Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH review: Touch, slide, shoot

GSMArena team, 28 April 2009.
Pages: 123456789

GPS, the Java way

Samsung S8300 comes with a built-in GPS receiver. But the Samsung Mobile Navigator (a rebranded Route66 product) that we saw in the beta is gone. In its place is some minor Google integration via Google Maps.

It doesn't offer voice-guided navigation but this is as high as Java applications go. Since S8300 it's not a smartphone, you're stuck with Google Maps even if you're willing to pay for a GPS navigation service unless Samsung offer that Samsung Mobile Navigator as an option.

Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH
Mobile GMaps application

Games 'trial' behind

Typical for Samsung recently, the S8300 only offers a bunch of trial games. Entertaining though they might be, they can only keep you occupied for a short while and the full versions have to be bought for a small fee. Since Samsung didn't bother putting really playable games in the handset, we don't see the need to get into any detail about the demos offered.

Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH
Only trial versions of the games are available

The only thing in the games section that isn't a trial is the well-known Tumbling dice app, which uses the built-in accelerometer. Shaking the phone for an occasional roll of the dice is a fun way to try your luck, but most of all it looks cool and is free.

Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH
Tumbling dice is a nice acclerometer-based app

Final words

The Samsung S8300 is an excellent looking device with novel design and if we are to pinpoint a stand-out feature, that has to be the camera. Still photographs are among the best, videos are excellent and we were left with nothing but positive impressions of it.

The rest was a mixed bag. TouchWiz is a nice touch interfaces and offers a lot of functionality. However, the hardware really struggles at times to run the software. Plus the LG S-class UI that is already on the market is better and more fluid.

Other than that everything about the S8300 is spot on - the AMOLED display is stunning, the browser is as good as it gets on feature phones (flash support is quite rare) while the music and video players perform superbly. There's even a document viewer.

But the slow hardware hampers the overall experience, and the lack of Wi-Fi means no chance to use free internet from public hotspots. We could live with not having full-version games, but the decision to take away the navigation software removes what could have been one of the phone's greatest assets.

Competition-wise, if it's a point & shoot camera with telephony you're after, you should have a look at our 8 megapixel shootout. The contenders there are all aging gracefully, and their prices are falling. Just keep in mind that the camera on the S8300 is slightly better than the one on the Pixon.

Sony Ericsson C905 Samsung i8510 INNOV8 Samsung M8800 Pixon LG KC910 Renoir
Sony Ericsson C905 Samsung i8510 INNOV8 Samsung M8800 Pixon LG KC910 Renoir

We also cannot miss the LG GD900 Crystal. Its unique transparent touch keypad is a great novelty and it throws in Wi-Fi to the already potent mix, while upping the display to larger WVGA proportions. Add to that multitouch, the excellent S-class interface, the TV out and the FM transmitter and you have a truly portable media station. In the end, price is likely to be the deciding factor when choosing between these two.

Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH
LG GD900 Crystal

Pages: 123456789