Samsung Tocco Lite 2 £99
31st Jul 2012 | 15:14
Will Samsung's budget handset see the same success as the original Tocco Lite?
The original Samsung Tocco Lite was the little phone that could. It took the world by storm despite boasting modest specs and lacking features that have come to be taken for granted – such as Wi-Fi.
Thankfully the Samsung Tocco Lite 2 does have Wi-Fi, but a lot has changed since the 2009 launch of the Samsung Tocco Lite, which in the phone world was a lifetime ago.
So has the Tocco Lite 2 done enough to stay competitive?
In a bold move from Samsung the Tocco Lite 2 runs the company's own proprietary operating system (Bada) rather than Android (which their Galaxy range has found so much success with).
This wasn't such a big deal on the original Samsung Tocco Lite, as back when that came out Android was still finding its feet.
But it's 2012 now and a handset that runs anything other than iOS, Android, Windows Phone or, at a push, Blackberry OS, runs the risk of rendering itself instantly obsolete.
The Tocco Lite 2's specs aren't exactly going to set the world alight either, with a small 3.0-inch 240 x 320 TFT touch screen, just 20MB of internal storage and a 3.2MP camera.
As with the original Samsung Tocco Lite, the Samsung Tocco Lite 2's salvation may be in its price tag.
Available from around £80 SIM-free it's not likely to trouble your wallet too much, making its bare-bones specs easier to stomach.
True to its name, the Tocco Lite 2 is an incredibly lightweight phone. At only 95.5g it feels more like a toy than a real phone and this isn't helped by its flimsy plastic build.
With dimensions of 58 x 102 x 11.58mm it's pretty tiny and fits snugly into even small pockets.
Despite its size it actually feels slightly chunky, as though it's not as long or wide as most handsets it is about as thick.
Looks wise it does nothing to stand out. In fact aside from switching some of the hardware buttons for soft touch ones it looks a lot like its predecessor.
The curved edges ensure that it's comfortable to hold, but it is a little small in the hand.
The Samsung Tocco Lite 2 has a handful of hardware buttons. There's a 'back' button below the display, which as the name suggests cycles' back one screen when pressed.
A dedicated soft touch dial button to the left of it minimises the amount of button presses needed to actually call a contact, while a soft-touch home button to the right brings you back to the home screen and can also be used to end calls.
On the left-hand side there's a volume rocker and on the right you'll find the power/lock button.
It's a reasonably logical layout, though the back button is where most handsets put their home button and vice versa.
The dial button also seems a bit limited in its usefulness. It would be nice, for example, if it could also be used as a menu button, since as it stands the button does nothing on most screens.
In terms of ports the Samsung Tocco Lite 2 has a 3.5mm headphone socket on the top left.
The original Samsung Tocco Lite had a proprietary socket, limiting you to the bundled earphones, so it's nice that Samsung are letting users choose their own headphones this time around.
A Micro USB port on the bottom can be used to plug in a charger or connect the phone to a PC and the Samsung Tocco Lite 2 also has a Micro SD card slot hidden away behind the back cover.
This last one is pretty vital given the paltry 20MB of internal storage, and can be used with cards of up to 16GB.
Despite being tucked behind the back cover the slot is actually quite accessible as the cover is easy to take on and off and there's no need to remove the battery.
The end result being that it's no hassle to switch Micro SD cards, which is great if you've got more than 16GB of media that you want access to.
The interface on the Samsung Tocco Lite 2 will be somewhat familiar to users of Samsung's other phones, as it uses a version of their popular TouchWiz UI.
There are seven home screens and these are customizable with widgets and application shortcuts, though the selection of widgets on offer is rather limited and you can only have one per screen.
Tapping the top of a home screen will reveal a drop-down menu with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and sound toggles.
At the bottom of each home screen there are icons for keypad, contacts and menu.
Pressing 'menu' will take you to a list of all of your applications, along with the settings menu.
Their positioning can be changed but by default they are not listed alphabetically, which can make it a pain to find things.
That aside the interface is quite well laid out and has a generous number of home screens.
The real issue is in actually getting around, as despite being capacitive the touch screen isn't very responsive. Or rather it isn't consistently responsive.
Sometimes you'll swipe and nothing will happen, other times you'll swipe and it will open an application you happened to swipe across.
It can be quite aggravating to use, particularly if you're coming from a phone with a good touch screen.
Coupled with the tiny display which already makes operation cramped and awkward it leads to frequent mistakes.
Contacts, calling and messaging
Contacts and calling
The Samsung Tocco Lite 2 is a handset that's remembered that phones were designed for calling people.
With that in mind, contacts and the dial pad can be accessed by an icon at the bottom of any home screen, as well as through the main menu.
You can also put additional shortcuts to your contacts or dial pad on any home screen or even use a widget to give yourself quick access to a few favourites.
Adding contacts is easy too and can be done from a menu option on the contacts screen.
In a disappointing, but minor, omission there is no smart dialing and though there are Facebook and Twitter apps built into the phone, neither of these have any integration with your contacts.
But once you get through to someone the connection is good. We experienced no dropped calls and even in poor signal areas it was possible to have a conversation.
When you consider that there are also soft-touch dial and end-call buttons, this is a phone that handles calls well.
Messaging is also handled well, though isn't without its share of problems.
It's intuitively laid out, new messages can be opened from the lock screen, pictures, audio and video can easily be attached to a message and you can even send emails from the messages application.
Reading messages is a breeze too. They can be viewed as either individual items or as part of a conversation thread.
Having both almost seems redundant but at least it gives you the choice of how you want to view them.
So far so good, but actually typing a message is problematic as the keyboard is small and cramped, which, combined with the inconsistent responsiveness of the touch screen, makes it an awkward affair.
Considering the size of the screen it's also a given that there is no landscape mode.
In its defence Samsung does try to make things easier.
The Samsung Tocco Lite 2 has a reasonably accurate auto-correct and it's possible to switch from a QWERTY keyboard to a keypad of the type you'd have used back in the days when phones actually had buttons.
In addition to text message and email, the Samsung Tocco Lite 2 also has Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Gtalk, Facebook chat and Samsung's own ChatON service built in.
So all in all it really gives you a lot of communication options.
Internet and media
Internet use was a huge problem for the original Samsung Tocco Lite, as it had no 3G or Wi-Fi, leaving painfully slow WAP as the only available option.
The Samsung Tocco Lite 2 does have Wi-Fi, but it's still lacking 3G. So if you're not somewhere with a Wi-Fi connection any internet use will be at a snail's pace.
Even when connected to Wi-Fi it's not exactly blazingly fast, taking around 10 to 15 seconds to even load mobile versions of sites.
It's also not that easy to navigate pages as scrolling isn't smooth and the touch screen is as problematic here as it is elsewhere, often leading to the wrong things being clicked on.
Scrolling aside, pages are perfectly readable, especially if you stick to mobile sites. It's also possible to speed up loading times by turning images off.
It's a functional browser and while you won't be ditching your PC or tablet it's good enough for light internet use.
Media on the Samsung Tocco Lite 2 is a mixed bag.
For music it's pretty good. There's a music application where you can sort all of your songs by artist, album or genre.
You can also create playlists and use songs as ringtones, while the phone's internal speaker is actually loud and clear enough that listening to music without headphones isn't a lost cause.
The player itself is easy to use, with simple controls for pausing or skipping tracks. It supports a decent number of audio formats, with AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, MP3, WAV and WMA all being compatible.
There's also an FM radio included, which can auto tune stations and has a record option. Although you need to plug earphones in to use it you can still tell it to play the music through the phone's internal speaker.
Photos aren't handled quite as well, there's no dedicated gallery app – instead they're accessed through 'my files' along with video.
There are also no editing options. It is easy to send a photo as an email or a message though, or to set it as a contact image.
Video isn't great either but that's mostly down to the tiny screen size and the limited amount of supported file types (only MPEG4 and H.263 will work).
The player is basic but easy to use, allowing you to skip forwards or backwards in a video or pause it.
As with photos it's also possible to email a video from the player screen.
You can also watch things in portrait or landscape, but the small screen and low resolution mean that it's not a particularly pleasant experience and you'd have to be really bored to resort to watching a movie on this.
Camera and video
The camera on the Samsung Tocco Lite 2 is a 3.2-megapixel affair with no flash and very few settings options.
You can change the quality, megapixel count and white balance of the pictures, put the camera in night mode or add a cheesy effect but that's it.
There's no auto focus and no editing tools. It also takes several seconds to save each photo taken so it's not possible to fire off multiple shots in quick succession.
In short it's about as basic a snapper as you're likely to find, but while it won't be replacing your compact it's actually not too bad considering the price tag of the phone it's attached to.
Video on the Samsung Tocco Lite 2 is even more basic, shooting in 176 × 144 at 15fps. The results are incredibly poor and suggest that its inclusion at all was intended as little more than a bullet point on the box.
The Samsung Tocco Lite 2 may only have a 1,000mAh battery but its performance is very good.
With mixed use you're unlikely to have to charge it more than once every two or three days.
In a world where it's not uncommon to have to reach for a charger after less than a day that's pretty impressive.
The lack of 3G actually probably helps it here, as that's a real battery killer, but even with Wi-Fi on much of the time, lots of texting and some music and web browsing it still lasts a long time.
There aren't any built in battery-saving options but if you want to extend the battery life even more you can always turn the brightness down and change the screen timeout settings.
In our battery test we started with a full battery, turned the screen to full brightness, activated Wi-Fi, turned the volume up to its loudest setting and set Facebook to refresh every 15 minutes.
Then with all that in place we streamed 244 minutes of YouTube videos before a low battery mode kicked in and prevented us from continuing.
So we then took to web browsing – loading and refreshing as many pages as possible and the battery finally died after 281 minutes.
Samsung claim the Tocco Lite 2 can manage 882 minutes of talk time – which might well be true since in two hours of talk time it only lost one of its five battery bars.
They also claim a standby time of 625 hours and, well, we haven't had it long enough to know if that's true, and we certainly haven't been keeping it on standby other than overnight, but it definitely lasts a long time.
Connectivity and apps
The Samsung Tocco Lite 2 supports 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 and WAP 2.0.
The obvious connectivity omission is 3G. Without it you're limited to WAP when there's no Wi-Fi available, and that is slow.
It can be connected to a PC using a Micro USB to USB cable and used as either a mass storage device or connected to Samsung's Kies software.
Whichever way you do it getting media on or off the phone can be done by simply dragging and dropping or copying and pasting.
Given that there's only 20MB of storage on board most of your media will be on a microSD card anyway, so if you prefer you can also just take that out and connect it to your PC separately.
In terms of apps the Samsung Tocco Lite 2 is pretty comparable to other feature phones.
It doesn't have the wealth of apps smartphone users have come to enjoy but there are a handful of games for download, as well as various songs, ringtones and videos.
The Tocco Lite 2 also comes with some apps pre-loaded, such as Facebook, Twitter and a currency converter. Not to mention expected apps like a calendar, calculator and stop watch.
It's worth noting that the calendar can't sync to any pre-existing calendars you might have.
There's no mapping software included (or available), which is a bit of a shame, especially since the original Samsung Tocco Lite came with Google Maps.
Hands on gallery
While it looks and feels as cheap as it is, the Samsung Tocco Lite 2 actually packs a lot of features into its diminutive shell. In fact it's 3G and an app store away from being a basic smartphone.
But from its stubborn touch screen to its terrible video camera it's clear that not all of its features work well.
Equally at the level it's priced at the Tocco Lite 2 is facing competition from actual smartphones as much as other feature phones.
The battery in this thing is great, running on and on, well beyond when many other phones (smartphones in particular) would sputter out. Samsung's also remembered that a phone first and foremost is for making calls and as such it handles that really well.
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The amount of messaging options is impressive too; from various instant messengers to Samsung's own ChatON service, there's a lot more than just text and email here.
Add to that a solid music player – that also does a decent job of managing and sorting your music – and the Samsung Tocco Lite 2 begins to look like a decent prospect.
The lack of 3G really hurts the Samsung Tocco Lite 2. Feature phones often don't have 3G, but at this price it's competing with low-end smartphones as much as other feature phones.
The biggest problem though is that touch screen. Awkward and imprecise, it almost made us long for buttons, and, combined with the cramped keyboard it makes text entry a far from pleasant experience.
The problem with the Samsung Tocco Lite 2 is that it's a feature phone, not a smartphone, but it's priced at around the same level as some budget smartphones.
The Samsung Galaxy Y, for example, can be found at a similar price and the Orange San Francisco 2 and HTC Explorer are only slightly pricier. This puts it in competition with them and that's a competition that it just can't win.
It's not a terrible handset by any means, if it was running Android, had a better touch screen or a slightly lower price tag it would be worth considering.
As it stands, it's just not quite competitive enough. If you want all the bells and whistles of a smartphone then you can pay about the same and buy a smartphone.
On the other hand if all you want is a phone that does a good job of calls and texts and has a few features besides, you can get one for a lot less than this – the Nokia Asha 201 for example, which can be had for about £40 if you shop around.