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Nokia C3 - Interface and Messaging

By Edward Chester



Our Score:


Moving onto software and the C3 is running Nokia's venerable Series 40 operating system. It's starkly simplistic in its general look and feel, and certainly doesn't push any frontiers in terms of functionality. However, on such a simple phone it feels quite adequate. Moreover, there are a few additions that mean it isn't completely behind the times.

The Home Screen can be either kept clear or you can add up to three widgets with a choice of favourite contacts, Facebook, calendar, shortcut bar, radio and media player, and notifications amongst others. It's not on the level of a full smartphone OS but you can customise everything to get you where you want pretty quickly. You can also assign a shortcut to each direction of the directional-pad (D-pad) as well as the two raised silver buttons.

Symbian/Nokia's love of menus is the only thing that really lets the main interface down, with too many options and a somewhat unintuitive layout. Thankfully, as the phone has such basic functionality that the menu-chaos isn't too much of an annoyance, as you soon learn the whereabouts of everything.

Also, whereas most of the key apps like contacts and messages are quick to open - and look and feel like native apps - many extras like email, Facebook, and Twitter are Java apps, taking a couple of seconds to load and sporting a totally different look and feel. It's somewhat irritating, certainly compared to proper smartphones, but thankfully once you're in the apps they all work very well. Moreover, considering how cheap this phone is, it seems a more than acceptable compromise.

Managing your text messages on this phone is a breeze, with texts stored in conversations making it easier to keep track of what you and a particular contact were chatting about. Thanks to the excellent keyboard it's also easy to bash out fairly lengthy messages in double quick time. You can also access Windows Live Messenger, though the service is pretty slow.

Email support is basic, even lacking notifications of new messages until you've already opened the app, but the layout is nice and intuitive, and there are all the usual options you'd hope for.

Facebook and Twitter are accessed via a Communities app, which appears to be nothing more than a list of the above apps. It can take a little while to load the apps and, like email, you don't get notifications of updates or messages. But so long as you get in a habit of checking the services every now and then you'll still feel like you're in the loop.

The apps themselves are also nicely laid out and easy to use, if a tad slow. You can even upload photos straight from the camera.

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Luan Bach

October 28, 2010, 12:41 pm

I've lost count of the number of times I've said this but here goes one more time, S40 is NOT Symbian.


October 28, 2010, 1:06 pm

Right you are, fixed.

Martin Daler

October 28, 2010, 1:50 pm

why, oh why a proprietry charger?? The USB socket is there - surely it's got to be cheaper to dispense with the extra jack socket, dispense with the charger itself even - we've all got half a dozen USB chargers floating about and some car chargers to boot. Anyway, I thought all this was nonsense sorted a while ago and the industry had agreed to go mini-USB? What happened?


October 28, 2010, 5:27 pm

At the risk of trolling if you think is this great value you can't have seen the Orange San Francisco. £20 more for a WVGA AMOLED touchscreen and Android. When's the review?!!


October 28, 2010, 6:34 pm

They had agreed to use micro usb, not mini USB. I suspect that the internals are based off an already existing design which doesn't support charging over USB.

Brian ONeill

October 28, 2010, 8:04 pm

I got one of these for the wife. They are good value for money, but there are a few notes:

-The screen does scratch extremely easily, like within the first day

-The OS is a dog, its colourful but finding your way around is very complex

-Downloading email is crazy slow

The worst part was the slow email it could take a few mins to send and receive.

I think a better alternative is the e63 on 3. I got it for £89 on payg. The 3g connection makes a huge different and the build quality of the device is a lot better than the c3.

I see the new e5 is just out on three as well for £150, a review of that would be good.

Personally i only went for nokia as there were no decent android keyboard phones for less than £250. The nokia OS's are nothing short of horrid.


October 28, 2010, 8:16 pm

@Ed - Great to see you give some love to Nokia for a change.

I was left wondering about one thing though. What's up with the video recording being limited to only 5 seconds..?? Especially since it says on Nokia's website that "Video clip length: up to capacity of memory card". Something doesn't add up here.

(BTW, it still says Symbian on page 3 below the first picture.)

Martin Daler

October 28, 2010, 9:11 pm

@Rav San Francisco looks great, but can I get it without the Orange bit?

@Mattj sorry, I meant micro-USB (which is what the wretched thing has!)

Martin Daler

October 28, 2010, 9:16 pm


@Ed/Rav - it says "Review units available on request"


October 28, 2010, 9:40 pm

@rav - Seems to be a capacitive touchscreen too, all for £99... consider my socks well and truly blown off. If only there were an Orange signal in my area. :(


October 29, 2010, 2:13 am

£65 @ carphonewarehouse.


Makes a great backup phone.


October 29, 2010, 3:26 am

I suspect TR will look at the San Francisco when they're talking about touchscreen smartphones and not messaging feature phones which are 80% of its price.

I mean, really. Come on.


October 29, 2010, 6:33 am

If there is one thing that Nokia know it's how to make a cheap phone. I'll admit that the OS can be difficult to get used to at first but you do get the hang of it. I've not seen a C3 in the flesh but I would very much like to have a go with one. I bet that it will be well built as well.

What I want to know is when are TR going to come up with a review of the N8?


October 30, 2010, 8:09 pm

only problem with the Orange San Francisco is, because it is orange, they have loaded it with all their crapware, like do you need standard android photo app AND oranges photo app?, luckily it is painfully simple to root and flash an unbranded android to it, which will get you nice clean android, google navigation and voice search being the main functions you get.

Arctic Fox

October 31, 2010, 5:40 pm

Yes Ed, I have to say this phone _is_ pretty amazing value for money _and_ it may be a very important and positive harbinger of things to come from Nokia. The company as we all know needs to get back on track, most particularly (for range of reasons which I am sure that I do not need to enumerate in this forum) in the smartmob market. If they can produce a phone of this quality at this price point what might they be planning with their high-end phones when they launch a new range with meego next year? What might they consider launching with regard to hardware in the Desire/iPhone4 end of the market - I have to admit that I am rather looking forward to finding out!


April 15, 2013, 2:17 pm

The phone is awful. I've had mine for a day and it keeps crashing and refusing to turn on. What a waste of money!


May 28, 2013, 3:11 pm

Wish it had a call register, or maybe I cannot locate it! :-(


August 20, 2013, 8:36 am

I'm a beginner user of C3 nokia phone. my gf still read the messages in my inbox and sent items even I've deleted it. any one ca help me with this.. pls.... tnx

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