By April 26, 2009

Samsung S8300 Tocco Ultra review

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Samsung have sprung upon us another 8 megapixel camera phone with a few features to note only a couple of months after their notable Samsung Pixon. How does it shape up you ask? Read on for more.

The Samsung S8300 Tocco Ultra is an attractive feature phone that packs a pretty hefty camera inside it’s brushed metal effect casing and slide out keypad section. The Tocco Ultra has a smooth slide opening mechanism which gives the user access to a handy T9 keypad instead of relying entirely on touch screen activity.
There is a large 2.8 Inch colour capacitive screen which displays up to sixteen million colours and provides a high colour and clear viewing experience. Initially I was a little put off the touch screen, believing it to be unresponsive until i realised it was capacitive, I did feel a little silly.

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On top there is nothing, however the casing is beautifully smooth and it feels nice in your hands.

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The left hand side are the volume buttons. When using these a menu pops up that allows you to fiddle with the vibration also.

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On the right is the microUSB port for charging and connecting to the computer. There is a lock button and the camera button. The camera button can be a little fiddly at first as it beeps if you press it once, but you have to hold it down. Pretty standard but worth a mention.

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Under the screen are three buttons. Two for calls and one return button. 90% of the time the end call button on the right and the return button in the centre have the same function. The accept call button also brings up the call log when not dealing with a call.

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The T9 keypad is quite standard. Usage can be hit or miss. There is very little for your fingers to differentiate between the buttons and they are small enough to easily press one above or below. For smaller fingers it is fine though. It is nice to have a T9 slide out keyboard in favour of using the screen. You can choose when, say sending a text message, whether or not you use the T9 by keeping it open or closing it. The touch screen keyboard is functional and very usable, especially for larger fingers, like mine.

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The bottom has only the microphone.

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The back is smooth. Almost too smooth. It’s slipped in my hands a couple of times. Also the plastic used here does seem like it will scratch easily. It wasn’t until I took the picture above did I notice the light scratching from being set on a desk. Under the small cover is a battery, sim and memory card.DSCN0214

The interface seems to have become Samsung’s standard user interface and that’s great. The Widget’s are fun and customisable. There isn’t a whole lot you can do with it, but you can add new widgets depending on availability. Widgets extend from media player, Facebook, Clock etc. As a home screen this works very, very well and I found myself tossing widgets back and forth on the screen quickly and intuitively to get to the applications I wanted to use. Everything you need is very easy to get at once the phone is activated.

The feature set delivers on all fronts with nearly every box being checked. With that you might run into problems around lunch time when the 880 mAh battery gives up. Having GPS, 3G and Bluetooth will see to this. There is no Wi-fi thankfully, otherwise you probably wouldn’t make it out the door in the morning. Obviously you are not going to be using these sorts of things all day and the phone can manage a decent amount of up time without heavy use of 3G.

This brings us to the 8 megapixel camera. Much effort has been put into this camera with loads of little details to keep you playing with it. There are frames and filters that can be added to pictures, there’s lots of fun to be had. I have been playing with the camera for a while, take a look at some of the pictures below.

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One feature I have always hoped would improve on cameras would be the panorama pictures. Given the variances of light levels they have always turned out to be a bit rubbishy. On the Tocco Ultra the feature is quite pleasing, not brilliant

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An integrated flash (a dual LED type flash) is nothing special at all. The camera comes with a face and smile detection feature which will automatically detect and focus on the subjects face or smile when the user is taking a shot.

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I was almost pleased with the camera but one problem could not allow me to rave about it. Lag. When taking a picture the phone takes so long to process the picture it actually captures a second after the preview you are shown whilst the picture is saving. Frequently you will have a smeared image or people will have moved. This mainly only happens when taking pictures on the highest settings, but lets face it, what’s the point of having this phone if you can’t. Also you must have the T9 keyboard out to take a picture, why I ask? why?

There isn’t too much else to this phone to differentiate it from the likes of the Pixon. I would added that whilst I was very fond of the Pixon I would push this model a lot more as the casing is much, much, much better. It’ has all the blessings of the Pixon with a better build quality, capacitive screen, no dangly stylus and a slide out T9 keyboard. There is a delay on the picture taking and if you can put up with or become accustomed to this then I would heartily recommend this phone to anyone looking for something better than most if not the most innovative on the market.

The Samsung Tocco Ultra is available now Sim Free from Superetrader who supplied the review device.

Networks GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, HSDPA 900 / 2100
Dimensions 110 x 51.5 x 12.7 mm
Weight 105 g
Display – capacitive touch screen, 16M colors, 240 x 400 pixels, 2.8 inches
Accelerometer sensor
Proximity sensor for auto turn-off
Scratch-resistant surface
Speakerphone
Memory 80 MB internal, microSD (TransFlash), up to 16GB
GPRS Class 12 (4+1/3+2/2+3/1+4 slots), 32 – 48 kbps, HSCSD, EDGE Class 12, 3G HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps
Bluetooth v2.1 with A2DP
microUSB, v2.0
8 MP Camera, 3264×2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash and Videocall camera
Geo-tagging, face and smile detection, image stabilization, wide dynamic range
Video D1 (720×480 pixels)@30fps, [email protected], VGA fast-motion video and QVGA slo-mo video
GPS with A-GPS support; optional navigation software
Java MIDP 2.0
DviX/ XviD/ MPEG4/ H.263/ H.264/ WMV9 player
MP3/AAC/WMA player
Organizer
Document viewer (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF)
Voice memo
T9
Standard battery, Li-Ion 880 mAh. Up to 350 hours standby, up to 4 hours talk time

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Seasoned tech blogger. Host of the Tech Addicts podcast.
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