With smartphones becoming more and more affordable, the definition of a budget phone has been gradually changing. The Nokia C3 fits into the mould of the new breed of budget phones - phones that offer more than simple calling and messaging features.

The Nokia C3 is a phone with a qwerty keyboard, but don't mistake it for a business phone. The Nokia C3 doesn't have fully fledged productivity apps and makes do with a 'to do' app in place of a calendar/organiser app.

In fact, the Nokia C3 is aimed purely at the budget buyer who likes to stay connected to social networks. As a result, Nokia has added a Nokia Community app, using which you can log into your Facebook and Twitter accounts and get all your profile updates in one place on your phone.

Nokia C3 screen

Nokia Community lets you work with your Twitter and Facebook accounts

The Nokia C3 supports Wi-Fi (there's no 3G or GPS, though) which is a great bonus to have at this price. There is some issue with the C3's Wi-Fi connectivity (which plenty of people on Nokia's official support forums have come across). Certain apps don't recognise the Wi-Fi connectivity including Nokia's Ovi Store app, forcing you to incur data usage when downloading apps in spite of there existing a usable Wi-Fi network.

The Nokia C3 is an S40 device, which means there aren't too many multi-faceted apps that you can download for it. However, Nokia has included some decent apps apart from the Communities app. This includes a Nokia email app that lets you set up multiple email accounts from different service providers in a very short and simple way. However, to check your mails, you have to have the app open at all times since the inbox only refreshes when you are in your inbox.

Nokia C3 screen

The Nokia Mail app lets you pick and choose from numerous email providers

The Nokia C3 also has a Google Talk app that works really well except for the fact that there is no way to go 'invisible' once you log in.

To make sure that all these apps (and a couple of other shortcuts, favorite contacts and so on) are one touch away, the Nokia C3 has customisable shortcut widgets on the homescreen. This is a great addition and brings the C3 one step closer to being a smartphone.

One thing that takes the Nokia C3 one step back from that, however, is the absence of true multitasking. Yes, you can play music in the background while performing tasks, but that's about it.

Nokia C3: Hardware

The Nokia C3 offers very basic hardware - nothing more. Apart from the excellent keyboard, the C3's hardware features are in line with other budget devices.

The Nokia C3 has a 2.4in colour screen with a resolution of 320x240 and output of 256k colours. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microUSB port. However, you can't charge the phone over USB so you'll have to make use of the separate charger port. The Nokia C3 has only 55MB of internal memory but the good news is that it accepts microSD cards up to 8GB. Imaging is taken care of by a 2Mp fixed-focus camera that can also record videos at 320x240.

Nokia C3

Nokia C3: Design and usability

The Nokia C3 definitely looks like a phone that's more expensive than it actually is. In fact, it would be quite easy to mistake the C3 for one of its more expensive E-series cousins, especially the Nokia E5. All in all, the C3 is easily one of the better-looking devices in its price range. In terms of build quality, the C3 feels really solid and Nokia has done well in putting together the phone with just the right amount of metal and plastic.

Next page: Web browsing, multimedia, and our expert verdict >>

See also:

Nokia E5 review

Best deals on the Nokia C3

Group test: what's the best smartphone?

Mobile phone reviews

The Nokia C3 is a budget phone with a hardware qwerty keyboard and Wi-Fi support.

The Nokia C3's qwerty keyboard is its main draw: it's a really good keyboard, on a par with the Nokia E63. The keys are raised and have a rubberised finish that makes them ideal for fast typing.

The Nokia C3 uses the S40 interface, which means that it's quite simple to use. The phone also works at a fair clip and you won't find yourself bogged down too often. The C3 also has a bunch of hardware shortcut buttons that surround the D-pad and serve you well. We did miss dedicated volume buttons and a button to control the camera.

Nokia C3

The Nokia C3's 2.4in display is average. There is a visible colour shift when you look at the screen from different angles. Also, the Nokia C3's display area features a strange design where the plastic casing that covers the actual display is angled near the edges of the display, distorting images when you look at the screen from certain angles.

The Nokia C3's screen also just about manages to be visible under direct sunlight.

Nokia C3

Nokia C3: Browsing and multimedia

Taking into account the fact that the Nokia C3 is a pretty inexpensive phone and that the qwerty keyboard doesn't leave much space for anything else, it came as no surprise that the C3's 2Mp camera is merely okay. The images we shot had a mossy green tint (which was especially noticeable in recorded videos) and some degree of noise. Indoor pictures looked better than those shot outside and close-up images came out looking quite decent in spite of the camera not offering auto-focus.

Nokia C3: Media playback

The Nokia C3 told a different story when it came to music playback, though. The phone's audio quality is good for a phone at this price range. Surprisingly, not only does the C3 offer a host of equaliser options, but it also allows you to two custom presets too, a feature that's absent from phones far more expensive than the C3. The media player's interface is pleasing to the eye and is not at all complicated. The FM radio also works well and the auto scan happened quickly (although it did miss out a station at first).

In video playback tests by our colleagues at PC World India, once converted, the Nokia C3 played test videos without any hassle. There were no frame-rate issues to speak of although at 80kbps bit-rate, the audio was cracking. The C3's screen is decent enough to short video clips indoors.

Nokia C3: Browser

The default browser on the Nokia C3 is decent to use. It worked fast over Wi-Fi and pages were rendered very well. The down side is that the browser can only handle two open pages at one time beyond which 'memory full' error messages start popping up.

Nokia C3

Next page: Our expert verdict >>

See also:

Nokia E5 review

Best deals on the Nokia C3

Group test: what's the best smartphone?

Mobile phone reviews

Nokia C3: Specs

  • Quad-band phone
  • 2.4in (320x240) screen (256k colours)
  • 55MB internal storage
  • 2Mp fixed-focus camera
  • qwerty keyboard
  • Wi-Fi
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • microUSB port
  • microSD cards up to 8GB
  • talk time 7 hours
  • standby time 480 hours
  • 58x116x14mm
  • 114g
  • Quad-band phone
  • 2.4in (320x240) screen (256k colours)
  • 55MB internal storage
  • 2Mp fixed-focus camera
  • qwerty keyboard
  • Wi-Fi
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • microUSB port
  • microSD cards up to 8GB
  • talk time 7 hours
  • standby time 480 hours
  • 58x116x14mm
  • 114g

OUR VERDICT

The Nokia C3’s price tag of £69 inc VAT (SIM-free, pay as you go) makes it easily one of the most affordable phones we’ve reviewed. The C3 offers Wi-Fi and a hardware keyboard, as well as good looks and build quality and a fast interface. If you aren’t particularly looking for a smartphone but wouldn’t mind Wi-Fi connectivity and a qwerty keyboard with your budget mobile phone, you really can’t go wrong with the Nokia C3.

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