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Samsung F480 Review

 

Samsung F480 Review

 
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Samsung's Tocco is yet another handset with a full frontal touchscreen. I am immediately reminded of the F490, the F700, LG's KF600, and of course the iPhone in both its original and 3G flavours. Well, here we go again with the Samsung Tocco, which is available from all the major network operators from free depending on your contract choice. My review sample came from Orange. This time around, just to help differentiate the Tocco from the crowd, Samsung has come up with what it calls a unique user interface that lets you personalise how you use the phone. I'll get to that in a moment. But first let's talk design.

This is a mobile phone that shouldn't trouble most pockets. At 98.4mm tall, 55mm wide and 11.6mm thick it is on the small side. It is a pity that Samsung couldn't break 100g, but its 106g weight is really no hardship to carry around. It is extremely comfortable to hold the phone in one hand and tap at the screen with the thumb.

Just to add a little something extra to proceedings, the phone comes with a second battery cover that has a screen protector attached to it. Once fitted, the screen protector flips up from the bottom of the handset, shielding the screen from scratches without adding the significant extra bulk of a case. The front fascia of the phone is shiny black apart from the screen, and there's a flash of silver surrounding the speaker, and another that forms a strip beneath the screen. That strip offers three buttons: Call and End, with End doubling as the on/off switch, and a longer lozenge which drops you into the shortcut menu. There is a selection of five applications on the shortcut menu: Music Player, Messages, Internet, Call and main menu.

Around the edges are a rocker for volume control; a hold button that disables the touchscreen; a camera key; and a jack for Samsung's extremely annoying proprietary multifunction socket that charges the phone, accommodates the provided stereo headset and connects the Tocco to a PC via USB. The front screen measures 2.8 inches diagonally, putting it on a par with the screens of the more portable Windows Mobile devices. It delivers 320 x 240 pixels and 262 thousand colours. I found it clear and sharp to read and easy to use. So, what about that personalisation I alluded to earlier? Well, it comes in the shape of a ‘drag and drop' system which you can use to put ‘widgets' onto the main screen. The process is simple enough.

In the main screen there is a sidebar hidden away off the left tall edge of the screen. You can open this by tapping an arrow that pulls it out. This offers all available widgets. You just drag what you want across to the main screen. The selection isn't vast but does include games, photo album, today's date, digital and analogue clocks, calendar, music player and FM radio. If you don't want a widget you can drag it off the main screen and onto the sidebar. And you can drag the operator logo off too, which is rather nifty.

Other than that, using the Samsung Tocco is quite familiar. You can drag left and right to scroll though horizontal lists, and drag up and down to scroll through vertical lists. When music is playing you can drag along the progress bar to get to a set point in a tune and there is a draggable volume bar. When viewing photos you can drag up and down to scroll through images or call up a ribbon that displays image thumbnails or an image manager. When on the Web you can drag to move up and down or left and right in a webpage.

Entering text is a matter of tapping an onscreen keypad, and you get a little haptic response for screen presses. It works well enough, though I found dragging vertically through menus that don't take up the whole screen a bit hit and miss. It was easy to drag beyond the menu box itself, and thus cancel out of the selection process. Also, the whole interface simply doesn't have the pizzazz of the iPhone. The web browser, for example, lacks zooming capability and feels under-featured.

This is a pity because the Tocco is a 3G handset with HSDPA to 7.2MBps if you can find a connection, so web browsing is quite quick, and the large screen means the browser interface could have been a much more pleasant experience.

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