The S8500 Wave is, like the iPhone it seeks to challenge, long, thin, and lovely, with a 3.3 inch (8cm) Super AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) screen and Samsung’s mobile Digital Natural Image Engine (mDNIe). The former promises super-bright pictures, even in high ambient light conditions, and the latter is a variant of the video engine that underpins Samsung’s cinema-style flat panel televisions.

The 3G handset also provides a 5 megapixel camera, 720p video playback and recording, 5.1 channel audio, Bluetooth, 8GB internal storage with microSD expansion slot and ultra-fast 802.11n Wi-Fi connectivity.

While Samsung manufactures handsets for the Android and Windows platforms, the Wave is the first handset employing the company’s proprietary Bada operating system to land in Oz. A key component of this is the Samsung App store, which has been accessible for some time in Australia via select Samsung televisions.

More than 1000 apps will be available for the phone’s 1 July launch, with the pre-loaded selection our review handset indicating of variety of available categories, including games, navigation, health, lifestyle, ebooks and productivity. While some are free, prices typically range from $2 to $11. Samsung says it will be encouraging local developers to create for the platform, with the goal of being able to offer more than 7000 apps by the end of the year.

The Wave is chocker with features for the social networker too. The push-based Social Hub feature, Feeds & Updates and Buddies Now widgets aggregate social networking information and activities – such as those from Instant Messenger, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, gmail – for easy access, with no need to log into individual sites to catch up with what’s going on.

Constant updates from these sites can be sent to the Wave, with the updates for each person in your contact list automatically allocated to their contact card. You can also have a live feed of this information for favourite people appear on the Wave’s home screen.

The Wave is available on the Optus network from today, and will be offered in Telstra’s NextG network from August.