Nokia C3-01, according to Nokia, is a product designed as per demands of users, who wanted the functionality of touch as well as physical keys. And that’s what the phone features, a 2.4 inch resistive touch screen along with a multitap keypad.
The phone looks very similar to what Nokia has been offering over the ages, a typical bar phone with metal back and nice build quality. Another similarity is the long batter life it offers.
Build Quality and buttons
The keypad has a nice feel to it with sufficient feedback and big size. The touch screen’s response is also commendable, despite it being a resistive type. The back panel is a metal piece, while the rest of the body is crafted out of plastic and carries a metallic paint job. The phone is comfortable to hold and is lightweight. So it gets full marks for the physical appearance and finish.
While it is a good idea to have both physical keys and a touch screen, it doesn’t feel well integrated for the beginners as you continue to search for direction keys but its just a matter of time before you get used to.
What is lacking, however, is a full Qwerty keypad, which has become a norm these days. Also, despite having a touch screen, there is no option even in the touch panel.
Another problem is the lock key, which is placed on the right hand side of the phone. The placement is not an issue, it is the fact that you can’t feel the button, so you have to look if the phone has locked or not.
That’s not the case with the camera key or the volume rocker, which are placed on the right side and is protruding out so you can feel it.
Camera and Music
The 5 megapixel camera of Nokia C3-01, is an average performer. The shots taken with it lacks the amount of details that you expect from such a camera; however, colours are reproduced well. The single LED flash is a good addition and helps in low light condition, but is insufficient if your subject is placed more than four feet distance. This LED also doubles up as a torch, which can be switched on and off by pressing the * key for long.
The FM reception is good and the music player supports all the major music formats. Though clear, the speaker of the phone is not loud, something which some might not like. Even the supplied ear phone is not loud enough and in noisy situations it becomes difficult to hear (even calls).
There is a 3.5 mm jack, so you can attach any headphone.
The phone is fully featured on this front with HSPA (3G+), which supports up to 10.2 Mbps speed, WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1, and the USB cable for wired connection.
But there is a problem here: C3-01 has a very ambiguous options list for connecting to the mobile internet network. So, if your service provider has two options, you will not be able to know which is what.
For instance, in Airtel you have Airtel Live and Mobile Office options, which are mentioned in the phone’s list as AIRTEL and airtel. This creates further confusion.
In my case, where I prefer mobile office as I have a pack for it, it was a guesswork. A WiFi setting is easy though.
The phone is based on Symbian S40 version, which is kind of strange as S60 is already available. This OS has been tweaked to support touch and type. As I mentioned earlier, you will initially be searching for the direction keys or trackpad but then once you get a hang of it, you will find it easier to touch things to open it.
A single home screen is customisable to rectangular widgets, so you can have four applications sitting in the home screen, but then there are issues with it. For instance, there is no option to display the latest emails on the widget, it simply says ‘mail 1 account’, no notification of how many new mails or anything.
Facebook widget displays the latest update but it too does not displays the updates.
There is also no way to select several SMSes to delete them at once, you can either delete all in the folder or delete one by one, making it a very cumbersome process.
Similarly, when you search for a contact to dial it, it takes atleast three steps to it. Even to reply to a missed call, you have to follow these steps. However, sending SMSes has been made easy which requires just three touches.
Having said that, the overall User Interface (UI) is more friendly than a standard one that works without the touch screen feature.
The phone is a brilliant attempt by Nokia to launch a product that is different and useful. However, implementation could certainly have been better. Even, the inclusion of S60 (latest Symbian) would have been a much better choice but that is not a deal breaker, the UI is still good enough.
But, the problem is that the rivals have much better phones at Rs 8,500 range with several Android phones like Spice Mi310, Dell XCD 28 and Huawei Ideos being cheaper than this phone and featuring full touch screen and a better operating system. Even the Blackberry Curve is available in this price bracket.
Had Nokia C3-01 been priced atleast Rs 2,000 below the current price, it would have been worth recommending but not at this price point.