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Review Price £102.19

Upon first receiving the Nokia C3, we were decidedly ambivalent. Here was another middling Nokia smartphone that got the basics done but under-delivered on usability and panache, we thought. This phone has one powerful trick up its sleeve, though: its incredibly low price. Quite simply this is the best value phone we've seen all year.

Nowhere is the value felt more acutely than in the design of the Nokia C3. Not that the general look and feel breaks new ground, but in particular the presence of an aluminium backplate really sets it out from the budget phone crowd. It's often considered that metal, as opposed to plastic, is the sign of quality in consumer electronics equipment and so it is with this phone. Having the tough, smooth, and cold feel of that plate under your fingers just puts you in mind of a much more premium device. As for the rest of the design, the black and blue colouring and neat layout should appeal to business users and consumers alike.

This impression of quality isn't just skin deep, as the phone in general feels well put together with little in the way of flex from anything other than the multitude of buttons that adorn the front.

You may have already guessed this isn't a small phone, at 115.5 x 58.1 x 13.6mm, but if small is what you want then you won't be getting a physical qwerty keyboard. Admittedly Sony Ericsson managed it with its sliding X10 mini pro, but that was a very rare instance.

A glossy plastic section covers the screen and carries on round the keyboard, giving the phone a nice uniform look. Being plastic, it will pick up scratches more easily than glass but no more so than the millions of other plastic-screened phones available.

What's more, the quality of the display is far beyond anything you've the right to expect at this price. Inevitably it has a low resolution of just 320 x 240 pixels so doesn't offer the most mesmerising multimedia experience. However, combined with its 2.4in size it delivers a perfectly acceptable level of usability when it comes to the usual texting, emailing, social networking and even web browsing duties. What really caught our eye with this screen, though, were its cracking viewing angles.

Many phones at this price point (and much higher) have such poor viewing angles that moving the phone or your head even a slight amount from side to side results in a very distracting shimmering effect, as the contrast shifts from overly white to overly dark with only the dead centre delivering a decent picture. With this phone, there are no such issues. Sure, it can't compete with the retina display of the iPhone 4 or the AMOLED displays sported by the Samsung Galaxy S or HTC Desire, but for the price it is exceptional.

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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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