Amidst the heated competition between mobile OS heavyweights like Google's Android and Apple's iOS last year, Samsung introduced a new mobile OS, bada, to much fanfare and excitement on the aptly named S8500 Wave. In fact, we gave it a favorable review, deeming it a smartphone that showed much promise and decent specs. The Samsung S8530 Wave II is an update to its predecessor and the latest addition to the fledgling stable of bada phones.
At first glance, both the new and old Wave phones are almost identical physically, with the obvious exception being that the Wave II comes with a larger 3.7-inch screen. While the Super Clear LCD screen is great for viewing multimedia, it still loses out to Samsung's Super AMOLED-equipped ones.
Like the first Wave, the phone is predominantly metallic, and has an extremely sturdy and solid body. However, it felt heavier than most smartphones do these days and that might not sit comfortably with some consumers. While already available on Samsung’s recent mobile phones, we were pleased that the Wave II comes with an USB port that is covered by a well-made hatch and not by a flimsy rubber stopper.
Overall, the physical handling of the Wave II felt good, with the phone fitting just nicely in our palms and physical keys presenting good feedback.
If you are an Android user or have an Android-based Samsung phone, you will find the user experience on the Wave II very familiar. For example, the TouchWiz 3.0 UI is the same version as that on the Android-based Samsung Galaxy S. As reiterated in our past experiences with the TouchWiz, it shares a couple of similarities with the Android UI in terms of usability, i.e., the omnipresent scroll-down notification that also allows you to turn on Wi-Fi or switch your phone to silent.
It also, however, resembles the Apple iOS in terms of aesthetics. The hardware helps too - with a responsive screen and powerful 1GHz processor, the smartphone provided a speedy and smooth user experience with almost no lag.
Of course, theoretically, the main "attraction" of the Wave series lies in the latest bada 1.2 version, which is pretty much identical to the previous version, save for some performance tweaks and the addition of t9 Trace, a Swype-variant input method app. Applications and games on the platform are limited. To be exact, we found a total of 4,641 free and paid apps as of now, but popular apps like Twitter and Facebook are included on the phone (other equally popular ones like Whatsapp, ebuddy, or Angry Birds are not available in the bada marketplace). If apps are what you are looking for in a phone, more mature operating systems like Android and iOS are better bets.
On the other hand, the Samsung Wave II is a pretty good multimedia phone. The screen looked great for videos while the audio quality was pretty impressive as well, not to mention that the proprietary music player comes with various equalizer modes and sound effects (e.g., concert hall, music clarity). Included also is a standard Samsung music recognition feature that allows you to record a 10-sec clip of a song and analyze for information like song track title and artist.
The included 5-megapixel camera was not too shabby as well, producing rather detailed photos that does not exhibit too much noise. Colors were generally accurate, if not slightly desaturated. The camera settings also include fancy features like ISO selection (Auto -800) and Effects.
The Samsung S8530 Wave II might not be the cream of its crop, but it stands out for its multimedia prowess. We would also like to add that its battery life is also very decent, and it can easily last up till two days with light usage and 3G enabled. Furthermore, a relatively user-friendly (and attractive to boot) UI eases a user into the bada OS.
The only drawback here is that the bada platform is still in its infancy stage and has much to catch up with both Android and Apple's mobile apps ecosystems. The Wave II is currently available at a recommended retail price of S$598, which is extremely affordable for a phone of its caliber.