Samsung Wave S8500 Review: Great Budget Phone or Basic Smartphone

I tested the new Samsung Wave mobile phone for 3 weeks. It feels like a premium phone thanks to the well designed mostly metal case, great screen and multimedia features and yet it is available for an amazing price of $469 outright from online retailer Mobicity or relatively low cost Vodafone cap plans from $29+.

Samsung Wave mobile phone

The Wave has many features which are unmatched by competitor phones with a similar price like a Super AMOLED screen, 720P video recording, 5MP camera with flash, fast speed, excellent audio quality for phone calls and many multimedia features like built in H264/DIVX HD/XVID video playback, good MP3 player and DLNA network file share capability.

However while it’s far better than other phones sold for a similar price it still isn’t a smartphone because the internet related features of the underlying Samsung BADA operating system (web browser, GPS, social apps) are nowhere near as good as iPhone or Android phones and there are very few BADA applications and games available at the moment compared to the iPhone appstore or Android app Market.

So is it a Great Budget Phone or a Basic Smartphone? I’d say it’s a great budget phone because a true Smartphone needs to be able to offer a top notch web browsing and social media experience when using Twitter, Facebook etc and have a lot of available 3rd party applications to add to the phone’s inbuilt features.

Strengths

  • Excellent audio quality for phone calls – this is an important feature because even expensive smartphones often have only average voice quality these days
  • Amazingly low outright phone cost / low plan contract cost
  • Well designed partly metal phone body has a premium solid feel
  • Great Super AMOLED screen
  • 720P video recording and 5MP camera with flash
  • Fast speed thanks to it’s ARM Cortex A8 based 1GHz CPU
  • Long lasting 1500 mAh battery
  • Many multimedia features like built in DIVX HD/XVID video playback, good MP3 player and DLNA network file share capability
  • Wifi 802.11b/802.11g/802.11n

Weaknesses

  • First generation BADA operating system with very basic web browser that doesn’t always display pages correctly, clunky GPS Maps and other poor internet apps like Social Hub
  • Very few 3rd party apps available for BADA compared to iPhone/Android
  • The 3.3″ screen is narrower in width compared to current best selling phones such as the HTC Desire which impacts web browsing and DIVX movie watching

LCD vs AMOLED vs Super AMOLED

I was commissioned by Mobicity to record this video comparing LCD/AMOLED/Super AMOLED and explaining why Super AMOLED is best.

Other Reviews of the Samsung Wave

At AU$29 per month, the Samsung Wave lives in a space usually populated with plastic handsets and terrible touchscreens, and stands out as being completely the opposite. The hardware is absolutely top notch, the metal chassis feels great and the Super AMOLED screen stands head and shoulders above phones almost twice the price. The Bada operating system definitely needs a few refinements, but is still better than the vast majority of proprietary systems used by LG, Sony Ericsson and Samsung on previous products.
CNET Australia

Samsung’s first bada phone is a remarkable achievement, in terms of design and technology. It looks great and feels awesome in the hand. The 3.3-inch screen is incredibly bright and vivid, with some pretty nice detail to it. Although not as spectacular in the photo department, the 5MP camera shoots awesome 720p video, and when you throw the Wave’s prowess at playing back high-resolution video in various formats, we really have a true multimedia powerhouse at our hands. Finally, the Samsung Wave S8500 is super fast, making everything happen almost instantaneously.

Now for the bad. The Bada operating system is far from being perfect right now. It does make things work really smooth, but still has quite a few kinks to get worked out. Most importantly, the small annoying details in the interface that kind of hamper the overall user experience. The other deal breaker here might be the very poor application catalog in Samsung Apps right now.
Phone Arena

The Samsung Wave is available in Australia for $469 outright from online retailer Mobicity or relatively low cost Vodafone cap plans from $29+.

7 thoughts on “Samsung Wave S8500 Review: Great Budget Phone or Basic Smartphone”

  1. Thanks for the review. However, the true test of a phone from a company like Samsung is how reliable it is over the long term. For some reason Samsung phones (and they’re not the only manufacturer this is true for), don’t seem to age well at all. I assume it’s down to the cheap components they use, I guess that old saying, “you get what you pay for” rings true here.

  2. I live in the U.S., and want to buy this phone. Where can I buy this phone, which can be used in the U.S. without problems for the 2G or 3G network? I have heard of 3G in Europe is different from 3G in the U.S., which is 2G, is too different? This phone is open. It means I can use anywhere in the world, including the United States? Do you think this makes no sense?

  3. I was contemplating buying one but thanks to your review, I am now in serious doubt… The BADA system seems isnt as good and if the web pages dont display correctly, my phone would loose its major utility to me 🙁 Infact, the simultaneously launched Galaxy S I guess has Andriod system, ebook reader and other high end features…

  4. There is flash browser support on the Samsung Wave watch the mobileburn 2nd video of the wave, its just naturally turned off.

  5. Hey I just created new site with themes for Wave (and other bada running OS’). I was searching web and found this site, hope it’s ok to post it, it’s no spammy site! Check out link in my name 🙂

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