Nokia C5-03 Review - Affordable 'green' smartphone

  Nokia C5-03
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It's been almost 3 years since Symbian S60 5th Edition, now known as Symbian^1, made its way onto the mobile phone market, but the platform hasn't changed too much in the meantime.

However, Nokia is still one the largest handset manufacturers in the world and its devices continue to sell very well, despite the fact that the company hasn't come up with anything completely innovative in the last few years.

While Symbian^1 remains the main mobile platform for Nokia's low- and mid-entry smartphones, Symbian^3 has been pushed forward by the Finnish manufacturer in an attempt to reduce the technological gap between itself and its rivals.

Nokia C5-03 seems to be placed on the 'red thin line' in this fight between giants such as Apple, Google, Motorola, Samsung and HTC.

Even though the device shows potential when it comes to hardware, it really is
the victim of a rather obsolete operating system, Symbian^1.

Announced in October 2010, Nokia C5-03 was launched on the market in December 2010 and can be bought for about 200 US dollars without a subscription. Potential customers can choose from four available color schemes: Graphite Black, Lime Green, Petrol Blue and Aluminum Grey.


Design

The first thing you notice about the C5-03 is the compactness of the device, as well as the minimalistic look. It is dubbed as an eco-friendly mobile phone, as 80% of the handset's body is recyclable. Nokia C5-03 is neither a music phone, nor a business device, but it can be used as both with some success.

However, Nokia made a few compromises when it designed the C5-03, as the phone lacks a dedicated camera shutter, LED flash and music keys. Still, you are left with a generous 3.2-inch touch screen, which seems larger because the bezel has been reduced to a minimum. The handset measures 105.8 x 51 x 13.8 mm and weighs 93g (battery included).


Above the screen is the usual earpiece, but there's no proximity sensor, which is one of the downsides of the phone. Below the display there's a long plastic stripe that includes the standard Accept/End calls buttons, as well as the Menu key.

The left side of the phone is totally barren, while on the right side there's a dual-volume key, as well as the lock/unlock key, which is now clickable button instead of a sliding one. The charger port has been moved to the bottom of the phone, while the 3.5mm audio jack and the microUSB ports have been placed at the top. None of them have plastic covers, so dirt might be a problem later on.


The back cover of the phone is made from a shiny plastic that looks stylish and expensive, but in fact is 100% recyclable. The 5-megapixel camera on the back lacks LED flash and autofocus. At the base of the back cover there's a small loudspeaker. The microSD card slot can be found as soon as the back cover is removed, on the right side of the phone.

Overall, Nokia C5-03 features a standard bar look with a solid and compact build that makes it more appealing than other mid-tier handsets. It's also eco-friendly, which should be a must these days.


Display and Camera

Nokia C5-03 features a 3.2-inch TFT resistive touchscreen that supports 16 million colors and a 360 x 640 pixels resolution. Not that it would have mattered too much, but there's no stylus in the sales package. Typing on this phone, even when using the virtual QWERTY keyboard, is nowhere near other input methods such as Swype, partly because we're talking about a resistive touch screen.


Furthermore, I have noticed even more bad things when the resistive touch screen is exposed to sunlight, which makes it almost unusable. The phone's viewing angles are also poor, which makes thing even worse. However, as long as you have a good viewing angle you will get a very nice and crisp image on the display, with good contrast and brightness. Even though the C5-03 features an accelerometer, the proximity sensor has been left out, which means the phone will be locked during calls.

Nokia C5-03 is definitely not a camera phone even though it comes with a relatively high number of megapixels. The 5-megapixel camera lacks a dedicated camera shutter key?, LED flash and autofocus, which is necessary when you want to take macro snapshots. In terms of quality, the camera fails to impress, but it's not the worst 5 megapixel camera out there either. Even with only the fixed focus, the C5-03's camera takes decent shots, especially when lighting conditions are good.


Obviously, there are no additional functions such as smile detection, face recognition or blink prevention. The interface of the camera is pretty standard and intuitive with settings such as White Balance and Effects that can be browsed through using the touchscreen.

The camera captures pictures with a maximum resolution of 2592x1944 pixels, while video clips can be recorded in QVGA at up to 15 fps.


As the usual camera shutter has been cut out users will have to rely on the “touch-n-shoot” button that appears on the screen.

The pictures look decent, but a little bit too noisy. Check out the samples below for a more accurate opinion about the quality of the camera.


Menu and Software

Nokia C5-03 runs Symbian^1, with the S60 5th Edition interface, the same as all other Symbian smartphones with a touch screen. Little to no improvements have been applied to the graphical interface, and the same goes for its functionality.


The phone features a single homescreen that can be customized to display either Contacts or Shortcut bars. The latter is limited to only four icons, which are fully customizable. Fortunately, kinetic scrolling has been added and works very well. “Clicking” near the battery icon, on the upper right corner of the homescreen will give you quick access to the clock, alarms, as well as to Connectivity settings.

To bring up the Main menu key, click the middle key under the screen. Choose Options/Organise, to rearrange the menu as you see fit.


Under the Application menu there are a few useful apps, which are not categorized in any way: clock, Search, camera, Location, along with RealPlayer and Video centre. There's also a folder dubbed Office, where you can find a File manager, Dictionary, Notes, Quickoffice, Calculator, Recorder and Complex converter.

All 3rd-party software installed can be found in the Installed applications folder. Social networking applications are all grouped in the folder with the same name: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and YouTube.


Other applications that come pre-loaded with Nokia C5-03 include: complex calendar, Amazon, Lonely Planet guide. Under the Music sub-menu you'll find a few media-dedicated apps, such as: music player, Radio with RDS support, Podcasting, Ovi Music and Shazam.

Overall, the interface is not as snappy as I expected, especially since the phone embeds a powerful CPU. On the other hand, users who've owned a Symbian smartphone before will feel at home with the C5-03, as the interface is pretty straightforward.

Communication

Nokia C5-03 is a quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900) handset that features GPRS and EDGE class 32, as well as the much faster HSDPA 900 / 1900 / 2100. In addition, the smartphone supports Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g connectivity for lowering data usage costs.


The integrated WebKit browser has been improved a lot since Nokia 5800, the first smartphone with a touchscreen to run on the Symbian^1 platform, but it's still miles away compared to iOS and Android browsers. Still, you get full Java and Flash support working nicely, auto fill-in, RSS reader, download manager, password manager, pop-up blocker, 5 different sizes for fonts.


With the Connection settings shortcut on the Homescreen, accessing connectivity options (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth) is very easy, even though you will have to click twice to get where you need. Other connectivity tools include Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP and EDR support, and microUSB for PC synchronization (no charging).

One of the strong points of the device is the GPS receiver with A-GPS support and free lifetime voice-guided navigation, as well as the free city guides and traffic information offered by the Lonely Planet application.


In terms of messaging, the phone offers a complete solution, accepting all available message types. The message client works with the POP3, SMTP, and IMAP4 protocols, and supports more than one email account. Furthermore, it can download headers or full email, and supports attachments.


The quadband (GSM 850 / GSM 900 / GSM 1800 / GSM 1900) network-compatible bar handset has a mediocre GSM signal reception, but the sound is very good at both ends.

Processor and Memory

Nokia C5-03 is powered by an ARM11 family processor running at speeds of up to 600 Mhz, which is more powerful than those usually included with Nokia's mid-entry smartphones. The device works pretty smoothly, but I have noticed some lag when using other applications while the browser is open.


It embeds 40MB internal memory, 128MB RAM, as well as a microSD card slot for memory expansion up to 16GB. In addition, the smartphone comes with a 2GB microSD memory card in the sales package.

As mentioned before, the external memory card slot can be found under the battery cover, on the right side, which means that it's hot-swappable.


Multimedia

The bar smartphone features the same standard looking music player embedded in any other Nokia touch screen smartphone, as the manufacturer didn't bother to add anything yet except a few cosmetic changes. The only extra feature added is the equalizer with five pre-installed modes: Bass booster, Classical, Jazz, Pop and Rock.


The device features Radio FM, but lacks the RDS support and FM transmitter. Reception is pretty good, while sound quality is above average. Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support enables you to listen to music wirelessly.


The 3.5mm jack port is a good addition, as it allows users to change the earphones that are coming with the phone (WH-102). The included video player lacks DivX and XviD codecs, so you'll need to find yourself a third-party application to play these movie files.

Speaking of quality, music sounds decently in all aspects on sNokia's C5-03, including the loudspeaker.


Battery

The 1,000 mAh Li-Ion (BL-4U) battery has an officially stated life expectancy of 600 hours for standby mode and 11 hours and 30 minutes for talk time mode. The manufacturer also claims a playback autonomy of almost 35 hours.

In one week of full use I only need to charge the phone twice. Overall, I would say the phone has a decent battery, but keep in mind that it might be drained faster when some of the best features of the phone are turned on (Wi-Fi, 3G).


Impressions

Nokia C5-03 is just another mid-entry Symbian smartphone that might have been successful if other phones in the same price range wouldn't have been available such as: LG Optimus One, Huawei Ideos or even Samsung mini. However, for Symbian nostalgics who do not care about other mobile platforms, this might be the perfect answer in the affordable price range.


The Good

In addition to the fact that the phone is eco-friendly and 80% recyclable, Nokia C5-03 offers great value for money. For $200 you get Wi-Fi connectivity, HSDPA and HSUPA technology, as well as good music features and GPS with free lifetime voice-guided navigation, all powered by a decent 600 Mhz CPU.

The Bad

I guess a little bit more attention to camera features would have been great. Also, the display is a bit of a disappointment because of the inability to use the phone in strong sunlight. The phone lacks a document editor, proximity and ambient light sensors, as well as DivX and Xvid support.

Sales Package

Nokia C5-03 handset
Nokia Battery BL-4U
Nokia Travel Charger AC-8 / AC-15
Nokia Stereo Headset WH-102
Nokia Connectivity Cable CA-101D
Nokia 2 GB microSD Card MU-37
User guide
Service Leaflet

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20 Comments

By    4 Feb 2011, 21:01 GMT