MOBILE MAY: Reviewed: Nokia C7


23 May 2011

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A review of the Nokia C7 smartphone.

Overview

I must stress that for all the things I am about to say about the Nokia C7, it is not a bad smartphone, however consumers these days have a large choice in the smartphones they can purchase and with some tied to lengthy contracts they’d want to be very sure about the phone they want before signing on the dotted line.The core features one would expect of a smartphone are there and to its credit, the functionality on most features work very well. However, trying to stand against iOS and Android handsets in the smartphone market was always going to be difficult for a Symbian OS-based phone. The C7 runs the latest version of Symbian, Symbian^3. While this is a vast improvement on previous instalments, it just feels like it has taken two steps forward, but one step back. But that still represents progression of a kind, doesn’t it?

Look and feel

The C7 sports a 3.5-inch AMOLED screen, 8MP camera (the picture quality is amazing, to its credit and video capture quality is of the highest spec), GPS, 8GB internal storage and Bluetooth 3.0, all encased in a well-designed body. The phone features a metal backplate reminiscent of the older Nokia 6300 series and this is where the review starts to take shape for the C7. This phone feels like an introduction to the smartphone generation for any first-time smartphone buyers/long time Nokia users.

There are a few design flaws along with some good design choices but it reflects the “two steps forward, one step back” mantra pointed out above. I do like the fact you can insert/remove the sim card without having to take out the battery, something few phones feature. However, this has in turn meant that the SD card slot is buried beneath the battery instead.

Nokia has used the perimeter of the phone to full use. Buttons are competently placed, volume controls work well and the camera is intuitive to use from one-touch controls. The phone also has a 3.5mm headphone slot, which, thankfully most manufacturers are starting to standardise (the days of one, and only one! set of custom headphones are over, hopefully).

One thing that does perplex me, though, is the power source. In the days when a standard power supply for smartphones is being introduced, Nokia takes the worrying step including a Nokia thin-pin charger with the C7. You can charge the phone using the standard smartphone charger, so why continue to package the outdated one?!

Functionality

I’d normally include all of this in the “Look and feel” section but I overran on a few points and I still have so much more to rant about. I stress that this version of Symbian is a vast improvement on previous editions, but it is still a long way from being able to compete with Android and iOS. There is a distinct lag on the touchscreen of the phone. When swiping across it delays a tad too long before moving on.

The basic layout, too, leaves the user a bit forlorn with limited customisation. You can assign various applications to groups and sit them on your screen but with only three screen slides and six spaces for groups on each, the average app junkie will run out of space pretty fast. Having said that, it is really a tossup between which you will run out of first – space on the screen or patience with the process. Placing an app on the screen isn’t like the simple drag and drop process of other OSs, it takes far longer to do and just adds to the frustration.

Apps

Hand in hand with the Symbian OS comes the OVI applications and OVI store. The custom apps that come pre-installed with the phone are good, particularly the OVI Maps, which, and I’ll say this quietly, works better than the Google Maps I have tested on other OSs. The calendar is a decent feature and the music player has a quality sound lacking in some smartphones. Video editing is also a nice touch. One feature that does disappoint, however, is the built in FM player, with reception weaving in and out and sounding a bit schizophrenic, but I’m willing to gloss over that mark due to me using it mostly on the train.

The OVI store will provide the user with the majority of the apps they crave (Angry Birds works perfectly well!) and the catalogue of apps is growing every day. The lag on the phone’s touchscreen does impede some of the applications but it is not hugely noticeable.

Contacts list, social media, calls and texts

Normally on a smartphone this would be passed over, with such trivial things assumed to be standard at this stage with smartphones. The C7, however, continues to frustrate. The Contacts list is well laid out, which is a good start, but the phone does not comprehend some basic functions too well. Quite an embarrassing moment for me came when selecting a contact from the list and then pressing the dial button on the phone to ring them, held it to my ear for 30 seconds or so only to realise it hadn’t rang anyone. That’s right; there is no standard default response for some buttons in the most obvious situations for them!

You can add email addresses, Facebook profile pictures, Twitter accounts, company name, address, etc, to your contacts. I stress the word “can”. It is an option the user has, but unless you have an entire afternoon to spare this won’t be happening any time soon. It is not very intuitive, like the Omnia 7’s account synchronisation and the process just takes so long.

Texting is where I drew the line with the C7. I should stress this is probably something most people will like but I hated. I shall herein refer to this as the Marmite feature of the phone. The phone can switch between a full QWERTY touch keyboard and the old-school, 1-9, letters on numbers keypad (I have no idea what the official name is for that type of keypad, Twitter address below for complaints). This feature is a nice touch but it is a little bit of an in-between to work very well. The phone is a little too small to accommodate the QWERTY and the letters appear very small under the chunky thumbs I possess (no stylus included either) and the traditional keypad on a touchscreen is just plain wrong.

And a quick word on the social media applications (pre-existing Twitter and Facebook apps): Nice feature, but unimpressive execution.

Summary

I know it seems like I’ve just spent an entire review berating the C7 and while that is pretty much the case, I just can’t bring myself to give it a fully bad review. It is a neat little phone with some really good features, particular highlights being the camera and video recording. Unfortunately there are some bad features too, like the lag and unintuitive functionality. But I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to play with HTCs, Samsung and iPhones, so I’ve already set my preferences.

As I said above, the phone is reminiscent of the older Nokia 6300 series and this is where the target audience for the C7 will come from. If your preferences have not been corrupted by other smartphones, this would be the perfect progression from the last generation of mobile phones. And given that Nokia dominated that market for years in the early to mid 2000s, then there is a large market for this phone.

C7 Video Capture

C7 Video Capture 

The Nokia C7 is available on billpay from Vodafone and Meteor. Billpay and prepay from O2.

Official Nokia C7 specifications.

Adam Renardson

Comments: @Siliconrepublic @ARenardson

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