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Nokia C5-03 review

Andrew Williams



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Nokia C5-03
  • Nokia C5-03
  • Nokia C5-03
  • Nokia C5-03
  • Nokia C5-03
  • Nokia C5-03
  • Nokia C5-03
  • Nokia C5-03
  • Nokia C5-03
  • Nokia C5-03
  • Nokia C5-03
  • Nokia C5-03
  • Nokia C5-03
  • Nokia C5-03
  • Nokia C5-03
  • Nokia C5-03
  • Nokia C5-03


Our Score:



  • Relatively high-resolution screen
  • Built-in podcast downloader
  • 3.5mm headphone jack


  • Dated OS
  • Resistive touchscreen
  • No LED flash

Key Features

  • Symbian S60 operating system
  • 5-megapixel camera
  • 3.2-inch 360x640 pixel screen
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 2GB bundled microSD card
  • Manufacturer: Nokia
  • Review Price: free/subscription

The Nokia C5-03 is clinging onto the past with all its might. Nokia has just teamed-up with Microsoft to pump out its own Windows Phone handsets, but the Nokia S5-03 is stuck with the Symbian operating system. It's not the Symbian^3 OS released in October 2010 alongside the Nokia N8 either - this is Symbian S60 version 5, used in the Nokia N97 way back in the prehistoric age of 2009.

Symbian S60 isn't just old, it's the cremated remains of a smartphone system held together with sticky tape and hair spray, and it pales in comparison to iOS and Android. In a budget phone like the Nokia C5-03, however, it doesn't feel entirely out of place. The phone is available for free on contracts of £15 a month or more, or SIM-free for around £180.

Nokia hasn't tried too hard to convince us this is anything but a budget smartphone through its build. The Nokia C5-03 has an all-plastic body and, apart from a textured end-cap, it's super-shiny. Out of the box this heavy dose of plastic is clearly evident, but it's only going to get worse with use as this finish shows up every blemish, scratch and scrape whenever the phone catches the light. In fairness, the actual design is quite smart but we just fear it won't remain looking that way for any length of time. 2010's Nokia C3 proved that Nokia can produce a phone with a top design and a rock-bottom price, but it hasn't pulled off the same trick here.

On the top of the handset, there are the now-standard 3.5mm headphone and micro USB ports, and the right hand-side is home to the volume rocker and lock button. The only odd addition to the Nokia C5-03's body sits on the handset's bottom - the tiny cylindrical Nokia charge socket, now nearing extinction as micro USB continues to dominate mobile charging. The micro USB socket of the C5-03 can also be used to charge the phone, but using the dedicated charging socket is quicker. We found charging with a dedicated micro USB charger snappy enough, but one isn't bundled here - just a proprietary charger and USB data transfer cable.

Questionable aesthetics and blast-from-the-past features aside, the Nokia C5-03 isn't entirely out-of-date. It has a 600MHz ARM 11 processor, on-par with the majority of budget smartphones and not much slower than the Nokia N8's 680MHz CPU. That said, day-to-day navigation is rarely lag-free, but we'd attribute that's more the inherent interface design of the Symbian S60 system than a lack of power in the Nokia C5-03. All told, the lag is similar to what you'd see in an Android 2.1 phone with a similar 500-600MHz processor.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


February 22, 2011, 5:37 pm

"Does Symbian offer any advantages when put up against more up-to-date rivals? For power users, the answer's no."

WRONG WRONG WRONG. Please stop pedalling this claptrap. Symbian remains the only smartphone OS that can both easily tether by USB and bluetooth and also download email attachments from secure servers. What is the definition of 'power users'? I use those features of my Symbian every single day and would be lost without them. Properly useful stuff like this is what makes a smartphone a smartphone, not silly webapps and flashy OSs.


February 22, 2011, 9:55 pm

Looking at this in terms of value, It is alughable compared to my San Fransisco...How was this even released

Brian ONeill

February 22, 2011, 10:24 pm

I got the wife two nokia phones in the past year an e63 and a c3.

All i can say is die Symbian die. Symbian is a shocking OS, its like something from the 90's.

I swear I must have speaks weeks in total tying to make those phones usable.

At the weekend I cracked a bought her an orange san Francisco, only £90 from argos. Within an hour I had it unlocked and filled to the brim with all the apps she needs. Android is light years ahead of Symbian.

Nokia are a mess, they should have just gone with android.


February 22, 2011, 11:27 pm

@ J4cK - depends entirely on what you want to use it for. I would take this one every time.

@ Brian - it doesn't look like something from the 90s - it is in colour for starters! The OS has been 'usable' for years and is still 'usable' now. It just doesn't treat you like an idiot. In accordance with what I wrote above, Android seems to be slowly catching up with Symbian, but the problem is that it is catering for, and written by, a large influx of customers who are traditionally 'feature phone' buyers and therefore only the LCD features will be looked after. Long time smartphone users still find weaknesses and gaping holes in the basic functionality. Please don't shout about things you know nothing of.


February 23, 2011, 11:18 am

I agree with scamevoli. Symbian is far less polished compared with Android and iOS, but in terms of sheer versatility it is still ahead. I can do much more with Symbian than with Android right now.


February 24, 2011, 1:42 am

i have a 5230 which i bought as a stopgap and basically just use as a satnav now because i have a galaxy s. the 5230 only cost £60 and this c5 doesnt appear any better to me other than adding wifi, doesnt seem worth the extra £100 to me. i never found s60 that bad to use anyway, if it got rid of the double tap to select and changed to a capacitive screen i wouldnt have too many complaints about it

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