Samsung S8300 UltraTouch / Tocco review

Samsung UltraTouch S8300 (known as Samsung Ultra Tocco in U.K),  is heading for the shops right about now, so I think it is a good time to give this handset a closer look.

Samsung Ultra Touch has quite an interesting mix within it – 8 megapixel camera, full touchscreen interface and physical T9 keypad.

It is not the first TouchWiz UI equipped Samsung phone – they have already  been selling like hotcakes throughout 2008.

But this kind of feature combination is the first for the Korean vendor. In a closed position, you may never guess that UltraTouch S8300 is not just another touchphone – the sliding keypad does not significantly alter the overall size of the device.

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Slide it open and you get a normal feature phone with a familiar keypad, which is a really nice bonus. You can easily get by  without ever opening the slider, but the keypad comes in handy quite often – actually, I found myself using  it a lot. Even answering calls by opening the slider is a much more intuitive thing than tapping a touch button.

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The construction of Samsung Ultra Touch is not the only thing that sets it apart from other handsets. New generation of widgets, photo contact application, great video capabilities…  I could go on and on, but let’s dive into the details already.

Samsung Ultra Touch Design

Both the inside and the outside of Samsung S8300 Ultra Touch are very good. The overall design is pretty striking, but not too flashy, and gives the Samsung S8300 almost a premium look.

When closed, UltraTouch looks like any other grey-metallic  Samsung phone,  the nice red bezel being its only distinguishing feature. Open the slider and its colorfulness emerges. The colors are bright, but not too much so they don’t transform the Ultra Touch into a girly phone. It’s a fully “unisex” handset, that both you and your girlfriend can carry  around.

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The chassis of Samsung Ultra Touch combines metal and plastic, with the prevalence of metallic parts and some plastic elements. The upper sliding body is fully metallic, while the keypad and battery cover are made from plastic. Samsung has used good quality materials to make the UltraTouch S8300, thus the handset has a nice tactile feel overall.  It also does not get any smudges or dust, even after extensive use.

Well, except for the display, but the screen is very easy to clean as well.

Samsung S8300 UltraTouch Display

Samsung S8300 UltraTouch’s display is one its distinguishing features. The S8300 is one of the few handsets today that comes equipped with an AMOLED screen. The pictures on it look very good, with really bright and lively colors. Even in bright sunlight the display dims only a bit, and can be easily viewed. The display has 2.8 inches and a resolution of 240 x 400 pixels, which is common for Samsung’s latest handsets.  It might feel a bit small for Net browsing, but most multimedia needs are served nicely on a display of this size.

User Interface, Usability & Ergonomics of Samsung S8300 Ultra Touch

From the usability point of view, I cannot find any beef with it. By now, Samsung has got the TouchWiz UI working pretty well and it’s very easy to use.

On the UltraTouch,  Samsung has made its desktop area  span beside the actual visible area of the device’s screen. By swiping a finger you can scroll up and down through it to access additionl widgets.

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One of the most interesting applications on the Samsung S8300 is PhotoContacts. It allows you to associate people in the pictures with contacts in the address book.  After doing that, you only need to click on a contact’s photo to make a call or send SMS to a particular person.

Any problems inherent in full touchscreen phones, on Samsung S8300 Ultra Touch  are easily remedied by the physical keypad and numerical navigation options. So even when wearing gloves (capacitive touchscreen does not work with covered fingers), the phone is pretty easy to use. The only thing that I found to complain about is a separte unlock key, but you get used to it pretty quickly.

Samsung UltraTouch camera

So what does this beauty have inside of it?  Well, tons of very nice things.

Let’s start with the camera on Samsung UltraTouch. Maximum resolution on it is 3264 x 2448 pixels, which gives you a total of 8 mpx. The pictures at this resolution are pretty “heavy” – 2 megabyte a piece, so be sure to use a big memory card if you plan to take a lot of them.

The camera settings are quite extensive and should fit the needs of most of the creative types. You can set white balance, autofocus parameters (macro, face and smile recognition, panorama focus), manual ISO (100-1600) settings and digital image stabilization.

Samsung S8300 has a GPS chip inside and is able to use EXIF geotags on the photos, so you can sort your pictures by location on most of the popular photosharing sites and applications. Samsung UltraTouch can manually or automatically upload your pictures to Flickr, Picasa, Facebook and other services.

The camera of Samsung S8300 also has pretty good video shooting capabilities. It records at 30fps, 720 x 480 resolution, and has 3 different compression modes.

Samsung UltraTouch’s camera is operational only in open slider mode, with the slider mechanism serving as a lens cover too.

Multimedia on Samsung Ultra Touch

The music player on Samsung S8300 is pretty good and easy to use. The only problem is the lack of a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, but that should be remedied by the adapter.

The videoplayer cand play all major video formats, including DivX at VGA (680 x 480 pixels) resolution and 1.5 Mbps bitrate – which is really great for a mobile phone.

Samsung UltraTouch has a built-in accelerometer and switches between portrait and landscape mode automatically both in video and browsing modes. Unfortunately, it does this only in one direction – left. If you turn the phone on its right side, you still get the landscape mode, but picture will be upside down.

Conclusions

When Samsung UltraTouch S8300 was first announced, it looked like just another 8 megapixel slider. This time from Samsung and, again, with its TouchWiz UI.

But a closer look at the phone left me impressed. Great design, some interesting new approaches, and a very good usability makes the Samsung S8300 UltraTouch a very good choice if you are in the market for this type of feature phones.

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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