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Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look

Today, large companies, especially corporate giants like Samsung, do not surprise users with extraordinary products...

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Review of Samsung Wave II (S8530) GSM/UMTS Phone

Live photos of Samsung Wave II

Contents:

  1. Positioning
  2. Design, dimensions and controls
  3. Screen
  4. Battery
  5. USB, Bluetooth and other communications
  6. Memory and memory cards
  7. Camera
  8. Gestures control
  9. Menu and interface
  10. Multitasking
  11. Keyboard
  12. Widgets
  13. Phonebook
  14. Calls list
  15. Messages
  16. Organizer
  17. Browser
  18. File Manager (My files)
  19. Settings
  20. Applications
  21. MP3 Player
  22. Video player
  23. Gallery
  24. Samsung App Store
  25. Impressions

In the box:

  • Phone
  • 1500 mAh Li-Ion battery
  • USB cable
  • Wired stereo headset
  • User Guide
  • Software CD

Positioning

Samsung launched a SuperAmoled plant in October, but the demand is so high that the company will not satisfy it until at least 2012. In one of the previous articles I mentioned that Samsung is a victim of the screen deficit and the popularity of Galaxy S and Samsung Wave surprised even the company itself. In the first month of international sales 1 million of Samsung Wave handsets found their owners. Afterwards the demand only increased. In August Samsung realized that the wave of popularity was overwhelming. For example, the sales of Samsung Galaxy S for the same period reached 5 million and 2 million were sold in the USA alone, which is duly considered as a strategic market for the world dominance of the company. Modest estimates show that by October almost 7 million of Samsung Wave handsets were sold around the globe. The demand for the model reached 16 million items for the same period.

Samsung decided to cut on Galaxy S production for non-carrier markets and ship the model only to strategic partners. This is an attempt to meet the unprecedented level of demand. On the other hand, Wave required more SuperAmoled screens and without discontinuing the model it was impossible to meet the demand for Galaxy S. The unpopular decision was made and Wave was sacrificed for the benefit of Galaxy S. Wave II was launched as a replacement, though it was not originally planned in the current form, which is also confirmed by its index. Samsung already had Samsung Wave 2, albeit with another index (S5250) and inferior characteristics. When you hear the name there is no difference between Wave 2 and Wave II. Surprisingly, but the second model was unveiled to address the issue of the parts shortage.

Wave II supersedes the previous flagship with SuperAMOLED screen as it features Super Clear TFT, which is bigger as a bonus. Until the start of 2011 both models will be on sale at the same time Ц original Wave with SuperAMOLED and slightly lower price together with Wave II. It is a good alternative for users as you get more choice.

The positioning remains the same and here we have the flagship touchscreen model from Samsung Ц the pinnacle of technologies for accessible price. This model offers one of the best value for money options on the market. If you do not need Skype (because Bada cannot provide SIP clients yet) this solution is on par with any other handset and has some considerable advantages. Sales tell everything Ц the first Wave sells like hot cakes. Wave II will have a fabulous future too. Different screen comes with the same price at the time of launch. It is necessary to have any price difference when Wave II is launched.

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Design, dimensions and controls

Here we get a classical touchscreen phone: big screen and hardware buttons below. The central key is large, which is not universally acclaimed, but as it is responsible for one action only that's fine. Call and end buttons are convenient to use.

The shape of the central key was changed and it resembles a smile instead of a diamond.

The dimensions of the model are 123.9 x 59.8 x 11.8 mm (compare with 118х56х10.9 mm for Wave) and weighs around135 g (102 g). Dimensions and weight are on par with the majority of similarly priced rivals, but it is more male oriented in comparison with the original Wave. It is heavier, more bulky and feels like a reliable metal bar. Those who used Wave are amazed by an identical design with different feel. On the other hand the model targets new customers, but not the owners of the first Wave. Men like the dimensions and the weight, while women prefer the original Wave.

Samsung Wave II vs Samsung Wave:

Samsung Wave II vs Nokia N8:

The color replicates the first Wave. Other colors are not planned due to the popularity of the model.

Above the screen we have a frontal camera for video calls together with the light censor. We also get a proximity sensor and the in-built electronic compass.

The top hosts a standard microUSB slot for a data transfer cable or charger. The slot has a movable shutter connected to the body. Near we see a 3.5 mm jack. The phone has a dedicated DNSe chip responsible for the sound processing similar to that of Samsung players.

The right side has a lock key and a camera button below.

The build is excellent and the screen is protected by glass, while the camera hole with the flash is at the back.

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Screen

In the review of Samsung Wave I mentioned the advantages of SuperAMOLED technology. If you need details go to, and I will briefly mention its strong points Ц low energy consumption, thinness and good behavior in the sun together with excellent touch reaction, which is of vital importance for any touchscreen. These characteristics are important to compare in Wave and Wave II if we want to find out who comes on top.

Both screens feature the same resolution of 800х480, but Wave has 3.3″, while Wave II offers 3.7″. The difference of 0.4″ is visible and the screen of Wave II is more convenient to use due to slightly larger screen controls. After one week I tried to go back to Samsung Wave and found it less comfortable as I had some erroneous touches. I would like to emphasize again that it is obvious only if you compare them head to head. The majority of users will not feel the difference.

Touch processing is very important for any touchscreen. Wave was among the best models on the market in this respect together with Apple iPhone. I was afraid of even the slightest downgrade for Wave II, but luckily everything remains the same.

Let's start comparisons indoors. Look at the picture quality. Super Clear TFT clearly impresses. The main difference from SuperAMOLED is in more prominent acutance and details stick out. Some may like it, but test pictures show that all shots were processed with DNIe (digital natural image engine) used in Samsung TV sets and once again employed in phones. Preprocessing means that the quality is the best for particular conditions and shot. People who prefer a fair picture with real life colors will not be impressed.

A definite downside is the increased size of the phone due to thicker display, but we will have to put up with this.

In terms of colors I can say that SuperAMOLED provides high saturation with straight black, while Super Clear TFT comes up with grayish shade of black. It is not completely black, which is the main difference. In other colors Super Clear TFT wins due to better contrast and brightness. This is the main advantage. Pictures are considerably different, so you have to choose what you personally like more.

Having showed test pictures on Nokia N8, Samsung Wave and Wave II to a dozen of people I can say that the majority of respondents went for Wave II, though other models were chosen as well. It was only a statistical error though. Look at the pictures Ц they tell the whole story.

Comparison of photos from Galaxy S

Comparison of photos from Nokia N8

Comparison of photos Samsung Wave

Now let's look at better detail from Samsung Wave. Leaves look better due to the screen.

In terms of behavior in the sun the first Wave has a clear advantage as the picture does not fade much. Both models have no flare spots.

I wanted to compare Super Clear TFT with the first generation of AMOLED screens from Samsung installed in Nokia N8. There is a parity in the sun, but indoors Super Clear TFT has a better picture quality.

In other words, the screen is excellent, though it has some drawbacks as it consumes more energy than SuperAMOLED, but we will mention it in the battery part.

New screen is easy to use and features automatic brightness customization depending on light (this parameter can also be set manually).

Samsung phones also use VibeZ when you feel vibration every time you touch the screen and your action is confirmed this way.

The screen fits up to 16 text lines and 3 service lines. In SMS reading mode you can get as many as 24 lines depending on the selected fonts. You can scale the text by the side volume rocker from gigantic to minute. In the settings you can select the size and look of fonts, but there is not much difference. Another matter, that in comparison with other models the screen fonts are huge and you can read them from any distance, which is a definite advantage.

In the sun you can still read the screen, which is rare for large displays.

The model has a movement sensor to change the screen orientation and browse photo lists by turning the body slightly.

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Battery

The handset features a 1500 mAh Li-Ion battery. The manufacturer claims up to 7.5 hours of talktime and 400 hours in the standby mode, which is 10% lower than the same parameter of Samsung Wave due to another screen type.

In European networks the phone worked around 2 days with one hour of calls, several SMS and the minimum use of mail, three hours of music and radio playback and new mail every two hours (both through EDGE and WiFi). Users addicted to mail and web will get only one day of active use. The battery needs 2 hours for the full charge.

You also get around 5 hours of video playback (without conversion) in comparison with 5.5 hours for Wave. Music playback is up to 30 hours. In general the operation time remains the same and a 10% difference is not easy to notice.

Network widgets influence the operation time negatively: if you have many of them and select the automatic update through regular intervals the phone will last one day only. You should also disable the synchronization with phonebook network services (for example, Google, Twitter and Facebook).

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USB, Bluetooth and other communications

Bluetooth. This is one of the first models with Bluetooth 3.0 aka High Speed. During the files transfer to other devices with this technology support Wi-Fi 802.11 n is used with the theoretical speed of 24 Mbps. The transfer of a 1 GB file from one S8500 to another showed a speed of 12 Mbps at a 3 m distance.

The phone supports different profiles: Headset, Handsfree, Serial Port, Dial Up Networking, File Transfer, Object Push, Basic Printing, SIM Access and A2DP. There are no problems working with headsets.

USB connection. In the menu you can choose one of three available modes: Media, Mass Storage, PC Internet and Samsung Kies.

In USB Mass Storage mode the handset does not require additional drivers and you can copy all necessary data. USB 2 gives around 4.5 Mbps during data transfer.

When you connect to a PC simultaneous USB and Bluetooth operation is not supported and the phone asks you to disable Bluetooth even if you are connected and transfer data at the time, which is inconvenient at best.

The phone starts charging once you connect it via USB.

GSM networks use EDGE of class 12.

WiFi. 802.11 b/g/n is supported and the wizard is similar to that of Bluetooth. You can remember selected networks for future automatic connection. On the downside I have to mention that in some public networks there is an authentication procedure, which does not work on Wave without the SIM card inside. It happens that to use WiFi you need not the Flight mode, but a fully fledged network connection. The same solution can be found in LG Arena and other models, but is a pure drawback. There are no other issues with WiFi.

There is a one touch router connection. Press an appropriate router button and activate the similar key in the phone (WPA SecureEasySetup).

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Memory and memory cards

The handset sports 2 GB or internal memory (the version with 8 GB is planned) and the user has around 1.5 GB from the outset. The memory card is shown separately and you can see all folders (from the memory card and internal memory).The file manager helps to copy files from the card and to it. The cards are not hot swappable. We tested microSD cards up to 32 GB and everything worked fine.

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Camera

The handset has a 5 MP camera with autofocus of the latest generation. Color reproduction was improved and now you can choose the focusing point with one touch of a screen. The camera interface is horizontal and all options are selected by simply touching of icons, which are large and easy to use.

Automatic contrast control gives high quality picture on a bright sunny day.

You can manually set ISO Ц 50, 100, 200, 400, and 800.

The camera supports following resolutions:

  • 2560х1920
  • 2048x1536
  • 1600x1200
  • 640x480
  • 2560х1536
  • 2048х1232
  • 1600х960
  • 800х480

Modes:

  • Single shot
  • Multi-shot
  • Panorama shot
  • Smile shot
  • Mosaic
  • Frame

White balance:

  • Auto
  • Daylight
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Cloudy

Effects:

  • Black and white
  • Sepia
  • Negative
  • Watercolour

Scenes:

  • Portrait
  • Landscape
  • Night
  • Sport
  • Indoors
  • Beach/Snow
  • Sunset
  • Dawn
  • Autumn colors
  • Fireworks
  • Text
  • Candle
  • Against the light

Among unusual things we have to describe Face Detection, which allows focusing on faces in the shot. The option works well, so you can set blinking detection and in this case the shot will be automatically repeated.

Panoramic pictures are now supported as well.

Beauty is a mode to color the skin of a person for the face to look more attractive. It resembles makeup or Photoshop.

Standard options now include geotags, contrast customization, quality settings, etc.

Look at photo samples in different conditions and comparisons with the original Wave.

Samsung Wave II vs Samsung Wave:

Samsung Wave II Samsung Wave

Video recording

The phone supports video recording in mpeg4 for the maximum resolution and in settings you can choose if to record the sound or not. All settings are similar to those of photos, but the resolution is different and effects are supported. The maximum resolution is 1280х720 with 720х480 (30 fps) or 640х480 (30 fps) supported as well. Two additional resolutions are 320х240 and 176х144. There is a Slow Motion mode and you can give a look below.

The video quality is excellent both on a phone and PC screens. During the recording the fixed focus is supported similarly to Sony Ericsson models. Among unusual features pay attention to contrast, color saturation and acutance settings selected prior to shooting. They can all be customized. Camera settings also feature an option of screen visibility boost in bright sunshine.

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Gestures control

Gestures control depends upon conditions. In the gallery you can browse photos by moving the phone to the side. Double tapping on the body starts a particular feature. Samsung decided not to use apps launch after unlocking with a gesture, though the option was included in first prototypes.

Etiquette Ц during the call, alarm activation or calendar event you only have to turn the handset down to mute the sound; the profile remains the same.

In the hands free mode you can customize the phone to activate this mode by placing the handset on the table. This minor option is very nice though.

Double tapping can be associated with the launch of any app or dialing a number.

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Menu and interface

If you read the review of Samsung Wave or had experience with the model bravely drop this section. Despite the introduction of Bada 1.2 all changes are connected with troubleshooting, stability and speed, while the user interface and apps remain the same. The only notable change is an updated “9, which has an analogue in the form of Swype (you can write with your hands permanently touching the screen).

It is an open secret that Samsung uses TouchWiz interface on all platforms and can be found on Samsung OS (Bada this time), Symbian, Windows Mobile and Android. Initially TouchWiz was developed for the proprietary OS and its particular characteristics come to the fore. New features are also added here earlier. Jet was the first model with the 2nd version of the interface, while Wave welcomes TouchWiz 3D, which is the most advanced incarnation of this interface.

The device can be unlocked with a gesture by simply swiping the screen. The locked screen appears as a jigsaw puzzle with the pieces representing missed events if any. By dragging a piece to an empty space, you will launch the corresponding application (e.g. message or call list). If you simply unlock the phone, you will see the standby screen.

The standby screen displays one of the three default desktops with widgets. Change the orientation of the device to the landscape mode Ц and you will be able to add up to ten extra panels, which should provide enough space for all your widgets. The phone ships with 20 of those, but you can always download some more. The widget toolbar is now located at the bottom of the screen, which makes it easier to keep all the elements organized and prevent their unwanted activation.

The main menu can be accessed by pressing a button in the lower part of the screen. It appears as a 3x4 grid and is well suited for the sensor screen. All that is needed from you is to pick an item to tap. Whenever you come across a text input field Ц another tap Ц and a keyboard pops up, no confirmation required. At any moment, you can rotate the phone for QWERTY input.

Just as it is with the desktops, you can have up to 10 pages in the menu. However, it is not that important since you cannot add your own icons or shortcuts (most likely, it is for the new software that you can download from the store). All you can do is scatter the icons across the pages, which doesn't appear very smart, though. All icons but Menu are free to move around as you wish.

The menu is adaptive, which means that the most frequently used applications will always be on top. I find it great, but those, who like to have their programs organized in a particular way, may find the feature disturbing. It is off by default.

Every menu has a toolbar at the bottom of the screen. The buttons are context sensitive, that is their functions and quantity (up to four) depend on the current menu.

Scrolling. If you use the left-hand side of the screen for scrolling, it will be faster than on the right-hand side. The function is basic yet very powerful and handy. For lists with names, there is a way to quickly get to a particular word. For example, you can easily scroll till the necessary letter in the picture gallery, which is convenient.

The menu has a pop-up status bar with 4 icons that indicate the current status of GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and sound profile. It also indicates missed events, such as new text or e-mail messages, calls. The implementation is very similar to that in Android. For example, you can see the sender address or name and the first few lines of a text message.

The phone supports push messaging for the majority of inbuilt applications, such as Twitter, Facebook and Samsung's application store. In the preferences, you can enable their information updates to be displayed as pop-up messages on the standby screen. For example, if someone leaves a note on your Facebook wall, you will immediately know that. No need to say how handy the feature is, albeit it will eat away at the battery, especially if you are a popular person. Instead of two days, the device may last for just one.

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Multitasking

There is nothing new there: just hold the center key to bring up the list of running applications and switch between them. The applications are shown as a 2x4 grid. You can shutdown either of them or all at once. As far as the multitasking limitations are concerned, you are currently allowed to have any number of inbuilt programs but only one Bada and one Java application running at the same time. No two Bada applications can be working simultaneously. The restriction is there for the sake of stability and should be alleviated in future. You will have to live with that for a while, though. When a program is minimized, the data get stored so that you can continue your work later on (depends; I could not get that working with some games).

From my experience, the device can handle up to 10 applications just fine, unless one of them is the memory-hungry browser, especially if you open three or four heavy pages. In that case, you will be asked to shutdown an application or two. You may also have to cut down on some active network widgets for the browser to run normally

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Widgets

As far as I can remember, Nokia has been the most active player on the widget market, albeit an implicit one. Having come up with the actual idea for S60, the company turned out to be almost two and a half years late with its market introduction due to certain development issues. As a result, it is Samsung that has been making the progress in the area for three years and has very powerful solutions to date. The number of widgets in the Wave got bigger, and they are even more interesting now.

Describing all of them would require another lengthy review, as there are more than 50 freeware applets in the widget library to date; and based on how active the developers have been with the previous models, that number is soon to be more than one hundred.

Let's take a look at the most interesting and useful ones.

Buddies Now displays the contacts from your favorites list; each of them can be immediately sent a message or called. You also get updates about their network activity Ц e.g. Twitter and Facebook. By clicking a message, you will see the most recent correspondence with a particular person in the address book, which is simple yet handy. I recommend you to pick up to 10 contacts to make your life and communications easier.

Most Visited keeps track of your browsing history and allows you to open your favorite pages right from the main screen.

Help is a basic interactive user guide for the phone, a cute one.

Google provides you with instant access to the e-mail, maps and search.

Days is a widget from Mini Diary, which we will talk about later. It shows the most recent notes as well as your agenda for a particular day, and sports a beautiful interface.

Feeds&Update complies the list of the latest Facebook and Twitter updates. You can immediately reply to any message or have it reposted. The applet is very handy and renders all other practically useless. That is especially true for the built-in Twitter client that has a limitation on the number of messages to download (from 5 to 8), which is somewhat irritating, as you have to do some extra "Show more" clicking.

Daily Briefing is another standard application, which can, however, display not only your agenda but also news and financial reports from a number of companies of your choice.

There is no need to discuss another ten some default widgets. Those are simple and easy to understand, like accessing your e-mail accounts or ability to quickly create a new message.

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Keyboard

As the default text input option you have a mini-QWERTY keyboard. The button size is good and the typing errors are minimal. A series of special characters are assigned to the spacebar, which needs to be pressed if you are going for the dot or coma, etc. If you can type fast, you should like the realization.

The phone allows you to enable any number of languages, including those for text input, on the first run. The keyboard layouts go one after the other in a cyclical order and can be switched back and forth with a single tap. The default layout is selected by the user and is followed by the English one and then the rest.

There are no complaints about the built-in T9, which provides you with word suggestions when typing. However, the mode is not that useful if you have a QWERTY keyboard, and as such, is off by default.

If you experience nostalgia for the regular alphanumeric keypad, you can still have it. With the number keys and extra letter inscriptions, it is a very good imitation of the regular phone. You will need more than one button press for most letters, though.

Handwriting recognition is at your disposal, too. It works both in the fullscreen mode and as a pop-up menu.

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Phonebook

You can activate contacts from the quick launch bar in the lower part of the screen: you see the list with all entries from the phone's memory and the SIM card. There are tabs here; the first one represents the general list and the second shows groups of contacts followed by the favorites.

You can customize the phone for a lefthander and the slider will be on the right then. The list contains only names and to the left you have a contact photo. To view the contact details it should be opened.

Any graphic file, a picture or video can be used as a contact photo. For each contact you can record up to 5 phone numbers of different types (mobile, work, home, fax, etc) and one of them will be main (by default the first chosen will get this status). The fields are not limited. From the phone menu you can introduce additional fields, for example, an e-mail, address and so on.

The phone has two fields for name and family name (only the first field is searchable), which are displayed together. The field Name comes first. For example, Eldar Murtazin appears precisely in this way. The length of each field equals 20 symbols, for every supported language. During the name input you can interchange different languages.

The entries in different languages are sorted in the following order: first come all contacts in the local language (let's say, Russian) and then all contacts in English. It is quite convenient and common for computer software. Taking into account the possibility to switch languages during the search it is clear that entries in different languages can be easily handled in this phone. The sorting by name or family name is supported as well.

Let's go back to the contact entry. Apart from the phone numbers you can add an e-mail (more than one) or a short text note. Any sound file, including an mp3 track can be selected as a ringtone for a particular contact. You can create the necessary number of groups at ease, select a ringtone and picture for every group (by default you have three groups and "without group" option). For SMS you can also select a melody.

The phone memory hosts up to 2000 entries with completed fields. If you don't complete all fields the number of entries remains the same. In the settings you can select the default destination of all new phone numbers. The transfer of entries from SIM card and back is available. The developers decided that the best synchronization option is the use of PC, in particular, MS Outlook. Any entry can be quickly sent to another device as SMS/MMS, e-mail or via Bluetooth. There are no problems with such a transfer and phonebook entries are moved to other devices without problems. Their recognition is not an issue either.

You can create a business card in the phone. Its format completely corresponds with an ordinary phonebook entry.

Quick Dial List contains up to 12 phone numbers and also several numbers of one contact can be added here. Buttons get the notes in the form of the selected contact or photo, but not the phone number type.

Any number of contacts groups can be created. Each group can be assigned a picture and a ringtone. A group hosts up to 20 contacts.

During the incoming call a picture takes up to 50% of the screen and is well visible.

You can choose a separate vibro type (5 types available) for each contact.

This model differs from its predecessors that while viewing a contact you see 4 tabs at a time. If the first one has all info on the contact the second is called "History" with all messages, calls, etc. Then comes the tab "Activities" with all associated social services, for example an account and entries in Twitter/Facebook. It is very convenient to view everything in one place./p>

The last tab is called "Media", which shows the caller's files from Flickr and other social networks. We saw a similar feature in HTC Sense and here we have the same level of convenience.

If you have a Gmail account, which contains your contacts, you can assign synchronization with it. All contacts received this way will have a particular symbol. Synchronization is also available for Facebook and Twitter contacts (from websites to the phone), though you cannot select all contacts. You just have to correlate the required contact with the name from the phonebook and in "Activities" you will see all entries of a contact in the abovementioned social networks. This feature works perfectly and is easy to use. You can answer a contact from there as well.

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Calls list

The general list has all events, including answers to you from Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, SMS/MMS/e-mail. I could not find any limitations for the list. It keeps up to 100 events without any problems. You can only go to the list of calls and from the menu you filter them by type Ц incoming, outgoing and missed.

You can quickly move from list to list. For a separate entry in a detailed view you can see the date and time of the call and other communication with the contact. All history is stored in one place. Identical calls are combined with the number of calls given opposite every phone number. Traditionally in this menu you can access the total duration of all calls and their cost (if the service is available).

For separate numbers the black list can be created to block the respective calls.

The list for sent messages is available as well.

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Messages

Similar to other manufacturers Samsung abandoned an artificial division of messages into SMS and MMS: you create a message and then depending on its content the message is considered as SMS or MMS. In the menu you have an option to turn a message into MMS in a compulsory way (when you need to send a text to an e-mail address and avoid the in-built mail client).

There is also a mode of messages view both in a classical way and as a chat. In the chat mode joint messages are not viewed completely. You have to select a message to read it in full, which is not always convenient. Thankfully, you can view SMS and MMS messages in the chat mode.

In the list the messages are sorted by date, name or frequency of message exchange.

The unique feature of the phone is an option to send a message at a stated time. After completing a message you can indicate a date and time to send it to your contact. I think this useful feature will be liked by many.

Text messages can be archived on a memory card.

The phone memory can store up to 1000 messages, the model supports EMS and works with Nokia Smart Messaging. When sending a message you are allowed to choose the contacts from the phonebook, the list of the latest used numbers and groups. Traditionally, you have an option to create a black list for all types of messages and all messages from the appropriate numbers will be deleted automatically. The messages can be moved to your folders. For e-mail the blocking targets not only particular addresses, but the topics as well.

MMS messages are limited to 295 KB, while the incoming messages have no size limitations. Among additional settings we can mention the blocking of ad messages, the type of message receiving in the roaming and in the home network. The messages are stored in the dynamic memory. The same applies to e-mail.

There is also a useful feature of SOS messages. Once activated in an emergency you just have to press a volume control button 4 times and the message "I am in emergency. Please help me" is sent to designated contacts and the incoming calls from these numbers after the message is sent are received automatically. Contacts phone numbers (no more than 5) and the number of times this message is sent can be adjusted, while the text remains the same.

The in-built mail client is quite traditional without anything special. You can customize up to 5 accounts with the number of messages limited to 1000 for each account. Attachments are enabled with the size of no more than 1 MB for outgoing and 5 MB for incoming files. Received files can be viewed with the help of an in-built browser. HTML is supported as well, so the pages can be viewed without problems.

Installation wizard helps to customize the mail settings.

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Organizer

In the phone memory you can save up to 500 entries represented by one type of event Ц meeting. There are also up to 100 entries for anniversaries. Each entry can be assigned time and date and its end period. You can select a signal and an interval for events. Repeated events option is also available (you set a repeat period and exceptions, which is convenient). The calendar can be easily viewed for a month or a week. Each type of event has a particular color, so everything is quite visible. The calendar can be viewed both in album and portrait screen orientations.

Unfortunately, you cannot add an event just by clicking a day in the calendar and the view of three tasks for a day is also unavailable in the month mode.

Text notes are nice looking.

Tasks section keeps up to 100 objectives with priority to be set.

Time. Several functions are united here. There is world clock, which shows time for selected cities. Now we have a map where you can choose a time zone. Alarms, countdown timer and timer are available as well.

Calculator is very simple.

Converter transfers units of different measurement systems. The entire list is shown at once, which is useful.

Dictaphone. You can record up to several hours of voice notes and the number of such notes is unlimited. In theory the length limitation can be chosen by a user and may equal 1 hour. In memory all notes are located in one folder. The recording quality during lectures and round table negotiations is decent. The notes can be transcribed afterwards. The model can be used as a digital dictaphone. It can be activated during the conversation.

Bluetooth. The utility looks unusual and you can view the devices map. As in file managers on computers you can go to an ordinary devices list. All features are supported, there are no limitations here.

Games. For Java applications multitasking is supported. You can launch several applications and fold them down. The next activation of an app can be carried out from the list. The number of preinstalled games varies for different markets.


Google. In this section you have Google search. It is actually a browser, which provides access to Gmail, and a fully functional Google Maps (they may be absent from the commercial version because navigation software from Route 66 is preinstalled). Starting from the last point I have to say that the maps are quite common, but the screen resolution is a joy Ц it is convenient to view the map and scroll it by hand. All controls are on the screen. You can choose a view from the satellite mode or a simple map. Positioning on the base station works fine. I cannot say anything in particular here. Everything functions well. An in-built GPS receiver is also supported.

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Browser

It is an offshoot of Jet built on webkit, but the version used here is 2.0 (The browser is called Dolfin). The difference from NetFront is startling: the user experience remains the same, but several unique features were added. For example, you can customize the brightness of the screen backlight from the browser itself. This has never been done in the past and it is really convenient if you work in the street. Flash support allows viewing all web resources without any restrictions (the question whether Flash support will stay, because it leads to the unstable performance of the browser, is under consideration now). This browser is also one of the first, which support s the standard ban on banner viewing. We tested this option on several websites and it worked well.


The browser supports RSS client and you can download feeds. The history of viewed pages is available as miniatures. The same applies to bookmarks. Scaling of up to x10 can be done by finger. The content of the website can be arranged in one table. The pictures can be filtered and you can search words on a page. Javascript and Flash are supported. You get a fully functional browser, which closely resembles the browser in Apple iPhone in terms of convenience. It is fast and high quality and the phone scores extra points here.

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File Manager (My files)

All files are collected here: music, pictures, video and sounds. All downloaded files get here first. One of the drawbacks is the fact that at times a file in the common list may not be visible straight away. You have to exit and open the list again.

Files can be viewed as a list and as icons. Select one or several files from the list. The following operations with files are supported: copy, delete and transfer (phone memory Ц memory card). The files can be sorted by time, type, name and size. The general list shows files from 2 types of memory by default.

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Settings

Traditionally you can protect any section of the phone by a password. The period of screen backlight on and its brightness are set individually. There are no special or unusual settings in the phone. There is a package of different wallpapers. The profiles are supported and they help to change the phone's settings.

As always you can customize the fonts size, its color and style during calling.

You can set the power of vibration for VibeZ.

The phone supports TV Out.

In Mobile Tracker you indicate the mobile number, where the messages will be sent when you change your SIM card. In the received message you will see the number of SIM in your phone. You can enter here only if you know the password, which protects from switching off information sharing if you don't know the password. When you insert a new SIM card the message is sent only once. Every card change triggers new message. It is a useful option, which somehow helps to locate a stolen phone.

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Picsel Viewer

Picsel Viewer can be briefly described as an application to open MS Office files (for example, MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint), Adobe Acrobat (PDF), graphic and video formats on the phone. The beauty of technology is in its speed: the opening of a 20 MB PDF file takes several seconds and then you can easily scroll the pages, scale them, and move them any way you like. The files cannot be edited, only viewing is possible, which is often enough, especially if you take into account the fact that you don't have to convert the files for a mobile device.

System Manager (in the phone section). This utility was obviously borrowed from Android, but its functionality is very low at the moment. It shows the processor load, activities and battery charge level. There is no particular use in this app as it cannot uninstall particular applications. It seems that something will be done in this respect soon.

Navigation offers Route66. This fully functional application for turn by turn navigation features voice tips and other similar options. This application is standard and I doubt that many people will pay for its full version. The users of the model will not regard the navigation as the key option anyway. Some people will find it useful though.


"My accounts" is the only place for all social networks accounts united by Bada account, which also gives access to the store.

Allshare is a utility based on uPnP and it allows downloading files from other devices through WiFi. For example, when I installed server software on my notebook I could move music, podcasts and video on my phone. Everything works well and this feature is new for S8500 models, though it featured prominently in various Nokia S60 models.


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MP3 player

The player was thoroughly reworked and it now features Disk UI as its core component. The interface should resemble a CD or a control dial. If it is some sort of a vernier must be decided by users. When you open the music player in a standard screen orientation you see the All tracks list and by scrolling the headlines horizontally you access the playlists (your lists and automatically created Ц frequently played, quick list and recently played). In the same place you have a filter by performers and albums. In both cases you don't have to look at the titles and choose the covers option. Here I have to mention that Samsung adds its own default cover to albums without original ones. It is a bit confusing as the interface gets extremely flashy. Unfortunately, S8500 does not have a feature of searching for track covers, but it is promised in future, hopefully closer to the commercial release of the model.

The in-built search helps to find a performer in the lists or a track by letter. For any track you can use an option called "Find similar". The handset gives names of performers and tracks, which you can add to your wish list. For the majority of countries the music shop from Samsung will not be available when S8500 hits the shelves, so the download of a ringtone fragment and the purchase of music are not supported. Initially this functionality is available, but it has been blocked in the player.

Now let's speak about the horizontal mode of the player. Turn the phone around and you see a carousel of disks. It resembles the cover mode in other models. For example, Samsung Jet features something related. Choose the right disk and you see the tracks list, choose the one you need and press play. This is not all for the mode. If you drag the screen with covers down you will see the circle where you can search performers, tracks and albums by letters. The operation is convenient and it is really invaluable if you have many tracks. On the video you can watch how it works.

The player looks have 2 variants Ц with the album cover or the equalizer. I prefer the first variant, because the second one is really too flashy. As to the rest the player is standard for Samsung. Let's look at its characteristics.

It supports random, consecutive and cycle tracks playback. You can download mp3 files directly via Bluetooth or with the help of the synchronization app or through Windows Media Player. Files can have any name or tag, including the ones in Russian. The phone reads them well. Files bitrate is not very important and the model understands all popular formats. WMA, AAC, eAAC and eAAC+ are also supported.

During the playback you see the name of the current track and the overall number of tracks. There is an equalizer, but it cannot be customized. The playback is possible with the stereo headset or in a hands free mode. 14 levels are available for volume. Users may create their own playlists. The player works in the background mode. At least the screen shows tracks titles and tips for controls, which is convenient.

In the standby mode with the player folded only its controls and the title track are displayed.

In the speakerphone mode the sound is not clear enough as the power capacity is weak, though the volume is loud and the phone is heard well.

The quality of music playback with headphones is good. Among music models I like this one the most, which may be influenced by the fact that I like the model itself and it spreads to its music part as well.

To listen to the music via the headset you can use 5.1 Surround mode, which is an equalizer to make the sound more surrounding. It is an analogue and a rival for Dolby Mobile.

Find Music (earlier known as Music Recognition) is similar to TrackID from Sony Ericsson. The recorded fragment is used to identify a performer and a song. This app has a better choice of Russian musicians to choose from and this way beats TrackID.

FM radio. The phone memory stores up to 99 radio stations with the frequencies ranging from 87.5 to 108 MHz. Automatic tuning of all stations is available, but separate channels cannot be given particular names and are always displayed with the frequency and numbers. Radio also works in a speakerphone mode. Radio works normally and if not all stations can be received in general everything is arranged well and is comparable with other models from rival manufacturers. Radio also works in the background mode.

RDS feature shows not only the station title in the general list above, but displays other information as well. Radio shows can be recorded in the phone memory.

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Video player

Can you invent anything new in video playback? Samsung implemented here one of the features from its players, for example, YP-P3. This is mosaic search inside the video piece. You choose the type of search (16 or 32 images) and then the phone cuts the file into equal parts and shows the shot and its time. You can go to the necessary fragment with one touch. On DVDrip 1.3 GB the search in 32 images mode takes up to 10 seconds.

You can customize the screen brightness straight from the player and set the picture tone (cold or warm).

Other player features are standard: fast rewind x8; you can go to another fragment of the file by dragging the player slider and DNSe is also supported. The manufacturer claims HD video playback, but whether it is really necessary? The following formats are supported: MPEG4, H.263, H.264, WMV, DivX and XviD. Almost all files from network storage were played successfully.

Picture- wise the phone becomes one of the best players. The video can be scaled to fit the screen or is played in its original size (with black stripes on the sides).

In MKV files the subtitles are supported according to Samsung, but t is no clear how to activate them. We could not find the necessary settings.

Video editor. The application was changed and it now supports higher resolutions of 720x480 or 1280x720. Traditionally, you can add several audio tracks, video and the subtitles. It is not very necessary in a phone, but the feature is available.

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Gallery

Pictures are displayed as miniatures; the list opens fast without any delays even if you have many photos and images. The list supports filters, so you can sort the pictures by tags, date or view only the favorites. New filter here is sorting by person. The gallery has an in-built face recognition and on separate pictures the phone can recognize a face and connect it with the phonebook contact (in our sample this option did not work, but we will test how it fares closer to the release date).

As always you can start a slideshow and send a picture to other devices in any way, including Bluetooth. Active users of social networks can instantly download a picture to a particular network.

One of the new options in the model is the possibility to create a Flash video from several images and this video can be assigned to a contact. Then during the call the picture will change and the music will play, if you choose it first.

Picture scaling is similar to Apple iPhone: multitouch moves of your fingers to the center or from the center enlarges or narrows the picture.

Dynamic Canvas is a simple graphics editor. I liked the possibility to save files in Flash, which shows an animated version of your drawing on screen. You can not only draw patterns as in Samsung Jet, but set a movement direction and choose animation effects.

Synchronization. New Samsung Kies is supported, but we will dedicate a separate article to it. This is an updated version of New PC Studio, which offers full features of synchronization. The model also supports Microsoft Exchange.

Voice dialing. Due to the unstable performance in prototypes the voice mail was unfortunately withdrawn.

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Samsung App Store

Applications Store from Samsung follows the pattern of Apple Store. All applications are classified by categories and there are lists of the most popular and free applications. The search by key words is also available. You sign in with the help of your Bada account. Those who do not plan to buy applications do not have to provide the details of a credit card, while others will need it. To sign in you enter a password as in Apple App Store. There is also a similarity in the fact that after the download starts the phone shows its menu and an app icon with the download process (as if you add water to an app icon Ц the animation is nice).

The main question is the number of applications available for Bada from its start. I think there will be around 100 apps and the majority of them were ordered by Samsung to display the platform features. By default you get one game for Bada to show off the quality of graphics and the convenience of gaming. Other games will have to be purchased (I mean high quality and famous ones).Unfortunately, at the moment the price of such games is $ 7-10, which is not very attractive. On the other hand, there are many free games and apps, but they are too simple. These are children's books, e-readers, etc. It is too early to speak about the pricing policy and the number of applications in Samsung store. Before the launch we still have around one month and lots of things can happen. From the beginning of May 10 new apps appear in the store every day and half of them are free. If the speed remains the same the store can be considered a success.

Daily Briefing. An app for weather in designated cities, financial indicators for selected companies, news from AP and your schedule. The application was developed by Samsung and it looks cool while working effectively as well.

Mini Diary. This application allows making notes about your life, adding pictures, describing your location and weather and then publishing it on Facebook. It is a convenient and easy to use app.

Social Hub. In one place you have all accounts for e-mail, social networks and IM. You do not have to use different software to manage your activities. Everything is accessible from one menu and by selecting an app you open it. It is a good idea, but what I like the most is that you even do not need this menu. In the phonebook all information is displayed instantly and received messages pop up and you can answer them from the screen. The same works for SMS.

I have to give details on apps for social networks, for example, Facebook. The client is excellent and it can do everything, so I have no complaints here. Everything works on par with the offerings on other platforms.

On the other hand, Twitter is not the best, because the friends list is updated for 5-8 entries, which is not enough. To save traffic this way is a crime against ergonomics. You have to press "update" constantly. In the settings you also cannot specify the number of tweets to display. In the friends list you click a person's name and view his/her profile or send an answer. Names in tweets are not displayed as links, which is sad. The features of the client are average, but they are not enough at times. I found a way out by using an appropriate widget and forgot about the app.

IM client is also quite good. It has Google Talk and AIM, while other solutions (not Skype or ICQ, at least in the short term) will be added in future. In the phonebook opposite a contact you see an IM icon and can start chatting with the person in case of availability. Here we have the same idea that you do not have to enter the application itself. But if you want to see all your contacts in one location the application can be easily opened.

Calendars offer the same functionality as contacts. You can drag online calendars here, for example Google Calendar. Entries from different sources are shown by different colors. You can view all events in a general calendar together.

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Impressions

The connection quality is above any criticism, the ringtones are loud, but vibration is not always felt. The loudspeaker on the top is an advantage when the phone is used from the pocket, but it is a problem at times: if you put the handset upside down the sound will be a bit muted. The same happens in hands, when the loudspeaker is unintentionally blocked by fingers. It is not a serious issue until you start playing games.

Wave II will go on sale in November and will be available alongside the first Wave for three months. The price difference is И30 - Samsung Wave II costs И430, while Wave is priced at И400 or slightly less. The difference is negligible and you will have to think hard which model to choose. Different Bada versions are not crucial and by the end of the year both models will get a serious update (this is unofficial information) with multitasking and several new apps. The main area for comparison is the screen. I was pleasantly surprised by Super Clear TFT, which beats SuperAMOLED due to better detail. Downsides are obvious Ц 10% shorter operation time and inferior behavior in the sun. Wave II is bigger, so it should be taken into account as well. In general we have a good replacement of Wave. Consumers benefit from two similar models where you can choose the one you like. There are no doubts that the 2nd version will also become a bestseller. All prerequisites are there. It is value for money and has no rivals in this price range. We get a truly excellent solution. Some may find a rival in Nokia N8, but these are different products. The emphasis on photo features makes Nokia N8 different, while a morally outdated Symbian is not so easy to use.

Do you want to talk about this? Please, go to our Forum and let your opinion be known to the author and everybody else.

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Related links

Review of Sony Ericsson Elm J10 GSM/UMTS Phone

Review of the Sony Ericsson Hazel J20 GSM/UMTS Phone

Review of Nokia X2-00 GSM Phone

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
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Translated by Maxim Antonenko (maxantonenko@ukr.net)

Published — 24 October 2010

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com

 

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