Nokia C7 2 Stars

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Nokia has always stuck by its Symbian OS, even while the operating system has been criticised by reviewers. This in turn has led it to develop a loyal following of fans that like the fact that they don’t have to learn new menu systems when they upgrade their handset.

And while the likes of LG, HTC and Samsung have adopted Windows Phone 7 and Android, Nokia has stuck by its guns with Symbian. That OS has now been updated, with the introduction of Symbian^3, which first made an appearance on the Nokia N8 and now appears on the C7, a touch-screen handset that makes social networking its core focus.

First impressions

At first glance, the C7 impresses with its looks. Like a stretched pebble in shape, it has a metallic look and feel, which means it feels cool in the hand. It also is prone to getting covered in greasy fingerprints, so if you like your phones looking pristine, you’ll be busy regularly wiping off any smudges.

The 3.5inch AMOLED display is a good-looking thing and it doesn’t just look good – it is a really responsive capacitive screen. We weren’t so impressed with the three rather cluttered home screens though. Each one is crammed with six rows of widgets, news feeds and shortcuts. While it is possible to cut or alter these you can’t alter each one individually – rather inconveniently this means you have to cut an entire row and then replace with the widgets you want, rather than being able to just replace one or two. This is made even more complex thanks to the omission of a drag and drop facility (usually found on Android devices). You’ll have to navigate through the menus to complete these tasks.

Getting social

As we said at the start, social networking is at the core of the C7. Enter your Facebook and Twitter details and you can join all your feeds from both networks into one stream. This also means you can post updates on to both networks, as well as upload images and search for contacts. However, the feed is rather small, which mans that unless the update is just a few words long, you’ll find you have to open up the whole application to read it anyway. Not only that but when we did this we found the text was pixelated – odd on a display of this quality.

With both Google and Bing preloaded, you can choose your favoured search engine. But the text bars are so wee that it’s hard to see if you’ve actually entered the correct search terms. And in landscape mode, you’re left with a large expanse of empty white space on the right of the screen. A bit of pinching and pulling brought it into line, but it’s a bit of a nuisance – and rather odd when it displays correctly in portrait mode. We also noticed the lack of copy and paste, which is common to most smartphones.

Voice search is a bit of a letdown too, and can’t compare with that found on Android Froyo devices. Google has made great strides in this area, but the C7’s attempt (which can be switched on using the dedicated key on the right side of the handset) sounds robotic and is inconsistent.

Onto the good news though. OviMaps is one of the best ‘free’ mapping facilities available and we found we got a fast, accurate fix using A-GPS. The camera (eight-megapixels) is one of the C7’s standout features. The zoom is smoother than that found on most mobile phone cameras and there are plenty of after-effects to make the most of your pictures – even a remove red-eye function. The dual LED flash is really powerful – so much so that you’ll want to avoid setting it off too near to people’s faces or they’ll be left seeing spots! It is also possible to use the flash when recording video.

The verdict

When we reviewed the Nokia N8, we said how much we liked Symbian^3 even though it’s not perfect. The OS seems to be moving slowly forward, while Android and Windows are making progress in great leaps, improving features and user-friendliness all the time. The C7 is a perfect example of this – it has excellent design, snapper and mapping on offer, but the handset is let down by its crammed home screens, a limited ability to customise and a less user-friendly experience. We would choose Apple, Android or Windows over Symbian whenever we had the choice.

The cool metallic styling is appealing.
It’s a shame that the small size of news feeds and widgets means you need to open them up to appreciate them fully.
  • Look and Feel 4 Stars
  • Ease of use 2 Stars
  • Features 4 Stars
  • Performance 2 Stars
  • Battery life 4 Stars

Final verdict: 2 Stars

Review by Mobile Choice