BARCELONA, Spain--On Sunday, the Samsung Wave made its splashy debut during a rather lavish press conference hosted by Samsung on the eve of Mobile World Congress 2010 here in Barcelona.
Complete with dancers and aerial ballet (not to mention drowning us in every wave metaphor one could ever think of), the event gave us a chance to check out the Samsung's first Bada phone. Bada, which means ocean in Korean and is meant to represent the "limitless variety" of the platform, is the company's own mobile operating system that is designed to bring the smartphone experience to everyone.
However, ever since it was announced in November 2009, Bada's been a bit of an enigma. Is it meant to compete with the other mobile operating systems? Is it merely a skin to be layered on top of another platform? Well, we got some clarification at the press conference. Bada is more of an evolution of the middleware that's been on Samsung's phones all along and is meant to bring that smartphone experience to everyone.
It features such functions as integrated contacts, a unified in-box, a push calendar, and a focus on social networking. In addition, Samsung now offers its own app store and touts a simple and open platform that developers can take advantage of.
When we were finally given a video demo of Bada's features, there were a lot of under-the-breath comments about how much it resembled existing mobile operating systems, particularly Android. It's true; Bada doesn't offer anything that the others don't but that may not be its purpose, not in the States anyway. A representative from Samsung USA said Bada won't impact the U.S. market as much as it will in others, and is still very much committed to Android and Windows Mobile.
Bada is more about bringing the smartphone experience to everyone, regardless of cost or geographic location, so it will particularly affect markets where smartphones aren't normally subsidized by carriers and thus cost a premium to own. Essentially, Bada takes features phones to the next level, presumably without the high price tag of a smartphone.
Of course, how this will all play out remains to be seen and the Samsung Wave is only the "first chapter" of the Bada story. Chapter 2 will apparently be revealed very soon. As for the Wave itself, it's seems like a very solid phone. The design is solid with a nice, aluminum unibody. The handset's Super AMOLED 3.3-inch WVGA touch screen is really the showstopper here. It's simply brilliant and pictures really don't do it justice.
Anyway, we've shared more of our first impressions of the Samsung Wave in our hands-on gallery below, so check it out and let us know what you think. Meanwhile, we'll be looking to spend a little more time with the phone on Monday and grab some video of it in action, so check back soon for our First Look video.