Ever since the Apple iPhone pioneered the stylus-free, finger-friendly touchscreen smartphone, rival companies have released all manner of variations on the same theme with some being more successful than others. However, the new Toshiba TG01 is a truly unique take on the concept.
Based on a colossal 4.1in screen and incorporating Qualcomm's much talked about new super fast Snapdragon chipset, its size and power make it more reminiscent of a traditional PDA or new fangled MID than a smartphone. However, at only 9.9mm thick and weighing 128g it is surprisingly pocket-friendly.
It's also quite an elegant device with a classic, if rather unimaginative, livery. The back and sides are soft-touch black plastic, there's a shiny gun metal trim round the edges, and three chrome buttons adorn the front. It's only the orange square that is the Orange logo that disrupts the monotony of our particular model.
The back slides off (with a great deal of effort) to reveal a 1000mAH battery the SIM slot and a MicroSD slot. Annoyingly you do have to remove the battery to add or remove memory cards so transferring files to and from the TG01 is a slightly awkward process (though you can of course just connect the phone directly to your computer and do file transfers that way).
This is a process that's made easier due to Toshiba's use of a standard microUSB data socket (yes, we've whinged in the past about this becoming the standard when miniUSB did just fine, but now it is the standard it's good to see it being used), which also doubles as the headset socket. A headset adapter is included in the box - as is an 8GB MicroSD card, a stylus, and a USB to microUSB adapter - and the sound quality from it is very good if a little lacking in bass.
The three buttons that run along the bottom of the handset are all touch sensitive and are quite responsive. The left most is the home button while the one on the right is a back button and in-between is a zoom bar. Sadly this only works with the web browser and not when viewing photos or emails, etc. It's also a bit slow and temperamental making it very difficult to find the exact zoom level you want.
On the back is a 3.2-megapixel camera that can also shoot video at 640 x 480 but it lacks auto-focus or any form of flash. The application is also slow to load, shutter lag is significant, and the shutter button is annoyingly directly opposite the volume button so it's easy to accidentally press the latter when you try and take a photo. Also, despite this being a 3G handset, there is no forward facing camera for video calls.