With the adoption of Windows as operating system for its future smartphones, Nokia till a great extent has sealed the fate for Symbian and its related products, no matter what the management keeps on saying about the future releases and upgrades. A true Nokia fan would never be able to forget this for long.
Nonetheless, Nokia had announced a new line of Symbian powered smartphones last year featuring faster hardware and the newer version of Symbian operating system. Out of those we have got the Nokia 603 smartphone with us in our test labs.
The Nokia 603 is based on Symbian Belle Feature Pack 1 and along with that it comes with a 1GHz Arm 11 based single core processor. Although there is no future of Symbian OS, this smartphone comes fully loaded so that even after the support for the OS has stopped this phone will continue to be of use.
Looks and Build Quality
The Nokia 603 comes in two colours – black and white. The one we received was in black colour and to be honest, it is surely a looker. The device features a flush front with minimal space being consumed by the call connect/disconnect keys supplemented by the menu/action key. This further unfolds in to a glossy colour finish that surrounds the whole of the device. The device although not slim is sleek and good looking for sure.
The back panel of the device is a one piece that covers both the battery as well as includes the hardware keys. The build quality of the device is top notch and the body is sturdy enough to handle most rigorous and careless users as well.
At the top of the device lies the screen lock/standby button along with the USB /charging port and the 3.5 m audio connectivity port as well. On the right hand side of the device, you will find three neat keys that offer functionality while not affecting the design of the device at all. The keys are made up of hard rubber and are extremely comfortable to use. Nokia has quite cleverly made the keys a part of the back panel/battery cover to conserve space and enhance looks. The right hand side however is free for any keys or buttons.
Display and Touch
The display on the Nokia 603 is a 3.5 inch TFT LCD display with a 360 x 640 pixel resolution but as compared to Nokia’s other smartphones in this range, the display of this handset has a higher brightness and contrast level, that makes visuals look better. The Clear Black technology which is employed in this smartphone offers superior contrast and better brightness levels, making the display a unique asset of the Nokia 603.
The display is definitely better as far as visual reproduction is concerned. The improvement on the processor part has a role to play for the graphics and the display improvements on the device now.
The device is a full touchscreen based input one with a multi touch type input system. The multitouch is accurate to the tee and works with the slightest of touches as well. The touchscreen has been protected by a scratch resistant surface which is also quite effective and useful. The touch is good most of the time but it tends to go for a toss during gaming and web browsing, requiring harder touches and sometimes it tend to make false inputs.
OS, hardware and Performance
The Nokia 603 comes with a new and improved Belle Feature Pack 1operating system. The home screen features four screen, with different colour backgrounds. Users can also easily toggle and change the background images if they do not like that. The software and application icons are similar to the ones featured on the Symbian Anna and there is not much change there. The digital clock on the home page has been replaced with a flip type clock that looks cool and stylish at the same time. The analog clock is also available so users can change it if they want some retro looks on their device.
The updated Belle brings a new home screen with Android like drop down notifications bar that accommodates the WiFi and GPS control switches as well. The options and the exit buttons at the lower end of the screen have been replaced by three buttons including options, call and menu short key. The transitions between the screen changes have been made really smooth and there is a considerable difference in the device’s performance over the Anna.
Of course the device is still new but we hope that the performance will not be affected much later on as well.
Inside the menu key, Nokia has managed to change the entire look and feel as well. The menu now features all the applications and shortcuts on one page where users can scroll downwards to access all the icons. The background also has been made transparent and the home screen image from where you access the menu is visible in the background.
All in all, the new update has managed to bring a totally refreshed look. The widgets have been improved and along with that the update also brings in the icon management feature using which users can easily place their favorite applications on top of the menu or wherever they find it comfortable.
The Nokia 603 runs on a new Arm 11 based 1 GHz single core processor with a dedicated 2D/3D graphic engine. Coupled with 512 MB of RAM memory, the device is fun to use at all times. The operating system optimisation of the device has been done quite brilliantly and during the whole period of the test, the device hardly froze and we like it a lot. The reason for it is its dedicated 1 GB of ROM memory that enhances multitasking and the Belle OS superbly performs with that.
The Nokia 603 is 3G ready but since there is no front facing camera, you cannot make video calls. The quad band cellular radio of the device works really well and there are hardly any connectivity issues with the device; it offers best cellular connectivity all the times.
For wireless connectivity, it has Bluetooth 3.0 along with WiFi. But the best is the inclusion of the NFC functionality in this device that allows it to share data with fellow Nokia handsets
Camera, Multimedia and Maps
The Nokia 603 has a 5 megapixel, fixed focus camera without flash, same as in the Nokia 500. For low light photography, the device misses out on a dedicated flash so you will have to keep the device in your pocket only if the light is not sufficient. The device can record videos as well. In fact, it is capable of recording in 720p High definition videos as well. The images taken by the device are good but not in low light conditions.
The standard 3.5 mm audio connector and the Micro USB connector ensure easy connectivity with most headphones and earplugs. The device features memory up to 32 GB via a MicroSD card which means you can carry your favorite videos, tunes and pictures along with you at all times. There is a 2 GB of inbuilt memory but only about 340 MB worth of memory is available to the users as the rest 512 is taken by RAM and 1 GB by the ROM.
The Nokia 603 also has a brand new FM tuner application. The FM radio’s interface is neat while the auto search option is great relief as it searched channels and saved channels automatically. But there is no hot keys assigned to change channels other than getting in to the favorites and changing them. But overall quality is great and reception is loud and clear.
Nokia has also included the music store app in the device which allows users to search try and purchase music from Nokia Music stores. For music lovers, the Nokia 603 comes with free subscription of unlimited music songs access and downloads. The download is done in m4a format which helps users conserve bandwidth as it offers higher audio quality at lower file sizes.
Also there is a Nokia Drive application that require a special mention as not only it helps the users, it is by far the most detailed mapping solution ever to be featured on a smartphone. Nokia is not charging anything for this service and it surely is a potential threat to all the PND and navigation services out there.
The Nokia 603 features an all new 1300 mAh battery pack that is capable of powering it for up to two to three days of nominal usage. But as with all smartphones, the battery life is affected deeply by the usage pattern and the use of 3G networks as well.
We managed to run the device for up to 3 day with 3G connectivity turned off. But overall, the battery life of the device is quite impressive and we have no complaints what so ever.
To sum it all up
With a price tag of Rs 13,000 approximately, the Nokia 603 is a great performance oriented device that gives users all the fun of the Symbian Belle within a confined budget. The device can be bought from anywhere between Rs 12,000 to 13,000 in the market. On performance front, the device is a clear winner and especially with the multitasking which is great at any and every point.
Although there are some shortfalls like the Fixed Focus camera and no front camera, we are still highly impressed with the Nokia 603. So if you desire a great Symbian device with a low budget go ahead with the Nokia 603 and you will love the feeling. Users with lower budgets can also look for other devices like the Nokia 500 also.