Fancy phones that can do pretty much everything except make you a cup of tea aren’t what everyone wants. Some people just want a mobile that can make the odd phone call and send a text, and occasionally do something a little more fancy like check out a website or play some music. For such people the iPhone is a handset that’s woefully over specified, and overpriced.
Android might have something to offer at the lower end of the price range, but if you really want to pay very little for a phone then you are into the territory occupied by the Samsung Tocco Lite 2, available for £59.99 on PAYG from Orange.
What’s interesting about the Tocco Lite 2 is that while it is not an Android handset it has been designed to look like one, both on the outside and the inside. Specifically, Samsung has tried to make the Tocco Lite 2 mimic the look of the old Samsung flagship Galaxy S 2.
The Tocco Lite 2’s chassis has rounded corners like the Galaxy S 2, Samsung’s familiar name branding above the screen, and a rectangular Back button and two touch sensitive buttons either side of that. In this case, though, the touch-sensitive buttons are Call and End buttons rather than the Galaxy S 2’s Android-related Back and Menu buttons. There’s a sliver iPhone-like frame round the edge of the chassis too. All these features help the Tocco Lite II look at bit more classy and expensive than it really is.
The smartphone-like design extends to the edges where you’ll find an on-off button on the right edge and volume rocker on the left. On the bottom, there’s a micro-USB connector and on the top there is a 3.5mm headset jack. It does look for all the world like a small Android phone with a dinky 3in screen.
In fact, rather than Android, the Tocco Lite 2 runs a proprietary OS that looks to me very like Bada, though Samsung isn’t saying that’s what the phone uses and doesn’t list it among its Bada handsets online. Either way, what you get here are multiple home screens that can be flicked through using finger sweeps and populated with widgets. You start with four home screens, but a settings icon top left of each allows you to grow the number up to seven and add widgets in the process.
You also get a range of apps in a menu area, which includes Facebook, Twitter, Samsung’s own ChatON IM style service, FM radio, tasks manager, memo app, voice recorder, calculator, unit converter and a little app store. Needless to say there aren’t the oodles of apps here that you find with Android or iOS, but at least you can make some downloads.
You can ‘skin’ the user interface choosing between a standard and rather predictable theme called Blue and a slightly jazzier one called Cartoon. I have to say I rather like Cartoon, which has a pale background and what look like hand-drawn app icons. I’ve seen the Cartoon theme on plenty of other Samsung handsets so it’s not exactly a new idea.
Given that this is a low cost handset, it’s obviously going to have some entry-level features. The QVGA 320 x 240 screen resolution is a bit of a shocker though. Even when pixels are squished across the quite small 3in screen, it’s difficult not to feel a bit cheated by the blocky appearance of text and the paucity of information on show. You wouldn’t want to do much media rich activity on this phone.
And actually, that’s not very well supported generally. There’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on board and I was able to browse the web quite adequately in speed terms using the latter, but when out and about you are limited to GSM and EDGE with no 3G support, and believe me, web browsing is just too painful to contemplate under those circumstances.
Anyone who is a fan of media might be happy that there’s a microSD card slot under the backplate, because internal storage only runs to 20MB. You have very old-fashioned limits on storage for specific data types – 500 SMS messages, 1000 phone book entries. These ought to be OK for many users, but it’s worth making a note of the limits.
There’s a 3.2-megapixel camera on the back of the chassis that isn’t supported by a flash. As you’d expect, camera shots aren’t great, and not good for much more than sharing via the phone’s screen.
Now, I do know that not everyone has bundles of cash to spend on a phone, and also that not everyone wants Android, its app store, and its other goodies. But increasingly handsets like the Samsung Tocco Lite 2 feel like bizarre throwbacks to a bygone age rather than phones that offer anything very useful.
Anyone seriously considering this handset because they don’t want or need fancy features would be well advised to look at phones that have no pretensions to be smartphones at all. You can buy old-fashioned candybar phones for under £20 on PAYG. Anyone hankering after a smartphone 'lite' experience would be better off trying to save up a bit more for the excellent Huawei Ascend G300 at £100.
The Samsung Tocco Lite II is a handset that sits between a rock and a hard place. Lacking enough features to truly be a smartphone, yet designed to look like one, it has aspirations beyond its capabilities. I can’t help thinking anyone considering this phone should spend considerably less or a bit more and give it a miss.
Manufacturer and Model
Samsung Tocco Lite II
3in, 320 x 240 pixels
102 x 58 x 11.58 mm