By January 26, 2011

Nokia C7 Review

C7-main Nokia is the world’s biggest handset manufacturer but is not the most favoured amongst tech journalists and phone enthusiasts. Nokia is trying to change that with the release of the Nokia C7. Announced back in September at Nokia World, the handset runs the brand new Symbian 3 and that is a great improvement on past versions.

But can this new version compete with the likes of Android, iOS, Windows Phone 7, Blackberry and Web OS, or does the C7 not even keep up with its brother, the Nokia N8?

Read on to find out.




What’s in the Box?

  • Nokia C7
  • Nokia Propitiatory Charger
  • MicroUSB to USB sync/charge cable
  • UK 3-Pin Charger
  • Wired Headphones
  • OVI Quick Start Guide
  • Handset Manual

The 10 Second Review:

  • Product: Nokia C7
  • Price: From free on contract with all networks. £290 on Pay as you go + top up. SIM Free from £285 from various
  • Summary: Fantastic hardware with a great build quality and camera. Symbian 3 is a great improvement from last iterations but still the hurdle that the C7 falls at.
  • Best of: Camera, Build Quality, AMOLED screen, Battery life, Radio Reception
  • Worst of: OVI Store, On-screen keyboard
  • Buy from: Clove – Sim Free | Carphone Warwhouse – Contract

Nokia C7 Specs:

  • Symbian^3 OS
  • Size – 117.3 x 56.8 x 10.5 mm, 64 cc
  • Weight – 130 g
  • Display – AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
  • Screen Size – 360 x 640 pixels, 3.5 inches
  • Scratch resistant Gorilla glass display
  • Proximity sensor for auto turn-off
  • Multi-touch input method
  • Accelerometer sensor for UI auto-rotate
  • 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Memory – Practically unlimited entries and fields, Photocall
  • Storage – 8 GB storage, 256 MB RAM, 1 GB ROM
  • MicroSD up to 32GB
  • HSDPA, 10.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 2 Mbps
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth v3.0 with A2DP
  • microUSB v2.0, USB On-the-go support
  • Camera – 8 MP, 3264×2448 pixels, fixed focus, dual-LED flash
  • Video – 720p@25fps, video stabilization
  • Secondary VGA camera
  • CPU – ARM 11 680 MHz processor, 3D Graphics HW accelerator
  • SMS, MMS, Email, Push Email, IM
  • Browser – WAP 2.0/xHTML, HTML, RSS feeds
  • Stereo FM radio, FM transmitter
  • GPS with A-GPS support; Ovi Maps 3.0




On the top of the C7 there is the power button, 3.5mm headphone jack and a little flap, which covers the Micro-USB cable for data transfer and charging.


On the left hand side of the phone is the small style property Nokia charger. Other than that the left hand side is completely bare.


The right hand side of the device is crowded. Going down; at the top there’s the volume up button, then the Voice Key and then the volume down. In the middle there is the ridged  unlock/lock switch. Underneath all of this is the dedicated camera button.


On the bottom of the device is the wrist strap hole for putting a wrist strap (who uses these any more?) or one of those phone bangles.


The awesome 8MP camera lens, duel-LED flash and external speaker are at the top on the back of the C7. Then towards the bottom you’ll find the back cover latch and the noise-canceling microphone.


The majority of the front of the handset is taken up by 3.5″ AMOLED capacitive touch screen. Above the screen is the Nokia logo and the front-facing VGA camera for video calling and Facebook profile pictures. Beneath the screen there is the call key, hang up key and the menu key. There is also the microphone just underneath the menu key.





When I was asked if I would like to do the Nokia C7 review, I was, to be honest, a little apprehensive. I had heard horror stories from other tech journalists and reviewers about Symbian and how bad an OS it was. But when the C7 arrived at my front door and I turned it on for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised, maybe even at bit shocked, at how decent it was. It was certainly not as bad as I first feared.

I’ll start with the positives. The handset is a very pretty device. Clean edges and thin form factor make it very nice to hold and look at. There aren’t any weird things poking out and attracting attention. It is all very minimalistic and pleasant to look at.

The handset feels incredibly well built. There are no creaks or bends anywhere on the device and has an high premium feel to it. The build quality is on par with the iPhone 4 and the Nexus One, perhaps even better. The back is made completely out of aluminum and adds to the quality feel. The texture is smooth but has enough friction so it always stays in your hand.  No matter what position you hold it in, it will stay in your hand. Don’t take that literally, if you hold it upside down it will fall on to the floor. But if you do happen to drop the Nokia C7, it shouldn’t break because the glass on the front is Gorilla Glass. You know, the non-scratchable, virtually unbreakable and totally awesome screen technology that reassures those users who are a little careless when it comes mobile phones. The weight also adds a premium feel to the device. At 130g, the handset is heavy enough to seem like it is made out of quality materials, but light enough not to hurt your hand after 5 minutes of holding it. All in all, a very nice handset to hold.


The main feature of the C7 is the camera. At 8MP, the camera is not as good as the Nokia N8 which a 12MP Carls Zeiss lens lyes, but like all Nokia phones it walks all over the competition when it comes to taking snaps. Like all good camera phones, the C7 has a dedicated camera button that is used for accessing the camera application from anywhere on the device and it is also used as a shutter for taking photos. The positioning of the button is however quite weird. When you hold it landscape, the button is all the way on the right. This means that you need to move your finger out to the extreme right side, which is kind of uncomfortable. I would much prefer it if the button was right underneath/to the right (depending which way you are holding the device) of the unlock switch – that would be a much more comfortable position for taking photos in both portrait and landscape. Also, the button is a little too embedded into the device.  I would prefer it to stick out a little so the is some feedback when I actually press the button.

But there is a huge issue with the camera in the C7. And that is the fact that it is fixed focus. This is okay for taking landscape or wide shots but for close ups or if you want to make the background soft to bring out the stuff in the foreground you are stuck unfortunately. This really isn’t good enough for a phone that’s main selling feature is the camera. Yes I know that it is a mid-level handset but when a camera is the one thing that people might consider whether to buy the handset or not, you would think they would pimp it out and make it one of the best camera phones on the market. But no, they compromised and therefore really reduced the abilities and therefore the usefulness of the camera.

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But lets not dwell on the negatives, lets jump straight into the positives. The picture quality is absolutely fantastic. I’m not that much of a photographer but you can definitely see that even with my limited ability, the photos it produces are great.

The interface of taking photos is quite simple yet functional.  You have all the stuff you would expect from a camera app. The number of photos left to take, the MP count, whether you are in camera or video, flash settings, different modes day, night, sport etc, ISO adjustments, face detect, exposure settings, self timer, colour settings, contrast settings and loads more that I just don’t have the time to go into. In short, a fully featured camera app.


As well as taking 8MP stills, the C7 can also shoot up to 720p HD video – and it doesn’t disappoint. The frame rate is good although a little choppy when it comes to fast moving objects or lets say if you were running while shooting. The quality is much better my HTC Desire HD but in my opinion it is not as good as its older brother the N8 or the iPhone 4. But it can hold its own and the C7 could replace many portable HD camcorders.

The screen on the C7, put simply is awesome. At 3.5″ it is a good size for most hands. Most C7 buyers are either going to be Nokia users already who are going to be used to the size of other Nokia handsets or they are going to be feature phone users or first time smartphone owners, so they will find the size comfortable. The screen technology is AMOLED and it is stunning. The colours are incredibly vibrant and clear, especially the blues and greens and it is just a pleasure to look at. The screen itself is very responsive. Whenever you touch something on the screen it gives haptic ( ????)  feedback so obviously the screen is responsive. But the problem here lies with the software. It takes about half a second for the action to happen (except for typing) and it really slows down the usage on the phone.


Enough with the hardware, onto the software. The Nokia C7 runs the latest version of Symbian – Symbian 3. I had heard that Symbian was the worst OS in the world and it should wither and die. Given that less than glowing endorsement and that the Nokia C7 the first phone I was going to use that was running Symbian, I was nervous. But like Chris said in his Nokia N8 review, which also happens to run Symbian 3, I was surprised that I didn’t want to throw the device under a bus. I am not however going to go to say a lot about Symbian 3 as Chris has already done an absolutely fantastic job going into great detail about the new version of the OS in his Nokia N8 review. But I am going to go over the basic stuff in this review.

Lets start from the beginning. The lock screen shows the time, date and any notification you may have such as a missed call, text message etc. But you can also add stuff like changing the screensaver to a slideshow of your photos, show the music player, show some animations or show the clock (this is the one I use because it is simple and I don’t have a need for the other options). You can unlock the device by either pressing the unlock button on the screen, or by using the unlock switch on the right hand side of the device. And when you do this, 3 customisable home screens greet you. You can add anything from RSS feeds to applications to notifications or even a music player widget all from the home screen. Now you might be thinking that this isn’t that advanced as Android has had these for ages but Symbian hasn’t had these before and as I use an Android handset as my daily driver, I like the fact that widgets are in Symbian 3.

etIMG_20110124_152333 IMG_20110124_152346

Before I get into the non-phone stuff like email, social networks and the likes, we’ve got to remember that the C7 is a phone above all else and on that count it doesn’t disappoint.

The dialer is very simple. The number pad for entering the phone number, a call button for calling, a backspace key to delete the previous number and a contacts button for, you guessed it,  going to your contacts book. Not much to talk about except for the fact that it is there. In terms of the actual calling, it is very good. One of the few good things about Nokia is the fact that they have great call quality and radio reception. When I am at my desk my Desire HD barely gets 50% signal strength.(I am using % because the both phones use different scales to measure signal strength) But when my SIM card is in the C7, I get well over 75% signal strength. And this translates into great call quality. It was very clear on both ends and I haven’t had a single dropped call the whole time I’ve been using the device.

number-pad_thumb contacts_thumb

Next, messaging, and there’s a relatively standard text messaging application. It has all the necessary requirements: Conversation thread, inbox, outbox, drafts, sent and of course send message. The actual interface isn’t that advanced and why should it be? It is just a text messaging function. You have all the usual stuff like, who to send it to, attachments, contact book etc. All in all a pretty standard messaging app and again nothing much to talk about.

messaging-2_thumb messaging-5_thumb

However, one my biggest complaints about the Nokia C7 and Symbian is the keyboards. I Hate Them. In portrait, you have the old T9 style where you have to press the button over and over again to get to the right letter. Really slow and cumbersome. I thought I’d seen the last of the T9 when I went to the iPhone, but no, it has found it’s way back to me. Give me a QWERTY any day. There is a QWERTY keyboard on the C7 if you turn it sideways, but it is not very good. The letters are all in a line and it just feels awkward to type on after using the great keyboards on iOS and Android. Also, there is no spell check or predictive text on the C7. It takes me ages to type out a sentence because of the weird key layout and the fact that I am so used to Android’s awesome predictive text holding my hand. It took me a few days of using the C7 to get used to this abnormal keyboard but now it is okay. But I expect that this won’t be a problem for an Android or iOS user like myself because I cannot imagine them going from those high end devices to the C7.  As the people I expect to pick up the C7 are either going to be new smartphone users, who have not used the better keyboards on Android and iOS before and will be totally comfortable with what is on offer on the C7 or they are going to be a Symbian fan and are already going to be used to the Symbian keyboard.

Alright -  onto the things that make a smartphone, a smartphone. Apps. Apple has the App Store with over 300,000 apps and almost 10 billion downloads, Android has the Marketplace with over 200,00 apps, and Nokia has the Ovi Store. Lets just say, it’s not the best. The interface is clunky, there aren’t enough apps that I need (like official Twitter and Facebook apps) and the payment system is awful. It really is lagging quite a long way behind the other smartphone platforms. There are hardly any good apps available and the very few on offer are overpriced. On iOS, Angry Birds is £0.59p and in the Ovi store it is £3.00! Nokia really needs to sort out the Ovi store if it has any chance of competing with the likes of Apple and Google.

ovi-1_thumb ovi-2_thumb ovi-3_thumb

You can get to the apps on the C7 if you press the menu button. The first menu is where the primary apps live, such as the Ovi Store, calendar, media stuff and settings. These apps are pretty self-explanatory. In the bottom right hand corner of this menu are the rest of the primary apps and this is where the apps you download or install end up.

I’m gonna go into the 3 most important “smartphone” apps. The browser, email and social network stuff.

So first, the browser. This app is one of the most important apps in a smartphone. The ability to get to any web page right on your mobile device is definitely appealing to non-smartphone users. So how is the browser on the C7? In one word, meh. It is in between the awesomely good iOS and Android browsers and unbelievably bad feature phone browsers. It has the multi-touch features of the iOS and Android browsers but its not as smooth, though the speeds are decent. There are some aspects of a feature phone browser present, for example, after you finish entering the URL you have to press the go to button and when you are viewing a page there isn’t any address bar at the top to quickly get to another web page. Instead, you have to press the arrows in the bottom right hand corner and then pressing another button to enter another URL. I know I am nitpicking but it still has an air of a feature phone about it. 

browser-2_thumb browser-1_thumb 

Next, email. I couldn’t even get my email set up on the C7. Whenever I entered my details into the included app, the only option available was Mail for Exchange. So I am either a Symbian n00b and doing something completely wrong (more likely) or Symbian hates gmail. (See the Nokia N8 for the native Symbian 3 email client) So to get around this I used Mobile Documents. From looking at other reviews and screenshots of the native email client, I recommend using Mobile Documents. From what I can tell it is a much better looking interface, you can use more than 2 email addresses and push notifications are better. Both Mobile Documents and the native mail client have all the email features you would expect. Inbox, Outbox, Sent etc. Again, nothing much to talk about except for the fact that they’re there.   


Lets move on to the social network stuff shall we?  Both Twitter and Facebook apps are incorporated into one social networking app. The app is as good as any other social networking app on any other platform. For Twitter it has basically everything you need: timeline, @replies, DMs and so on. The only thing missing is Reply All and Facebook is just about the same. It has the News feed, notifications, calendar, profile etc.. All in all, a nice social networking app. Oh and one more thing, it comes with a widget that you can put on the homescreen to either get the latest tweet from your followers, or the latest status update from you Facebook friends.

social-1_thumb social-3_thumb_1 social-5_thumb social-6_thumb

These days, smartphones just eat up the battery. Take my Desire HD for example. I can barely get through a day without a recharge. So you would expect the C7 to be similar. You thought wrong. The battery life on the C7 is stunning. I got well over 2 days with heavy use and I imagine if you paced your self with the usage, you could probably get 3 or 4 days on a single charge. This is unheard of in the smartphone world! I suppose it gets this battery life because unlike on Android, it is not totally reliant on the internet for widgets, background operations, email etc.



In conclusion, the C7 is a great handset for people who like Symbian or for any feature phone user who wants to step up from a Razr but doesn’t want to get a high-end smartphone such as the iPhone or an Android device. The hardware is great, the software is a great improvement on previous iterations but I don’t see users who have had Android or iOS devices ever switching to the C7. As good a handset as it is, Symbian just lets it down when it is in the running with iOS and Android.

Put simply. The C7 is a great phone. A great phone, but not a great smartphone.



Posted by Patrick



Posted in: Reviews

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