Nokia C2-01 £79.99
22nd Mar 2011 | 12:45
The Nokia C2-01 is a candybar mobile for those who don't want fancy features
Nokia C2-01: Overview
Nokia may have made a deal with Microsoft to bring Windows Phone 7 to the fanbase, but in the meantime Nokia struggles on with Symbian in various flavours. Right at the bottom of the tree is S40, a relatively basic OS version.
Now, Nokia can endow S40 with touch, and we saw this in the Nokia C3-01, and the Nokia X3 Touch and Type, both of which are candybar handsets just like the C2-01. But the C2-01 takes Nokia back a step, to pre-touch days. There ain't no touchscreen here.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Sure, touchscreens are regarded as a necessity for a modern handset by many people, but not everyone wants singing, dancing mobile phones. Some people really do still want a phone for voice calls, the odd SMS, and a bit of simple photography. You can have that in the Nokia C2-01 in exchange for £79.99.
In exchange for that cash you'll get a smallish (109 x 46.9 x 15.3mm), light (89g) handset with two-inch 320 x 240 pixel screen, classic D-pad and standard numberpad design. There's no Wi-Fi, but the handset does support 3G, there's a camera (albeit just a 3.2-megapixel flashless one) and you can customise the single Home screen to offer links to frequently used apps.
There is a sting in the 3G tail – it runs at a very minimal 384Kbps upload and download. Yes it's 3G, but not HSDPA.
As basic specifications go, this is a reasonable enough bunch, but as ever we're tempted to compare a handset at this level and price with low-end Android offerings such as the Orange San Francisco, which costs a shade more at £99 on Pay As You Go, but offers a far wider range of features including full HSDPA.
Still, in the hand the Nokia C2-01 feels comfortably retro. The D-pad is large and sits neatly under the thumb. The number keys are well sized and great to pick at with a thumb for one handed use, or tap away at for two fingered texting. Call and End keys are small but well isolated from the rest so that hitting them accurately is a breeze.
Nokia has kept side buttons minimal. In fact there are none. Volume is adjusted in-app where appropriate (e.g. in the music player via the D-pad), and using profiles rather than with a rocker. You turn the phone on and off using the End call button.
There are headphones and charge slots on the top edge, a covered microSD card slot sits on the left and a covered micro-USB slot on the right, and that's your lot. As we said, minimal.
Nokia C2-01: Interface
Nokia C2-01 review: Interface
With no touchscreen present you are reliant on the D-pad and a pair of soft menu buttons to get around the Nokia C2-01. The classic software design makes this possible – there are always soft menus available and the centre of the D-pad also gives you access to options.
The main screen comprises four areas, which you can personalise. Out of the box, only the top and bottom of these are set up with shortcuts: the top one to email, the bottom one offering a shortcut bar that takes you to apps.
Changing these settings is not difficult, but it is time consuming. You need to go into the Settings area which takes a few presses of the D-pad, and then you can make changes.
You can only have one shortcut bar, but this can offer access to a wide range of apps and services in a horizontally scrolling bar. It's a shame you can't fill every one of the four slots with its own shortcut bar, but Nokia clearly thinks this would be overload. Thanks, Nokia, but the user can be the judge of that.
The other three areas can be set to contain one of a smaller number of options but at least you can include some live information such as notifications.
You can also configure what the right and left softkeys do on the main screen, as well as what the four points on the D-pad do. This does at least give you the potential to access more apps and services quickly.
Once you have everything set up the way you want it, you can move about pretty quickly through the most often used parts of the Nokia C2-01. Which is a good thing, since the main menu system is tedious to get around.
The old-fashioned way the Nokia C2-01 relies on nested menus is a real pain. You need to remember where apps and services are located, and tap the D-pad a lot to get to them. For example, say you want the Calculator.
First you tap the D-pad when on the main screen and up pops the apps menu.
Next you have to choose Organiser, for it is grouped in this folder along with lots of other apps such as the alarm clock, calendar, to do list manager, note taker, countdown timer, stopwatch and, yes, Ovi Maps. What's Ovi Maps got to do with a group called 'Organiser'?
On the plus side, things do move quite smoothly. The processor doesn't have much to do to get you between apps, and most of the time on-board apps don't take ages and ages to run. You do have to wait a little for Ovi services to kick in, and for the web browser to run, but these are exceptions.
Nokia C2-01: Contacts and calling
Nokia C2-01 review: Contacts and calling
As a candybar phone, arguably the Nokia C2-01 has voice calls as its main reason for existence, with a bit of messaging thrown in. So it's no surprise that you can simply tap at the number pad and then hit the call key to start dialling.
There's no smart dialling, so if you want to find a contact by name you have to drop into the full contacts list. Once there, you can search through the list if it's large, or just scroll through it if it's small, and you can view your messaging history, too.
Contacts are pulled together from the handset and SIM. Adding new ones is a matter of filling in an on-device form and this can get pretty pesky.
If all you want to do is add a name, mobile and home numbers, an email address and image, then you simply run through the form on screen.
But details such as birthdays or additional phone numbers need to be added by choosing the Options soft menu, choosing Add Detail, then going through another menu level to get what you want. It's too much key pressing for us.
If you want a handset that will easily integrate your social media contacts from the like of Facebook and Twitter, then move right along, as there's nothing to see here. Nada. You'll need to look to something like the Orange San Francisco, or even Nokia's own C5.
There's a Facebook app preinstalled, which you can use to take a look at your account. Sign in and you can check up on what your friends are doing and input your own stuff. But for this kind of activity the screen is way too small, the keyboard way to fiddly, and, no, you really can't get contact details out of Facebook and into the contact database.
As for voice call quality, we didn't have any problems. Signal strength was often not at full stretch, but it didn't seem to affect call quality, and the people we spoke to didn't indicate that there were any problems with how we sounded.
Nokia C2-01: Messaging
Nokia C2-01 review: Messaging
We've already noted that the Nokia C2-01 is most certainly not the handset to choose if you're a social networking fan. However, if you're into SMS things are different.
It's easy to quickly start a text message. Out of the box, pressing the left side of the D-pad takes you to the messaging area, where you can start working on a text message.
To add a contact to a text message, you just hit the D-pad button and then you can choose to go to the contacts list, or opt for a recently used contact or group, a favourite contact, see the log or add a new number. It is fast and easy.
At the bottom of the screen, there's a menu that enables you to add a wide range of attachments, including video, images, sound clips, calendar entries, and streaming links. You can even jump out to the camera, take a photo and it will be processed and added to a message straight away.
We can't really fault Nokia for slickness and ease of use here. That also goes for keypad itself, which is comfortable and enables you to knock out text messages at good speed.
Messages are threaded, so it's very easy to see the trail of a conversation and reply to incoming messages.
Mobile email is a slightly different matter. You go through Ovi and can use an Ovi Mail email address or another email address. Like us, you may well need to enter SMTP and POP server details in addition to your user name and password if you don't want to use Ovi.
Unfortunately, you're only offered this option after an attempt has been made to find server details automatically, which in our case meant an unnecessarily wait.
Add to that the slowness of typing out replies and the smallness of the screen and mobile email on the Nokia C2-01 is all a bit too much of a faff for us.
You can also do IM, but even after updating itself our Nokia C2-01 only offered Ovi IM and not other popular services such as Yahoo or Google Talk, so it's all a bit limiting.
If you're interested in mobile messaging for anything beyond SMS, our best advice is to look elsewhere.
Nokia C2-01: Internet
Nokia C2-01 review: Internet
Web browsing isn't the Nokia C2-01's strongest suit. The screen measures two inches and it delivers 320 x 240 pixels. You need a whole lot more for pleasant web browsing. The connection is 3G, but not HSDPA, so it's slower compared to a lot of other smartphones out there. The saving grace is the use of Opera Mini as the web browser.
At least Opera Mini includes useful features such as a Google search bar, which is efficient.
But we found web pages remarkably slow to download and when you do finally get a web page in the browser it is far too small for you to read anything at all without zooming.
Opera Mini offers a small box you can move around a zoomed out screen, so you can choose where you want to zoom into, but if you can't read the miniscule text the process is a bit hit and miss. We found ourselves using the D-pad to move around zoomed in pages more often than not.
Text reflowing is supported, so that you don't have to do too much panning around to read the content of a web page, which is a blessing.
Another nice touch is the ability to set up nine bookmark speed dials – handy if there are places you visit regularly. Though to be frank, if you are that much of a regular web user, we'd suggest you look at a different handset.
It is probably not a surprise to hear that video streaming is limited. We were unable to play video from the BBC website, for example. Even if it were possible, frankly the small screen means we wouldn't want to bother with it.
Nokia C2-01: Camera
Nokia C2-01 review: Camera
The camera on the Nokia C2-01 is a basic 3.2-megapixel module with no flash. There's no side button for a really quick launch and snap, though you can put a shortcut on the main screen if you want to.
It actually does a fairly decent job where stills are concerned, if you are happy to live within its boundaries. There's no tapping to autofocus, no special shooting modes for night, sports, smiling people and the like, and no macro mode. This really is point-and-click territory.
OUTDOORS:For standard point and shoot stuff the camera does a decent enough job
CLOSE-UP:Up close, you can get a fair bit of detail, but don't expect macro mode focussing – it's not an option
INDOORS:As long as indoor scenes are well lit, you can take a decent photo. This one was shot through glass
NORMAL:There are lots of shooting effects, and this is where the fun kicks in. This one is normal mode
BLACK AND WHITE:Greyscale images are as you would expect them to be
SEPIA:The same can be said for sepia
FALSE COLOURS:The false colours setting can produce some interesting oddities. These flowers are fun
NEGATIVE:The jollity continues with a negative image which gives an interesting overall effect
SOLARISE:Solarise adds yet another different take to a photo and can be used to good effect
Nokia C2-01: Video
Nokia C2-01 review: Video
The Nokia C2-01 does capture video but you'd be hard pushed to want to use it for this purpose. With a top resolution of 320 x 240 (QVGA) it isn't going to produce video you'll want to use much off the handset, and it has trouble with light and shade. It will suffice if you're in a desperate situation, but that's about all.
The lens struggles to let in enough light to cope with all but the most evenly lit situations. The Nokia C2-01 has a little trouble capturing moving subjects, and there is a bit of gentle jerking in videos.
Nokia C2-01: Media
Nokia C2-01 review: Media
The Nokia C2-01 makes a reasonable fist of its media playback features. It isn't the phone to choose if you want the best to be offered, and certainly not the phone for video playback, but music is handled fairly given the constraints of Symbian S40.
There's just 46MB of memory internally, but you can use microSD cards to boost this and the slot is very accessible on the left side of the chassis. The music player will find tunes in folders or left lying around in the root directory of a microSD card, and integrate them nicely.
The player supports MP3, AAC, AAC+ eAAC+ and WMA files, and these are organised by artist, album and genre.
The player itself is a bit dull to look at whichever of its two themes you choose. It failed to find our album art, though that's not too much of a problem since it's only a visual thing and doesn't affect sound quality.
It's the music that really counts, not the visuals. Sound quality through the handset speaker is high and of a fair quality. The provided headphones aren't great, but we boosted quality considerably by using our own cans.
There are a few equaliser settings on hand. Call us cloth-ears but we couldn't tell any difference between them.
There is an FM radio, which automatically self-tunes the first time it's used filling up to 20 presents with whatever it can find. It's a bit annoying that there is no quick way to switch between headset and loudspeaker – you have to go through the Options menu.
The video player can only manage MP4 for third-party files. It was picky even about these, refusing to pick up the picture from some larger files encoded to a higher resolution but coping quite happily with lower resolution files. On the small screen this is really no big problem since we wouldn't want to watch much video anyway.
Photos can be edited quite effectively with rotate and flip, cropping and some neat effects such as solarise and warping, which are fun to use. You can also add stamps, write onto images and even fiddle with the RGB levels. You could mess about a bit with images for MMS purposes quite happily.
Nokia C2-01: Battery life and apps
Nokia C2-01 review: Battery life
The 1020mAh battery in the Nokia C2-01 sounds unbelievably under specified, but in fact, it doesn't have to drive a huge screen or manage incredibly power sapping processes, and we found it was quite adequate.
Nokia says the battery is good for up to 8 hours 45 minutes talk on GSM, 4 hours 30 on 3G, and on standby it will last for 430 hours on GSM, 450 on 3G.
We found that we easily got two days of life from the Nokia C2-01, and with frugal usage that might well stretch to three. Long battery life is a key advantage of an undemanding candybar handset.
With no GPS or Wi-Fi to rock the boat and fancier things like DLNA nowhere to be seen, there's really just music playback and 3G to drain the battery.
The mapping application of choice is Ovi Maps, but with no Wi-Fi for downloading data and no GPS for pinpoint accuracy, we'd suggest it's best forgotten about. If you want mapping on a mobile phone, do yourself a favour and find a smartphone with Wi-Fi, GPS and a much bigger screen.
There are lots of apps pre-loaded. We've already mentioned the likes of a stopwatch, countdown timer, notes taker, calculator, to-do list, alarm clock and calendar. There's also a unit converter, Flickr client and size converter for clothing. And there's a smattering of games, too.
You can download more over the Ovi store, so you can keep the Nokia C2-01 refreshed with new stuff. But doing so is nowhere near the compelling experience it is with handsets that have bulging stores that are easy to access and which offer fast downloading over Wi-Fi or faster HSDPA. Think of any Android phone, such as the Samsung Galaxy Ace, or the iPhone.
Nokia C2-01: Hands-on gallery
Nokia C2-01 review: Hands-on gallery
Nokia C2-01: Official gallery
Nokia C2-01 review: Official gallery
Nokia C2-01: Verdict
Nokia C2-01 review: Verdict
The Nokia C2-01 is an old-fashioned candybar handset. The operating system is old hat, the screen small, and there's 3G but no HSDPA. It does a good job of voice calls and SMS, and there's a range of built in apps, which you can augment with more. Battery life is good.
A few years ago, this would all have been fine for a price around £80. But you can get an entry-level Android handset like the Orange San Francsico at a comparative price now, and this will add Wi-Fi, GPS, full 3G, a larger screen and a bumper app store into the mix, as well as an operating system that was made for touchscreens.
The chassis is well made and the keyboard is comfy to use, so it's easy to text at speed. It's nice to be able to customise the single Home screen, and battery life is good, too.
The camera is not especially fancy, but its shooting features deliver some fun images, and the editor adds a little extra enjoyability to working with the camera.
Web browsing is a chore, with low-speed 3G that's far outstripped by HSDPA. There's no Wi-Fi as an alternative, either and the screen is too small for easy viewing.
S40 feels like it should be retired. It simply can't stand up to operating systems that don't have nested apps, offer good quality touch control, and are designed with a modern bright, airy feel at their core.
The Nokia C2-01 ends up being quite a disappointing handset. It suffers too much from its small screen, style-cramping operating system, and lack of features like Wi-Fi and GPS.
We can see how it might appeal to smartphone naysayers who just want a handset for voice calling and a little SMS action, but even such people might like to consider taking their £80 and looking for a smartphone alternative – just in the interests of value for money.
However, if it's simply calling, texting and not much else (especially if you're a die hard Nokia fan and willing to part with £80) then this might be worth looking at - although the budget options of the C1-02 are probably more your cup of tea.