Nokia C2-03 review: Twice the phone

GSMArena team, 23 September 2011.
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Good messaging

The Nokia C2-03 comes with the standard (and quite capable) S40 messaging. It can handle all the common message types including SMS, MMS, as well as flash and audio messages and there’s easy email setup, too.

The keyboard on the Nokia C2-03 isn't the best we've seen. You don't get an on-screen QWERTY keyboard either but it wouldn't have made much sense anyway.

The standard Inbox view is available but you also get Conversations view mode (that’s the threaded message feature).

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Nokia C2-03 messaging app

The editor is well organized and you won’t spend too much time finding your way around. Nokia has added four new virtual controls to make up for the missing D-pad – two arrow keys, letter case switch and symbols.

Of course you can tap to move the cursor wherever you want, but you’ll still need those two arrows for precise positioning. The symbol and letter case features are also available from the numpad, so there is no real need for them on the screen.

When composing the message there’s a character counter and message part counter available and when you’re done you pick the recipient from the contacts list, the recently used numbers, the call log or contact groups. You can have a favorite contact too (just one).

And of course, you can enter the number manually if it’s not on any of those lists.

The Mail app lets you create multiple accounts on multiple networks with just your email address and password. It works with POP3, SMTP, and IMAP4 protocols and supports multiple email accounts. The email client supports SSL.

Emails are received in the background and you can put a Mail widget on the homescreen to keep track of new emails (the widget offers practically no info on the new emails though).

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The email client is pretty good

And that's not the end of the messaging capabilities on the C2-03 either. The Chat app supports Google Talk, Ovi Chat, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo! Chat. The tabbed UI of the OS is pleasantly thumb-friendly. We wish it had a unified list of contacts from all services though, it would have made finding the right contact easier.

There's a Chat widget for the homescreen too.

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The Chat app connects to four different networks

Touchable Gallery

The Photos app on the Nokia C2-03 offers only a single viewing mode, displaying a grid of 12 pictures on the screen. You can switch to landscape mode from the menu though – it makes better use of the screen real estate when you open a photo (there are black bars in portrait mode).

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The Photos app is now a proper gallery

Kinetic scrolling is available and zooming into photos (via on-screen shortcuts) is relatively quick, but the animation for both isn't particularly smooth.

There's a simple image editor too, which can crop/rotate images, add text, clipart and effects, plus adjust brightness/contrast and color.

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Viewing a single photo • Editing a photo

You can organize photos into albums, view them in a timeline and, of course, you can start a slide show.

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Timeline view • Albums

As for the regular Gallery app, it’s still here – but it’s hidden in the Applications menu. It’s a capable file manager, especially for a feature phone. It can manage folders and files – both one by one and in bulk.

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The regular gallery

Music player could have been better

The music player of the Nokia C2-03 practically hasn’t seen any changes except getting touch support. It looks decent and has a solid set of features, including album art, and a fair number of supported formats.

Songs can be filtered by artist, album and genre. The player handles AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, MP3, WMA, AMR-NB. Naturally the A2DP profile is supported, allowing the use of stereo Bluetooth earphones.

Unfortunately, there are some annoying limitations - for example, hitting the red receiver key turns off the music player and goes to the homescreen. The player can work in the background, but you have to go to Options > Play in background for that.

Also, when not in the Now playing interface, there is no way to pause a song or skip to the next one, not even with the homescreen widget. You have to get into the music player to do that (and it doesn’t support swipe gestures like the homescreen does, nor can you assign swipe gestures on the homescreen to things like "next track").

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The music player does the job

Displaying the artist and title of the currently playing song are all that the homescreen widget does. They appear in the Radio and music area on the homescreen so they need to be enabled in the Homescreen mode settings for the info to be displayed.

There's no equalizer and the whole music player interface is quite laggy. The overall impression is that Nokia could have done better (like they have before).

FM radio with RDS

An alternative to your music library in the C2-03 is the FM radio. It matches the music player interface and covers all basic functions.

RDS support is available and you can make the handset search and save all available stations in your area. RDS info and frequency appear on the homescreen, much like with the music player.

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The FM radio interface

The FM radio can also record broadcasts but that feature is regional.

Audio quality as good as usual

The Nokia C2-03 audio output is about identical to that of its C2-00 and C2-02 siblings. Those are actually three of the best performing devices in this price range.

The phones does pretty well when connected to an external amplifier (such as your home or car stereo) and it's among the loudest devices we have seen (or rather recorded).

When you plug in a pair of headphones there's notable increase in intermodulation distrotion and stereo crosstalk, while the volume levels drop rapidly. However, you are still left with a decent output so in general we can say we are pretty pleased with the C2-03.

Check out the table and see for yourself.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Nokia C2-03+0.18, -0.45- 0.050-80.1
Nokia C2-03 (headphones attached)+1.10, -0. 47-82.983.20.0320.379-63.0
Nokia C2-02+0.19, -0.49-83.383.10.050 0.064-80.7
Nokia C2-02 (headphones attached)+0.68, -0.41-81.582.10.050 0.488-63.3
Nokia C2-00+0.18, -0.48- 0.068-81.3
Nokia C2-00 (headphones attached)+0.31, -0.43-78.983.20.055 0.438-67.0
Nokia C2-01+0.03 -0.15-87.387.30.0062 0.051-88.8
Nokia C2-01 (headphones attached)+0.95 -7.32-86.572.00.065 2.002-65.5
Nokia X2-01+0.07 -0.56-83.883.80.010 0.024-83.8
Nokia X2-01 (headphones attached)+0.63 -0.37-81.784.00.028 0.280-64.2
Nokia X2+0.10 -0.87-85.785.60.0100 0.021-85.6
Nokia X2 (headphones attached)+0.56 -0.64-85.685.50.014 0.314-58.3
Nokia C3-01+0.08 -0.46-88.488.40.0087 0.022-88.1
Nokia C3-01 (headphones attached)+0.55 -0.29-88.388.30.014 0.404-45.0
Nokia X3-02+0.04 -0.15- 0.134-61.0
Nokia X3-02 (headphones attached)+0.56 -0.17-63.663.60.061 0.413-50.4

Nokia C2-03 frequency response
Nokia C2-03 frequency response graph

You can find more info about the testing process here.

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