Do you suddenly get the feeling that everyone these days has a BlackBerry? That’s because everyone does. Ever since Research In Motion (RIM) launched the 8520 Curve handset at a sweet sub-Rs20,000 price point, the device is quickly becoming a rage with the non-suit-wearing types. But just when it looked like the value segment of the smartphone market had an undisputed winner in the 8520, Samsung launched the GT-S8500 Wave. While not exactly a smartphone, the Wave is an excellent handset that combines good looks, powerful hardware and thoughtful features with a splendid price tag. It has its flaws, but at that price they are easily overlooked.
The good stuff
Samsung by now has a reputation for making decent touch phones at decent prices. The company’s Corby range of phones might leave iPhone or BlackBerry enthusiasts stone cold, but for young users on a budget, the Corby (with its starting price of Rs7,000) offers tremendous value.
The Wave, the first phone to be based on Samsung’s Bada operating system, takes the Corby proposition to the next level. The phone is built well, with elegant choice of material (a spiffy aluminium body), finish and assembly. This is a handset you can flaunt during business meetings on Monday and at the club on Friday night.
There are signature Samsung flourishes to be seen in the diamond-shaped menu button on the front, and in the camera lens and flash openings on the back. Otherwise Samsung keeps the touch-based design pure, with few buttons anywhere on the body.
One of the Wave’s highlights is the gorgeous 3.3-inch AMOLED screen. The display is bright, the colours vivid, and Samsung’s updated TouchWiz interface works fluidly. Previous Samsung touch phones could sometimes make you pull your hair out in frustration. Clicking and dragging could feel sluggish and slow.
Not on the Wave. Here controls are intuitive, responsive and most users should not need to go into the instruction manual even once. There is, however, no denying that rich “inspiration” has been drawn from Apple’s iPhone operating system.
Spit and polish aside, the Wave is a pretty good day-to-day phone too. Browsing through contacts and call logs is a breeze and both handset and speakerphone call quality is good.
Like most Samsung phones, the Wave handles multimedia well, especially with its ability to play a wide variety of video formats. There is also a surround sound function, FM radio and competent high-definition video recording. Everywhere the interface adds additional oomph to what is good, if unspectacular, software.
While the device has all the standard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity options, the “Mobile Access Point” function is a great idea. With just a few clicks you can convert the Wave into a mobile Wi-Fi access point. Then up to three computers can connect to the phone and share the phone’s Internet connection. What a great idea!
Oh god. Not another mobile operating system. Bada is one of the newest yet, and this is more than apparent when you browse through the Samsung App store. The spread is thin, and most of the apps look thoroughly uninviting, even amateur.
The Wave’s native Internet browser is, well, a joke. Pity that Samsung hasn’t given the browser a complete makeover along with the rest of the interface. Thankfully, there is a version of the Opera Mini browser available for download that alleviates some of the torture.
For anyone currently using a phone with a Qwerty keyboard, think twice. The Wave’s keyboard, especially when used in portrait layout, makes the skin crawl.
At a current market price of Rs19,000, the Samsung Wave is a winner. Even before waiting for the inevitable fall in price, the Wave offers one of the best deals in the market today. It is not a perfect phone. But then so few phones are. Fewer still offer the value this one does.