Samsung UltraTouch (S8300)

Its camera is great and the screen looks amazing, but the UltraTouch is not a knockout. It's a weird mix of business looks, average apps and dodgy performance, and we just can't tell who exactly Samsung is trying to sell it to.


6.5
CNET Rating
5.9
User Rating

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Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon


Design

Though UltraTouch sounds like a beauty product, a foot spa perhaps, the handset design is unmistakably masculine. The metal chassis on our review unit is mostly a chocolaty grey with metallic rose trimming, and combined with its sharply rounded corners and angular mechanical keys, the UltraTouch is the mobile phone equivalent of a power suit, the kind you'd wear to a board meeting to intimidate your competition.

The most startling aspect of this phone, however, is the AMOLED display. Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode is part of the OLED family of technologies we've seen emerge in televisions recently, and without going into details about how it works and how it's different, you can believe us when we say it looks sensational. Blacks are deep and bold, while colours appear rich. One of the main advantages to using AMOLED displays is that the screen is viewable from almost any angle, so you don't need to hold the phone right in front of your face to see it clearly.

At 12.9mm the UltraTouch is only millimetres thicker than the slimmest touchscreens in market at this time, though it has what most don't: a numeric keypad hidden under a sliding mechanism. This gives you the choice to type your messages with real buttons or by using the on-screen virtual keyboard. The slider mechanism is brilliant, it moves smoothly to open and close and doesn't rattle loosely at all. Opening the slider also reveals the 8-megapixel camera and its LED photolight flash as well.

In line with the agreements made by many of the major phone labels at this year's MWC showcase in Barcelona, the UltraTouch charges using a micro-USB input rather than the standard Samsung proprietary port. This agreement will see most new phones use the USB input as standard and will eliminate not being able to find the right charger for your phone model.

Features

Most of what makes this phone exciting is due to its design; the screen, camera and controls. Under the hood is a standard range of top-end phone hardware including HSDPA and Wi-Fi. In Australia there will be two variations on the dual-band 3G radios, one featuring 900/2100MHz compatibility and an 850MHz version for Telstra customers. It also features a GPS receiver, but the review unit we've seen doesn't include a dedicated navigation software, only Google Maps for location searches.

A photo taken with the UltraTouch. Click image to enlarge
(Credit: CNET AU)

For our money, the real showstopper is the 8-megapixel camera. The lens is protected by the phone's slider and is assisted by an LED photolight in low-light environments. The flash is quite a cold light, and is really useful only over short distances, but is handy nonetheless. Scanning the camera's digital settings you'll find four focus modes; a bunch of white balance presets; the ability to set the flash to on, off or auto; plus anti-shake technology and blink detection. The camera also has a video mode which shoots moving pictures at 30 frames per second in VGA image resolution, making for some very decent YouTube videos.

The UltraTouch features a decent media player with support for DivX, MPEG4 and WMV video files, plus a range of audio files including MP3, AAC and WMA. The music player interface is easy to use, and the large screen real estate means you can change settings like the equalisation preset without leaving the "now playing" screen. Strangely, all our tracks listed in alphabetically order on the phone, and we couldn't find anything in the settings to list the tracks in the order they appear on their respective albums.

The video player couldn't be simpler to use, which automatically goes into full-screen mode when you turn the phone on the side. Videos in a variety of formats look fantastic on the AMOLED display. While there's no 3.5mm headphone socket on the UltraTouch, Samsung has chucked an adapter in the box with a pair of very decent headphones as well. The adapter also doubles as the FM radio antenna for dialling into your favourite radio analog station.

Performance

Interface lag is one of the major peeves at CNET, and the UltraTouch lags just enough to annoy us. The touchscreen is very responsive, as in the software selects what you are trying to select, but the phone always feels like it's one step behind. You open the contacts menu, it pauses to load it, you drag the widgets menu up or down and the display stutters while it processes. In some ways you feel like the phone is controlling your movements rather than you controlling it.

Lag aside, we had no trouble using the UltraTouch. All the menus are clearly labelled and basic phone features work as expected. The calls we made and received during testing were loud and clear. The on-screen keyboard to create messages is fine, though without directional navigation keys we've found it difficult to correct some mistakes made when typing them up. Battery life is fine, though not extraordinary. When we used the phone predominantly for calls and messages it lasted for between two to three days, though it is possible to drain the battery in a day with a few hours of web browsing and media playback.

Overall

The UltraTouch is a phone that has grown on us during the testing period, but is far from one of our favourite phones. The touchscreen is responsive but the interface lags, and though there's no size compromise for having the keypad, the cramped keypad on the UltraTouch doesn't inspire use. The UltraTouch will get lost in the mix a bit: it's not a smartphone, but it costs as much as one; it looks like a business phone, but it lacks the business usability; plus it's not an excellent touchscreen, which it really needs to be because there's not much else for it to hang its hat on. The AMOLED display is superb and watching videos would be great if you weren't forced to use the bulky headphone adapter in the micro-USB port.

The camera is the standout, and the UltraTouch is probably our favourite Samsung 8-megapixel camera phone to date, compared solely at this stage to the bulky INNOV8 (the INNOV8 has a better range of smartphone features). This said, if we were in the market for a touchscreen 8MP camera phone, we'd buy an LG Renoir. If you break the world up into segments of phone users, the UltraTouch feels like a phone that belongs to no group at all.



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Jess
4
Rating
 

Jess posted a review   

The Good:Camera

The Bad:Touch Screen...

I Have Had My Phone for Six Months... and now the touch screen has s**t itself... first the toucj screen stopped working when the phone was slid up. now i cant use it at all.. also the contract doesnt run out until june next year....
The Samsung's always seem to heat up as well... so the batteries go in them very quickly... not even two weeks after i got the phone... the battery cover fell off and wont go back inot the phone... so i have to sticky taoe the phone together practically...
next time i get a phone it will be a nokia and from now on it will always be nokia... :) very disappointed with the samsung ultra touch S8300

Jac
2
Rating
 

Jac posted a review   

The Good:Nothing

The Bad:Mute button is right where your ear goes when on a call and mutes your caller, turns itself off out of the blue and hard to turn back on even when fully charged, really really short battery life - need to recharge everyday.

I am so over this phone, ready to throw it in the bin! It has now started to suddenly turn itself off sometimes in the middle of writing a text message, even when it is fully charged. Then is very hard to turn it back on. I am always muting callers as the mute button is on the touch screen right where your ear goes. Very user unfriendly and fiddly to use. Camera isn't bad but very quickly gets full and you need to delete images before taking a new photo. Have never had such a crappy phone. Don't buy it!!

 

Mr M posted a reply   

I totally agree! I HATE this phone! Was the worst purchase i ever made and i'm stuck on contract with it for another six months but it's breaking at a rate of knots so pretty sure it'll stop working well before the, if it even makes it to the end of the month.
The touch screen is VERY slow - to the point where it doesn't keep up with you. txting has proven frustrating because as you add new words they become the first words to appear when using preemptive txt but in my experience the new words i add are never the first i wish to use. The speaker has stopped working so the only way i can still use it as a phone is by use of a blue tooth ear piece. And the screen is often not turning on until the 2nd or 3rd time i slide the phone open!
I look forward to the day i can stick this phone into a blender.

Tamara
1
Rating
 

Tamara posted a review   

The Good:decent camera when it works.

The Bad:touchscreen stops working at slightest knock.

Spent 90% of the time in a phone case in my handbag, used maybe for 20 minutes a week to make emergency calls or take photos. Within the first month it would turn off every time you hit the camera button WITHOUT saving photos, took it in for repairs and the touch screen stopped working. In the subsequent 12 months it has been in for repairs six times all for the touchscreen failing to work.
When the touchscreen stops working you cannot make or receive calls.
Waste of money.
Would NOT recommend. Will never buy another samsung phone after this piece of garbage!

Jimmy
1
Rating
 

Jimmy posted a review   

The Good:Camera

The Bad:Everything Else

Absolutely terrible. Without a doubt the worst phone I have ever had. The camera is good but even that stuffs up!

1/10

kamerungagirl
1
Rating
 

kamerungagirl posted a review   

My only comment is I have had it back to the shop, replaced twice, and cant wait for it to come back a third time so it can be replaced!!!!!!!!

 

James posted a reply   

If this is with Telstra, guess again. I have had the exact problem with replacing and they keep replacing it with the same phone. If they do it too many times, go to the telecoms ombudsman!! WIN

DD
7
Rating
 

DD posted a review   

The Good:camera, internet access,

The Bad:nothing yet.

I have a 2 GB micoSD. I tried using that on this phone but it will not recognise it. I have tried to restart but with same problem. Any suggestion?

NO
1
Rating
 

NO posted a review   

The Good:nothing

The Bad:everything

get the nokia x8 it is much better


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User Reviews / Comments  Samsung UltraTouch (S8300)

  • Jess

    Jess

    Rating4

    "I Have Had My Phone for Six Months... and now the touch screen has s**t itself... first the toucj screen stopped working when the phone was slid up. now i cant use it at all.. also the contract doe..."

  • Jac

    Jac

    Rating2

    "I am so over this phone, ready to throw it in the bin! It has now started to suddenly turn itself off sometimes in the middle of writing a text message, even when it is fully charged. Then is very ..."

  • Tamara

    Tamara

    Rating1

    "Spent 90% of the time in a phone case in my handbag, used maybe for 20 minutes a week to make emergency calls or take photos. Within the first month it would turn off every time you hit the camera ..."

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