Nokia C2-03 review: Twice the phone

GSMArena team, 23 September 2011.
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Series 40 goes touch

The Nokia C2-03 runs Series 40 software, which feels very familiar even in its touch-enabled iteration. There have been some changes since the previous batch of S40 touch phones but most of those run only skin deep like the refreshed icons, a la Symbian-Anna. In all fairness, we gotta say we found some usability improvements too, like the homescreen swipes.

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The refreshed S40 UI

Here is the C2-03 on video, to give you an idea of what the touch-enabled S40 user interface looks like:

Active standby mode (or Home screen mode, as Nokia call it here) is available as usual. It divides the screen into four sections, each of which is effectively a widget. The top row of the screen is reserved for status indicators (time, signal, etc.).

By default, the clock is on top, followed by Communities (Facebook, Twitter and Flickr integration) and two Shortcut bars at the bottom, each of which grants instant access to four favorite functions or apps.

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The stand-by screen

There are two swipe gestures available on the homescreen. Pushing left or right swipe can be set to launch an app (both native and Java) or change the phone profile. By default, a left swipe opens the message composer and a right swipe opens the Java apps and games folder.

There‘s no D-pad on the Nokia C2-03 but the soft keys are there. Only virtual this time – they’re at the bottom of the screen, and there’s a virtual Menu key between them. The soft keys are user-configurable – you can assign a shortcut of choice to each of them.

The main menu has only two views – Grid and List. The grid layout is handy for offering numpad shortcuts.

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The Grid and List views

The familiar Go To shortcut is available and it's yet another way to add shortcuts to the homescreen. It’s the kind of quick menu we’ve seen on many S40 handsets but touchscreen makes so much difference. It offers quick access to nine shortcuts.

The lockscreen on the Nokia C2-03 pretty standard – a clock and a tap-to-unlock key.

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Go To is a handy quick launcher • The lockscreen

One thing missing is an accelerometer. Unlike some of its S40 non-touch siblings, the Nokia C2-03 leaves out features like tap-for-time and turn-to-mute. As for screen auto rotation, it’s not badly missed we think, given the screen size. Some might still find it a nuisance though – having to manually set display orientation where it matters: in the camera viewfinder, image gallery and the video player.

The biggest omission as usual is multitasking - we gave up hope that Nokia will add that a long time ago. This leads to bottlenecks - the Communities app takes at least 10 seconds to start up and a couple of seconds to shut down.

You can't leave it running in the background. You have to go through that every time you want to do something with the app, except check the latest notification (notifications do come in the background and only the last one is displayed).

A persistent impression of the Nokia C2-0 software is that it's running on hardware that can't quite handle everything and animations are always choppy. Throwing in multitasking would probably have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

A familiar phonebook

The phonebook of the Nokia C2-03 will store about 2000 contacts depending on the fields you use, which isn’t as good as unlimited storage but should do for most of the users out there. You can set the phonebook to display contacts from the phone memory, SIM memory or both. You can select which SIM numbers you want to see or you can opt to see all the numbers in both SIMs.

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The phonebook can be searched by gradual typing

Adding a contact is simple and straightforward – the phone asks for number, first and last name and that’s it. When you need to add other details you can always go back and edit the contact. The phonebook can be set up to automatically store new contacts in a chosen location (phone, SIM1, SIM2) or to always ask.

Each contact can be assigned a variety of fields but the phone numbers are limited to 5. First names are separated from last names, eliminating problems, which may occur with synchronization. You can assign ringtones to each contact.

A handy shortcut in the Options menu for each contact brings up the SMS communication you've had with that contact.

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Some of the available fields when editing a contact

The phone book has search functionality and kinetic scrolling. Contacts can be copied, moved or deleted either individually or in bulk.

Calling on two SIM cards

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Calling Dexter on Nokia C2-03

To make a call, you need to select which SIM the phone should use. You can set a default SIM, which will always be used for calls. Or you can have the phone prompt you to choose manually every time.

To bring up the SIM management menu, press and hold the * key. Selecting a default SIM for messages works the same way so you can have one SIM for calling and the other for texting. You can also toggle the standby mode - dual SIM, or either of the two SIMs (for power saving). Each SIM can have its own ringtone.

The Nokia C2-03 can remember up to 5 SIMs - each SIM can have a name and an icon. This gives you easy at-a-glance info about which SIMs are currently inside the phone, no need to pop open the back and remove the battery just to check that.

We carried out our traditional loudspeaker test to find out the Nokia C2-03 is a Very good. The strength of the vibration was good too - you're unlikely to miss calls with the C2-03. You can find more details about our test, as well as the results of all other tested handsets here.

Speakerphone testVoice, dBPink noise/ Music, dBRinging phone, dBOveral score
Nokia E7265.7 60.266.3Below Average
Nokia X2-0170.265.571.8Average
Nokia C2-0172.866.079.7Good
Nokia C3-0173.966.677.7Good
Nokia X3-0275.166.675.7Good
Nokia C2-0275.172.875.7Very Good
Nokia C2-0374.272.475.8Very Good
Nokia X280.275.784.7Excellent
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