The original Samsung Wave was the first phone to feature Samsung’s own phone system, Bada and their own app store. Now, the Wave II is here, and although it doesn’t look that different to its older brother from the outside, it’s here to prove there’s still space for their Bada phones alongside rival Android offerings.
What we like
It’s a nicely built phone, and looks very much a part of the stylish Samsung family. It doesn’t look out of place against other premium Samsung offerings, like their Omnia 7, aside from the odd-shaped central button below the screen.
The screen is bigger than the original Wave, and is now a 3.7-inch capacitive touchscreen which is both clear and bright.
Text Messaging and emails are made easy by the pre-installed T9-trace typing system. It works in a very similar way to Swype, by dragging your fingers from each letter, you can start to hammer out fairly lengthy messages in no time.
Samsung’s Bada platform hasn’t really seen a huge surge in activity since the first Samsung Wave, although plenty of the more popular apps and websites now have offerings, including Facebook, Google Search, PES 2011, Assassin’s Creed, BBC, and, naturally, Samsung’s own widgets.
We were even surprised to find our favourite iPhone radio app, TuneIn Radio, available for free in Samsung’s app store. Sadly it wasn’t allowing us to stream BBC’s national radio stations, but podcasts are available to download through the app.
There’s also a 1GHz processor nestled into the Wave II, and we found it was speedy in both app loading and displaying webpages.
Its five-megapixel camera does a good job with pictures, and we liked the touch-sensitive shutter button on the side of the phone. A half-squeeze to focus, and a full push to take the picture; felt like a ‘real’ camera!
What we don’t like
It really hasn’t changed much since the original Wave, and although what’s now available on a Bada phone has increased a lot since its release, it’s a minnow compared to the Android and Apple whales.
One of the major problems we had was a lack for Google Maps. Given our own lack of spatial awareness, it’s a key feature for any phone wanting to be taken seriously as a smartphone. The Google Maps feature on the Wave II involved using the web-browser, a lot of menus, a lot back-tracking and some cursing at the screen.
We found occasionally that pictures would also appear a bit scrappy and pixilated on the Wave II- especially those on the Facebook app, and we’re not exactly sure why this is.
We also found that moving around menus, or adjusting our wallpapers took time and was a bit frustrating. Although you can customise the Wave II with widgets, these are Samsung’s pre-set widgets and you can’t necessarily put what you use the most (like a radio app) straight onto the front-page.
Although the Wave II has a big, colour-rich touchscreen, you can browse the internet, write emails, and play all sorts of media, it doesn’t have the cohesion of a BlackBerry, the customisation and breadth of an Android phone, or the user experience of an iPhone.
It’s a smartphone, but it may not be able to do what everyone else’s can. It does social networking very well, and we found it picked up our music collection and photos from our microSD without even asking the phone to do so.
But for the price of the Wave II, there are several, perhaps slower, slightly less beautifully packaged Android phones that can do what this one does, and more.