Nokia C7 review: Rise and shine

GSMArena team, 03 November 2010.
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Basic retail package

The Nokia C7 comes packaged with the basics but nothing more. You get a very compact charger (which uses a 2mm plug), a short-piece microUSB cable, a one-piece headset and of course, some manuals.

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The box is rather empty

What you don’t get (as compared to the N8 package) is the adapter cable to use USB on-the-go. Another thing missing is a TV-Out cable. Sure, the C7 has just regular TV-Out and not HDMI, but still “C7” seems high enough on the ladder to at least get something extra.

You’ll need a composite video cable to use the TV-Out – you might already have one as they’re fairly common.

Nokia C7 360-degree spin

Next to the N8, the Nokia C7 is noticeably thinner. The 10.5mm of thickness are impressive enough already, but the curved sides slim it down even further. Plus, not having that camera module bulge out the back helps a lot too.

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Nokia C7 sized up against the Apple iPhone 4 and Nokia N8

Anyway, the Nokia C7 is a bit taller than the N8 but also a bit narrower, so it sits better in the hand. Both are about the same weight. As for the iPhone 4, it comes pretty close but is another 1.2mm thinner.

The exact measurements of the Nokia C7 are 117.3 x 56.8 x 10.5 mm (64cc) and 130 grams.

Design and construction

The Nokia C7 is for the most part an N8 in a different shell – the anodized aluminum unibody is gone but the metal battery cover spans across most of the back and the plastic around it is as good as the plastic elements on the N8.

The shape is an elongated oval with rounded corners and the phone is slimmed down – it’s very pleasant to hold, though not everyone will fall in love with its aesthetics. The design doesn’t seem “manly” enough but maybe it’s just us.

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The Nokia C7 has nice rounded corner

The front panel of the Nokia C7 is mostly taken by the 3.5” AMOLED display of nHD resolution. It sports multi-touch support just like the N8 screen – and just like it, it doesn’t feature Nokia’s Clear Black Technology that’s featured on the Nokia E7 and C6-01.

The indoor image quality, as is to be expected from an AMOLED unit, is pretty good with deep blacks and nicely saturated colors. Not as impressive as Samsung’s SuperAMOLED screens, but certainly competitive elsewhere. Sunlight legibility is impressive as well – as good as the Nokia N8 (it’s most likely the same unit, so that’s understandable).

As far as pixel count goes, the Nokia C7 display has just 38% of the pixels of an iPhone 4 screen and 60% of WVGA screens (common in high-end phones). The pixel density is a bit lower than that of the Samsung Galaxy S (which has a bigger screen) – 210 (for C7), 233 (for Galaxy S) and 326 (for iPhone 4). So the sharpness is good, but not mind-blowing.

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The Nokia C7 and N8 displays compared to the iPhone 4 Retina unit

The C7 screen sensitivity is as good as we’ve come to expect from capacitive units. An important usability boost is the excellent haptic feedback. It’s the same as the Nokia N8 and the thing about it is it’s extremely finely tuned leaving an impressive touch feedback.

You also get short, precise vibrations when you hit the bottom of lists and so on.

Moving on, we notice the video-call camera in the upper right corner above the display. Near it are the ambient light and the proximity sensors, as well as the centrally placed earpiece.

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The video-call camera is in the upper right corner of the front panel

Below the display are the three hardware keys – Menu, Answer and Ignore. The call keys are easy to hit as is the slightly raised menu key, which however is just a bit stiff.

Nokia obviously decided to put more keys on the C7 than the N8 – we wish they found room for a hardware back key too. The software one is not very comfortable, being in a different place in different parts of the interface.

The mic pinhole is located just below the menu key.

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Three buttons below the Nokia C7 screen, plus the mic pinhole

On top of the Nokia C7 is the power key, which also handles screen lock and the ringing profiles. The two wired connectivity ports are here too – the microUSB has a plastic flap (and can be used for charging), while the 3.5mm audio jack is left exposed. It doubles as a TV-Out port.

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The two wired connectivity ports and the power key

The left side of the C7 would have been completely bare if it wasn’t for the 2mm charger plug. The right side is busier – the volume keys flank the voice command key key, and further down we find the lock slide and the shutter key. It cannot be half-pressed, the camera on the Nokia C7 lacks auto-focus anyway.

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Charger plug on the left • volume keys, voice-command key, lock slide and shutter key on the right

The voice command key is a bit useless – you can just as easily press and hold the green receiver key to trigger voice commands. There’s no option to change its function either – it would have made a convenient shortcut for other applications or functions.

The shutter key is small and almost flush against the side of the phone, making it rather uncomfortable to press. This might result in some extra camera shake – you might want to use the on-screen shutter to prevent that (since there’s no auto-focus, using the virtual key is not a problem at all).

The Nokia C7’s bottom side features just the lanyard eyelet.

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Just the lanyard eyelet at the bottom

On the back we find the camera, dual-LED flash and loudspeaker banded together on a silver strip. The camera doesn’t protrude like on the N8 but when you put the phone down it rests on it, perhaps making it prone to scratches (there’s no lens cover).

Even though there are two symmetrical grills, only one of them (the one next to the lens) is an actual loudspeaker – the other one is there just for design symmetry, we guess.

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The 8MP camera and its dual-LED flash • the single loudspeaker and faux-loudspeaker grill

The back cover is metal and very pleasant to the touch. It’s held in place by a latch found at the bottom. Adjacent to the latch is the second microphone, which is used for noise cancellation - you should be careful not to cover it with your palm.

Popping the cover open reveals the 1200mAh Li-Ion battery (BL-5K).

The battery is quoted at up to 552 hours of stand-by (2G, 648 hours in 3G) or up to 9 and a half hours of talk time (and 5h in 3G). In real life we managed to squeeze just about two days of moderately heavy use out of the handset – just like we did with the Nokia N8.

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The microSD slot is under the battery

The build quality of the Nokia C7 is very good – the phone feels very solid even if it’s not mostly made of metal. By the way, the metal and plastic on the back are good quality indeed and do blend well. The front and its faux silver frame are less pleasant though.

Anyway, shedding off a couple of millimeters compared to the N8 makes the Nokia C7 comfortable to hold and very pocketable. The non-protruding camera module helps too.

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The Nokia C7 held in hand

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