Review: Nokia C7

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Nokia looks like to get most of its Symbian phones out there just before the release of its first phone running Windows Phone 7 and MeeGo – the latter already revealed as the Nokia N8. But now, we have the Nokia C7 phone in our reviewing hands. But has Symbian improved since we last saw it? As well, with Nokia tweaking this camera, does it perform like the other Nokia phones?

Our verdict on the Nokia C7 is after the jump.

  • Score:

    7.0 / 10

  • The Good:

    Design is brilliant; performance on Symbian is pretty good.

  • The Bad:

    Camera is pretty bad; Symbian still lets it down; web browser not that great

  • Bottom Line:

    A phone in the middle and good for social addicts.

Design

Nokia’s design for its phones have been excellent, and this is no exception. The phone has a slick, thin body that has a mixture of plastic and stainless steel with curved edges. It is also pretty slim, only 10mm thick

Of course, there are the usual side buttons – dedicated camera button, volume rocker and mechanical lock switch – but also a dedicated button for voice commands, which is pretty handy if you don’t want to go through a long list of contacts (though, like usual, it is a hit or miss).

The usual ports are there – such as the headphone jack and USB port at the top. For some reason or another, Nokia has also put in a 2mm port on the side for recharging the phone. However, in our review package, we did not get a 2mm port to recharge the phone – but looking through Nokia’s accessories, it has to be included in your actual set. Don’t fret, Nokia still lets you charge the phone via a USB cable attached. It is not going anywhere for a long time.

However, that being said, there is no dedicated USB-to-power connector so you don’t have to rely on the laptop to recharge your phone – again, we didn’t get that from our review pack.

Hardware and Features

The phone features a 3.5-inch AMOLED display and supports multitouch and has an accelerometer to switch the screen’s orientation. The display is bright and colourful and does respond well with the OS, Symbian^3.

In terms of the phone’s network support – it supports Wi-Fi (even 802.11n compatible) and Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP support. In addition, the sound from this phone is excellent like the Nokia N8 (and other phones recently released). Like I said before, Nokia really loves your media, and video playback is pretty good – and supports both Xvid and DivX videos.

The phone also features an 8-megapixel camera with dual LED flash. However, Nokia has decided to dump auto-focus for its new fixed-focus lens. An 8-megapixel camera without any auto-focus? That, well, makes no sense, and yes the photos we have taken weren’t in focus. Well, if you’re looking at the upside of removing auto-focus – it does process photos faster. However, the phone does allow you to adjust a lot of settings from the phone – though it feels counter-productive to change settings in each time you want to get an excellent shot on the go. In addition, don’t take close up pictures. You’ll essentially will find yourself not able to get it in focus – mainly due to the fact that the camera will not adjust anything within 50cm of the phone’s focal length.

The camera is pretty much a let down from the king of cameras. However, video recording seems to redeem the phone’s camera – though, you’ll not get natural colours.

Yes, it’s another Symbian^3 Phone

Yes, I know it is almost a criticism of any Nokia phone, but believe me, the OS is almost like a love-hate relationship. Just more leaning towards the hate. Shall I refer you to what I said about the Nokia N8 with Symbian^3 in relation with the homescreen?

The home screen also feels cluttered, with some of the space dedicated to carrier applications. […] As well, you are defined to six blocks per page – and only three pages. Compared to Android, where you have some sort of freedom to place your applications, and iOS’ simplicity – this is not a really good home screen. However, that being said, it is at least better than Nokia Series 60′s home screen where changing the home screen was a pain.

Suffers the same problem. However, unlike the Nokia E7, it does not suffer from the crapware of applications installed. In addition, the web browser lacks support of HTML5, CSS 3 and supporting outdated web standards and loading pages is still a problem Nokia still hasn’t tackled yet – there was a noticable delay in loading techgeek.com.au.

Also, another big critique is that the onscreen keyboard. When you are in portrait mode, you use the standard keypad you see on phones, while turn it in landscape mode and you get a QWERTY keyboard. You don’t get the other keyboard layout when you switch modes. It is pretty annoying (also when, for some reason, it will only activate landscape mode when you turn the phone left). One positive, however, is that the phone’s keyboard is pretty responsive.

While we continue to bemoan the OS, credit has to be given to Nokia for actually making this phone work really well. It is, in a huge shock, responsive and actually performs better than its other phones, especially the Nokia N8. In fact, on top of the brilliant support it has for multimedia such as music and video, and its Nokia Maps application; you could almost tolerate or even love the OS because of the performance, though we’ll suggest you go a little light when you browse the web.

Conclusions

Compared to other Nokia phones, this phone feels somewhat of the middle. It has improvements from other phones, including a screen that is actually responsive. But its camera, normally Nokia’s strong suit, is not on par with its fellow siblings. I see from Nokia’s perspective that you should continue releasing these Symbian phones as like nothing has happened – but my eyes are fixated on your Nokia N9 (running MeeGo) and your upcoming Windows Phone 7.

It’s a great phone, let down by its camera and (as usual) operating system and overshadowed by the hype from upcoming phones from the Finnish maker.

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