The Samsung Wave II features a 5-megapixel camera and LED flash, and joy of joys, it also has a physical shutter button on the phone’s right edge.
Although its megapixel count is seen as a lower mid-range feature at best, the phone’s snapper performs fairly well. It’s quick to focus and take photos, and will focus-in on very close objects reliably. As you’ll see on our Camera Test Photos page, it’ll capture macro-like levels of detail without breaking a sweat.
Once you get them on a computer, though, colours looks fairly washed-out, something that’s exacerbated by the phone’s AMOLED-like highly-saturated screen making you think they’re more punchy than they are. You can even crank up the colour and brightness of the screen even further from within the camera app, in order to make it more visible in direct sunlight. It works a treat too, but obviously will further reduce the reliability of the preview screen – in terms of showing you what you’re actually capturing.
Like any phone camera though, if you’re taking it seriously enough for this to be an annoyance, you’re approaching it in the wrong way. That said, you are given decent control over your shots. There’s a focus indicator that you can drag around the screen to select your target, although standard autofocus, face detection and macro options are also here. A decent spread of shooting styles is included – Panorama, smile shot continuous shooting and the Hipstamatic-style (vignette) Vintage mode. Thirteen scene modes are available too.
Advanced features like ISO control and exposure compensation are also included. The Samsung Wave II offers a feature-packed camera app that produces better results than most 5-megapixel Android phones. It can also capture video up to 720p resolution. Video results are positive, coping with motion well and offering good detail and sharpness.
Unfortunately, there’s no continual autofocus during video recording so you won’t be able to get too close-up to anything without recording in blur-o-vision. There’s a high frame rate “slow motion” mode, but it’ll only capture video at 240×320 resolution and is something we’d trade for more dynamic video focusing in a second.
Assessing the value of the Samsung Wave II is tricky. It’s available for free on contracts of as little as £15 (not very generous ones, mind), while offering better specs and build quality than the vast majority of new budget phones you’ll find on these cheap contracts. However, its power means little when it’s driving the under-developed Bada OS. If you’re more concerned about having a well-built phone or video-playing skills than apps, the Wave II is a reasonable choice.
It doesn’t just have rivals from this year though – bargains buys are often available for last year’s top smartphones, which offer similar specs backing-up a more desirable OS.
The Samsung Wave II is a bit like a stereotypical bodybuilder. It has a rock-hard body that’ll impress passers-by, but there’s not quite enough going on upstairs. More than a year has passed since Bada launched, but it has hardly developed since and so has lost even more ground to its older – and seemingly wiser – rivals: iOS, Android, Windows Phone et al.
For those looking for a simple, high-quality touchscreen phone, the Samsung Wave II will do the trick, and has excellent video skills plus a good camera at the price. If you’re looking to embrace the smartphone revolution though, look elsewhere.
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