Samsung Wave GT-S8500 review

Barry de la Rosa
5 Jul 2010
Samsung Wave GT-S8500
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

A snappy processor, gorgeous AMOLED screen and great build quality can't make up for the poor widget interface and lack of decent apps



Bada, 3.3in 480x800 display

The Samsung Wave is the first phone to use Samsung's new Bada operating system. It has a huge AMOLED touchscreen, a 1GHz processor and a 5-megapixel camera. The screen is one of the brightest and most colourful we've seen yet, with fantastic contrast and a responsive capacitive touchscreen.

As an interface, Bada differs very little from previous TouchWiz phones. It relies heavily on widgets to customise the home screen, and these are generally poor. They don't take up enough of the screen, even those that require a whole home screen to themselves, and most of them are too large to share a home screen with other widgets. The worst are those that simply turn out to be web shortcuts.

That's not to say that the Wave is useless: it handles most email accounts, including Microsoft Exchange, and it has decent email, calendar and contacts apps. Calendars are imported from Facebook and Exchange, but strangely none of our contacts were imported from Exchange, Facebook or Gmail. The web browser is based on Webkit, and is fast and easy to use. Typing on the virtual keyboard is comfortable, although the layout isn't as good as some - you have to tap the Symbols key to get a full stop, for example.

The Wave's camera can take 720p video, and has a wealth of options such as auto-focus, anti-shake, auto-contrast and blink detection. The resulting pictures are sharp, but show noise in low-light areas and the colours lack punch. They are OK for Facebook, but for more formal or artistic images a compact digital camera would be better.

Physically, the Wave is impressive. It's slim but feels well built, and although it only weighs 118g it feels heavier. The glossy touchscreen is responsive, and has an oleophobic coating that makes your fingers glide over it smoothly and reduces smearing. Battery life is excellent, and you can expect to go two or three days without having to charge.

The impression we're left with is of great hardware but terrible software. Bada functions reasonably well, but it feels clunky and geared towards excitable teenagers, with its gaudy widgets and an app store full of games and joke apps. For business users, the BlackBerry Bold 9700 is a better choice, while Samsung's Android-based I5700 Galaxy Portal is better for most people.




Main display size3.3in
Native resolution480x800
Second DisplayNo
CCD effective megapixels5-megapixel
Video recording formatMP4
ConnectivityBluetooth, USB, WiFi
Internal memory1024MB
Memory card supportmicroSD
Memory card included0MB
Operating frequenciesGSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 900/2100
Wireless dataEDGE, HSDPA


Operating systemBada
Microsoft Office compatibilityWord/Excel/PowerPoint/PDF viewers
Email clientPOP3/IMAP/Exchange
Audio format supportMP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR, MIDI, WAV, WMA, MMF
Video playback formatsDivX, Xvid, MPEG4, Real, WMV
FM Radioyes
Web BrowserDolfin Browser 2.0
Accessoriesheadset, data cable, charger
Talk time7 hours
Standby time22.9 days
Tested battery life (MP3 playback)42h 25m

Buying Information

SIM-free price£299
Price on contract£30-per-month, 18-month contract

Read more