Samsung Ultratouch

Mobile phone

Name

You'd be forgiven for thinking the Ultratouch is just another Samsung slider phone, but as soon as you see the bright and sharp screen you’ll see that there’s something different about this one. The Ultratouch is, as the name suggests, a touchscreen phone with a slide out keypad.

The first thing you’ll notice with this phone is the display, and, frankly, how brilliant it looks. The AMOLED (or active matrix OLED) screen ditches traditional backlighting and instead lights up every single pixel on the screen. This not only looks good, but it also uses less power than traditional screens. The phone itself is a business-like grey colour, but sliding down the keypad reveals a ready-to-party metallic red. There’s a small camera on the front of the phone for video calling, while sliding up the back reveals a whopping 8-megapixel camera.

The camera, somewhat surprisingly, steals a lot of the focus from other features on this phone. It’s one of the best still cameras I’ve used, and the video quality is unsurpassed when it comes to mobile phones. The screen gives a very good representation of what the final product will look like, and there’s very little lag to talk about when snapping pictures. Smile detection as well as geo-tagging are built in. We really liked the panorama option for still images, and the slow motion video capture was surprisingly good.

The touchscreen, ironically, is what lets the Ultratouch down. Compared to an iPhone, the response is sluggish and not always responsive. This becomes especially apparent when browsing the web; you’ll find yourself clicking links and waiting for a site to load, unaware that the phone hasn’t registered the touch. Samsung has done a pretty sweet job of the main menu, though, by having a scrollable widget menu where you can keep your most important shortcuts. There’s also a heavy focus on social networking here, with automatic uploads to Facebook and all major photo sharing sites.

The music player is quite good, and accepts MP3, AAC and WMA tunes. The supplied software suite does a decent job of importing and exporting the goods, and you can expand the memory through a microSDHC card. Thankfully, Samsung has moved away from their previous ridiculous charging ports and switched to the universal microUSB port. The headphone adapter/handsfree microphone plugs in the same port, and you can use your standard 3.5mm headphones with it.

Call quality is excellent, and we had no problems using the Google maps-based GPS on the phone. The GPS also plays a role in geo-tagging pictures.

In the end, the Ultratouch from Samsung is a pretty good phone at a price we can live with. The camera is outstanding, and while the touchscreen needs some work, we like the menu setup. It’s not really an alternative to the iPhone or Blackberry but we’d recommend it to most people looking for a fun phone that has some serious grunt to it.

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Jan Birkeland

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