The all new Samsung Monte S5620 just arrived at our office and I would admit that I wasn’t expecting too much from this as its just another Corby / Star like phone from Samsung. We have already seen the Corby, Corby Pro / Plus, Star, Start 3G, Start Superb and others in this series by Samsung, however the Monte sheds the Corby or Star brand and brings a much more smartphone looking design. The price point and target market remains the same as the Corby or Star series. However the Monte managed to impress us more than any of the Corby series lately.
- UMTS dual-band European/Asian 3G
- EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA 3.6 Mbit/s
- 3.0″ touchscreen / 262k colours
- 320X420 resolution
- MircoUSB slot
- Bluetooth AD2P, WiFi
- 3.2 MP camera
- Wt: 92 gms!
In the box:
- Battery (1000 mAh)
- Power charger
- soft cover
- Manual, CDs
- 2GB microSD / with SD adapter
As mentioned before the Monte S5620 is a much more mature looking phone compared to the Corby or the Star (leave apart the Star Superb) and the design is pretty neat. Slim enough to handle, pocket-able, rounded back and a relatively flat front (weighs just 92 gms). The front houses the video calling camera and the Call / End button apart from a middle button that lets you navigate backwards. There is a dedicated lock screen button on the right side along with the camera button and microSD slot. The left side has the volume controls. The body is totally plastic, but the buttons are large enough, crisp and usable. On the top you have the micro USB port and audio jack. The mic is placed on the front itself (just below the call / end / middle buttons).
Monte S5620 is by far the most impressive device I have handled in this series. Double tap to zoom images, flawless accelerometer (while viewing images, no landscape QWERTY though) and a rich set of features giving a really high value for money. How many full touchscreens with a WiFi, 3G, FM and A-GPS (Google Maps / Latitude) at Rs 8800 ($200)?
The phone has almost all the standard features that you want and also features a front camera for 3G video calls (though that’s something you won’t use at-least in India for sometime now). The large enough 3.0″ touchscreen is good real estate for media consumption and the default apps / widgets are nice enough. You have a converter app, YouTube, Maps, Dictionary, Image editor, Gmail (mobile version not the app you are used to on Symbian), Facebook and more. Monte features the same old TouchWiz UI of Samsung, but this time the touchscreen works just magically perfect. The widget on the homescreen are now placed on the bottom (horizontally) and is much more accessible.
The phone might not be super fast in navigation but the irritating nature of the touchscreen malfucntions (accidental clicks etc) isn’t a problem anymore. The capacitive touchsceen here brings a lot of joy ( I was realy with a key to test the display to show its resistive and then realized with a surprise that its not). However the weakness of Samsung’s OS can be seen with no full screen QWERTY accommodated on the 3″ display. At-least a landscape typing should have been enabled, but then this ain’t a smartphone that, rather something that would feel comfortable for first time touchscreen users to use. The T9 / keypad works fine for typing (the www. and .com shortcuts are good for surfing). The web browser is basic and gets the work done (double tap to zoom works here aswell). YouTube.com works by loading videos on a YouTube player (the browser has limited Flash support) however other video sites fail to work properly. I got audio from dekhona.com but video didn’t playback properly (btw you can surf web in landscape mode as-well).
The media support is decent with audio playback in MP3, AAC, AAC+, WMA fomats and video in MPEG4, H.263, H.264. The addition of a 3.5mm audio jack is pleasant. The bundled headset along with the device is pretty neat and sound quality is good. You can record songs from FM . And our Sony Ericsson MW600 worked perfectly over bluetooth giving stereo output.
The 3.2 MP camera lacks flash or autofocus but a decent entry level camera. Overall the media features aren’t great but good enough to have (I quite like the loudness of the inbuilt speakers). Here are a few test photos:
We also have a test video shot from the Samsung Monte on youtube.
While there is no doubt that Samsung Corby, Star or even the Monte are far from being a smartphone, a simple test that would convince you further is ‘trying to connect the facebook app over WiFi without inserting a SIM’. With all the features and refined touchscreen, the Monte still remains a cheap touchscreen phone that does better than the rest we have seen so far. We say go for it if you like the looks and features, but if you need apps and a smarter phone – go for the Nokia 5000 series selling under 10k!
Best buying price: Rs 8800 (Mumbai)
Its not the first time that Samsung has made me feel that they can deliver good hardware, the only thing missing is a smart OS! Once that gap is filled, the no 2 cellphone maker in the world can very well look to dominate at the no 1 position.