Nokia C5 review

Full review: Compact smartphone at enticing price

Image 1 of 2 Nokia C5 main
Nokia C5 MAIN
Image 2 of 2 Nokia C5 front
Nokia C5 front

Can this basic T9 Nokia trump niftier touchscreen rivals?

At a time when smartphones are growing in size and becoming ever more finger-friendly, the Nokia C5 is something of an anomaly. We first saw this handset when it was leaked at MWC earlier this year. Turning its back on the ever-growing roll call of touchscreen and QWERTY keyboard mobiles, like the Blackberry Pearl 3G. Nokia has developed a phone aimed at those who want smartphone skills in a small, easy-to-use and, frankly, old-school package.

So how does it stack up under closer inspection?

The C5 undoubtedly takes its cue from the excellent Nokia E-series, with the same sleek design flourishes and UI. Symbian S60 is the OS of choice, and it works perfectly well here, thanks largely to the fact that this is not a touchscreen device. Instead, you flick though menu systems using the nav key in the middle, just as you would on ageing but ace handsets like the Nokia 6700.


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The interface is as basic as they come. You can move apps around folders, and get mail notifications on the home page, but this is a simple, clutter free set up. The Facebook app is accessible from the Apps menu although it can be shifted to a different menu through the options button. The App itself is the same standard one you find on S60 devices but is speedy if a little basic.

The 2.2-inch panel isn’t the greatest we’ve ever seen, but for slipping through web pages and working through emails, it’s more than ample and works well in all but the brightest conditions.

The keyboard owes much to the E-series too. Its wide, curved buttons make texting and emailing a dream. At a time when top-end phones are eschewing the standard T9 keyboard, it’s a welcome feature and is a timely reminder of what Nokia does best: making basic, sturdy phones with plenty of cool features inside.

Nokia C5: Multimedia maven

The C5’s support for 16GB MicroSD cards, a 3.5mm jack and its standard S60 music player are more than up to the job of acting as a basic MP3 player..Video playback, however, is not quite up to scratch. It’s not that there are problems with jitter, just that the tiny 2.2-inch screen is too small to squint at for sustained periods.

Another minor niggle is the C5’s browser. S60’s web portal remains a tad awkward and we recommend nabbing Opera Mini at the first opportunity. That said, the Nokia Messaging app is great and can be set up quickly and easily when you first turn on the device.

Other features include A-GPS with Ovi Maps. The camera is surprisingly good for a 3.2 mp effort and works especially well in low light thanks to a single led flash that is more powerful than it might suggest. Images are a wee bit grainy and noisy but no more so than on other budget phones. There's no WiFi though, unlike the Sony Ericsson Elm.

Nokia C5: Brilliant battery

The C5’s biggest calling card, though, is its battery life. While other smartphones generally need juice once a day, we squeezed three continuous days of use from it before it needed power. That included hammering the email app, checking the latest World Cup news online and playing on Facebook.

At just £150 SIM-free and with 18 month deals starting as low as £15 a month, this is a perfect phone for smartphone first timers. If the budget touchscreen delights of the T-Mobile Pulse Mini or HTC Wildfire don’t do it for you, then this back-to-basics number is where it’s at.

The Nokia C5 is out now, find out more from Nokia



OS: Symbian S60

Processor: 128MB RAM

Storage: 50MB internal, up to 16GB MicroSD

Screen: 2.2-inch, 240 x 320 pixels

Connectivity: HSDPA (10Mbps), Bluetooth 2.0, 3.5mm, A-GPS

Camera: 3.2 megapixels, with LED flash and autofocus, secondary camera

Video: VGA at 15 fps 3G

Talk time: Five hours

Dimensions: 112 x 46 x 12mm

Weight: 89g