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The Wave S8500 is the first Samsung handset to feature the Bada operating system. This handset ticks all the boxes in terms of hardware, but needs more applications in order to compete with the likes of Google and Apple.

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The first thing that a user will notice after taking the Wave out of the box is its build quality. Unlike the recently reviewed Galaxy S which feels cheap, the Wave is solid and feels good in the hand. Up front, users can find the Dial key, Power/End key, Proximity sensor, Front camera, and 3.3-inch WVGA Super AMOLED (800×480).

Also onboard is a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash that can take HD videos. The 3.5mm audio jack and USB port used for charging and synchronising files are located on top of the unit, while the volume rocker, camera hotkey, and lock key are located on the sides.

In terms of hardware, the Wave comes with a 1Ghz processor, has 2GB of internal memory, a microSD slot (up to 32GB), Bluetooth (v 3.0), USB 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n,  Allshare via DLNA, and HSDPA/HSUPA.

Like the Galaxy S, the Wave sports an AMOLED screen which produces deep blacks, vivid colours, and has great viewing angles. Multi-touch is also available, allowing us to zoom in/out by pulling and pinching.

The Wave runs on Bada, an operating system made by Samsung that claims to bring features such as “plenty of UI controls, Flash support, and sensor support.” It also brings “service-centric features such as in-app-purchasing, SNS integration, and push notification that will offer customers a richer, more interactive experience.”

 
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The Wave can have as much as ten home screens, giving users more space to put their widgets. The three icons at the bottom part of the screen can be changed depending on one’s needs. Applications found on the Wave include Daily Briefing (shows weather, stocks, news from AP Mobile, and Schedule), IM, Facebook, E-mail, Twitter, Calendar, Tasks, Music, YouTube, Media Browser, Social Hub, FM Radio, Voice Recorder, Video Player, and even Navigation.

In terms of multimedia, the Wave supports the following file formats: images (bmp, jpg, gif, png, tif, wbmp); videos (mp4, 3gp, wmv, asf, avi, mkv, divx); music (mp3, 3ga, aac, m4a, wma); audio (wav, mmf, xmf, imy, midi, amr); and other documents (doc, docx, pdf, ppt, pptx, txt, xls, xlsx, htm, html, vbm, vcf, vcs, vnt, jad, jar, crt, and der).

As the handset can only store about 400MB of data files (as the 2GB is partitioned into three – MMS and Email, My Files, and OS files), we recommend purchasing a microSD card to store multimedia files.

The 1GHz processor ensured that programs will load quickly and the TouchWiz Interface 3.0 will be as responsive as possible. The Wave is also capable of running multiple applications at once, although we recommend users to end some applications once in a while to prevent it from slowing down.

The Samsung Bada platform allows a user to download a range of both free and paid applications from the Samsung Apps store. As of this time of writing, the store has 409 applications (free and paid combined), which is significantly less than what Google or Apple offer on their own app store. There are currently 79 Entertainment, 21 e-Books, 101 Games, 65 Health/Lifestyle, 7 Music/Video, 15 News, 8 Navigation, 2 Productivity, 43 reference, 2 Social Networking, and 66 Utilities applications on offer.

 

Whether or not this new application store takes off is dependent on the number of developers creating new content for Samsung users. One good thing about it though is the fact that the developer kit is available online and Samsung is set to encourage the local creation of apps that are relevant for Australian needs and lifestyles.

The Samsung Wave lasted for a day in our test. This is not bad considering we used the phone to make calls, check e-mails, update our Facebook status, play a couple of downloaded games, and listen to some music files. On a not-so-busy weekend, the Wave lasted for two days.

Overall, the Samsung Wave is a great phone – its solid build, bright AMOLED screen, great hardware, user-friendly interface, and pre-installed applications ensures that users will get the best mobile experience. The only thing that we are not sure of is the Bada OS and the applications found on the Samsung App Store. Sure, it currently has about 400 applications available, but it is still probably not enough for a user who is used to a Google or Apple environment to make the switch.

The Samsung Wave will be available across all operators from this month starting with Optus, Virgin and Vodafone and with a Telstra Next G network version launching in August.

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