Samsung has mastered the art of the slide phone. Handsets like the i8510 and F400 have shown it knows how much spring to add, how to balance the phone in the hand whether it’s open or shut and, most importantly, where to position the camera.
This is all bodes well for the Tocco Ultra Edition, which adds a regular keypad to its touchscreen predecessor. By giving you the option of dialling on the capacitive display or busting out the fetching red keypad, it’s hoping to appeal to everyone.
The 2.8in screen certainly makes a good first impression. It’s of the AMOLED variety, which makes it bright, pin-sharp and vivid.
Naturally, video playback looks great, but the display is also handy for framing shots from the 8MP camera, which is tucked away behind the slide.
Mixed camera bag
The camera itself is a mixed affair. On the plus side, shutter lag is minimal and there are some advanced camphone features like anti-shake and ‘blink detection’ to make sure your subject doesn’t look like they’re sleep-walking.
It’s also easy to upload images to the sites of your choice, like Flickr, Facebook and Picasa, thanks to the option of presetting sites for instant uploads.
Sadly, though, there’s no Xenon flash, though like the i8510 you do get a dual LED light which does help illuminate things a little up to a couple of metres. Video recording is also a fairly standard 640x480 at 30 frames per second – not exactly in the same league as the Omnia HD.
Widget, it’s got a widget
Like the original Tocco, the Ultra Edition has the Samsung widgets sidebar hidden just offscreen. Tap the screen and the stripe slides on with its easy access to icons for the music player, calendar and other options. Swipe them on to the main screen and they'll take up residence there.
You can even display or hide the network operator name this way. It works well, particularly with the haptic feedback to greet your every touch, though some may prefer the conventional menu screen.
Below the touchscreen are three buttons – the usual ‘start’ and ‘end’ call and then, curiously, a ‘go back’ button. It’s where you’d expect to find a direction pad, so takes some getting used to.
Samsung has also squeezed in a GPS receiver, though it’s disappointing to see that it couldn’t also find room for a 3.5mm headphone jack and Wi-Fi. The Tocco Ultra Edition might not be a smartphone, but these are fairly standard toys for a multimedia mobile.
In the end, the Ultra Edition inhabits a similar space to its predecessor – not quite innovative or accomplished enough to worry the iPhone, but a solid enough alternative if you’re looking for a touch-phone with a capable camera and a healthy smattering of widgets.