Samsung Tocco Ultra Edition in-depth review -

Look and feel

The AMOLED screen provides brilliant clarity and the combination of a slide-out keypad and touch-screen complements each other perfectly.

Ease of use

The touch-screen takes some getting used to as you're automatically drawn to the keypad, but the user interface is straightforward to navigate and we like the customisable widgets feature.

Features

The Tocco Ultra is a multimedia machine and all its features are certainly top notch. We would have liked to see a 3.5mm headset port, although there is an adaptor if you do want to use your own cans.

Performance

The built-in features all work exceptionally well on the device, but Wi-Fi would further enhance the internet experience and the internal memory is a pitiful 80MB. Thankfully, Samsung does provide a 1GB memory card.

Battery life

With so much going on it is unsurprising that the battery runs down fairly quickly, but we still awarded it with an acceptable three stars.

The verdict

The Samsung Tocco Ultra Edition lives up to the hype - it will be talked about for months to come.

 Samsung Tocco Ultra Edition Review -
5

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:54:40 PM

10

out of 10

Performance

10

out of 5

Look and feel

8

out of 5

Ease of use

10

out of 5

Features

6

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Breathtaking AMOLED display, excellent camera function, and overall, exceptional user experience.

Cons:

With just 80MB of on-board memory it?s a small mercy that the phone supports memory cards of up to 16GB.

Ultra' from the Latin meaning 'beyond'. If the original Samsung Tocco was the best selling contract device of the second half of 2008, to go beyond that would be quite some feat. We first saw the Samsung Tocco Ultra Edition at the beginning of this year, and we've been itching to get our mitts on the Tocco's follow up and Samsung's 2009 flagship device ever since. While we implore you to continue reading, let's just say, we definitely weren't disappointed.

Look and feel

Ok, so the main differences between the original Tocco and the new and improved Ultra Edition are: the introduction of a standard 3x4 keypad (while the touch-screen remains intact), an eight-megapixel camera, even faster internet speeds, built-in GPS and an AMOLED screen. <Pause for breath>. So, just a few minor improvements then.

 

Despite the inclusion of the 3x4 keypad the handset remains impressively slim though, by its very nature as a slider, it does become somewhat long. The sliding mechanism is both smooth and secure with a degree of pressure needed, so you shouldn't encounter any accidental slide-opens when in your pocket or bag.

 

The fact that Samsung has opted for a standard keypad as well as a touch-screen should appeal to the traditionalists among you. That said, the touch-screen itself is excellent. Like the iPhone, the screen is capacitive as opposed to resistive - it senses heat, not pressure, so it responds to feather-light touches and swipes. Although not quite as fluid as Apple's creation, it's a joy to use. The haptic (vibrating) response can be altered to your preference so you know when an icon has been pressed, and you're greeted with a genuine 'bounce effect' when you reach the end of your address book, list of widgets (more on that later) or photos. The keypad is spacious enough for accidental key presses to be a rarity. Our only minor gripe (and it is very, very minor) is that with the combination of both a touch-screen and a 3x4 keypad, your natural reaction is to be drawn to the keypad as it doesn't look like a touch-screen device. Nothing that a bit of time won't solve.

 

Below the touch-screen is a call key and a call end key, which surround a back key in the centre of the device. Now, be warned that this aforementioned back key does not double up as a navigation key. It may look like a navigation key but it's not, and rather than move you around a list of menu icons it will take you back a previous step, which is annoying.

Widgets

The screen is of the AMOLED variety, so expect a vivid display. The graphics, resolution and pixels work together to provide a truly vibrant look. It may not be on par with the soon to be released Samsung Omnia HD, but it's certainly one of the best we've seen. When in the home screen, a scroll to the left will take you to your full menu screen, while a scroll to the right will take you to a customisable contacts list where you can add photos accordingly. For the more observant of you, on the left-hand side you will also notice a discreet tab that, when pressed, will pull out a list of widgets, a la the original Tocco. These are also customisable. Our personal favourites were the Google Search Bar, for a quick search of the net; Memo, effectively a to-do list; and Accu Weather, which gives you regular weather updates - both current and for the following day.

 

A Facebook widget is also present so you won't fall behind on status updates and friendly pokes. You can type using either the touch-screen or the keypad, though while we found the latter easier, the only delete button is on the screen, so if you make a typo you will have to use that. The internet experience is great, with rapid speeds achieved through the (up to) 7.2Mbps connection. Glide your finger in any direction to skim around pages, and a virtual zoom in key enables you to look at things in more detail, which is particularly useful when you want to click on a hyperlink,
for example.

Multimedia prowess

The Samsung Tocco Ultra Edition is an all round multimedia machine. The built-in music player provides an excellent sound and, while there is no 3.5mm headset jack, at least the Korean giants have included an adapter that allows you to plug in your own set of cans. Change the settings from normal to rock, from pop to dance, or even classic to jazz, depending on what music you're partial too. Samsung has shied away from displaying any fancy graphics to accompany your music experience, but we're
not fussed about that.

Samsung has also taken the unusual step of allowing you to record the FM radio. We have this done before in the likes of the Fly SL399e and Sony Ericsson T303. However, the playback quality for both of these handsets could be described as average, at best. Not so in the case of the Tocco Ultra. Simply hit the record button found in the 'more' option list and the handset will record a near flawless version. We're not sure legally where such a feature stands, but we'll keep stum and applaud it. As it is an FM radio you will need to use the boxed in headphones to get reception.

Eight-megapixel camera

As mentioned, one of Samsung's major tweaks was updating the five-megapixel camera to an eight. Samsung has been at the top of
the camera game in recent months, and we're pleased to see this trend continued with the Tocco Ultra. The camera has an incredibly quick shutter speed so capturing those spontaneous shots is easily achieved. Such an attribute shouldn't be overlooked. Camera phones are often
used far more for capturing the unexpected due to their proximity to the user, while dedicated cameras are used more for those planned
picture moments. The camera is shielded behind the back of the handset and needs to be slid out. Sceptics may point to the lack of Xenon flash as a strike against the Tocco Ultra but, while there is no denying that
such a flash is always welcome, the dual power LED that the handset sports is more than capable. We experimented with shots taken both at night and in low light and the results were very pleasing.

 

Samsung has also fitted the Tocco Ultra with a host of camera features including smile shot and blink detection. Both features worked expertly - the former takes a shot as a person grins and the latter avoids those photos where the subject has inadvertently closed their eyes. However, it's a shame that they don't work in tandem. There's even anti-shake, which helps avoid those blurry shots you so often find. Even with an over exaggerated shake the worst results only involved a slight bend to a straight edge.

A-GPS

There's on-board A-GPS to help get you from A to B. We struggled to get a consistent satellite fix when stationed in our second floor office (the phone reverted to a guestimate using a process of triangulation), but when outside, and let's be honest, this is the time when you will ultimately be using sat nav, the fix was both fast and accurate. The on-board mapping service is provided by Google Maps. We did have one slight grumble in that there is no haptic response when using Google Maps, which did prove a slight hindrance, but overall, our navigational needs were well catered for.

So, that's what's good about the Samsung Tocco Ultra Edition, now for the bad. There's no Wi-Fi, a feature that is becoming increasingly common (and expected) in high-end handsets. There's also a miserly amount of internal memory - just 80MB. Mercifully, Samsung does include a 1GB memory card, though you may want to increase this to secure all your media content (the microSD slot can support memory cards of up to 16GB).

Conclusion

It is a huge disappointment when a flagship device fails to live up to expectations. Thankfully, the Samsung Tocco Ultra Edition is not one of these devices. The overall experience is fluid and consistent; the touch-screen is hugely responsive, and it's great to have a standard keypad as an additional option. It's feature heavy and, what's more, they all excel, and the display is one of visual beauty. The Tocco Ultra may have been released early in the year, but this phone will still be talked about come the end of 2009.