The Samsung Wave is a landmark device for Samsung in more than one way. Not only is is Samsung’s first Bada OS device, but it’s also their first device to come with a Super AMOLED display which should make it better than the recent Samsung Monto (S5620). The question is: does it live up to its promise? Is Bada OS worth the trouble with other mobile operating systems already on the market? We’re about to find out!
When I first saw the exterior of the Wave, I was pleasantly surprised at the great build quality of the phone. Unlike an awful lot of Samsung phones on the market, this model doesn’t feel at all plastic or cheap. As expected, the touch screen dominates the front of the device, with discrete buttons placed at the bottom for accepting and rejecting calls, as well as accessing the menu. On the rear, you’ll find the camera, with a flash of course (the bright type, not the Adobe type), as well as slider that releases the battery cover.
The brains of the Samsung Wave is a really fast 1GHz processor, designed by Samsung themselves. Accompanying the processor is a 5MP camera, capable of capturing 720p video too, which is always a great option to have if you don’t want to be carrying around a dedicated camera. The big selling point of this phone isn’t the camera though, it’s not even the powerful CPU (although that certainly helps matters considerably), it’s the screen.
The Wave uses Samsung’s own Super AMOLED display technology, making it arguably the best screen in the world on a mobile device right now, although iPhone 4 users may contest that point of view. When using the phone, the display felt extremely easy to use when navigating around the device, which is no doubt down to the CPU too. It’s also really high quality, with everything appearing really sharp, and outdoor visibility better than the AMOLED display on a phone such as the Nexus One.
The hardware is great, no disputing that, but what about the software? The Wave is Samsung’s first Bada OS device, so all eyes are on the operating system.
It’s clear that many aspects of Bada come from other mobile operating systems, such as Android and iOS. As a big fan of Android from using the Nexus One myself, I immediately noticed similarities between the two systems, noticeably the notification bar at the top of the screen which drops down to reveal all of your unread notifications.
With Bada, you have five home screens to utilise with various widgets and shortcuts. To add widgets, you have to tap on the ‘Widget’ label in the top left hand corner of the screen, which brings up a collection of widgets, similar to how iOS displays running apps for multitasking purposes. I found some aspects here quite frustrating. There’s clearly promise in the operating system, but it falls down in places that could so easily be avoided. If I have my screen set out how I want, do I need to have a widget label on my phone? Not really, so why do I have to keep it there?
It’s not all bad news though, in fact there are many aspects of Bada that make it a worthwhile OS for a great piece of hardware. You have easy access to your keypad, contacts and messages regardless of what home screen you’re currently on, although it would have been nice to have the option to put something else in their place if I wanted to, such as a shortcut to a favourite application.
At the moment, there aren’t too many applications available to download in the Samsung app store, but the Samsung Wave comes with a few nice apps that will certainly tempt buyers. When I received my Wave, it came with an iPlayer application which works quite well both over 3G and Wi-Fi. For a limited time, you can also pick up the Need for Speed application for free, which is accelerometer based and lots of fun to play.
Although it has plenty of potential, where Bada really loses footing against its competitors is its lack of applications. iPhone is one of the top selling smartphones right now, and it happens to have the most applications. Likewise, Android is gaining momentum as its Market grows. With Bada, there’s not a lot to choose from in ‘Samsung Apps’, and Orange’s own ‘App Shop’ may as well not be there. For Bada OS to compete with the big guns, it needs more developer support, and a broad range of hardware devices, then we can talk.
The Samsung Wave truly is a great piece of hardware; the best Samsung’s ever offered the smartphone market. Unfortunately, Bada isn’t quite up to speed yet, and Samsung’s revenue stream may reflect this. I’m not saying that it doesn’t have promise, because with great developer support and a little more flexibility to ‘make it your own’, it can be a great, easy to use OS. Until a few updates arrive, however, I think I’ll have to stick with iOS 4 and Android 2.2.