Nokia C3 review: SNS love

GSMArena team, 16 July 2010.
Pages: «1234567»

Tags: Nokia, S40

Nokia C3 unboxed

The Nokia C3 comes in a plain cardboard box. Other than the phone itself, you’ll get the typical basic accessories: a charger and the good old one-piece handsfree that ends on a 3.5mm audio jack.

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The Nokia C3 retail package

There’s of course a manual too and a 2GB microSD card is inserted in the phone. There is no USB cable enclosed and that’s perhaps an attempt to keep the price down.

Nokia C3 360-degree spin

The Nokia C3 is on the compact side of QWERTY messengers at 115.5 x 58.1 x 13.6 mm. The full four-row keyboard and the 2.4” landscape screen just couldn’t have been squeezed in less space than that. The phone is still very pocket-friendly and handles with ease.

It tips the scales at 114 grams, which is probably a bit more than you would expect given the mostly plastic finish. There is some metal on the C3 – the large battery cover is entire made of that.

Nokia C3 has nearly perfect weight and balance for two-handed use. It’s a no-frills phone that doesn’t look or feel cheap.

Design and construction

Photos do the phone little justice. We think we were lucky to have the best paint job for our test unit. This Slate Grey finish will not turn many heads but certainly makes the phone an extra bit more solid and sensible. The Nokia C3 is a basic S40 phone but looks no worse than a full featured smartphone like the E63.

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The Nokia C3 doesn’t look cheap

Of course, comparisons to the E71 or E72 are absolutely out of the question. What’s important however is that the keyboard and the screen are just as good. The C3 is thicker and rough around the edges but the C series are not trying to impress with fancy designs.

The Nokia C3 stays focused instead on friendly handling and good build quality. It’s a well put together phone – no creaks, no gaps between parts. The tapered edges, front and back, make the thick handset quite comfortable and secure to hold in hand. Not to mention they bring along stylishness that’s quite unusual in this price segment.

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A messenger of steel and a messenger on budget

The Nokia C3 comes in three flavors – Slate Grey (which is actually bluish), Golden White, and Hot Pink. It’s a small but widely varied selection that seems to reflect the audience demographics.

The front of the Nokia C3 is all-plastic, with just the right amount of gloss to serve as an accent. The glossy front frame contrast nicely with the matt finish of the navigation deck and the keyboard. The shiny surface warmly welcomes fingerprints but they are easy to clean up.

The landscape 2.4" 256K-color display of 320 x 240 pixel resolution takes half of the front panel. The QVGA resolution is what you’d expect in this price range but the image quality is surprisingly good. So is sunlight legibility.

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The 2.4” display is fine

Underneath the screen is a spacious navigation deck built around a reasonably tactile D-pad. There are three buttons on either side of the D-pad. Call and End knobs are at the bottom, the two soft keys on top. In between are the dedicated Contacts and the Messaging keys, which can be assigned a different function.

The soft keys and the D-pad are user-configurable too. Up and Down on the Navigation key are best left in charge of the Active Standby homescreen, which provides handy shortcuts and is quite relevant to social networking. All controls are decently sized and quite comfortable to use.

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The earpiece above the screen • A spacious navigation pad under the display

Speaking of buttons, it’s time to take a closer look at the full QWERTY keyboard. The Nokia C3 obviously has no qualms stealing from the Esereis. The four-row QWERTY keypad has well defined and reasonably sized keys to rival the excellent typing skills of the E71. The nicely convex keys are equally tactile and even slightly bigger. The backlighting is impressively sharp and solid – better than on the E71.

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The full QWERTY keyboard promises hassle-free typing

The left side of the handset features the microUSB port and the microSD card slot. Both apertures are sealed with plastic lids to hold off dust and keep the contour of the handset intact. USB charging is not enabled on the C3.

The Nokia C3 is said to support cards of up to 8GB, and this was as far as went testing it. The handset handled our card problem-free.

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The left-hand side features the microUSB port and the microSD card slot

There isn’t much to see on the right-hand side of the Nokia C3. The phone has no dedicated volume controls and camera key. Up and Down on the D-pad set volume / zoom levels, and the confirm button is the camera shutter key.

The battery cover gets released by squeezing two knobs either side of the handset – the way it works on the Nokia E71. In the bottom right corner is the lanyard eyelet.

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Battery cover release buttons • lanyard eyelet

The top of the Nokia C3 features the 2mm charger plug as well as the 3.5mm standard audio jack; the bottom is completely bare.

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Charger plug and 3.5mm audio jack on the top • The bare bottom

Unlike the glossy frame of the front panel, the rear has soft matt plastic top and bottom, and a all-metal battery cover. No fingerprint issues here whatsoever. Rearside are the massive hole of the 2 megapixel camera lens and the loudspeaker grill. The impressively looking lens aside, the fixed-focus cam turned out quite a disappointment but we’ll come back to it later on.

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2 megapixel camera means low end

Under the aluminum cover is the 1320 mAh Li-Ion BL-5J battery, which powers the Nokia C3. The battery is quoted at to the impressive 800 hours of stand-by or up to 7 hours of talk-time. Considering the phone is working in 2G networks only, you can count on solid battery life even with a power-hungry WLAN.

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The solid 1320 mAh Li-Ion battery

Commendable build quality and neat design are great to have in an entry level handset. The C3 delivers fine on ergonomics too – navigation and typing are excellent. There’s an easily accessible memory card slot and a 3.5 mm audio jack – not bad at all for the price you pay.

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The Nokia C3 held in hand

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