Aside from the fabulous name, which conjures up images of Mediterranean villages and fruit juice, the Samsung Monte is a slim touchscreen handset running Samsung’s proprietary TouchWiz OS. Social networking apps and widgets for most major sites are built in, while Google Latitude and Geo-tagging mean you can keep your friends posted on your movements at all times. The 3.0-inch WQVGA screen is a capacitive touchscreen so it should be very smooth to swipe and jab at. For photographers, the 3.2-megapixel camera has a number of handy functions like smile shot, face detection and panorama setting. Super-speedy HSDPA should see you browsing without tearing your hair out in frustration.
Sony Ericsson X10
Sony Ericsson’s had its first stab at Android with the X10. With such a deliciously large 4-inch screen, you’d expect the X10 to be a chunky, weighty brick of a handset, but it’s actually quite manageable (although no good to stow in a little clutch bag on a night out). The capacitative touchscreen is smooth and responsive, and the 8.1-megapixel camera does a great job. With Mediascape, a media player that brings your photos, music tracks and videos together in one easy-access app, and Timescape for social networking, keeping yourself entertained should be a breeze. Texting is a little bit on the tricky side, however, with an annoying predictive text function and other non-intuitive features that could really get on your nerves.
Nokia’s first handset to feature a capactiative touchscreen was the one we had high hopes for. Having done away with the restrictive resistive screen but kept Nokia’s no-nonsense user experience and chucking Comes With Music into the mix, we thought the X6 was going to be the Nokia handset to own. Unfortunately, we were disappointed. Although the 5-megapixel camera with flash and 3.5mm headphone jack were welcome additions, we just can’t get over the scrappiness of the handset. Cheap-feeling materials and seemingly poor build-quality are dealbreakers for us.
Now that the new breed of HTC Android super-handsets have made their way to centre stage (we’re talking Legend and Desire here, mainly), the much-loved Hero has been way-laid a little. It may have been 2009’s handset of choice, but it’s still a handset worthy of note in 2010. Running Android OS, it was the first handset to use HTC’s fabulous Sense user interface, blending seamlessly with the operating system and providing a wonderful user-experience all round. The signature HTC curve is evident in the design, and many users prefer the trackball to the optical trackpad which replaced it on the newer models. The 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen is brilliantly bright and the 5.0-megapixel camera is complete with autofocus, but no flash. As it’s on Android, you get access to the apps available on the Android Market.
BlackBerry Curve 8520
We’ve thrown the BlackBerry 8520 in as a bit of a wildcard – you might not have been considering going for a BlackBerry because they’re seen as business phones. But we really think they’re worth another look – the 8520 has a physical Qwerty keyboard which is perfect if you’re not keen on touchscreen typing. The handset has a 2.0-megapixel camera, and although it doesn’t have a flash it does allow for 5x digital zoom and video recording. BlackBerry handsets aren’t all work and no play anymore; there’s a full on media player on board for music and video playback, and the whole handset is customisable using BlackBerry themes and other apps from the BlackBerry App world. It’s a lower-cost version of the fabulous BlackBerry Bold 9700, and is just as great for email and instant messaging.