Samsung UltraTouch mobile phone

Samsung's UltraTouch features both a touch screen and a physical keypad

Samsung UltraTouch (S8300)
  • Samsung UltraTouch (S8300)
  • Samsung UltraTouch (S8300)
  • Samsung UltraTouch (S8300)
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Design, superb AMOLED display, build quality, fast and responsive interface, 8-megapixel camera, HSDPA-capable

Cons

  • No 3.5mm headphone jack, limited accelerometer, no Wi-Fi

Bottom Line

The Samsung UltraTouch is a great option for those who are intrigued by touch-screen technology but aren't ready to completely throw away the familiar physical keys just yet. The lack of Wi-Fi and a regular headphone jack are disappointments, but the combination of a responsive touch screen and a great design makes this an excellent mobile phone.

Would you buy this?

A full touch-screen mobile phone that also features a physical slide-out keypad, Samsung's UltraTouch aims to provide the best of both worlds. This stylish slider phone is a great option for people who are intrigued by touch-screen technology but aren't ready to throw away the familiar physical keys just yet.

The Samsung UltraTouch features a stylish, brushed steel finish on the front, and curved, gloss grey casing on the rear. Samsung has added some interesting touches to the design — red edging and a chequered red finish surrounding the camera lens distinguish this handset from its competitors. The Samsung UltraTouch is quite thin and has a smooth, spring-operated slider that feels well built. A nice inclusion is the lock key on the right side of the phone — press it to lock the display and press and hold it to unlock. Alternatively, sliding open the UltraTouch automatically unlocks the display.

Following on from the Samsung Omnia and the Samsung F480, which both have touch screens, the Samsung UltraTouch features a capacitive touch screen. The difference here is that the display technology is AMOLED (active-matrix organic light emitting diode). Samsung claims this technology uses less power but offers increased brightness, better colour and clarity and higher definition. We are inclined to agree, as the UltraTouch's 2.8in display is very impressive, offering superb viewing angles, rich colour and excellent brightness.

We used the Samsung UltraTouch directly alongside the iPhone and the former clearly has the superior display, despite the iPhone's screen being much larger.

Slid open, the Samsung UltraTouch reveals a flat yet comfortable keypad. The keys provide excellent tactility and are well spaced, while the backlight is impressive. Our only complaint is that the top row of keys is a little too close to the bottom edge of the slider.

Samsung has provided plenty of choice, though, as an on-screen keyboard is also available to type messages with when the slider is closed. The experience is generally positive, although the virtual predictive text keyboard is a little too high up the screen, making it slightly uncomfortable to type on. Disappointingly, despite the built-in accelerometer there is no way of typing messages in a landscape position, nor is there a full QWERTY virtual keyboard available.

The proprietary interface of the Samsung UltraTouch is fast, responsive and well designed. There is no App Store available but a number of mobile widgets, including weather, Facebook and MySpace shortcuts can be dragged and placed on the home screen for one-touch access — though these are merely shortcut links to your mobile browser rather than applications. Users can also download additional widgets through the Samsung Web portal (a shortcut to it is provided in the widget sidebar on the home screen).

Scrolling through lists is responsive and smooth. Unlike the iPhone, the UltraTouch boasts haptic feedback, and it can be adjusted by pressing the volume control when you're on the home screen. The Samsung UltraTouch's accelerometer is a little limited. You can choose to have it on or off when you're using the camera, but for all other functions it’s automatically switched on. It only works for Web browsing, image browsing, video and the camera, however.

The Samsung UltraTouch isn't technically a smartphone, but it still offers a wealth of features, headed by an 8-megapixel camera with LED flash, face detection, anti-shake and geotagging. A self-portrait mirror is also present, and there is a front-mounted VGA camera on the front for video calling. The quality of photos is impressive, though the LG Renoir remains the best camera phone we've tested.

Wi-Fi is a notable omission, but the UltraTouch does offer built-in GPS, and 7.2Mbps HSDPA connectivity, along with USB connectivity via a standard micro-USB jack. The phone operates on the 900MHz 3G band, so it's compatible with Optus' new Yes G network.

The Samsung UltraTouch has large, clear display and a microSD card slot, but a big let-down is the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack. Further, the micro-USB slot doubles as the charger, so it's impossible to charge the UltraTouch and listen to music simultaneously — unless you stream music using the A2DP Bluetooth profile. For videos, the UltraTouch supports DivX files.

The Samsung UltraTouch also includes a Find Music feature, allowing you to record a 10 second clip of a song, send it to the music recognition server and get the title and artist information returned. This application is similar to Sony Ericsson's TrackID service and the iPhone app Shazam.

A more amusing feature of the UltraTouch is Samsung's Fake Call application. Fake Call helps you get out of awkward situations by simulating a phone call and playing back a pre-recorded voice message when answered.

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