Nokia C7 smartphone
Review Nokia’s smart phone offering has been not so much off the boil as distinctly lukewarm for the last few years with a series of capable handsets that offer some decent specs, but fall behind the competition for usability and, well, fun. Unfortunately, that looks unlikely to change with the Nokia C7. While it includes brick outhouse build quality and exemplary battery life along with an 8Mp camera among its broad range of features, it remains hamstrung by its clunky operating system.
Symbian smartie: Nokia's C7
At first sight, Nokia’s C7 is a respectable looking smart phone, with its shiny glass front and matt black plastic and stainless steel casing. It measures 117 x 57 x 11mm and 130g. While bigger, it’s more or less the same weight as its cousin, the C6-01, released around the same time. Above the 3.5in screen are light sensor and VGA camera for calls, with backlit call start and stop buttons below surrounding an extruded menu button.
On the sides are volume and voice command buttons, camera shutter and screen lock switch and Nokia power port, with power button, 3.5mm headphone jack and micro USB sync port covered by a plastic grommet, all crammed onto the top. On the back are twin loudspeakers, camera lens and dual LED flash. You’ll need to remove the back to get to the Sim card, and also the battery to get to the microSD card.
The capacitive multi-touch screen is big and bright and generally lovely, though perhaps not consistently the most sensitive I’ve tried – there were occasional sticky moments which required two or three presses to access functions.
The C7 runs on Symbian 3, the latest version of Nokia’s operating system and first seen on the recent Nokia N8. It would be okay – if there’d never been such a thing as the iPhone, or Android, or most other modern smartphone platforms come to that.
Comes with Nokia maps for off-line navigation
It’s true that its grid system, spread across three home pages, allows you to customise your phone’s screen with widgets and shortcuts – including Quickoffice and Nokia’s free sat nav app – to do most of the things you can with other phones, the trouble is that it just doesn’t them as well.
Next page: Menu items
Fixable versus built-in faults
Well, iPhone 4 was a near perfect execution, but with a fundamental design flaw that really couldn't be overlooked by any balanced reviewer. 75% is a fair reflection of this. With an adequate antenna design, it should have been a 90%+ product (I'd drop a few percent for the poorer ergonomics compared to the 3GS). Unfortunately, as a hardware flaw--- and a design flaw at that--- the phones are stuck with the problem. Yes, a silicone bumper fixes it, but it does dent Apple's reputation for being utter perfectionists.
The Nokia Symbian3 phones are the opposite - near flawless hardware design and execution, masked by a very dated user experience. 75% is a fair reflection of this too.. With a more modern and streamlined UI and shell, this would be a 90%+ product too.
The difference between them is that Nokia have an opportunity to fix their problem, and very importantly, to fix it for the people who have already bought these phones. They have promised a fully new UI in mid-2011 to coincide with (and copy the look and feel of) their MeeGo phones, but before that, in February, a new browser and other feature improvements are due.
Delivery has been a problem for Nokia before, though, so let's wait and see...
Didnt want a droid or a money pit phone so went for an N8 fully aware of whats been written about the OS. Knowing the hardware itself is top drawer is not a bad place to start when looking for a reliable phone.
Re the connectivity pop ups, personally, I quite like knowing what my phone is doing data wise, and dont feel it encroaches on the experience at all.
My conclusion so far is that if you like playing with settings, S^3 is all good. Im looking forward to the Q1 update to see what that brings, but its not half as terrible as many reviews seem to make out. (already had a minor update a few days ago that makes the whole phone feel snappier).
Same as anything new to you SW wise, within a few days of using it, things become much easier / understandable once you know where to look.
Why no mention of the built in FM Transmitter? thats a very useful feature if your in the car a lot & no accessory required.
Opera Mobile / Mini for web browsing obviously, although the symbian version is flash enabled for the youtubes iplayer requirements.
Nokia are getting there again, their internal failings and odd management structure are well documented but once that starts getting fixed & its looking like it, I dont think I'll be going back to SE any time soon.
Isn't it the GUI not the OS you should be moaning about?
I have the Nokia N8 and think it's great. Out of the box, it is a bit, well clunky, but that's the GUI, not the OS.
I've also downloaded the SPB GUI app and it transforms the phone. Literally transforms it.
Up to 5 homescreens, individually movable widgets, far smoother scrolling. It is like having a totally different phone.
If a third party can deliver such a stunning interface, why can't Nokia?
At about £25 it's an expensive app, but worth it.
It shouldn't though, require an app...
I mean, seriously, WTF?
I thought this is a tech site, not a fashion site.
No other mobile OS is nearly as feature complete (SyncML, BT-OBEX, Imap-Idle ...) and yet all you can say about it is "ugly and clunky"?
A reviewer has to take it as they find it, not try to fix its faults
True, the bumper fixes the problem, but I'd expect the reviewer to review a product the way it arrives, not with optional additions In Apple's case, they didn't supply the part with the phone, so it would be misleading to review the phone with that part fitted.
If we allowed this kind of thing, we'd quickly get to the stupid situation of saying things like : "Sure Symbian3 is clunky, but we replaced its UI with this shell, making the phone much better than X, Y, or Z" - well, yes, but the average customer doesn't get that fancy addition.
It's like saying that a particular car's engine lacks power, but never mind, we can ad a nitrous oxide kit to it; or the ride is overly hard, but never mind, we can change the springs, and then rating the vehicle with those modifications as being the most powerful and comfortable in its class.
Apple's brand value is based on their obsessive attention to detail - you buy an Apple product, the idea goes, and you can be assured that every little detail has been considered. Releasing a mobile phone with a badly designed antenna somewhat tarnishes this image, but the rest of the product was so good, that it didn't matter for most. It probably is the best smartphone/portable-media-device on the market, and as long as you don't experience the signal issues, it's near perfect. It is however, very far from being the best *phone* on the market, hence the low review score.
On Nokia's history of updates; yes it has been appalling, but they have at least admitted this, and are changing it. Some of the blame also has to be laid at their customers, the network operators, who often modified the phone software, introduced bugs, then didn't approve new, better, firmware for the phones. Symbian^3 has a better design that reduces the amount of screwup an operator can introduce, and allows firmware updates underneath the operator garbage.
Here's the test: Nokia have promised two major and one minor update for S^3 phones before Autumn, with the first, minor, expected sometime around this week and the first major on in February. I want to see how they execute on this, before passing judgment.