Samsung's pledge to make NFC (near field communication) a technology that actually goes widespread in the UK has been moved up a notch with the announcement of the new Samsung Wave 578.
The phone is pretty basic stuff - the chassis is very light indeed, and comes with the Bada 1.1 OS that Samsung is shoving on all it's lower-end smartphones. We're not sure why the name '578' part of the name is warranted, but at least it's in keeping with the oddly-monikered Wave 723.
The plastic chassis hopefully brings with it a budget price tag, as we can't see the Wave 578 being a phone you'd be happy spending £35 a month on, with the large touch sensitive buttons a little hard to activate successfully.
The large central key is nice to hit though, and despite its dinky dimensions, the Wave 578 sits nicely in the hand (for the average size palmed among us), although it will be more interesting to note how easy it can be ripped out of the pocket when we realise the Oyster card barrier is coming up (assuming the technology will support it).
Samsung didn't have any details about what the new tech would look like in the Wave 578 - for instance, we're not sure whether it will be both read and write capable at launch, a key factor in using the phone as a mobile payment unit.
The thickness isn't too bad either, and we can imagine this will be a compact unit NFC fans on a budget will really get on board with.
There are actually a few little design tweaks we don't see that much any more on today's smartphones, and that includes the camera key present on the Wave 578.
The lock/power key is a little harder to hit since the dimensions of the phone (107.9 x 54.9 x 12.5 mm) mean a lot finger wiggling in the hand, and the 100g weight makes even that a bit tricky without being ridiculously fearful of dropping the little unit.
The Wave 578 has apparently been developed in response to calls from the networks to bring NFC to masses via a budget handset, (not just on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S2 and Google Nexus S) and TechRadar got a little more info on the result:
Jim Powell, head of product management for Samsung Mobile UK, told TechRadar that networks were deeply interested in pushing the technology and had asked Samsung for products to satisfy that:
"We're seeing NFC across an increasing number of devices. The Galaxy S2 and the new Wave 578 won't be the end of our involvement in the technology," said Powell.
"In the UK the drive is coming from the networks, as they see a real opportunity with the technology which is why they come to us and ask for a specific product - like the Wave 578.
"NFC is coming in a big way, and the change is going to be enormous over the next 12 months."
We're going to keep an eye on the new Samsung Wave 578 - usually these low end phones disappear below the mobile horizon, but we get the feeling we might see this handset on the side of one or two buses in the future.
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