With a larger display, improved user interface and better battery life, the Tocco Ultra Edition is bound to please existing Tocco users looking for an upgrade; but there’s an additional feature that is sure to appeal to everyone else. The Tocco Ultra Edition now features a slide-out keypad (Samsung calls this a ‘3×4’ keypad), making it easier to enter phone numbers and text than on a touch-only device.
Although some people have taken to touchscreens like the proverbial fishes to water, there are still many who prefer proper buttons. This is the sexiest ‘best of both worlds’ phone we’ve seen so far. The casing is a mix of brushed metal and premium materials, while the anti-scratch screen is also designed to reduce smudging.
At the base of the display are call and end buttons, with a centre button that isn’t an ordinary select button but rather a ‘back-up’ key. Although you have ordinary buttons, including the keypad, making a selection is still done by pressing on the display – a process that will take a little bit of getting used to.
The standby screen continues to allow the use of draggable widgets, and like the Pixon, you can now download more with ease. The phone supports HSDPA for download speeds of up to 7.2Mbps, but there’s no support for HSUPA for higher uploading speeds – or Wi-Fi. The Tocco Ultra Edition does have GPS and motion control to automatically rotate the screen, as well as sliding from one photo to another in the photo viewer by simply tilting the handset.
By far the best part of the phone is the screen. Using the very latest Active Matrix (AM-OLED) technology means this screen is incredibly thin and bright, while consuming considerably less power than traditionally backlit screens – and that’s just as well because the phone only has a 800mAh battery to keep it going.
The contrast is nothing short of amazing, but it’s the proper blacks that make this so good for looking at pictures and video. Previously, Samsung used OLED displays for external screens at low resolutions, and although Nokia has used them for some of its main screens, including the N85, the Tocco Ultra Edition is the most impressive we’ve seen – especially thanks to the higher WQVGA resolution (240×400 pixels).
Following on from the i8510 (innov8) and the Pixon (M8800), the Tocco Ultra Edition gets an 8-megapixel camera and a range of photo tools, from face detection and tagging, to geotagging. Video recording ranges from high-quality 30 frames per second at VGA resolution, to a range of super-slow and high-speed capturing modes for additional entertainment. Samsung has also included support for just about every video codec, meaning you can also play Windows Media Video and DivX encoded content.
A brand new feature on this phone is the ‘fake call’ mode. The idea is simple; if you feel threatened while walking alone, you can hold down a volume key and make the phone ring. Rather than simply answer the fake call and try and make conversation with silence, you can pre-record a message that is played back when you answer. With a bit of thought, you can then have a chat with yourself and, in theory, make those around you more likely to leave you alone. It felt rather weird talking to yourself, but not as much as recording the message in the first place!
It’s worth considering whether having your phone ring may actually draw more attention to you, but that will come down to individual judgement at the time. There’s certainly no harm in having the option, especially if it could prove to – quite literally – become a lifesaver. We can also see this being a very popular feature for anyone stuck in a boring meeting, although you’ll need to find a a subtle way to hold down the volume key without anyone noticing! It’s a trick that will become less useful as more handsets are released with the facility – and people begin to catch on!
One more feature that will prove helpful is the built-in user manual, showing you tips on how to get more from the handset. It’s available via one of the widgets, which does mean you’ll need a basic understanding of the phone to find it. Alternatively, you can refer to the old-school user manual in the box (but why would you want to do something crazy like that?).
Samsung informed us that the initial release model (due at the end of March) will be available on most networks. There’s just one colour for now; black/platinum red, but other colours are planned for specific network exclusives and limited editions. As a flagship model, this phone is going to be on sale for some time and won’t simply disappear – even when the manufacturer unveils the rest of its line-up at Mobile World Congress on February 16th.
From our first look, the Tocco Ultra Edition looks like it has all the ingredients to become a massive success – and we’ll be putting it to the test just as soon as we receive a fully finished sample in the very near future.
More info: Samsung Mobile
- GSM Quad-Band (850/900/1800/1900)
- 3G/UMTS Dual-Band (900/2100)
- GPRS, EDGE, 3G, HSDPA up to 7.2Mbps
- 2.8-inch 16.8m colour Active Matrix OLED (AM-OLED) touch screen
- Wide QVGA resolution (240×400 pixels)
- 8-megapixel autofocus camera with dual power LED lamp
- Face detection
- Geo tagging
- Picture frames and effects
- Face tagging
- 30fps VGA video capture
- Video playback with multiple codec support (DivX/XviD/H.263/H.264/WMV9/MPEG4)
- Trim video
- Audio dubbing
- Live dubbing
- Add subtitle
- Image capture
- Fast and slow motion capture (up to 120 frames per second)
- Access NetFront browser for full HTML & WAP browsing
- Media Player (MP3/AAC/AAC+/WMA)
- FM Radio with RDS
- Bluetooth stereo audio (A2DP)
- TouchWiz UI (v1.5)
- Online Widget downloading
- Photo Blogging
- Find Music
- Auto Rotation
- Tagging & uploading pictures to Social Networking Sites (e.g. Facebook)
- Customisable themes and fonts
- Fake call mode
- Touchscreen display
- 3×4 slide out keypad
- Bluetooth v2.1
- USB 2.0
- 75MB Internal
- Up to 32GB via microSDHC card slot
- 880 mAh
More info: See our original news story on the Samsung S8300 from December 30th 2008, courtesy of DailyMobile.se