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Nokia C3 - It's Great, But What's With That Keypad?
Nokia’s been hitting them out of the park for awhile now and quite a few of their new handsets have proven to be winners, if not all. To cater to the lower-end segment looking for easy functionality and speedy typing and of course to show the Micromaxs and Intexs of the country a thing or two, they had launched the C3. The question is though, did they manage to deliver? They’ve done so on many occasions, but here’s a closer look at the Nokia C3.
Placed inside a sturdy shell the C3 is a sharp looking handset which has a clay yet comfortable feel about it. It’s easy to grip and at just 114g in weight it’s definitely easy to carry around. It sports a 2.4-inch TFT LCD with a 320 x 240 pixel resolution that’s very comfortable for viewing in all lighting conditions. While the keypad is large and might be an issue for people with larger fingers, it’ll nevertheless take just a few minutes to get used to. What makes it really annoying is the inclusion of two scripts on each key and no distinguishing color for the number pad. This is an extremely bad move as it looks horribly cluttered and untidy and if you’re not used to QWERTY you’re going to have a painfully time just trying to find the alphabet. In an effort to make the keypad a convenience for people who type in both languages, they’ve made it painfully difficult.
Another keypad oddity is the two slim silver keys on either side of the five way nav-pad. Symbols of the Phone book and Messaging are clearly depicted but the keys are open to being used for any shortcuts. By default the left hand key with the phone book icon opened up the communities and the right with message was left for me to decide. It’s great having options but why bother with symbols then.
A micro USB port is placed on the left side just above the microSD card hot swap slot (support for up to 8GB). The two buttons at the bottom, on either side of the C3, shouldn’t be mistaken for any kind of function keys; they’re simply used to pop up the rear panel. A 3.5mm handsfree socket is placed on the top.
Features and Performance
The C3 runs on a Symbian platform of the S40 variety but it looks very much S60 now. The UI layout is almost identical on the landscaped screen to the E5, a Series 6o device. Navigating the menus is a breeze. If you’re a Nokia user as is, you’ll have no issues. There’s just a bit of lag while trying to activate some apps or functions like opening the photo gallery of waiting for an image you’ve selected to open completely. There’s still no social networking integration for the phonebook, but you can’t have everything at this low a price... unless you go Android. The auto correction and word completion settings, on this slightly refurbished UI, is quite intuitive and very handy. The new home screen is designed to make it easier to access your favourite contacts, social networks or most frequently used apps without having to go into the main menu.
Music playback is a non-issue. The C3 dishes out very balanced tones which can really be enjoyed further if you’ve got yourself a good set of earphones. The bundled handsfree is comfortable but not really provisioned to handle the full range. A set of EQ presets are available and a customizable 5-band option is also provided along with Stereo Widening. You can sync playlist or create them on the handset itself. The FM radio performed quite averagely. Reception was not too good while commuting but was clear when I was stationary in some areas. The speaker phone is loud enough to have a conversation (not outdoors of course) but not all too great for audio.
Video capabilities are limited to 3GP and MPEG4 files that don’t go beyond the 320 x 240 resolution barrier. The screen is just large enough to watch a few short clips or an episode of your favourite TV shows at a stretch. One minor peeve with the interface for the video section is that hitting the Back option takes you all the way out to the Music menu screen and not the list of videos where you came in. It’s no big deal but does require a few unnecessary button taps to get back into the file list.
Nokia has thrown in a few pre-installed games like Bounce Tales, Diamond Rush and Sudoku. A built-in photo editor function is also on board just to help make your photos a little more interesting if need be.
EDGE/GPRS and Wi-Fi are the primary modes of internet connectivity included in the C3. For browser options, if the native browser is not to your liking Opera Mini is also on board and makes for a speedier alternative. Nokia has also included their Communities Social Networking application for Facebookers and Tweeters. It’s easy to set up your accounts and it even has a shortcuts space on the home menu for updating your status. For more apps and downloads you could get whatever you need from games to mundane apps off of the Nokia Ovi Store. Setting up your POP/IMAP email account is also a simple enough process thanks to Nokia’s new email application. For data transfer you’ve got Bluetooth v2.1 with A2DP compatibility and USB 2.0 for PC interfacing.
Like any other Nokia handset be it S40 or otherwise, all mobile phone basics like a Calendar, alarm, World Clock, Calculator, unit converter are all present and accounted for. Other features the C3 is loaded with in this category include a Voice recorder with a 1.5 foot range (if you want clear voice pick up) a To Do List, Notes, countdown timer and stop watch. Nokia also makes it very convenient to switch handsets with their Phone Switch Bluetooth app that transfers all your data and settings form one handset to another compatible Nokia device. There’s also a Back-Up option available for sending your data to the memory card or of course syncing data with online servers.
The C3 is equipped with a 2 Megapixel camera and very limited settings. Those settings include white balance, a few effects, a self timer and digital zoom. The maximum resolution for videos is 320 x 240.
For a 2MP mobile phone camera, the C3’s is not bad at all. In outdoor conditions during the day, image quality is really quite good. Expect a bit of grain but that’s only natural. It doesn’t far too well indoor pictures are lot more grainy and slightly less focused but not unlike other mobile phone cameras in this range.
With a 1320mAh battery the C3 delivers well on the battery life front. On a single charge it ran for two days with quite a bit of usage from calls and messages to emails and internet access. Media does tend to drain the battery a little faster I noticed, but with an average talk time of well over 5 hours, the C3 performed really well.
The Bottom Line
With a Best Price of about Rs. 5,500, the C3 makes for a great choice of handset. Even if the keypad is totally warped, the overall functionality of the handset and its feature set make it a worth consideration. So in this holiday season, if you’re thinking of that neat little techno-gift for a loved one, the C3 could very well be it. They’ll curse you for the outrageously complicated looking keypad but once they use it for a bit, you’ll feel the love.