A couple months ago, Samsung announced it was launching its own open-source operating system, bada. Well, we've just seen the first bada smartphone and we're blown away by its touch-screen. The bada OS still isn't doing too much for us, but we reckon the value will kick in when the third-party apps start rolling in.
The Wave is a very slim, aluminium smartphone in black or silver. The first thing you notice is its incredibly bright, clear AMOLED screen. In fact, it's next-gen AMOLED - AMOLED on-cell, which basically means fewer layers of glass have been used to create the display, so the LED lights are closer to the surface. Videos look amazing, and we were able to hold it at any angle and still get clear viewing. The 3.3-inch capacitive touch-screen is Samsung's best yet - responsive, fast and accurate, even in the keyboard, which has traditionally been a weak point of Samsung touch phones. The Wave comes preloaded with Samsung Apps, the new marketplace. There are around 900 apps, but only some are Wave-specific, with the bulk supported by the older-gen Omnia and Omnia II phones. Most of the big companies, such Facebook, Twitter and EA Mobiles, have apps there however.
A 1Ghz processor means that high-power features such as gaming or high-definition media should be a breeze. We tested out a demo of Need for Speed, which looked clear and sharp, and played through smoothly, but somehow managed to freeze four handsets in a row when swiping around the gaming interface. We don't know if it was our fault, but a spokesperson did say the handsets were not the final versions that would be shipped. The five-megapixel camera can record and playback high-definition video, and comes with Sammy's usual suite of production tools, including Smile Detection and an array of editing features. We didn't get a chance to test the camera's prowess, but video playback was fast and smooth, and the player supports DivX and Xvid codecs, so pretty much any digital video is fine. There's also a 3.5mm audio jack, 2GB of internal memory plus a microSD slot, A-GPS and support for Wi-Fi and HSDPA internet.
Samsung's new TouchWiz 3.0 interface definitely looks and plays better, with the widget toolbar now hidden at the bottom of the screen. The drag and drop action is much smoother, though the widgets still look quite dated and plain. You can add up to 10 customisable homescreens, and swiping up from the bottom launches the all-programs menu; down to check out notifications. Samsung is really flagging up the Wave's social networking prowess with Social Hub. It seems a pretty standard contacts integration app, but the Calendar integration tool is excellent - you can sync Facebook, Google and Outlook calendars, and when you edit an event, there's an inbuilt feature to invite friends from any of your contact books. We also liked the phonebook feature that lets you slide your finger right to text a contact, and left to call them.
The Wave launches in April on all UK networks. Tariff details TBC, but interestingly, the Wave is poised more as a mid-range rather than high-end device, with a SIM-free price of EUR323.