One gripe is that the widgets are rather on the large side and will quickly clutter up your home screens, even though few widgets display much information at a glance. Most require you to click through to access the widget's real functionality.
The Monte really delivers when it comes to its social-networking functionality. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Bebo (sadly soon to be closed) all have built-in widgets -- just drag them onto the home screen, sign into the relevant service and, from that point on, you're only a tap away from your various social-networking sites. We were really impressed with how these various widgets were implemented, although we found them to be rather memory-intensive, often causing the interface to become quite sluggish.
You can also browse the Web via the Dolfin 1.5 browser. It's nimble and fast enough for a quick blast through your favourite Web sites, but don't expect a huge amount of Web functionality.
Google Maps is also present, making use of the Monte's GPS capability to find your location. Social-networking fanatics can take their obsession one step further by geotagging photos, and updating their location on Google Latitude.
Browsing the Net, looking at maps and flitting between social-networking sites can all be done at a decent speed over 3G if you have signal, or via Wi-Fi if you're at home or near a hotspot.
Socket to me
The 3.5mm headphone socket, which sits atop the phone, is built into a sloping surface, which means any headphones with a slightly chunky jack housing probably won't fit. The proprietary in-ear headphones that Samsung bundles with the Monte do fit, thankfully, and they're surprisingly decent -- there's even a remote hidden in the cabling that will let you answer calls on the move and talk via a tiny microphone. The on-board music player is surprisingly capable and will let you organise your music and podcasts, or create and manage playlists.
The 3.2-megapixel camera features 'smile shot' and face-detection features. (Smile shot makes the camera wait until your subject is grinning before taking a photo.) The camera software is quick to load and speedy to capture shots, reducing the chances of you missing the moment. Similarly, it's quick to capture videos, even if the video quality, like the photo quality, is rather lacklustre.
The Monte's call quality is excellent, with voices coming through loud and clear. Expect the battery to last no more than a couple of days if you're taking advantage of the Monte's many features.
Samsung has managed to pack the Monte so full of useful tools and widgets that you probably won't miss the app stores found on higher-end devices. If you frequently use social-networking sites but don't fancy splashing out on a high-end smart phone, the Monte will serve you well. If you're looking for a phone with similar social-networking features and don't mind losing the touchscreen, check out the Sony Ericsson Elm.
Edited by Charles Kloet