Pros: We were really impressed with the phone's mapping offering, which was speedy and very accurate
Cons: Web browsing is marred by the omission of both zooming and autofit, which means you'll be doing a lot of scrolling
Verdict: Thanks to Nokia's decision to move back to the Symbian series 60, and the phone's unreliable touchscreen, buyers looking for an entry-level smartphone may well be tempted to look elsewhere
There's a lot of competition in the ‘affordable' smartphone sector now, probably even more so than in the top-end of the market. Each handset manufacturer is now trying to offer the public the best possible phone, both in terms of feature set and hardware quality, so consumers are onto a winner. Orange has recently raised the bar with the introduction of its San Francisco handset, which proves just how superior a reasonably priced phone can be. So, this is the market into which Nokia has introduced its latest ‘affordable' handset, the Nokia C5-03.
First of all, don't confuse the C5-03 with the original C5, which was launched last year and which boasted a more traditional design with a 3x4 keyboard. The C5-03 comes with a touch-screen. Just beware that Nokia now seems to be calling this new release the C5, so try not to get the two muddled up.
Using less-solid materials is one way in which manufacturers keep down the price of a phone, and Nokia has done just this with the C5-03, which is, in the main, made from plastic. While this does make it lightweight, we'd fear for its safety if it were dropped from any height. We also found it hard to prise off the back cover, which has to be done quite often if you're hot-swapping memory cards. We found we had to ease our fingernails under the chassis and we weren't impressed with the way the cover bent while we were doing this - it felt like it could snap at any minute.
Size-wise, the C5-03 is certainly friendly on the pocket. As well as being lightweight, because it is so slim you should be able to slide it into the pocket of a tight pair of jeans. And yet Nokia has still managed to squeeze in a decent sized 3.2in display - to get a decent amount of content on it, we recommend turning it into landscape viewing mode, especially if you're inputting text. Because the screen is so narrow, Nokia has chosen a 3x4 keyboard along with a T9 predictive text method to speed things along. Put the accelerometer into use, however and you'll be rewarded with a virtual QWERTY keyboard in horizontal mode. Its reasonably responsive, but we found some of the keys were oddly positioned - the enter or confirm key, for instance, is not in the bottom-right corner as you'd expect, but in the top--left corner.
Over the past few months, we've been less than impressed with the Symbian OS - which is rather outdated - thanks to the progress made by the Android OS. However, when the new Symbian ˆ3 appeared on the Nokia N8, we thought there may be some hope for the Symbian operating system. Which is why it's such a disappointment to find that on the C5-03, Nokia has chosen to go backwards and load on the Symbian Series 60, which suffers from a serious lack of customisation opportunities. Both Windows Phone 7 and Android allow the user to tart up their home screens, adding widget and links. With the Symbian Series 60 only providing one home screen, customisation is severely limited. However, you can choose which four shortcuts you'd like to display at the bottom of the screen, as well as change the order in which features are displayed in the menu, and add in your most-dialled contacts.
Sure, it is possible to change wallpapers and themes, but it doesn't really allow the user to make the C5-03 truly their own. And we have another gripe with Symbian Series 60 - you can't exit a program just by pressing a home key, you have to physically exit out of it, which means you can end up with a number of programs running in the background and having a detrimental effect on your power usage.
Despite the fact that the Nokia C5-03 has the benefits of Wi-Fi, HSUPSA and HSDPA, browsing the internet was not an enjoyable experience. It's not that it lacks speed, but that it lacks a number of useful tools. For instance, there is no zoom facility, instead you have to double-tap on the display - and you can only do this once. Nor is there any auto-fit on offer, so whether you hold the handset in landscape or portrait mode, you'll find there's a limited amount of content to be viewed on the screen. Another problem was that a lot of the website images could not be displayed. We were prepared to be lenient, because of the budget price tag, but you can't ignore these issues.
However, there is a bonus in the shape of the sat-nav offering. Nokia is well known for its high-quality mapping services and thankfully the C5-03 has not missed out on this. Drivers will find the display too small, for anyone on foot, being able to follow accurate voice directions is a bonus that even some of the pricer smartphones fail to offer. But we were most impressed with the highly accurate and speedy GPS fix. Not only will you see the road you are heading along shown at the top of the screen, it will even show you the number of the building you're walking past. Sheer perfection.
Nokia handsets are also well known for the quality of their snappers, and the C5-03 has a five-megapixel camera on offer. It's just a shame there's no dedicated camera key. Instead, you have to access the camera via the menu, and to take a photo you have to tap the display - not great when it is so unreliable. Nokia has chosen not to include a flash, and also takes up about a third of the screen with the snapper's settings option. We would have been happier to see the icons floating at the bottom of the display.
As we said at the start, handset manufactures have been cutting corners to bring low-price smartphones to market, but what the C5-03 fails to do is offer the ease of use expected from a low-cost phone. This is mostly because of the inclusion of the user-unfriendly Symbian Series 60 OS and that unreliable touch-screen. We were disappointed in the web browsing experience, and while the snapper is reasonable, the phone's sole standout offering its mapping. While there are plenty of entry-level handsets featuring the more user-friendly Android, as well as comparable feature-sets, we suspect that the Nokia C5-03 will find it hard to compete with the likes of the Orange San Francisco.
|Type of phone:||Smartphone|
|Display:||16 million colours|
|Music formats played:||WMA, eAAC+, MP3|
|3.5mm jack port:||No|
|Call records:||Detailed, max 30 days|
|Standard color:||Graphite Black, Lime Green, Petrol Blue, Aluminum Grey|
|Operating system:||Symbian Series 60|
|Connectivity:||Bluetooth, MicroUSB, A2DP, Wi-Fi|
|Announced date:||December 2010|
|What's in the Box:||N/A|
|International launch date:||December 2010|
|Battery life when playing multimedia:||N/A|
|CPU:||600 MHz ARM 11 processor|
|FM Radio Description:||Stereo FM radio|
|Memory Card Slot:||microSD|
|Messaging:||Email, IM, SMS, MMS|
|Internet Browser:||XHTML, RSS, HTML, WAP 2.0|
|E-mail client:||Push email|
|Games:||Yes, and Java downloadable|
|Display size:||3.2 inches|
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