Shiny, solid and well-built, the Monte Slider is no slouch in the looks department
Basic tasks are easily performed but more sophisticated ones lack intuitive menus
Actually, more than it needs, with Facebook, web browsing and more that it can't really handle
Fine for calling and texting but struggles beyond that
Acceptable rather than outstanding but since you'll mostly use it just for calls and texts, it shouldn't put you off
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 4:00:01 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Neat looks, easy to use, compact
No Wi-Fi or even 3G. Small screen and slow connections make social networking unpleasant
Samsung has always had a gift for competitively priced phones and the company was one of the pioneers of the slide phone. So the Monte Slider should be a winner, right?
Well, it's certainly got lots going for it. It's very cheap, well-built and small enough to snuggle away in a pocket or bag unnoticed. Sure, the glossy finish looks a bit plasticky and the slide mechanism isn't as smooth as some Samsung blowers, but hey, look at the price!As well as being small, the Monte Slider is light, too. And the keyboard is big with easy-to-use keys. The front of the phone has the usual cluster of Samsung keys - direction pad, Send, End and two keys whose purposes change according to context. And the rest of the phone is pleasingly simple, with no extra buttons or garish effects. The only downside to the styling really is the big writing on the back that heralds the camera's resolution, and since this is a piddly 1.3 megapixels, you'd have thought this might be something to keep quiet about. For all that, the picture quality wasn't as terrible as you'd imagine, though of course the lack of flash rules out lowlight situations.
Beyond the camera though, the Monte Slider is a little unsure about its identity. It's certainly a skilled basic phone - call quality is good and texting easy. True, the screen is noticeably more low-resolution than many current handsets, which does make the phone look a little cheap. But that's not the problem. The home screen, despite its basic resolution, is usable and includes a strip of program shortcuts. These include Google, Internet and Music Player. MySpace, Facebook, Flickr and more (though not Twitter, please note).The music player is basic and unexciting, and the tiny built-in memory means you can't play more than a track or two without running out of space, so a microSD card is essential. And don't even think about attaching your favourite headphones - the Samsung charging socket is where the supplied cans fit and that's a dedicated connection (it's not even microUSB).
But the other elements are more seriously hobbled because there's no Wi-Fi on the phone, or even 3G. So every connection you can make is seriously slow. Unless you've never used a smartphone, you may find the delays intolerable.This is the Monte Slider's dilemma: does it want to be a small, effective and highly affordable basic phone or could it appeal to the social networking crowd? After all, there are plenty of phones which have benefited from adding some social elements - INQ has had a particular success in this area. But those phones have all had decent data transfer speeds so you're not left waiting for the latest status update, especially if it includes images. Even logging in proved challenging, with several connection timeouts before successfully reaching the site. And navigation was painful: a creaking scroll down a narrow page is not a great way to interact with Facebook.It's not a great experience and the handset shines when it comes to simpler tasks. There's Bluetooth on board - unlike on many handsets this price - and an FM radio, though again you need the supplied headphones for this.
The Monte Slider is a good basic phone that wants to be taken seriously as something more than it is. Where this works is in the inclusion of Bluetooth and an FM radio, but more advanced features feel like the phone's overreaching itself. The camera is not sophisticated, though not as bad as the pixel count would suggest, and the music player, though needing a microSD card to be in any way useful, is acceptable. The lack of Wi-Fi, 3G or even a headphone jack ultimately limit the phone's appeal. But it's very well-priced.