Unlike its C-series brother the C1-01, the Nokia C1-02’s keypad mounts each key discretely – each poking through the hard plastic of the phone’s non-removable fascia. Although arguably less attractive than the C1-01’s approach, this gives the keys very definite contouring that makes texting easy to get to grips with from the off.
The one design quibble we have about the phone’s front buttons is that we occasionally found ourselves accidentally prodding the D-pad alongside the main select button, above the keypad. With a phone this basic though, the effects of doing so are rarely more than a momentary annoyance – it cropped up most often when trying to unlock the phone from standby.
The C1-02 runs a very simple edition of the S40 platform, the poor cousin of Nokia’s long-standing S60 Symbian operating system. It’s much like the proprietary budget solutions offered by the other main mobile manufacturers. Your home screen tells you the time and date, while all other features are accessed using the apps menu, a 3×3 icon grid that’ll seem instantly familiar to any previous Nokia users.
This puts basic functions like messaging, the music player and browser at your fingertips, but additional apps are kept within submenus unlike on a higher-end smartphone device. That the top layer of this interface remains so simple at all times makes the C1-02 a good choice for inexperienced mobile users, or those still adamant that smartphones are for victims of technology or marketing (or technology marketing? – Ed.).
It also helps to minimise the time your eyes have to spend transfixed to the screen, which is a good thing because the C1-02’s display isn’t pretty. At 1.8in and 128×160 pixels, it’s small but that’s not the screen’s main issue. The low quality of the LCD means that its contrast and colour shift significantly as soon as the handset is tilted even slightly. What’s on-screen is still fairly easily visible in normal usage, but it’s much less easy on the eye than a higher-quality panel. This effect also afflicts other budget phones, like the Sony Ericsson W205.
As with the phone’s aesthetic design and lack of camera, nothing about the phone’s screen is trying to rise above its ultra-budget station. Whether that’s a problem or not depends on how cheap a deal you can get on the C1-02. Much better-quality screens can be had once you skip above the Â£40-mark, and while this phone isn’t even available below this price yet, we’re sure it will be soon.