The Nokia C7 was announced months after the Nokia N8, but Espoo’s been a tad more hasty getting this one on to shop shelves, and you now have a choice when it comes to buying a Symbian 3 smartphone. Are you spoiled for said choice, or is it one between a rock and a hard place? Find out in our full Nokia C7 review right here.
The Nokia N8 is Nokia’s flagship smartphone for early adopters, packed full of unusual features like a mini HDMI slot, 12 megapixel camera and the ability to add USB storage. But the Nokia C7 is the cheaper option, packing in the same software into a pleasant frame nonetheless. Think of it as the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4. Except running inferior software.
If the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic is the touchscreen phone that could take a tumble, the Nokia C7 is the one that can survive a trip to the concrete too, without looking like a giant Yorkie bar in the process. It’s not stunningly beautiful, but it isn’t a busted clunker like the 5800, and the Nokia C7′s super slim, metal casing never feels like you could break it with a drop. At 10.5mm deep, there really are very few phones on the market any skinnier. And yet it still manages to stuff in a respectable camera and 8GB of storage, plus a microSD card slot to add your own.
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The Nokia C7′s build is not without its flaws though. While the home button has been put back in the middle (very sensible), there’s now no volume controls: in their place are track controls on the right hand side. It’s also icy to touch, something we’re noticing especially in this cold snap right now, and disappointingly smudge prone. Finally, the lock switch is a pull down affair, which works much better if you have longer nails. Guy digits will struggle from time to time, which just shouldn’t be something we have to put up with in a phone in 2010.
The 3.5-inch, 640×360 screen on the Nokia C7 is almost identical to that of the Nokia N8. Grainy web browsing aside, that’s no bad thing, and the AMOLED technology does result in vivid colours. It’s also capacitive, so it’s fingertip friendly unlike Nokias of old. Any issued with touch recognition are down to the software – more on that below.
The one disappointing aspect of the screen is that it it sucks in fingerprints like gamers to a Call of Duty launch. We’ve not seen something so smudgetastic in a long time, and the metal casing does little to help the impression that your phone is dirty. Carry a tissue with you at all times
Nokia rarely disappoints with its camera, and the the Nokia C7 is no exception. Around the back is an eight megapixel sensor with dual LED flash. It’s not quite up to scratch with the stunning low light performance of the Nokia N8 and its huge sensor, but it’s still better than anything rivals like HTC can muster, and for the size, the 720p video is excellent, with a welcome option to digital zoom while filming in HD. See for yourself in the clip below, taken on a foggy morning:
The differences between the Nokia N8 and the Nokia C7 are very much in the hardware: when it comes to software, both are nearly identical, for better or worse. Both run Symbian 3, Nokia’s revamp of its Symbian S60 OS, which was thoroughly unsuited to touchscreens. So, just about every point we made in our Nokia N8 review stands here too – except that you can’t plug the Nokia C7 into your TV for a game of Angry Birds on the big screen.
That means a smoother browser, pinch to zoom gestures on web pages and a faster frame rate in menus than before. But all of this is relative – it wouldn’t be hard to better the awful experience on touchscreen Symbian S60. Gestures and navigation are still slightly janky, Symbian 3 on the Nokia C7 still causes far too many screen whiteouts, and the onscreen keyboard is both oversized to the point where you can’t see what you’re writing, and poorly laid out in an exact and equally spaced grid.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s a huge improvement on Symbian on the likes of the Nokia N97 and Nokia X6, but that’s because the user experience on both was so atrocious it would be harder to make them any worse. And while Symbian 3′s media support is solid, we still prefer the ease of use and vast app archives of both iOS and Android over it.
On the plus side, the Nokia C7 does come with a Nando’s Chicken app preinstalled. We wouldn’t buy a phone based on this alone, but seriously, who doesn’t like chicken?
As with the Nokia N8, Symbian 3 on the Nokia C7 won’t win any converts – in the same price bracket, only the camera makes it a better purchase than the Android HTC Legend. But there’s no denying Nokia has maintained a loyal fan base thanks to legacy support, and perhaps more importantly, its rock solid hardware.
Nowhere is the latter more evident than in the Nokia C7, which is a marvel of a mobile when it comes sturdy build in a slim phone. It’s one for longtime Nokia fans only, but if you don’t need the extra bells and whistles, we’d choose it over the Nokia N8 and save a few quid each month. The thing is, we can’t see the die hard Nokia fans who can cope with Symbian 3 not wanting all those hardware extras. MeeGo really can’t come soon enough, Nokia.