Samsung Wave II in-depth review -

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Look and feel

A smooth anodised body with curved edges is complimented by a beautifully vibrant LCD display

Ease of use

Though an unfamiliar operating system to most, Samsung has made the Bada OS an easy platform to get to grips with, with a degree of similarity to the user-friendly Android system

Features

Wi-Fi, a five-megapixel camera, 3.7-inch capacitive touch-screen and the ability to save individual screen shots are some of the highlights of the Samsung Wave II

Performance

The Samsung Wave II’s numerous features all prove up to the task, though we did have a few grievances with the browsing experience, most notably the amount of content displayed at any one time

Battery life

An average talktime of 360 minutes and 500 hours standby

 Samsung Wave II Review -
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/7/2010 6:22:56 PM

6

out of 10

Performance

8

out of 5

Look and feel

8

out of 5

Ease of use

8

out of 5

Features

6

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

The Super Clear LCD capacitive touch-screen is bright, colourful and makes the Samsung Wave II a joy to use

Cons:

It may be growing, but the Samsung App Store is bare enough to put off potential interest

Samsung may be one of the frontrunners in terms of pushing Google Android, but they’re also keeping their own Bada OS very much in their strategic pipeline. The Samsung Wave II is one of only a few handsets to run on their native operating system, the first being – you guessed it – the original Samsung Wave. Its successor takes much of what we liked about the original, but with a bigger, better display and a (slightly) tweaked OS.

Look and feel

To the untrained eye, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Samsung Wave II is a carbon copy of its predecessor. It has the same anodised shell, complete with cold metallic back, and though the display is a whole 0.4-inches bigger than the original Wave, the only other difference is that the home screen key found at the bottom of the screen appears to have been squashed. While it’s not going to win any awards for innovative styling, it remains a handsome beast and that’s before you’ve even activated the screen. Displays and their vibrancy are beginning to resemble the megapixel wars we saw a few years ago, with each manufacturer trying to outdo each other with the brightest and most colourful. The Samsung Wave II is kitted out with a Super Clear LCD capacitive touch-screen, which while not quite in the same league as a Super AMOLED display found on the Samsung Galaxy S, it still sparkles. There’s plenty of colour and the preloaded wallpapers give an almost 3D like look.

To fire the screen up, you need to swipe the entire screen in any one direction. As you do so, a frosted window slips out of view revealing the display in all its glory. However, we do take issue with the fact that to do this you first need to press the lock key found on the right hand side of the phone. While this makes for an easy way to lock your handset, sometimes you just want to check the time on your phone or whether you have any missed calls or texts. To not enable this by pressing ‘any’ key proved mildly irritating.

Widgets

The Samsung Wave II has the ability of hosting multiple home screens. In default mode there’s only three, but click the widgets icon in the top left hand corner and you’ll bring up a widgets bar. You can then simply drag and drop the ones you want shortcuts or feeds to onto the home screen. However, the widgets are often so big that you’ll struggle to add more than one per screen, with the Wave II automatically adding it to a new home screen. It makes for a cluttered experience with no real way of organising your apps and feeds. In terms of what widgets you can kit the phone out with, Samsung has preloaded the Wave II with some useful additions including a BBC news feed, a Financial Times news feed, both Google and Yahoo search engines and Yell.com, which should help you find nearby businesses, restaurants and alike.

As has become standard in any handset worth its salt, there is also a social networking feed (unimaginatively called ‘feeds and updates’) that merges your Facebook and Twitter (also both pre-embedded as individual apps) news. But as we discovered when we reviewed the original Samsung Wave, the Samsung Apps Store remains sparse and there’s a distinct lack of free applications. This could be the main deterrent for more serious smartphone users.

Browsing the internet

While the Samsung Wave II may be short of apps, its feature set is top-notch, with HSDPA, Wi-Fi, a five-megapixel camera complete with high-definition video recording and a 1GHz processor. However, in practice not all of these live up to expectations. Our main grievance lies with the internet experience. Initially we were impressed with the speed in which we were up and running, be it via a 3G or HSDPA connection or Wi-Fi, which was a breeze to set up – there’s a pull down bar at the top of the screen à la Android. However, every time you touch the screen, whether it’s to scroll or zoom in via the pinching and pulling of your fingers (which incidentally worked with some sites but not others), the web address bar appears at the top of the screen. Although the display is far from small, this does reduce the amount of content on view, especially as the bottom part of the display is also taken up by virtual keys for your favourites, multiple pages and the exit key.

There are some appealing aspects of the web experience. For example, double tap the screen and rather than zoom in, as is quite often the norm, the page will scroll down around a paragraph at a time. In addition, hold your finger down on a webpage and you’ll highlight the word you’re hovering over (you can adjust the parameters so it highlights a whole sentence or phrase), before you’re given the option of doing a Google search of that word in a new window, translating that word (again using Google) or simply copying it before pasting it in a text or email.

 

However, perhaps our favourite quirk is if you hold down the lock key and home screen button at the same time it will take a screen shot of what you’re looking at. It actually works throughout the phone (e.g. you could take a snap of your home screen), but its with web pages and perhaps business cards that will be most beneficial, particularly with the ability to forward said screenshots via MMS or email. In fact, you can actually edit, print or even create a movie of your various screenshots, including adding a soundtrack to your creation.

Camera credentials

The five-megapixel camera edges towards impressive. Though photos were slightly drained of colour it was quick to fire up, and for the type of user that will purchase the Samsung Wave II, it will serve its purpose. There’s also an LED flash that not only enhances any low light still shots, it can also be used to record high-definition video. Once you’ve shot your short movie, you’re only a few clicks away from publishing it on YouTube, Photobucket or hyves. Although it’s nothing new (having been seen as far back as the original LG Viewty), we also got excited about the fact you can record in slow motion. With the amount of video editing options available you should be able to make more use of this function than waving your hand frantically in front of the lens or repeatedly bouncing a tennis ball against a wall.

Though the Samsung Wave II is fitted with A-GPS, there’s no navigational app preloaded on the device. Not even Google Maps, suggesting the internet giants association with Samsung relies on their willingness to use the Android operating system. Of course, you can download from a select few available at the Samsung App Store, with the manufacturer heavily pushing you towards Route 66’s offering, but it’s a bit annoying to have nothing preloaded from the off. We guess it’s one way of getting users to visit Samsung’s App Store.

Conclusion

Ultimately it’s the lack of apps that would put us off purchasing the Samsung Wave II as opposed to say a Google Android phone, which whether Samsung likes it or not, is who they are competing with. The Wave II is a more than capable feature phone, initial browsing issues aside, but ultimately it’s a smartphone-lite, and serious early adopters will be opting for more familiar operating systems than Bada. Perhaps it’s time for Samsung to throw all its irons into the Android fire?

Danny Brogan