in the market today.

Final Verdict:

There are some things in life that are helplessly likeable -- like a toy poodle, Kim Chiu or a ginormours thick-crusted home-made pizza with lots of toppings.

And Samsung Wave, despite its very minor shortcomings, is one of those.

If Wave were any indication of the calibre of smartphones Samsung is rolling out in the coming months, then I believe things are looking up for the brand.

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