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Updated: Orange Monte Carlo (ZTE Skate)

September 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Update: My review of the Monte Carlo for Wired is also now live and can be found here.

 

The Orange San Francisco was the smartphone bargain of the year… until now.

Orange Monte Carlo (ZTE Skate)

Value is a hotly debated topic in the TrustedReviews offices. A high price can deflate our enthusiasm for an exceptional product while a low price can get us excited about something decided average (look no further than the HP TouchPad firesale). So when a good product comes along at a startlingly low price our interest skyrockets.
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The product in question is the Orange Monte Carlo (aka the ZTE Skate), an Android smartphone we first saw in February at Mobile World Congress and was confirmed for an Orange rebrand back in July. The specifications are what we would expect of a high-end Android handset: 4.3in touchscreen, HSDPA, WiFi, GPS and Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Far less expected however is the asking price: just £149.99 on pre-pay. Is it too good to be true? In part, yes.
6f812b%7C1422 1 Updated: Orange Monte Carlo (ZTE Skate)
Out of the (admittedly cheap) box, what immediately strikes us about the Monte Carlo is its construction. At 125.9 x 67.8 x 10.4mm it feels large in hand, but tipping the scales at a mere 120g it is remarkably lightweight. The upside is, despite its large footprint, the Monte Carlo isn’t a pocket-ripper. The downside is the weight is a result of the cheap plastics used in construction. This is the first sign of cost cutting with the Monte Carlo and means it doesn’t have the tactility of an HTC Desire S or Samsung Galaxy S2. That said our Monte Carlo sample didn’t creak or bend and its home, menu and back buttons beneath the screen feel durable.
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As for the screen itself, this follows a similar pattern of cost cutting but to no great loss. The panel isn’t AMOLED or IPS, but it packs in a respectable 480 x 800 pixels, colours still look bright, text is sharp and the touchscreen is responsive. Less responsive is the performance of the Monte Carlo itself. CONTINUE READING

 

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