By July 3, 2010

Samsung Monte (S5620) Review

Monte-main I have here one of Samsung’s newest entry level handsets, the Samsung S5620 Monte. The Monte is a decent looking handset offering a 3" capacitive touschscreen display and features Samsung’s tried and trusted TouchWiz interface.

The first thing that entered my mind when I saw this phone was ‘Will it be as good as it looks from the outside, on the inside?’ In my review I will try and answer as many queries as I can At tracyandmatt.co.uk we always welcome your questions or queries regarding handset reviews, so please don’t hesitate to ask questions!

 

 

What’s in the Box?

  • Samsung Monte handset
  • UK Mains Micro USB charger
  • In-Ear Style Headphone with microphone
  • Micro USB Sync/charge cable
  • User Guide
  • Samsung Kies (PC Software)
  • Warranty Information
  • Get More from your mobile leaflet

 

Don’t forget to check out Matt’s Monte unboxing video too!

 

Samsung S5620 Specification:

  • Battery: Talk Time: 9.6 hrs / Standby Time: 760hrs
  • Display: 240 x 400 pixels/3" Touch Sensitive(Capacitive) TFT
  • Camera: 3 mega-pixels (fixed-focus)
  • LED Flash
  • Touch Focus
  • Smile Shutter
  • Geo Tagging
  • Face Recognition
  • FM Radio (RDS)
  • FM Radio Record
  • Messaging: SMS / MMS (with video)
  • E-mail (POP3, IMAP4, Exchange, Emoze)
  • Memory: 200MB (internal) – microSDHC (memory card)
  • Connectivity: 2G: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz (Quad band) – 3G: 900/2100 (Dual-band) – Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g)
  • HSDPA (3.6Mbps)
  • Bluetooth (2.1)
  • microUSB
  • 3.5mm Audio Connector
  • Navigation: AGPS & Google Maps
  • Accelerometer

 

General

On top of the Monte is the 3.5mm headphone jack for either the provided headphones or other compatible ones and right next to that is the microUSB slot with a cover over it.

Monte-top

 

On the bottom of the handset there is nothing to speak of other than a small hole which is the speaker.

The left hand side of the handset has a up and down volume rocker and a little hole for users to put phone charms or lanyards in by removing the back cover.

Monte-left

 

On the right side of the phone is the MicroSD slot with a cover over it, the dedicated camera button and the phone lock/unlock button.

Monte-right

 

The back of the handset consists of the removable battery cover and the 3.2 megapixel camera and the Samsung logo. And at the bottom of the handset you will see that there is the loud speaker.

Monte-back

 

Finally on the front is where the 3″ capacitive touch screen is of course, also there are 3 buttons just below the screen and these are: the call button and the end call/exit button and in the middle of these 2 buttons is the back button. At the top of the device there is the earpiece and front facing VGA camera.

Monte-front 

Highlights

  • Capacitive Touch screen
  • Inclusion of Wi-Fi & 3G
  • Music Player

 

Lowlights

  • Messaging
  • Overall Interface a little basic
  • Build Quality
  • Internet Browsing

 

Monte-angled-left1

 

Review

The Samsung Monte is a handset that when it was first announced I was really looking forward to seeing, so I asked Matt if he would be receiving one and if I could review it and he said yes! So I was quite obviously ecstatic to get the handset through the post, and straight away opened it up and discovered a quite stunning looking handset which took me by surprise to be honest. I’ve used the handset for around a week and I’ve used it solidly in every possible way as my personal phone and my opinion hasn’t really changed much because it is still a stunning device but with using it a lot I have discovered both good and bad points like with any phone. So below I will try and explain these points in as much detail as possible.

First of all I will talk about the phone technology as this was what I used most of all during the week that I have had the phone. I am a texter rather than a person who enjoys to make voice calls but I did make sure I did both for this review. The texting is both good and bad which is overall quite disappointing to be honest. This is because when inputting text there isn’t any choice of keypad which I personally don’t think is good enough considering the specification of the handset. The type of keypad available is a standard numerical pad which is very responsive and makes texting a manageable experience but it doesn’t wow as much as if the handset had the choice of a QWERTY keyboard. So that is the bad part of texting and the good part is that even if the text being sent is a long one, with the type of screen that the handset has you will never be texting long enough to care a lot about the available input methods but it is just a little bit of an inconvenience and a disappointment.

Within the messaging part of the interface there is an email feature that allows the user to synchronise their email accounts. The types of accounts compatible are: POP3, an example of this could be Windows Live Hotmail, IMAP4, Exchange and Emoze, all of these are types of email server used by all of the various email providers. The overall experience of the email application was that of frustration, this was partly to do with the amount of time it took to receive just one email. In addition to this I will add the fact that users are able to sync their Google mail accounts in 2 ways and these are, by pressing the Google mail widget which forwards you to the Google mail log in page or via the email function. Neither of these ways worked particularly well at first but then eventually the emails flooded in while I was using the email function, so overall the email experience wasn’t brilliant.

Now for the voice calls on the handset, this is quite possible one of the most impressive things about the phone because it is literally faultless and providing that even 1 bar of signal is available the calling experience is fantastic. The main reason for this is because during a call there is almost no background noise or interference so I can honestly say that it’s really good.

This device actually makes me think that maybe it should have had a much more advanced operating system because the interface that it has now isn’t good enough to go along with the great specification, it is essentially the same interface as previous Samsung handsets such as the Samsung S5600 Blade/Preston, which yes was a good phone but wasn’t incredible and I’m afraid this phone is quite similar which isn’t a positive thing for the market because there are quite a few handsets at or around the same price that can offer a little more in the way of operating system and enjoyment. The device on the whole though is made a lot more enjoyable to use because of the touch screen, because it is capacitive it responds to touch quite quickly, not as fast as the likes of a HTC but it is quite fast overall which is quite good for the price you pay for one of these devices.

With the device comes the bundled PC software called Samsung Kies. When installed onto the PC the software allows the user to upload videos and photos to both YouTube and Flickr. It also allows the user to synchronise contacts, messages and mail. The interface of the software is not dissimilar to the Apple MAC desktop interface which strikes me as being a little copycat, however the software is very easy to use and I would imagine that anyone could get used to using it in time. The one disappointing thing about the software is the fact that it simply allows the user to do things that they can do on the phone itself so I’m not really sure what Samsung are trying to achieve with Kies.

Although the Monte looks great it does have some issues with its build quality. The reason that I mention this is because the material it’s made from is quite a lot like cheap plastic which doesn’t really make the handset any more desirable. Because it is created out of plastics the buttons do wiggle a little and feel a little flimsy to touch and to press. This to me is quite a disappointment because even though it is an entry level device consumers will expect much better quality build from Samsung, but the hardware makes the price quite reasonable overall.

Built into the device are lots of pretty cool features none more so than the 3.2 megapixel camera. This is a great addition because the quality looks to be a little higher than 3.2 megapixels but I am going to put that down to the manufacturer knowing their stuff, the features that are built into the camera make it ones that I have seen on entry level devices. The camera lacks an LED flash and zoom but makes up for it with its quite superb low level lighting shots. When a photo is taken in quite low lighting it still makes the picture look like it has been taken in the daylight which I personally found to be a massive positive for the phone not just the camera;. The sort of features built into the camera include: smile shot which means basically when someone smiles the camera automatically takes the picture, continuous shooting mode which takes 9 pictures with one press of the camera button and they all come out to the same quality as the very first one. Other shooting modes include panoramic and mosaic, now these in particular makes taking photos that little bit more fun because with the panoramic shooting mode it allows the user to take a picture of a whole room by lining up the camera picture when the button is pressed only once. The mosaic feature is really fun because it has different shapes to take 3 different pictures to put them into mosaic form. Overall the camera is really quite good and makes the whole handset experience that bit more enjoyable as it has some fun features. As well as the camera mode there is also a video recording mode which to be perfectly honest isn’t very good at all, because although the picture quality is just as good as when a photo is taken the sound quality is almost none existent, which makes the video recorder very disappointing and I would imagine a lot of people would agree with me on this point?

Along with the camera function there is an image editor application built into the device which allows the user to manipulate photos that they have taken with the built in camera. The types of things that can be done within the editor are make the lighting a little brighter or darker depending on what is required, the editor can either automatically change the brightness and contrast to what it believes to be what is required or the user can do it for themselves. Also the user can add little clip art pictures to their own pictures to spice them up a little. Overall the image editor is very basic but at the same time it does make taking pictures more fun because you can for example make a person have a clown face and various things like this.

The video playback for recorded videos is relatively good but not fantastic and I think that this comes down to the size of the screen, and because the device doesn’t always play the videos full screen even if they are the correct size for the device which struck me as being a little odd to say the least. The sound quality through both loud speaker and headphones is really very good which meant that for me personally the experience was quite good but not brilliant.

Now for the music player which is to be honest is the standout feature on the phone, not for its technicality but for the sheer quality of playback through the speaker and provided headphones. The player has a very basic user interface but is really simple to use and I would imagine lots of users would fully agree. The sound though could easily rival the other manufacturers like Sony Ericsson or Nokia. The sound quality may this good because of the provided headphones which are quite brilliant as there is a hint of noise cancellation built into them, or if there isn’t I will be quite surprised because when listening to music there is no outside noise whatsoever.

The built in FM Radio is nothing short of fantastic. The station finding feature works automatically and works well because it searches for all local stations within range and also stores them. Playback is also very crisp and clear as if you are in the radio station with the broadcasters. There is also a Radio recording feature that allows users to record live radio to store on the handset for a later time, the quality of the recordings doesn’t change compared to the live broadcast.

There are some applications installed on the S5620, some very good and useful but some are also quite poor and really shouldn’t be on the handset as they are. I will use a couple of examples of the good and the bad to give you an overall idea of what the handset has to offer and then a short list of the other main applications that are installed. The application that I believe to be the best out of them all is the BBC iPlayer. This is a very satisfying addition to the Monte because it allows you to both stream and download BBC programmes that are on catch up and the quality of the playback via picture and sound is actually really good. This as you can imagine surprised me quite a bit considering that the handset’s video playback generally is pretty poor but through this application it’s quite good and very rarely does the application stutter when watching a show. Another quite cool little application that the handset has is actually a group of 4 apps that are categorised as social networking. These are: MySpace, Facebook, Bebo and Twitter. Unfortunately I was unable to use all 4 of these applications as I don’t have an account on Bebo or MySpace but I did extensively use the facebook and twitter ones whilst connected to Wi-Fi, and they are really quite good because they are both very similar to the HTC and iPod touch/iPhone applications which I think are decent. The interface of both is that of simplicity but that’s a very good thing with social networking. Now I’ve spoken about the pretty good applications I will discuss the poor ones, first of all there is YouTube which I found to be almost disguised as an application because when pressed all it seems to do is go to the website via the web browser, and when videos are played I found that they didn’t play at full screen and were really poor. The picture quality isn’t good at all and the sound quality is hardly existent at all so the experience wasn’t enjoyable at all which was quite a disappointment for me as I tend to watch a lot of YouTube videos on my phone. The final application I want to talk about is the internet browser, which I used a lot during my time with the phone and have discovered that it is a really poor experience. The reason for this is that it isn’t a fast experience and even on Wi-Fi the browser was still pretty slow. Overall this is a really disappointing effort from Samsung as the phone deserves a better browser.

Monte-angled-left 

 

Conclusion

Here we arrive at the end of my review of the S5620 Monte, and although it has some bad points it has made quite an impression on me, so much so that I saw myself using it to text instead of my own phone. My overall opinion of the handset is mixed because of how good the good things are but also how poor the downsides are so what I will say for definite is that for the price which is roughly £110 – £130, I do think that as a consumer you get a lot for your money. I think personally that this handset is aimed at the younger population and I think this because of its looks and its basic user interface but most of all its affordable price tag.

 

Review by: Chris

[ Post Tags: Samsung Monte, TouchWiz, Samsung Mobile, tracyandmatt.co.uk ]

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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