Samsung hopes to offer something new with the Wave 723 which runs its Bada operating system.
By ZAM KARIM firstname.lastname@example.org
HALF a year has passed since we reviewed the Wave 8500 — Samsung’s first Bada smartphone — which left a good impression on us.
For the uninitiated, Bada is the company’s proprietary operating system that powers its Wave smartphones. Bada means ocean in Korean which explains the choice of name for its smartphones.
Recently, Samsung expanded the series with three additional models, the Wave 533, 575 and 723. These smartphones are targeted at the mid-range market unlike the Wave 8500.
Samsung handed us the Wave 723 for review and we were eager to find out how much the company has improved its Bada operating system.
In terms of design, the Wave phones share about the same look and feel — they all have a grey housing and three physical buttons on the front for Menu, Call and End Call.
We couldn’t help but notice the similarity between the Wave 723 and the model we reviewed last year.
Features that made the cut include the mini USB port with a sliding cover and the option to silence incoming calls by simply flipping the phone on its back.
As the phone cost less than Samsung’s Wave model, it lacks certain premium features like the Super Amoled screen and brushed aluminium casing.
Instead, the Wave 723 only has a 3.2in WQVGA capacitive screen, which is a big downgrade from the 8500’s brilliant display.
The phone’s plastic and aluminium body also doesn’t feel as luxurious as the 8500’s.
On the back is a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash as well as a stylish grill for the speaker. For wireless connectivity, this smart-phone supports Bluetooth and WiFi.
The phone’s Bada 1.1 operating system with the TouchWiz 3.0 user interface takes about 25 seconds to boot up.
With TouchWiz 3.0, users can have up to nine homescreens which can be populated with widgets.
At the bottom of the screen are three shortcut icons to access the keypad, contacts and messages. These icons are always visible in all the nine homescreens and in the menu.
The UI is smooth and fast and even transition animations are not laggy despite the fact that the smartphone doesn’t have a speedy 1GHz Samsung ARM Cortex A8 processor like the Wave 8500.
We had no problem using the preinstalled Dolphin 2.0 browser to surf the Internet. Also, the browser takes advantage of both multitouch and accelerometer features which makes navigation easier.
Our only complaint is that the browser does not support Flash.
With the built-in Mobile AP feature, users can turn the smartphone into a mobile hotspot which allows up to three WiFi-enabled devices to connect and share the Wave 723’s Internet connection.
In terms of battery life, the phone lasts about two days of heavy usage on a single charge.
Not all smooth sailing
It’s not easy to type messages on the Wave 723 because it has a narrow screen. What made it worse is that it doesn’t have an auto-correct feature, so typing was excruciatingly slow as we needed to backtrack often to correct any spelling mistakes.
We also encountered network connection problems when trying to connect to the Internet. The “DNS Failed” error message kept popping up and continued to do so even after we configured the network settings manually.
Initially, we thought this was just due to a weak 3G signal but when we inserted the SIM card into a different phone, the Internet connection worked without a hitch.
Of course, the review would not be complete without us checking out the Bada apps which are available on the Samsung Apps Store.
However, six months down the road and the marketplace is still very sparsely stocked.
According to Samsung, the store has over 2,000 apps but we’ve looked thoroughly and found none worth mentioning here.
Photos and videos
We did not expect great shots from the phone’s 5-megapixel sensor and we weren’t surprised. As with most cameraphones, photos taken under good lighting came out nice with accurate colour but lacking in detail.
Pictures shot in a dimly-lit environment looked grainy and the built-in LED flash was only usable for subjects that are really close.
As for videos, the Wave 723 only captures video in QVGA resolution at 15fps (frames per second), which in our opinion is mostly only good for MMS because of the low resolution.
Also, the multimedia player only supports a handful of formats — MPEG4, 3GP, WAV and MP3.
The Wave 723 has all the features of a good mid-range smartphone and it is also competitively priced.
However, it is let down by a number of problems including a narrow, cramped keyboard and connectivity problems.
Also, there are many other attractive mobile platforms such as Android and BlackBerry that offer similar features at the same price point. And these operating systems also have more downloadble apps to offer.
After all, the apps are what really drives a smartphone and Bada has a long way to go in terms of developer support for apps.
Overall, the Wave 723 is a decent phone and hopefully Samsung will fix most of the problems with a future OS update.
Pros: Nice and speedy user interface; mobile hotspot feature; affordable.
Cons: Cramped virtual keyboard; picture quality not great; low resolution videos; limited multimedia capability; problems connecting to the Internet.
WAVE 723 (Samsung) Bada smartphone NETWORK: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA 900/2100 OPERATING SYSTEM: Bada 1.1 DISPLAY: 3.2in WQVGA (240 x 400-pixels) CAMERA: 5-megapixels with autofocus and LED flash CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, WiFi, USB 2.0 MEMORY: 90MB EXPANSION SLOT: MicroSD STANDBY/TALK TIME: 300 hours/9 hours OTHER FEATURES: FM radio tuner, accelerometer, A-GPS, TouchWiz 3.0 user interface, Social Hub integrated messaging system DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 109.5 x 53.9 x11.8mm WEIGHT: 100g WEBSITE: samsungmobile.com.my PRICE: RM939 RATING: 3 Review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia, 1-800-88-9999