Samsung’s first Wave debuted last year with a generally good reaction to its ‘smartphone on a budget’ shtick.
Like its predecessor, the Samsung Wave II runs on Samsung’s Bada OS, which is designed to bring smartphone functionality at less expense but it now also has a larger, improved screen and HD video recording.
Design and build
The Wave II sits at the top of Samsung’s Wave family tree above Waves 723 and 525, both of which feature smaller 3.2in screens and descending spec levels. The new model is bigger and heavier than before at 124 x 60 x 12mm and 135g (a jump up from 118 x 56 x 11mm and 118g) and the screen has been stretched from 3.3in to 3.7in.
The menu button has lost its original diamond styling in favour of a less distinctive, but probably more practical, stretched oblong. On the sides are a volume rocker and camera shutter and on the rear of the metal casing it retains the diamond-shaped 5-megapixel camera lens and LED flash.
The 3.7in screen isn’t the AMOLED type that Samsung has previously won praises for, but one of its latest Super Clear LCD screens, much the same as you’ll find on its higher end Galaxy S models.
It delivers an impressively sharp image with sharp, bright colours and good contrast, plus it’s multi-touch capable, so you can pinch to zoom when browsing, looking at maps or viewing photos. The sensitivity is just right too.
Interface and OS
The latest 1.2 version of Bada isn’t much different from the original version and uses Samsung’s widget-based TouchWiz 3.0 interface. You can have up to ten screens and there are loads of useful interactive widgets to populate them with.
Strangely, though, while there’s an Android-style drop-down menu for your latest updates and status, you can’t add shortcuts from the menu to the home screen, just the prescribed widgets, which seems like a missed chance.
Thankfully, though, these widgets are mostly pretty good – there are news and stocks updates, as well as variety of options for viewing your friends’ Facebook and Twitter updates.
The 5-megapixel camera certainly isn’t top of Samsung’s range but it’s way better than comparably specced models from the likes of HTC. For still pics it’s much the same as the one on the previous Wave but the difference is with the video recording. It can now do the business in 720p HD and it makes a pretty good job of it too.
Pictures are fairly crisp and there’s an onboard editor that allows you to splice together different film clips, crop them, split them and add captions and music.
It works well for on-the-go film editing, though it’s not really designed for precision editing – for that you’d be better off transferring the 3GP files to your computer and a more advanced editor. Samsung’s AllShare feature uses DLNA to send your videos to a compatible TV for easy big-screen viewing too.
Apps and browser
The Social Hub pulls together all of your social networking updates as well as emails and text messages. A scrolling list tells you how many notifications you have waiting for each app though you’ll need to open Facebook, Twitter etc individually to view them, which slows things down a bit.
Syncing your Facebook contacts to your address book is straightforward, however, and there’s also a ‘Buddies Now’ widget, which allows to keep up with your nearest and dearest (or just funniest) from your home page.
There’s no dedicated Bada apps store as such, though there are a few thousand available from Samsung Apps, including a variety of ebook readers, which you can just about get away with on a screen this size.
The browser layout bears a little resemblance to Symbian’s clunky navigation options but it’s easy enough to use and it generally renders pages well. It’s quick too, with HSDPA and Wi-Fi connectivity and a 1Ghz processor to drive things along.
The virtual keyboard is a good one – nicely spaced and sensitive with useful keys like @ and .com displayed in the first rank. Samsung’s Quicktype feature is also present, which allows you to type quickly without the need to lift your finger off the keyboard. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you’re there it works pretty well.
Media and connectivity
The Super Clear LCD screen makes a good show of displaying videos and the music player does everything you need it to without any problems. The earphones are on the tinny side, as is often the case, but easy to upgrade via the 3.5mm jack plug on top.
Performance and battery life
Battery life held up fairly well, delivering almost a day and a half of extensive use.
- Larger screen than before
- Powerful 1GHz processor
- Above average camera
- Not a massive improvement on the original Wave
- Samsung Apps not a patch on other app stores
Verdict: There’s not a huge jump from the original Wave to this, but if you’re an original owner it’s only worth upgrading if you have a particular hankering for a larger screen and HD video recording. Otherwise, it’s a better than okay phone and makes a good case for smartphone functionality in a budget package.
More info: Samsung Wave II spec
Price: From free on contract; £250 SIM-free