Orange monte carlo

The Orange Monte Carlo left us with a fair bit to whinge about, but in reality you are paying £150 for it, and at that price you have to expect some compromises.

It doesn't wow us the way the San Francisco did, but to be frank it is a good value Android smartphone nonetheless, and measures up well against competition at the same price. Our main major gripe is the lack of Flash.

We liked

The screen is large and responsive, and it's great for viewing video and reading web pages – much more than we'd expect for the money.

The MediaShare app is nicely implemented and easy to use, making streaming content from your main computer or server really easy – connection might be a bit confusing for the uninitiated, but it's simple enough to navigate through.

The 800MHz processor pumps along quite speedily. We didn't feel held up by it at all – you might be paying a lot less than you might for a dual core phone, but the performance belies the price tag.

We disliked

The screen is almost unreadable in bright sunny conditions outside, although it is readable on duller days – perhaps this is where Orange has saved the most money, but be ready for it and keep it up at full brightness before you venture through the door.

The microSD card can only be swapped out if you remove the battery first, which makes hot swapping media difficult. However, it's unlikely many PAYG users will frequently use this function, so it might not be a really big deal. There's no support for Flash though... it's a gripe as we're fans of it on phones that seem equally as powerful.

The camera is disappointing, particularly in video mode, which is stuck at VGA resolution – another area of cost saving we guess, and the frame rate is smooth enough to be more than acceptable.

Orange goes overboard with its apps and widgets, and for the most part we'd rather they weren't included. Sadly the included storage is simply abysmal... we wager most people will run out of app space in the first month or two, so a decent microSD purchase is a must.

Verdict

It's a shame that the Orange Monte Carlo isn't the great 'wow' handset that the Orange San Francisco was, but it isn't a bad phone for all that. At the price we think it is a good buy.

But the San Francisco is now £75, and remains a very tempting purchase if funds are tight.

There are some technical specs that we find strange – low memory for apps being a big one – and some that make sense (the screen is poor, but savings have to be made).

For an early entry into the world of the larger-screened smartphones, this is definitely worth a look.