Nokia’s attempts to bridge the gap between the budget end of the market and smartphones have generally resulted in middling devices for anything between £100 and £200. The Nokia C5-03 is another in that fashion, and it doesn’t add a huge amount to the bulging range of lower-end touchscreen handsets Nokia is pushing onto the market.
Coming in at around £199 or £20-£25 a month on a two year deal, this certainly isn't the cheapest Nokia smartphone out there - others have come in over a year ago at nearly two thirds that price with barely fewer features.
The design of the Nokia C5-03 isn't too bad though - the glossy black plastic cover feels very cheap when you first pick it up, but the sub-100g weight is impressive and the dinky size fits nicely in the hand and pocket. We're not so sure about the 14mm depth though - it detracts from an otherwise pleasant-feeling device in the hand.
The screen on the phone is a mixed bag - the resolution is 'near HD' or 320x640, which is perfectly acceptable for a phone with a 3.2-inch display. Sadly, it's resistive, which means things like typing at speed or multi-touch are out of the question.
We appreciate a number of people like to use this screen tech, but the display is too small to use with gloves, so it's really limited to those that like handwriting recognition and/or have long nails.
Nokia C5-03: Symbian interface
The C5-03 runs Symbian S60 version 5, which is really starting to feel its age. It should be noted that this iteration of the software on the C5 is one of the better ones we've seen - it's smooth for the most part and doesn't crash - but the convoluted menu systems and lack of multiple home screens still grate massively.
This also means a steep learning curve if you want to take advantage of all the features. For instance, the 5MP camera is a decent spec for a phone at this price point, but with a lack of autofocus and two separate menus for controlling the settings, plus no dedicated camera key, the overall experience isn't great.
Photos look OK when ported onto larger screens, as does the VGA video footage, but it's outdone in terms of quality by other phones of a similar price point.
Nokia C5-03: Media
Media and the internet browser follow a similar pattern as the camera - they're functional without being overly impressive.
Internet browsing is acceptable - it's as slow as the rest of the Symbian phones (in that it's miles behind the likes of the iPhone and Android devices) but Flash Lite partly makes up for it, and the text displays sharply on the higher-res screen.
Media is pretty average - video playback looks great at the smaller screen size and higher resolution, but it's a jerky experience and the range of file types supported isn't amazing. Music sounds a little better, despite having to jam headphones into the socket to make them work properly, with the bass levels offering an impressive performance - plus there's an equaliser to help level things out if you're experiencing poor audio.
One massive plus for the Nokia C5-03 is the battery life - we managed a good couple of days out if it on test, and with normal use that would easily be up to three. Compare this to some of the Android phones out there and you'll see a lot of people are going to be enticed by the extended juice.
Nokia C5-03: Verdict
Overall, we're a little non-plussed by the C5. It's an acceptable phone that's using an OS in dire need of updating - if we'd had Symbian^3 on here, it might have been a little different. But see past the battery life, and you'll realise the likes of the HTC Wildfire offer better specs, a more attractive device and at a lower cost. If the Nokia C5-03 was £100 cheaper, then we'd be lauding it as one of the best budget smartphones out there - but at its current price point, it's mired in mediocrity.
Nokia C5-03 price: £179-190, link Nokia
Nokia C5-03 release date: Out now,
Find the cheapest deal on the Nokia C5-03 here