About a month ago I bought a brand new Samsung Tocco Lite, otherwise known as the S5230. I’m ashamed to admit that it was bought from Phones4u, against my better judgement, but I guess we all make mistakes every now and then. I had actually only gone into the shop to have a look, and hopefully try it out for real rather than just watching YouTube videos and reading the specs, honest.
Phones4u aside, the phone is mostly fantastic. Jumping on the touchscreen bandwagon, the Tocco Lite is an iPhone for plebs like me who can’t afford the real thing. My previous phone, just for reference, was a Motorola L6, which was gorgeous, but was beginning to show its age a little (not in performance, just in a few cosmetic scratches to the case, which turns out to be more plastic than metal, despite appearances). The Tocco Lite has a comparatively enormous screen, is more or less the same size, and is actually fractionally lighter. That’s good, because it means it’ll sit in my pocket nicely.
The Good Stuff
The touchscreen works very nicely, and although it isn’t clever enough to handle multi-touch, it responds very well and doesn’t get things wrong very often at all. It’s a 240×400 pixel screen, which is nice and bright, and fantastic for viewing photos on.
The home screen has three views to it, a little like the iPhone’s application pages, which you scroll through horizontally. The Tocco Lite doesn’t have application icons, but it does have widgets, which are essentially little visual shortcuts to various areas of the phone. They can be placed anywhere on your home screen, though I found that I actually had to be careful where I put them so that I could still swipe left and right to the other parts of the home screen – if I happened to have my finger on a widget it would try to move the widget around rather than going to the other screen. I’ve learnt to keep an area clear towards the bottom of the home screen, and do all my swiping there instead. It’s just a shame you can’t add your own widgets.
Calls and text messages, and in fact all the functionality of the phone itself, are all fine. It’s all pretty predictable, with everything working as you’d expect it to. With very few physical keys, text messaging is a key area for a touchscreen phone to get right, and I’m pleased to say that the Tocco Lite performs very well in this respect. You can enter your text via a numberpad that comes up, using the familiar T9 predictive text to help you, or you can tilt the phone on its side and use a full qwerty keyboard – that’s my preferred input method at the moment, simply because I find it faster typing with two thumbs than with one. It’s fairly accurate most of the time, so unintended spelling mistakes are kept to a minimum.
I mentioned earlier that the screen was good for viewing photos. Actually this is a bit of a showpiece for the Tocco Lite. Bring up your photos (which, sadly, are a little clumsy to get to) and they come up on the screen filling the width of the screen, whether you hold the phone normally or on its side. In fact, you can hold the phone whichever way up you like, even upside down, and it’ll still show you the image so that it’s the right way up. Very neat. And as an extra party trick, with the phone held in landscape, tilting the phone slightly left or right will cause the photos to slide along, as if falling off the side of the phone. Very cool. Unfortunately it does mean that if you want to view a photo for any length of time you have to make sure you hold the phone still, otherwise it tries to scroll through them all.
Internet is reasonable, with the default browser being fairly straightforward to use. It’s nothing special though, and as the phone relies on GPRS and EDGE it’s not particularly fast. I’ve actually ditched the built in browser though, and have downloaded Opera Mini 5, which is much nicer to look at and use, and by compressing everything via a proxy server actually makes it quite speedy, even on GPRS.
The Bad Stuff
It’s not all good news, unfortunately. The back of the case, under which hides the battery and the SIM card, was devilishly difficult to get off first time round (I eventually managed it by taking some advice from a forum and pushing with the palms of my hands, rather than my fingers), and once off, it was a little too easy to slide off again afterwards. The first time I went out with the phone in my pocket the back of the case stuck itself to my leather wallet, and when I pulled the phone out it was missing its back casing! I’ve resolved that for now by simply putting the phone in the other way round, so the screen is against my wallet instead.
Another in-pocket problem has also become apparent – it far too easily unlocks itself. The lock button is on the side of the phone, and is just a little too easy to press. To unlock the phone all you have to do is hold in the lock button on the side, or press a button that appears on the screen. Several times now the phone has unlocked itself in my pocket and tried to set alarms. Thankfully never anything more serious than that, no phone calls made, but an annoyance nonetheless. The Tocco Lite does come with a Gesture Unlock feature, where you draw a letter on the screen to make it unlock, but that seems to be a little redundant given how easy the phone is to unlock. I think it would have been better to have an option to have Gesture Unlock as the only way to unlock the phone, rather than as an additional way, deactivating the lock button on the side and forcing you to unlock it deliberately. If it continues to be a problem I might have to put a number lock on the SIM card or something as well.
One thing I was a little disappointed by was the lack of connectivity to Mac computers. I really wanted to be able to synchronise the phone with my computer, so that contacts and my diary could be copied across by Bluetooth, as I’d done with my Motorola L6. Sadly, no one thought that Mac connectivity was important, so it doesn’t work. This meant I had to manually put in all my contacts again, which was a pain. I’m getting round the diary issue for now by loading up Opera and using Google Calendar instead. Takes a little longer, but it works.
And my final complaint is that loading additional applications onto the phone can only be done via the phone’s web browser. You can’t connect the phone to your computer and copy the files across, they just come up as unrecognised files and don’t install. So you have to download the .jar files from a WAP site instead (I’ve been using euploader.com). And you have to do this with the built-in browser, not Opera. It would have been nice to have been able to transfer stuff across from the computer, rather than having to pay for my internet twice.
On the whole, though, it’s a fantastic little phone. If you love the iPhone but can’t afford one, this might well be a good choice for now. Sure, there are better phones out there, but you pay more as a result. The Tocco Lite is affordable, looks fantastic, is blindingly easy to use, and I’m very happy with mine. I’d give it a very respectable 8/10.