Samsung's Tocco did quite well in my hands last July. The full frontal touchscreen was really gaining momentum and Samsung managed to differentiate itself by coming up with the idea of widgets for you to pull onto the screen from a sidebar. This allowed you to personalise the phone but let Samsung retain control of how.
The Widgets remain in the Tocco's follow-up, the Tocco Ultra S8300, but much else has changed. The Tocco Ultra is Samsung's flagship handset for 2009 so I expected great things from it.
Every major operator has this handset free on various contracts. Vodafone is doing it free on £20 plans, for example. You can get it from around £350 on Pay As You Go.
When you first pick up the phone, it looks like a standard touchscreened slab. Mine had a thin frame of red down its vertical front edges and around the bottom of the screen. The red really comes into play when you expose something the original Tocco didn't have - the numeric keypad.
Yup, this is a slider phone and the concept of adding in a numeric keypad is a good one. It caters for those who want a touchscreen but aren't sure they can cope with using it for on-screen text entry.
The red - actually a vivid, vibrant pinky crimson - also shows up on the back panel section that's exposed when the slide is up. O2 has a blue version that looks just as in-your-face vibrant.
The slide adds a bit of height to the handset, which increases the height to a shade over 135mm. Closed it measures 110mm x 51.5mm x 12.7mm and weighs 122g. This makes it taller, thicker and heavier than the original Tocco but a little narrower (The Tocco comes in at 98.4mm x 55mm x 11.6mm and weighs 106g).
Build quality is superb. This mobile feels very solid and durable. The flat numberpad is easy to use at speed. Its keys are large and I had no trouble entering text at a fair old lick. The screen and frame are scratch resistant, and the slide mechanism is smooth. It delivers a very reassuring thunk when you open and close it. However, I did find that I had to press on the touchscreen to open and close the phone, and this sometimes meant I made selections when I didn't really mean to.