The Nokia C5-03 uses a vanilla version of the S60 Symbian OS. This affords you a single home screen, which can only be lightly customised. There are four user-defined shortcuts at the bottom, a contacts bar, clock, email notification bar and a Wi-Fi control bar. These can be chopped-out if you want to give the Nokia C5-03 a minimalist look, but customisation comes in the form of checking and unchecking tick boxes, not dragging these elements around freely.
The limitations of Symbian S60’s home screen means the main apps menu is where you’ll be heading most of the time, unless you’re only going to use the Nokia C5-03 for the most basic of functions. This three icon-wide menu houses core features like the Settings menu and all your apps, with downloaded apps dumped into a separate Applications folder.
The Nokia C5-03 comes with Ovi Maps navigation software pre-installed, along with uninspiring app standards like a unit converter, calculator and Dictionary, but for any serious app action a trip to the Ovi Store is required. The Ovi Store supplies apps for Nokia’s smart and dumb phones, and can be accessed using the Nokia C5-03’s web browser or the built-in Ovi app.
A smattering of Symbian S60 apps match the quality of Android and iPhone equivalents, but a great many are java ports. The vast majority of games in particular are re-workings of feature phone games, characterised by simplistic 2D graphics that have been designed with less high-resolution screens than the C5-03’s in mind. The Symbian apps scene may have been ticking away since before the first iPhone was released, but if you care about apps you’d be much better served by an Android phone – or an iPod Touch partnered with a £25 ultra-budget handset.
As far as it lags behind in apps, Symbian S60 is still a smartphone OS. It has a full web browser, compatible with Flash lite 3.0, and with both Wi-Fi and high-speed HSPA connectivity built in. The browser offers a decent bookmarks system and a “back” function that offers previews of recently-visited pages in thumbnail form, which sounds better than it actually is.
Thanks to the non multi-touch resistive touchscreen of the Nokia C5-03, there’s no pinch-to-zoom feature – a double tap switches between zoomed-in and non-zoom views – and in-page navigation is nowhere near as breezy as on an iPhone or mid-range Android. Like being driven around by an aged cataract-ridden relative, Symbian demands a little patience, but it gets there in the end.
Does Symbian offer any advantages when put up against more up-to-date rivals? For power users, the answer’s no. But the simple home screen structure will appeal to some – but even that crowd’s thinning rapidly.