The Nokia C5-03 offers a 5-megapixel camera – the highest megapixel count you’ll currently find at this low-end price point. Although this spec may match the iPhone 4 – one of the better camera phones on the market – the Nokia C5-03 is no photographic star.
It uses a fixed focus system, giving you no control over what part of your image is the sharpest. In practice, this works fine for daylight shots where your subject is in the background, but is useless for close-ups. There’s also no flash, so once the sun goes away, so does your ability to take worthwhile photos. In optimum conditions, the Nokia C5-03 produces shots worth posting on Facebook, but with detail lacking and a limited ability to cope with intense light sources, we can’t imagine many of your shots would be worth a print-out.
When the lack of flash and underpowered sensor putting the C5-03’s camera versatility on lock-down, it’s surprising that the phone gives you a decent amount of control over the camera settings. There are five scene modes, plus an extra user-defined option, alongside controls for colour tone, white balance, exposure, light sensitivity, contrast and sharpness. A 4x digital zoom is available for both stills and video, but as with any digital zoom this will degrade the quality of your results.
Video capture is limited 640×480 resolution, with mono sound. As with stills, the video quality is just about good enough to spread over the web to your less-discerning social networking chums but nothing more.
The Nokia C5-03’s 3.2in screen is arguably too small to watch anything but the occasional YouTube clip on, and bare-bones video file support does nothing to convince us otherwise. DivX and Xvid files won’t play, leaving you with the standard H.263, H.264 and MP4 format compatibilities, designed to get most web vids playing without problems.
The phone fares better with music, offering a decent player app, FM radio and a nifty podcast app that lets you download casts over 3G or Wi-Fi from your handset. The output level is low though, with maximum volume unlikely to be enough for some when on public transport, or in other noisy environments. It seems as though you’ll also need a converter to use your standard earphones in the Nokia C5-03 – although music played with our non-bundled test earphones, there seemed to be an issue with playing-back the full stereo channel.
The Nokia C5-03 comes with a 2GB memory card to build upon the insignificant 40MB of internal storage, but most of you thinking of using this phone as an MP3 player-replacement would probably want to upgrade to a larger card. A remote control widget appears on the home screen when music is playing too – a nice multi-tasking touch that convinces us this phone would make a decent music buddy. This does little to differentiate the Nokia C5-03 over its rivals though, as all but the cheapest phones these days make competent digital music players.
In budget smartphone territory, the Nokia C5-03’s Symbian S60 OS doesn’t feel as out of its depth as it did when rolling with the high-end, but it still feels way past its prime. Add the also-archaic resistive touchscreen and the Nokia C5-03 starts to sound more out-of-date than power suits and tie-dyed T-shirts.