Samsung S8500 Wave Review – A ‘Bada” Boy Indeed

For now, I’m using this phone for primarily personal and entertainment purposes, not business. I ordered this phone from MobilityNigeria.com and received it 2 days later here in Abuja.

These pictures were taken with my 2MP XpressMusic:
S8500 wave

Main Specifications

  • 1 GHz processor.
  • Super AMOLED 3.3” screen.
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n.
  • Bada OS 1.0
  • 5MP camera with flash. Ability to record HD 720p video
  • 2 GB memory card; 390MB phone memory
  • USB charging. A big plus, hence I don’t have to carry the 3-pin charger with me.
  • Also, it’s the top-rated phone on www.gsmarena.com. You can visit GSMArena for full specs.

There are several forums dedicated to this phone. I regularly visit www.mysamsungwave.com, www.samsungfirmwareworld.com, and www.samsungwaveforum.com.

Phone Analysis
1. I love the solid feel of this phone. It is all metal and cool to the touch.

  • There are only 3 keys [Dial, Menu and End]
  • The bottom is bare.
  • The left side has only the volume controls.
  • The right side has the Lock key at the top and the Camera key far below it.
  • The top of the phone has the Speaker, the 3.5mm audio jack, and the USB/Charger port.
  • The back has just the Camera and Flash at the top-left corner. There’s a cellophane covering for them, but it quickly peeled off.

2. This phone is very fast courtesy of the Samsung Cortex 1GHz processor, the exact type found on the Samsung i9000 Galaxy S. No lags so far. Even when it informs you of low memory, the speed is unaffected.

3. The Super AMOLED screen is fabulous. Very sharp. It’s said to be able to resist extreme friction, something I definitely won’t put to test. It’s a pleasure watching videos of many different formats. You can only play files with DivX codec after registering the device on vod.divx.com.

4. This Camera/Flash combo is awesome. In video mode, the flash acts as video light. It records HD video [1280 x 720], although this consumes quite a lot of memory [100MB for a clip of about 3 minutes]. I’ll have to buy a much larger memory card. It also supports Slow Motion video at a much lower resolution. It has a front-facing camera, but there’s no way to use or even access it. From an online forum, I learnt how to activate it by tweaking some controls in the Admin menu. But doing so disables the back camera, meaning you have to re-tweak the menu, or restart the phone. No big loss for me, sha. I hope this is a firmware problem that’ll be fixed once I upgrade.

1
A camera shot taken with default camera settings at 3pm. Click for full version.

5. It’s one of the few phones to support Wi-Fi ‘mode n’ with speeds of 200Mbps or 25MB/sec. I’ve used several Wifi connections to browse and download stuffs.

6. Screen snapshot – You can always take a screen snapshot at any time, even while playing movies or games.

s8500 ss

7. Samsung really put a lot of effort into the Music Player. The graphics, surfing options, and 5.1-channel surround sound [only with a headset] are breathtaking. Sadly, there’s no separate handling of podcasts like there is in Nokia Symbian phones. The volume is quite loud.

s8500 music

s8500 music2

8. There are some USSD codes that give you access to secret menus for Admin Control, Service Mode, and Locking Mode.

9. Battery life is okay – I was expecting poor battery life after Yomi’s complaints about touchscreen phones, but this phone’s battery life seems ok. It performs poorly for the first 2 days, however. Twice, I allowed it to drain to 17% [it has an auto-shut-off at 15%] before recharging it. Heavy Wi-Fi use definitely consumes a lot of energy. There’s a USSD code for alternating between 2 battery modes: CP [default] & AP [more efficient] UART modes. The battery is stable now. Once I fully charged the phone before 11pm, and then left it to play music all night. By 6.30am when I woke up, the battery was at 84%. I don’t subject the phone to heavy usage. Bluetooth, Wifi, Email Sync, etc are only used when required.

10. I think anyone with above-average experience with smartphones may view the Samsung Wave S8500 as a great feature phone. Several online reviews also state this. Samsung claims true multitasking, which it appears to have. Still, if you read up Bada OS on Wikipedia, you’ll see it’s not really/truly an operating system per se.

11. USB – When plugged to a computer’s USB port, there are several connection modes: Samsung Kies, Media Player, Mass Storage, PC Internet and USB Debugging. USB charging also exists, which is great, so I only carry the USB cable around with me.

12. Installation of Java applications [MIDP 2.0] is possible.

13. Dolfin Browser 2.0 – Like Yomi said about Webkit Browsers, you can’t go back to a previous page without refreshing. Also unavailable is saving webpages for later offline viewing, a feature I really enjoyed in OperaMini and Nokia browser. Tabbed browsing exists with a maximum of 5 tabs. Happily, I was able to install OperaMini 5.1, but using it on a touchscreen phone is a new experience for me.

s8500 web

14. Heavy Data Usage – This phone eats data like a hungry elephant!! My Glo Always Micro had 65MB of data left by the time I got this phone. After less than 2 days, this had dropped to 30MB. With OperaMini on my 5320Xpressmusic, I use about 3-6MB per day. A lot of this consumption comes from the super-quality pictures. Now that I’ve begun using OperaMini, my daily data usage has reduced.

15. The Bada market [samsungapps.com] is new, still under development, and has varying options for different countries. All the apps available to Nigeria are free and number 300 – 500. Paid apps are available for United Kingdom and some other countries. You can download the apps only via the phone, or using the Samsung Kies 1.5 on your computer. I’ve been able to download several useful applications [most are below 5MB]. There are some super games [more than 60MB] which I downloaded using both Wifi and packet data.

16. Included Utility Programs are inadequate – I really wish Xplore and Taskman were available for Bada OS. Picsel Viewer is available for office files [doc, docx etc], but no editing. The full, paid version is only available for selected nations at samsungapps.com. There’s no way to hide files, folders and messages; something I was doing easily with Symbian.

17. GPS and Navigation is handled by Samsung LBS. The pc counterpart is called ROUTE66. Mobile navigation seems ok. I won’t be using it a lot. Here are some clips I took during a trip to Asokoro:
s8500 maps

s8500 maps2

18. It’s sad that this phone comes with a 2GB memory card. Samsung should have included a 16GB card at least. It has 2GB of internal memory, but only about 392MB is available for the user; the remaining 1.5GB is for system use and messaging only. When playing the included Asplalt5 game, the phone might issue a warning of low memory and refuse to continue the game. This happens after using the phone for a long period. The only resort is to reboot the phone as closing other applications won’t help.

19. Firmware upgrades – This is one sector of the phone that’s going to be tricky. Different world regions/nations have specific firmwares. It comes with Bada OS 1.0.0, but firmware version 1.2 was unofficially leaked a week ago. I’ve downloaded tit, the flashing software & the manual. From what I’m reading at online forums, it’ll take some good research to be absolutely sure of what you’re doing. The official release is expected in November, with much improvement and Nuance T9 Trace [a swipe-like software]

Conclusion
This phone is only my second Smartphone ever, so I’m not going to grade it. But it’s definitely a keeper! I have no regrets in buying this awesome piece of technology.

17 comments

  1. spacy, you said:

    Once I fully charged the phone before 11pm, and then left it to play music all night. By 6.30am when I woke up, the battery was at 84%.

    A couple of questions:

    1. Did you have a set of earphones plugged in or not?
    2. At what volume was the volume set?
    3. Was there any active internet connection on the phone that night e.g. email polling etc or any other background connection?

    I’m asking because I am thinking of trying out the same test here. Cheers.

  2. 1. No earphones;
    2. The volume was below 50%. I recell I slept soundly that night, so the volume couldn’t have caused any discomfort;
    3. At the time, I hadn’t activated email sync, so there was no active connection [GSM/UMTS, wifi, bluetooth]

  3. Awesome review there, SpacyZuma!

    “Programs are inadequate – I really wish Xplore and Taskman were available forBada OS. Picsel Viewer is available for office files [doc, docx etc], but no editing.”

    Be grateful that this device, at least, supports Java Apps.

    A new pseudo-OS like Bada can not have an array of applications overnight. tech-savvy, early adopters coming from more nature platforms will just have to live with the deficiencies in application spread..

  4. @martinkem

    There’s no google maps for the phone yet. I thinks maps can be downloaded via the Route66 desktop software, but I havent tried it.

  5. @Bosun99uk

    The RAM has not been officially verified by Samsung. It’s been rumuored as between 128 to 512MB.

    That memory problem has only occured while playing the Asphalt5 game. I’ve not experienced it with any other application[s], even when I’m running more than 6 concurrently.

  6. i setup my gmail account & 2 yahoo accounts 2 weeks ago. The yahoo accounts were easy to setup, and the phone checks for mail every 3 hours without problems.
    The gmail gave me some problems initially. After researching at online forums, i then used an Exchange Activesync account [abc@googlemail.com instead of abc@gmail.com ]. It works fine now.

  7. Just some updates…

    1. I received my 16GB microSDHC card some days ago. The Samsung Kies pc suite has no tool to backup/restore phone memory. I was shocked, bcos most of the programs I’ve installed are on the 2GB memory card. I had to manually copy my data to a windows folder, remove the old & insert the new card, format it using the phone, and then copy the data in the backup folder on the pc back to the phone. Thankfully, all my programs resumed functionality without any glitches.

    2. In the past 2 weeks, I’ve experienced low-memory issues several times. They’ve all occured when playing top-range games [BruceLee Dragon Warrior, NeedForSpeed Shift, Asphalt5], and they occur when other programs are also open [usually OperaMini5 and music player]. Samsung has declined to inform us on exactly how much RAM is available, but it definitely cannot reach 512MB. I doubt it’s even upto 256MB.

    3. When I setup my gmail account using Exchange Activesync, it worked smoothly for a while. I dont know what happened, but for weeks I never received any gmail notification, while my 2 yahoo accounts received notifications promptly. I deleted the Exchange Activesync gmail account, and tried the original Google account. I just put in my username and password, and the connection was instant. I’ve tested it several times since, and it works ok.

  8. what version of bada are you using? i read sometime ago the low memory error has been resolved in firmare version 1.2 of the bada os

  9. I’m using bada 1.0. The 1.2 version was to have been released in november, and its only available on the Samsung S8530 Wave II. An unofficial 1.2 firmware for europe was released 2 months ago. I downloaded it, but decided to wait for the official release.

  10. Well, Samsung just announced bada 1.2 will be released in Q1 2011 as an OTA update in European markets. It’s anyones guess when we will see it here in Nigeria, unless they provide an internet downloadble version.

    Personally, this sucks big time. I’m tired of waiting for this update. Symbian’s new plan of updates for 2011 is attracting me more and more. I’m taking steps to generate funds to trade-in the Wave. If this bada1.2 doesnt get to me by end of January, then the heck with it.

  11. Heya i am for the primary time here. I came across this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out much. I’m hoping to provide something again and help others such as you aided me.

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