Those who purchase a Samsung Wave in Australia will probably buy it on a AU$29 per month plan, and there's no doubt in our minds that it's a bargain for the quality of phone they'll receive. By its looks, the Wave shares much of the same design as all the phones in Samsung's Icon range, with a large touchscreen front and centre, and a smattering of mechanical keys below. Between the high-quality display and the brushed-finish metal chassis, the Wave feels like a truly premium quality phone.
The display is one of Samsung's new Super AMOLED screens; a long, thin 3.3 inches diagonally, which is a brilliant display to look at. The screen is also among the most responsive touchscreens we've seen in recent times, making use of capacitive touch technology. Most of the Wave's menu navigation uses familiar on-screen gestures (swiping, scrolling, pinch-to-zoom, etc) and the Wave handles all of these effortlessly thanks to a 1GHz processor under the hood.
On the back of the Wave you'll find a 5-megapixel camera and an LED flash, and on the top you'll find a 3.5mm headphone socket and a micro USB charging port. Every part of the Wave feels deliberate and considered, and apart from placing the microSD card slot under the battery, we agree with every element of Samsung's approach.
In what can only be considered a brave move, Samsung has invested heavily in creating an entirely new operating system. While the Korean tech juggernaut will continue to design phones that use systems developed by Microsoft, Google and Nokia, Bada will be the company's in-house system. This, in itself, isn't extraordinary. Many other competing manufacturers use proprietary systems for their lower-end products, but the difference with Bada is that it's a fully-fledged smartphone system.
Those familiar with the Google Android system will see the similarities immediately. Both Bada and Android are based on Linux, but they share more than just digital DNA. Samsung has given Bada a very similar layout to the thin layer it skinned Android with on the other phone everyone keeps talking about.. Bada has six user customisable home screens to play with; a pull-down notifications panel, where messages and missed calls can be viewed; and applications are displayed in a menu window, laid out in pages of colourful apps on a black background — you know, like that
The Bada notifications curtain is similar to Android's.
(Screenshot by CBSi)
Samsung, though, has taken the opportunity to improve on the system in a few nifty ways. For example, you can adjust the order of apps in the menu to show the most used apps first, placing all your favourite apps on the first page of the menu. Also, when the music player is active, a CD icon is displayed on the phone's lock screen, making it possible to switch tracks or albums without unlocking the phone and launching the media player.
One of the key advantages to Samsung developing its own OS (apart from the sweet kickbacks it'll get from app sales) is that the company gets full control over the interoperability between hardware and software, and the results speak for themselves. Bada runs like a dream on the Wave; menu navigation is silky smooth, with little to no lag experienced in any section of the phone. All of the core Samsung software features run quickly and multitasking is lightning fast, making use of a similar "saved states" multitasking you see on the Android with the addition of a task killer function built-in.
An appy place?
The new Samsung Apps storefront is your one-stop shop for new tricks and toys for Bada and, according to Samsung, it already has several hundred apps available (though we couldn't find any appealing ones). Samsung pre-installs more of the important apps, like Facebook, Twitter and a cross-platform IM client, so you needn't worry too much about the availability of core apps on the store.
What is available is a strange mixture of gaming and utilities and in a variety of different languages — French features heavily. Pricing also varies wildly, from AU$2 apps to games as much as AU$16 based on our brief observations. Searching the store is as easy and as difficult as we've found with all the other major app stores; you can browse by genre and search by title or publisher, and each app links to other apps that other customers bought. This simplistic navigation is mostly fine, especially for a storefront with only a few hundred titles to browse.