Nokia C3-01 Review - The Hybrid Touch and Keypad Phone

By on 3 Dec 2010, 20:01 GMT
Nokia C3-01 is a mid-range feature-phone and a part of Nokia's Cseries lineup. Unlike its Nokia C3 predecessor, which has Eseries written all over it thanks to its QWERTY keyboard, the C3-01 is one of the new Nokia candybar touchscreen handsets.

Nokia Cseries was the first to receive a new-generation Nokia name and is one of the new series debuted by Nokia, along with the Xseries.

Currently, Nokia has four series of devices: Nokia Cseries, Xseries, Eseries and Nseries.

Within each series of devices, there's a new range of numbers from 1 to 9, each signifying the range of functionality it offers and the approximate prices of the devices, 1 being the lowest and 9 being the highest, meaning that the C3-00 will be cheaper and will offer less functionality than the next C3-01 model.

Announced in September 2010, Nokia C3-01 hits the shelves in October and is currently valued at 170 Euro (about $221) without a subscription.

Customers can choose one of the three available colors: Silver, Warm grey and Golden khaki.


Design

Nothing in its look gives away the fact that this is a mid-budget handset. The phone looks very stylish and it's completely coated in stainless steel. Its classic bar form factor and super sleek design makes the phone look compact and solid. Even though it has a metallic case, the C3-01 weighs only 100g (battery included). The handset measures 111 x 47.5 x 11mm, which makes it perfectly pocket sized.


The C3-01 features a mid-size 2.4-inch touch display, which was dubbed by Nokia as “Single Touch”. Unlike the X3-02's 3-row keypad layout, the C3-01 has a standard 4-rows keypad layout. Besides the touchscreen, the keypad is the only part of the phone’s outer shell not made from stainless steel. Instead, Nokia used a silvery plastic that resembles a metallic compound.

The keypad is flat, but the 4 rows are split distinctively, so users won't have typing issues. Responsiveness is a little on the downside, but only if you're trying to type very quickly. 


Above the keypad there's a thin metallic band that includes the Accept and Reject keys and replaces the standard D-pad button. The latter has no use as the phone can be handled exclusively using the touchscreen.

The right side of the phone features a dedicated camera key, a volume key and a lock/unlock button which is very hard to use. On top of the phone there's a 3.5mm audio jack, a microUSB port, as well as the charger plug.


The mouthpiece has been embedded directly into the keypad, near the 7 key. The only things worth mentioning above the display are the earpiece and the ambient light sensor.

The 5-megapixel camera on the back features a flash and it is covered by a thin plastic for protection.

The microSD card slot has been placed under the metallic back cover, near the bottom and does not require users to remove the battery. Nokia C3-01 can be considered a “next generation” Nokia 6300 when it comes to design.


Display and Camera

Nokia C3-01 comes with a 2.4-inch TFT “resistive single touch” touchscreen with up to 262K colors and 240 x 320 pixel resolution.

This is the second Nokia S40 UI feature-phone to get a touchscreen like in the X3-02, the C3-01 touchscreen navigation is smooth and easy to handle. The touchscreen is a big step forward for Nokia, which only had sub-par resistive touchscreens included with some of the XpressMusic series devices.


As expected, the quality of the image is excellent including brightness, as well as contrast. The display is perfectly visible even when it is exposed to strong sunlight. As downsides I would enlist the lack of built-in accelerometer for display auto-rotation and the missing proximity sensor.


When it comes to photos one thing is certain, Nokia C3-01 is not a camera phone. Even though it comes with a relatively high number of megapixels, the snapshots it produces fail to impress. Nokia added a flash, but removed the autofocus function and replaced it with fixed focus, most likely to keep costs down.

Also, 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 20 fps and VGA at up to 15 fps.

Even though the phone includes a dedicated camera button I wouldn't recommend using it because it's very hard to press. Instead, users will have to rely on the “touch-n-shoot” button that appears on the screen.

The pictures look mediocre and unimpressive, with lots of noise and low contrast. Check out the samples below for a more accurate opinion about the quality of the camera.


Menu and Software

Nokia C3-01 is an S40 6th Edition Feature Pack 1 handset with a “Touch and Type” user interface, which combines keypad functionality with touch display. It has the same interface as the X3-02, which was redesigned for a handset that must be handled only using the touchscreen.


The touch-optimization is very well done and perfectly mimics the S40 phone with D-pads. On the positive side, the phone features now a higher level of customization. The Active standby can be customized by touching and pressing on one of the four bars displaying on the homescreen and choosing Personalize view.

The last bar on the screen is called the Shortcut bar and includes four shortcuts that can be customized to open various applications or functions. In addition to the Shortcut bar, there are three more bars that can display time, WLAN, Favorite contacts, Calendar, Communities, Chat, Mail, Notifications and more.


Basically, everything on the home screen except the area where the battery and GSM signal icons are displayed can be customized as long as you long press on it.

Just below the Shortcut bar there's a string of three more customizable keys: Go to, Menu and Names. The Go to command brings up a 3x3 grid quick menu, which can be populated with various shortcuts.

While the phone is in standby mode, clicking on the Power on/off button will bring up a screen where you can see the time, as well as unlock the screen.


The phone's menu is pretty straightforward and features a 3x3 grid layout: Contacts, Music, Internet, Messaging, Photos, Settings, Store, Apps, Operator. Navigation through the menu is done by simply touch and single click on the icons or by clicking on the corresponding number on the phone's keypad for each of the menu. Nokia C3-01 comes with kinetic scrolling, but it feels like it’s in the early stages of development.

There is better support for WMA and WMV codecs, the most important improvement embedded in the S40 6th Edition interface is the new Web-kit open source browser. The phone also includes the Opera Mini browser as an alternative.


The phone includes some useful applications, such as Web Search, Communities, Alarm clock, Converter, Calendar, To-do list, Notes, Calculator, Countdown timer, Size converter, World Clock and Stopwatch. The menu is fully customizable and users can designate any MP3, MIDI or AAC file as a ringtone. The phonebook can store up to 2,000 contacts.

Users have access to Ovi Store through a dedicated application. Also, some Java games come bundled with the phone – Climate Mission, Memorize and Picture Puzzle. The phone is also compatible with Java MIDP 2.1, so third party apps can be installed as well.

Communication

The mid-budget phone is fully compatible with GPRS and EDGE Class 10, as well as HSDPA category 9, maximum speed up to 10.2 Mbps and HSUPA category 5, maximum speed up to 2 Mbps. Benchmarks reveal that the device performs quite well when it comes to data-transfer speeds (EDGE 166 Kbit/s download and 86 Kbit/s upload, HSDPA 1967 Kbit/s download and 278 Kbit/s upload), but that may greatly vary depending on location and carrier.


The phone also features Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR support and microUSB 2.0. Synchronization with the PC is possible through the microUSB port. The phone also charges while it's connected through the USB cable.

The device comes with the MiniOpera browser preinstalled, in addition to the integrated WebKit-based HTML browser. It also features Flash Lite 3.0 support, but I wouldn't recommend visiting rich-content webpages, as you might get a “Full memory” error message.


The Community category enables users to log into their Facebook and Twitter accounts, and start chatting with their family or friends.

One of the great features of the handset is definitely the Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n connectivity, which cuts the bill for data transfers (6736 Kbit/s download and 1519 Kbit/s upload).


In terms of messaging, the device accepts standard text messages, MMS 1.3 (600 KB attachments), as well as emails. The message client works with POP3, SMTP, and IMAP4 protocols, and supports more than one email account. The C3-01 also displays SMS messages like Conversations.


The quadband (GSM 850 / GSM 900 / GSM 1800 / GSM 1900) network-compatible bar handset has a mediocre GSM signal reception. Fortunately, the sound is very good at both ends, thanks to the “Voice Clarity” enhancement technology. The vibration feature is also above average.

Processor and Memory

Nokia C3-01 Touch and Type embeds 30MB internal memory, 128MB Flash, 64MB SDRAM, as well as microSD card slot for memory expansion up to 32GB.


The external memory card slot can be found under the battery cover, but it's hot-swappable. The handset lacks multitasking, but it's quite snappy when it comes to opening apps and navigating through the menu.


Multimedia

Nokia C3-01 is not a music phone, but it performs well as an MP3 player. Just like its X3-02 sibling, the C3-01 embeds a decent looking music player with a nice set of features such as album art and Equalizer. In addition, the phone comes with 3.5mm jack port that goes along with a wired stereo headset (WH-102).


The phone's music player is compatible with a wide range of formats, such as: AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, MP3, WMA and AMR-NB. The interface hasn't changed but this time you have all controls on-screen.

The Equalizer can be customized the predefined settings can be used: Normal, Pop, Rock, Jazz and Classical. When it comes to music sound quality, the phone can be categorized as average, not too good but not that bad either.


There's also FM radio with the RDS function that can replace the music player and can memorize up to 20 base stations.

The C3-01's video player recognizes XviD encoded movies, just like its X3-02 predecessor. Other supported formats include MPEG-4, H.263, H.264 and 3GP.


Battery

The 1050 mAh Li-Ion (BL-5CT) battery has an officially stated life expectancy of 440 hours (405 hours for 3G) standby time or three hours and 20 min (five hours and 40 min for 3G) talk time. After one week of medium use I would rate this battery as average. I only charged the phone twice during the week, which is pretty decent.


Impressions

Nokia C3-01 is an interesting device and a nice addition to the Cseries. Its compact and solid look, as well as the metallic casing is definitely attractive. Surprising or not, the new Touch and Type interface increased the phone's functionality and made it more desirable.

The Good

Besides its exquisite design, the handset offers a “tint” of features specific to high-end smartphones, such as Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, 3G with 10Mbps HSDPA and 2Mbps HSUPA for data transfers. Other interesting highlights that might recommend this handset include: microSD card slot, 3.5mm audio jack, touch-optimized S40 UI, excellent display.

The Bad

The only two things I really missed from the C3-01 were a built-in GPS receiver and a document viewer. Other than that there's nothing really negative about the phone. As minor downsides I would enlist the average 5-megapixel camera and the “unusable” lock/unlock button.

Sales Package

Nokia C3-01 handset
Nokia Battery BL-5CT
Nokia Compact Charger AC-8
Nokia Stereo Headset WH-102
User guide


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