BARCELONA--Samsung didn't exactly keep its Samsung Wave a very big secret. Well, it's hard to when you post billboards of the phone all over Barcelona days before the official start of Mobile World Congress.
Finally, the phone of the hour: the Samsung Wave. This is the first handset running Samsung's Bada mobile platform. During the press conference, Samsung's President of Mobile Communications Business, J.K. Shin, explained that Bada is its solution for bringing a smartphone to everyone, regardless of cost and geographic location.
Still confused by what exactly Bada is, we asked a Samsung USA representative for some clarification. He said Bada doesn't have as much impact in the States and the company is still committed to Android, Windows Mobile, and other mobile operating systems. Bada is more of an evolution of the middleware that's been on its phones all along, and it offers customers in markets where smartphones aren't normally subsidized by carriers to have that smartphone experience without having to pay a premium.
The Samsung Wave is only the "first chapter" of the Bada story, and the second chapter was promised soon.
The Wave's design is solid but not a huge departure from Samsung's other touch-screen phones. It has an aluminum unibody and measures 4.6 inches tall by 2 inches wide by 0.4 inch thick. It's thinner than the Samsung Omnia II and feels nice in the hand.
Below the display, there are Talk and End keys and a Main Menu button. The rest of the time you'll be using the 3.3-inch Super AMOLED touch screen, which we'll get back to a couple of slides later.
The Wave utilizes the new TouchWiz 3.0 user interface, which Samsung promises to be more intuitive and customizable. You get 10 home screens and there are new widgets, including one called Buddies Now, which lets you see text messages from your most frequently contacted friends.
One of the features of Bada is its capability to download applications from the Samsung Apps store. Currently, the store is only available in the U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Singapore, China, and Brazil, but Samsung plans to offer Samsung Apps in more than 50 countries in 2010. Unfortunately, the company didn't specify which countries.
The Samsung Wave is also meant to be a social hub. The smartphone can now integrate contact information and messages from various accounts and provide a unified view. For example, on a contact page, you can see all your calls, SMS, and e-mail from one person, then touch the Activities tab to see their Facebook and Twitter updates, or go to the Media tabs to see all their photos.
Another social hub aspect is the Ultimate Inbox where you can view all your messages, whether it be e-mail, SMS, or from social networking sites. The smartphone also supports push calendar, for real-time calendar syncing.
These features are great and all, but nothing we haven't seen before on other smartphone platforms like Android.
The Samsung Wave features a virtual keyboard in both portrait and landscape mode. Both were fairly easy to type on, and the accelerometer was responsive.
In general, the phone felt pretty fast and was pretty intuitive to use, though we didn't get enough time to really dig down into the various apps. Also, it did restart a couple of times, but we weren't playing with the final product so we understand that there are still some bugs to be worked out.
The Wave features a 1GHz applications processor engineered by Samsung, and it comes in a 2GB or 8GB version, both with microSD expansion slots.
Told you we'd come back to the screen, and it really is one of, if not the, highlights of the phone. The Samsung Wave features a 3.3-inch WVGA (480x800) Super AMOLED touch screen. What makes it super? Well, first of all, the touch sensors are right on top of the AMOLED screen, which eliminates the need for an additional touch sensor panel and removes air gaps. It's also less reflective so the screen should be easier to see indoors and outdoors.
It might sound like a lot of fluff, but once you see it in person, you'll believe. It really is a magnificently sharp and vibrant touch screen. We put it up next to the iPhone and the Nexus One, and the Wave just blew them away.
You'll have plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the Super AMOLED screen because the Wave is quite the multimedia machine. It's capable of HD video playback and recording and supports MPEG2, H.263, H.264, WMV, DivX, and XviD video codecs.