The Samsung Tocco Icon is the sequel to the popular Tocco Lite and offers smart phone functionality in a feature phone package. The lack of 3G is the phone's biggest failing, but it still manages to hit more targets than it misses.
The Tocco Icon is available on pay-as-you-go for around £90. You can also pick it up for around £100 SIM-free.
Thinks it's a smart phone
Although the Tocco Icon looks a lot like its forerunner the Tocco Lite, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Samsung had upped its game by pre-loading the device with Google's Android operating system.
The firm's TouchWiz UI -- which not only graces its Android-based Galaxy range but also its Bada line, too -- offers a slick smart phone experience. You can rearrange your home screen, connect to social networks, access email and even surf the web via Wi-Fi -- all activities you might normally consider to be the sole preserve of smart phones -- yet the Tocco Icon is a feature phone.
Samsung has a fondness for widgets and there are 14 available on the Tocco Icon. These can be laid out on your home screens in almost any manner you wish, and you can download others via Samsung's dedicated apps site.
Raising the bar
Elsewhere, we loved the pull-down notification bar. Granted, it's an idea stolen shamelessly from Android, but it's incredibly useful. Not only can you see what messages you've received, but you can also toggle settings such as Wi-Fi, silent mode and Bluetooth.
The Tocco Icon's built-in accelerometer allows you rotate the screen for various activities but it also permits other cool tricks. Samsung has taken a leaf out of HTC's book by including the ability to mute a call by turning the phone over -- a feature which is common in many HTC Sense UI handsets.
Almost every phone is offering some kind of social networking functionality, and the Tocco Icon is no exception. The built-in Twitter and Facebook apps work well enough, but they lack the complexity of their smart phone counterparts.
Another impressive aspect is hassle-free support for email. We hooked up our Gmail account in seconds, and you can link other services too. After struggling with the same kind of operation on other feature phones, this was quite a relief.
What makes all these elements even more remarkable is the fact that they’ve been shoehorned into a compact chassis. The Tocco Icon is incredibly light at just 94 grams, and won't cause your pocket to bulge like smart phone monsters such as the HTC Desire HD and Dell Venue Pro.
Naturally, such a small frame means there's less room for a massive touch-screen. The Tocco Icon boasts a 3-inch capacitive variant, which is surprising when you consider that there are more costly phones on the market that are lumbered with less accurate resistive screens.
Jack it in
Another notable improvement over the Tocco Lite is the inclusion of a standard 3.5mm audio jack, which allows you to plug in your own set of headphones to listen to music and whatnot.
This is most definitely a bonus, but sadly audio isn't entirely the phone's strong point. The main speaker resides on the rear of the handset and it's much too easy to accidentally muffle when the phone is in your pocket.
Another crushing disappointment is the lack of 3G connectivity -- an issue which also blighted the Tocco Lite. Thankfully, Samsung has at least seen fit to include Wi-Fi, which allows you to browse and download items when you're within distance of an open hot spot.
Being restricted to 2G and EDGE data connections may be a pain when you're trying to surf the web, but there's one positive to this situation: battery stamina is drastically improved.
On paper, the 1000mAh battery may sound a bit weedy, but it effortlessly out-lasts the higher capacity power cells found in proper smart phones. You can expect to get a good few days of use out of the Tocco Icon before you have to charge it up.
The distinction between smart phones and feature phones is usually quite clear, but the Tocco Icon certainly blurs the line somewhat. Samsung has been able to factor in a considerable number of smart phone hallmarks into this cheap device, including a slick and customisable UI, powerful email options and live widgets.
For the price, the Tocco Icon stands head and shoulders over fellow feature phones, but when placed alongside the new breed of sub-£100 Android handsets -- such as the Samsung Galaxy Fit and Mini -- it makes less sense.
You may wonder why you should settle for a smart phone impostor when you can have the real thing, but it would be unfair to totally dismiss this likeable handset. Like the Tocco Lite before it, the Icon could well provide younger mobile users with the experience they need before they graduate to a fully-fledged smartphone.
Edited by Jennifer Whitehead