According to Samsung, the Monte is a high-end handset at an affordable price. You can pick it up for around £120 on pay-as-you-go and on monthly contracts starting at £10/month. Read our review to find out if the Monte is a budget beauty or wireless wannabe.
What we like
The Monte’s touchscreen interface offers three customisable homepages that you can drop various widgets into. It’s not as slick as Android but it’s not bad. The Bebo, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter widgets, for example, let you update your status and view your friends statuses – albeit one at the time.
We were pleasantly surprised to see that you could watch iPlayer content on the Monte, which streamed well over Wi-Fi. Other interesting web-service additions include Palringo IM, which lets you chat to friends using Google Chat and Yahoo messenger, and Microsoft Exchange support.
As long as you’re not expecting great things, the Monte’s media offerings are pretty decent. The music player and FM radio are basic but usable and there’s 3.5mm headphone jack so you can use your own headphones. Music sounded ok but again don’t expect great things.
In daylight the Monte’s camera produced acceptable photos for Facebook and there’s a fun photo editing tool. We took a picture of some flowers, turned the picture green, warped it and then added some text – it’s not art but at least you won’t just send out boring photos.
When you consider how much the Monte is it’s impressive that it boasts all the above and GPS. Google Maps worked well alongside the Monte’s GPS and helped us navigate around town. You can view maps in satellite mode should you want to see what the top of your house looks like.
What we don’t like
It might have just been our review model but the Monte felt slow and unresponsive at times. There’s nothing more frustrating than a touchscreen phone with a laggy interface. The touchscreen itself worked well but it’s let down by the Monte’s software.
Software issues aside – even if it did work perfectly – inputting text on the Monte’s touchscreen was infuriating due to the 12-key layout, especially in the browser. You have to tap out every word and URL using a standard keypad layout instead of a Qwerty keypad. Why Samsung? Why?
There’s something sad about a touchscreen phone that doesn’t offer a good browsing experience. The Monte’s browser is better than most, offering the ability to see full web pages and stream certain video clips, but it regularly told us it had run out of memory.
In fact, most of the Monte’s web offerings, including email, were fiddly to use or set up. We tried to log in to various services with varying degrees of success. It’s great that Samsung included so many features but ease-of-use shouldn’t be ignored.
Not everyone wants, or can afford, a high-end touchscreen phone, so we can appreciate what Samsung was trying to do with the Monte. The Monte isn’t terrible it just isn’t fantastic either and we guess that’s the point. If you want a fantastic phone then you should pay more but if you’re on a budget then you could do worse.