The first thing the Samsung Monte deserves kudos for is the signal strength. We were getting 3G signals in areas where other phones dropped to Edge. In problem areas, the Monte was just about always able to find some signal.

Not only can the phone find signal, but the connection was always impressively fast. At one point we'd slipped from Wi-Fi to 3G (more on that later) and didn't even notice.

Samsung monte

Naysayers might argue that the Dolfin browser renders pages slowly enough that the internet speed makes no odds, but we'll give the Monte the benefit of the doubt here.

Calls come through very loud and strong. The clarity wasn't the best we've ever heard, but was in no way bad.

The speaker seemed to be struggling with a small amount of distortion at higher volumes, but just having such a loud earspeaker when in a busy city is a major boon.

The phonebook and keypad can both be accessed straight from the home screen.

Samsung monte

The contacts list has a handy scrollbar on the right-hand side, and as you drag it down it displays which letter you're currently in. It's actually one of the easiest ways to go through large contact lists we've seen on just about any phone – including smartphones.

Contacts can be called without going into their profile by tapping a green 'phone' icon next to their name.

Go into the profile and all the usual suspects are there. Add the name, maybe choose a picture, assign various numbers to their respective fields, and so on.

Samsung monte

Despite Samsung making a point about the social features on this phone, there's no integration between the contacts and Facebook or Twitter (or any of the others), like the way HTC's Friend Stream does on the Legend and Desire.

Looking at a contact, each number will have a small icon by it, which brings up a menu when pressed giving you the option to voice call, video call or message the contact.

It's all well-integrated and sensible, but for a socially-focused phone it could do more.