Nokia C5-03 budget touchscreen smartphone
Pocket friendly in more ways than one
Review With touchscreen smartphones all the rage, handsets with a decent spec and a 3in or larger screen are now filtering down to PAYG packages priced at around £100. For that sort of money you don't have a huge choice - the Orange San Francisco, Samsung Europa and Sony Ericsson X10 Mini stand out as the few worth considering. The latest to join them is Nokia's C5-03.
Deal breaker? Nokia's C5-03
Of course that price brings with it some compromises. To begin with C5-03 uses S60 Release 5 or as it's now called Symbian^1 which is starting to look like Bronze Age technology in an Iron Age world. As an operating system and interface it's both limited and inflexible, even when compared to Symbian^3, which the Nokia C6 and C7 use, never mind Android.
The screen itself is also built down to a price. The resolution of 360 x 640 may be tolerable as is the corner-to-corner size of 3.2in, but it's resistive rather than capacitive and the LCD panel's visual performance is poor. The colours are not overly vivid, the image not particularly bright, viewing angles are restricted and performance in direct sunlight is wretched.
It's not all bad news though. The C5-03 is another example of the currently excellent build quality from Nokia, matched by a clean, smart design ethic, complete with multiple colour options. And at only 106 x 51 x 14mm in size and 93g in weight, it is very pocketable. In fact, leaving aside the microscopic X10 Mini, it’s arguably the lightest touchscreen phone around.
Externally the C5-03 features volume and on/off/lock keys on the right hand side along with micro USB and 3.5mm audio interfacing up top. The call and menu buttons below the screen have a solid feel to them that belies the price point and the plastic materials. The handset can be recharged from either USB or the 2mm mains adapter that plugs into the bottom of the handset.
Lacking flash and autofocus, the 5Mp snapper is a no frills affair
The C5-03 comes with all the basic smartphone bells and whistles including 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, 10.2Mbps HSDPA, A-GPS with Ovi Maps for free turn-by-turn navigation. Naturally, there’s Bluetooth, a 5Mp camera and an RDS FM radio. You also get free 2GB MicroSD card to complement the meagre 40MB of available built-in storage. One thing the handset is missing is a proximity sensor to bring the screen to life when you take it away from your ear. Once the screen has timed-out you need to revive it manually.
Next page: Finnishing touch
Trying to convert myself to android but having a hard time of it -
I've got a Nokia 5800 and I'm trying out the Orange San Francisco (sounds like a bargain on the face of it at £100 with a good res screen). The android OS is great but a rogue app is using data (after doing a factory reset it's OK - I'm wondering if it's Facebook which I can't un-install as it's a "system" app! - this time I didn't sign into it). The build quality is worse. And there's an issue with it forgetting about the SIM card. I had to install the "blade wifi fix" app to sort out a Wifi problem. The sat nav is on-line so no use when I'm on holiday and Google don't cover as many countries as Ovi anyway. it's also very basic in comparison.
Even if I spent a bit more on a better android phone, I'd then be into the no battery life issue. Two guys at work leave theirs plugged in permanently when they're at home or at their desk!
I'm not sure why I want android other than everyone else has one and it looks prettier. Being a geek I like the idea of the linux command line and clever apps but on the other hand, I do need a phone that works as a phone (and occasional sat nav) and doesn't cost more than a laptop.
So, you get what you pay for...
...and you get quite a lot.
Specifically, good call quality, long battery life, a good enough UI and operating system, some nice features.
You don't get an app store full of fluff for the hard of thinking, it doesn't cost you £500, and fanbois (most shades of) won't want you in their club.
It just gets better.
I know it's currently trendy to diss Nokia, but come on, what happened to function over form?
Disclaimer: I own and love my 5800, running the same OS, I think. And in cold weather I can keep my gloves on in cold weather, because it's got a resistive screen.
You *can* get androids for this price.
Vodafone is offering the X10 Mini on PAYG for £130 and the Orange San Francisco is available for £100 PAYG which makes them both realistic alternatives to the C5-03 for any potential smartphone buyer on a budget.
At the high end of 'budget'
Let's not forget the extra £10-15 to unlock it, if you want to run a budget phone on a budget PAYG network. Making it nearly twice the price of an unlocked San Francisco (free unlock available).
Unless you really want to pay more in call charges than you did for the phone in a frighteningly short time.
It's unfortunate for Nokia, Android is redefining what 'budget' means.