Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH review: Touch, slide, shoot

GSMArena team, 28 April 2009.

The retail box: is there something missing?

The look of the generous Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH retail box makes you wonder if something is missing from the neat colorful box packed full of accessories. Along with the handset itself you get a charger, a USB cable, and a CD with PC software.

There was also a 1GB microSD card, which we felt was a bit miserly considering the price tag of the UltraTOUCH. Since the device supports microSD cards up to 16GB, it would've been nice to see a 4 or even 8GB microSD card slipped inside the box.

We found stereo earphones and an adaptor allowing you to use your favorite headphones with a standard 3.5 mm jack (the phone uses the microUSB port as an audio jack).

So, is there something missing? Apart from a higher-capacity memory card, a nice touch would've been a carrying pouch to help you protect the large touchscreen. Otherwise, the retail box is generous enough.

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Samsung Tocco Ultra edition retail box

Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH 360-degree spin

The Samsung Tocco Ultra Edition isn't the slimmest among the touchscreen phones, but let's not forget the keypad underneath that large display - the S8300 is a slider and a few more millimeters around the waist are to be expected.

Measuring 110 x 51.5 x 12.7 mm, the handset is still quite pocketable, being only a tad longer (but somewhat slimmer) than most sliders. Its weight is also highly unlikely to trouble too many customers' pockets and those 127 g gives the UltraTOUCH a very robust feel when held in the hand.

The sleek design of the Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH makes it appealing to both men and women (possibly a bit more to the ladies because of the flashy colours). It is now available in Platinum Red (the one we've got) and Platinum Blue but we won't be surprised to see new color versions in the future.

Design and construction

As you may have noticed when comparing the images from our preview and the review you're reading at the moment, there are some design differences between the final S8300 UltraTOUCH and the early pre-release sample.

As we already suggested, we find the design of Samsung Tocco Ultra Edition quite attractive. The black metallic frame and the rest of the seemingly high quality plastic give the phone a sophisticated and tasteful look.

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The Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH design is much to our liking

The layout of the functional elements on the front panel is typical for a touchscreen-operated handset. You get three buttons at the bottom - Call and End keys and a Back button that is used for going one step backwards throughout the menu (and nothing more, unfortunately, it's not a D-pad even if it looks like one).

All the keys on the front are large and comfortable enough to use and provide nice tactile feedback.

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The three buttons at the top are large and easy to press: the one in the center is a single button, not a D-pad

At the top you get the earpiece, the ambient light sensor and the videocall camera. There is also a proximity sensor that is used for locking the display when holding the handset next to your ear.

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The two sensors, the videocall camera and the earpiece are at the top

The rest of the UltraTOUCH front panel is taken up by the 2.8" AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display. Now this is our favorite part of the handset - OLED picture quality and capacitive touchscreen (no pressing necessary - you just have to touch the display) create a great user experience when operating the phone. The amazing contrast on the AMOLED display ensures any image looks incredibly vibrant on the handset.

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Samsung S8300 has a splendid OLED capacitive touchscreen display

As for Samsung's claim that the display is scratch, reflection and smudge-resistant, we think the last two items on the list are more of a marketing gimmick than anything. Legibility under direct sunlight was by no means as bad as the Omnia, but it wasn't spectacular either. And it wasn't uncommon for the display to become a mess of fingerprints either. Unfortunately, we didn't have either the time or the inclination to check whether the screen of the Tocco Ultra Edition was scratch resistant or not.

The sensitivity of the display is excellent and the only downside is the inability to use any other object for pressing the screen (stylus, pen, gloves, fingernails) except for your bare fingertips. Well, this is the pay-off with capacitive touchscreens, but it does mean there's no option for handwriting recognition.

In fact, there is another turn-off related to the screen, namely the UI. Even if the touchscreen itself is very sensitive, the user interface can be a bit sluggish. Still, we're getting ahead of ourselves a little since that is something we'll discuss a little later.

Next on the list is the keypad which is revealed by sliding the phone open. It is quite spacious with large enough keys for comfortable typing. Some additional bordering wouldn't have hurt the typing capabilities of the device but it is good enough as it stands now.

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The keypad offers comfort and quite decent typing speed

By the way, the S8300 previewing sample way back in February had an on-screen QWERTY keyboard while the final one doesn't, so you're stuck with either the hardware or touchscreen alphanumeric keypads.

The Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH keypad has a nice, even backlighting which, combined with the great display, give it a great visual appeal in the dark.

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The Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH is a beauty in the dark

The only noteworthy element on the left side of Samsung S8300 is the volume rocker. It's large and has nice tactile feedback, making it quite comfortable to use.

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The volume rocker at the left is good enough