Orange Monte Carlo review
Cheap in both its feel and performance, with poor battery life, too, but it offers a 4.3in screen on a very low budget
Review Date: 12 Sep 2011
Reviewed By: Mike Jennings
Price when reviewed: Free, on a £15.00 per month, 24 months contract.
Features & Design
Value for Money
Following on from the San Francisco, which proved a popular budget handset on its release late last year, Orange has another rebadged Android phone on offer. This one’s called the Monte Carlo (also known as the ZTE Slate), but don’t be fooled – there’s little of the luxury that name might suggest.
For starters, it’s built entirely out of plastic, and it’s noticeably flimsier than anything you’ll find bearing an HTC or Sony Ericsson logo. A fair press with a finger sees the rear panel bending and the sides creaking. Below the screen sit three buttons rather than the usual four – the search function has been omitted – and they’re not touch buttons, rather physical keys that feel rattly.
More pleasingly, the Monte Carlo is one of the lighter phones we’ve tested at 120g, and its dimensions mean it feels good in the hand. It packs in a 4.3in screen, but despite that it doesn’t feel too big and bulky.
It’s a 480 x 800 TFT screen – the budget obviously doesn’t stretch to IPS or AMOLED – but detail is still sharp throughout. Colours won’t trouble the premium smartphones for punch and vibrancy, but they’re okay, and text is legible and clear.
The built-in camera also packs plenty of detail and sharpness, but colours aren’t so good. Shots taken in daylight appeared shallow and washed out; those taken indoors came out quite dark and off-colour. There’s a dearth of settings, too, with few of the macro modes or specialist settings that you’ll find on higher-end handsets.
You expect a few weak points in such a cheap phone, but it’s on the inside that the budget really tells. A processor based on the ARMv6 instruction set – the one that preceded the Snapdragon line used in most premium smartphones – and 512MB of RAM powers the Monte Carlo. It’s single core, it lacks Flash support, and we weren’t able to discern its true speed: while several system specification apps reported it running at 600MHz, ZTE is adamant it’s an 800MHz chip.
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