Nokia C2-03 review: Twice the phone

GSMArena team, 23 September 2011.
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Video player handles MP4/3GP only

When we tested the first batch of touch-enabled S40 Nokias, their video player surprised us with its capabilities - it played XviD reasonably well.

But the Nokia C2-03 can't. In fact, the only things we got to play were QVGA videos in MP4 or 3GP format. That's it - higher-res videos wouldn’t play, and neither did XviD videos.

The controls of the player are rather simple - you get a play/pause button along with previous and next buttons and also a full screen option.

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The Nokia C2-03 hardly suited for watching video clips

Passable 2MP camera with Symbian-like UI

The Nokia C2-03 has a 2MP fixed-focus snapper that produces photos with maximum resolution of 1600 x 1200. The camera interface has been updated so it's a lot more like Symbian.

On the screen you get a column on the bottom/right (depending on camera orientation) with the virtual shutter key in the center and the back and options keys besides it. You can use the camera in portrait, but we really preferred landscape mode - it feels more natural and photos come out with the right orientation.

Anyway, a tap on the screen reveals more controls - indicators (photos remaining, resolution and white balance), digital zoom controls, and three shortcuts for video camera mode, gallery and self-timer. All these auto-hide so they don't take up space on the screen.

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The camera user interface

Going into the Options menu, you get a popup that looks like the one on Symbian. There are controls here for effects (greyscale, sepia, negative), white balance, a viewfinder grid and extended settings. The shortcuts in this popup can be re-arranged but you can't pull any of them out onto the viewfinder. This popup also features animations, but they are rather choppy.

The image quality is good for a fixed-focus 2MP unit. Photos are quite noisy but the post processing manages to mask a lot of it, at least in bright areas. Shadows however have tons of noise. Contrast and color rendering are good and the amount of captured detail is as much as you would expect from such a camera.

Here are the samples the C2-03 produced.

Nokia C2-03 camera samples

Video recording

Video recording isn't something the C2-03 is good at. It does QCIF at 15 fps, which is as basic as video recording gets on a phone.

It's hardly worth talking about image quality when you can barely make out what's in the video, so we won't even try. The videos are usable for MMS only but we wouldn't recommend even that. Still it's a budget phone and budget is what it offers.

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Camcorder UI

Here is a video sample for you to check out.

Limited connectivity

The connectivity on the Nokia C2-03 is pretty basic: you get dual-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and that's it as far as cell networks are concerned. We were expecting at least quad-band support, but no.

The only other thing that belongs in the connectivity section of this review is Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP.

Unlike the C3-01 and X3-02, the C2-03 doesn’t have Wi-Fi. There's no USB On-The-Go support either and what's even worse is that the microUSB port won't charge the phone.

Nokia S40 browser has improved significantly

The Nokia C2-03 boasts a really cool new browser. Its start screen has the usual URL and search bars and three side-scrollable panes below, which are quite reminiscent of the Symbian homescreen (complete with the three dots at the bottom that indicate the current pane).

From left to right, the panes are History, Featured (lists popular sites in several categories) and Favorites.

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The start page of the new S40 browser

One excellent new feature is the autosuggestions as you type in the URL - it lists recently visited sites and filters the list as you type. It even offers to save you a few clicks by guessing the ".com" at the end - Symbian^1 users can only wish their browser can do these things.

The browser uses the Opera Mini trick - compressing web pages on a dedicated server before sending them to the phone. Pages load quickly (even on EDGE) and don't waste much data. Image quality is adjustable (Best/Good/Average or No images).

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Entering an URL now features autocomplete • the browser is data efficient

Kinetic scrolling is available (relatively fast, not very smooth). You get only two zoom levels (again, just like Opera Mini) - page overview and zoomed in.

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Browsing with the new browser

Overall, the performance is not perfect (the start page UI is quite laggy) and we had some issues where instead of opening a page, the browser would spit out error 400 "Invalid request".

Despite the Adobe Flash Lite 3.0 support, Nokia C2-03 web browser doesn’t support Flash. If you want to watch some YouTube stuff you’ll have to rely on the mobile version of the website. Anyway, the lack of Flash is not a big deal, especially for that small screen and the hardware specs.

For now, we prefer to stick to Opera Mini 6.1 (which we had to download manually), which offers things like tabbed browsing and an on-screen QWERTY for text input. Still, with a bit more work, the new S40 browser by Nokia can become even better than Mini.

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