The Nokia C7 is the second Symbian^3 smartphone to hit the market after the Nokia N8. The Nokia C7 could be summed up as the Nokia N8's little brother - and something that has the potential to be as good as the N8, but falls short.

The Nokia C7 has plenty of features that are very similar to the N8, but there is still a lot in terms of features and performance that separate the two phones.

Nokia C7: Features

The Nokia C7 is a high-end smartphone with the hardware to match. The C7 is powered by an ARM 11 680MHz processor and its graphics performance is taken care of by a dedicated graphics accelerator. The C7 also has 256MB of RAM along with 8GB of internal storage. The Nokia N8 has the same specs, except that it provides 16GB of internal storage.

Again like the N8, the Nokia C7 also provides USB-on-the-Go support, which means it can power and directly read off certain USB devices such as pen drives and other Nokia phones. However, while the N8 has a miniHDMI port to output HD content to a display of your choice, the C7 only allows the same through regular TV-Out output.

You can shoot pictures and record videos using the C7's 8Mp fixed-focus camera. The camera is capable of recording 720p videos and has a dual LED flash for low-light shots. Like any other smartphone, the C7 supports Wi-Fi, 3G and GPS (bolstered by the free Nokia Ovi Maps service).

Nokia C7

The Nokia C7 runs on the Symbian^3 mobile OS and you can download apps for it from Nokia’s Ovi Store. While the Ovi Store is growing and includes plenty of quality apps (free and paid for), it’s still a long way from achieving the standards set by Google's Android Market and Apple's App Store. However, the good news is that Nokia seems to be taking the Ovi Store quite seriously and you can expect it grow steadily over the course of time.

The Nokia C7 lets you set up multiple email accounts and allows you to fully customise the schedule of when to pull emails down from the servers to the phone. Setting up an email account is really simple and credit must be given to Nokia for streamlining the process of setting up email accounts from numerous providers.

The Nokia C7 also comes pre-installed with a couple of widgets that you can place on the three available homescreens including widgets by National Geographic, Reuters, CNN, E! and so on. Social networking is taken care of by the pre-installed Twitter and Facebook apps. Of course, you can download other dedicated apps for the social network of your choice from the Ovi Store.

The pre-installed apps list on the Nokia C7 also includes QuickOffice Viewer that lets you view Microsoft Office files on the device and a couple of pre-installed games.

Nokia C7 app downloads

You can download more apps from Nokia's Ovi Store

Nokia C7: User interface

Like the N8, the Nokia C7 feels like a much improved product over the earlier Nokia Symbian^1 devices such as the 5800 XpressMusic and the Nokia N97 but there are still a few drawbacks about the phone.

There is actually nothing much to separate the usability aspect of the Nokia C7 from the N8. The user interface (UI) works in exactly the same manner, which means that the strengths and weaknesses of the Nokia N8 are carried over to the C7. The strengths include a much more streamlined UI over Symbian^1 S60 devices. The haptic feedback is again really impressive and improves the touch UI greatly. The C7 is also a lot faster than what you probably remember from the Nokia touchscreen phones of yore.

But Symbian^3 does have some weaknesses that spoil the party for the Nokia C7. The UI still looks dated and is reminiscent of the not so great things about the Symbian^1 S60 interface. The UI still falls short of the functionality that Google Android offers. For example, on the C7, the number of home screens is limited to three, and within those home screens placement of shortcuts is still restricted to shortcut widgets. Compare this to an Android phone, where the number of home screens can go up to 12 and you can pretty much place any shortcut or folder anywhere on the home screen.

Nokia C7 homescreens

The three available home screens on the Nokia C7

Also, while Symbian^3 has thankfully taken care of the double-tap predicament that Symbian^1 had introduced, there is still a whole lot of menus that you have to go through to get things done. A prime example of this on the Nokia C7 is text input, where if you want to fill out any text box, instead of letting you do so in the same instance, a new text box opens up where you have to input text. This adds an unnecessary extra step to a lot of processes such as typing the address to a website, creating a new contact or even composing a message.

Another issue is that the Nokia C7's virtual qwerty keyboard doesn't support multi-touch, which means typing at speed on the qwerty keyboard results in multiple mistakes.

Next page: Looks, design, multimedia features and our expert verdict >>

See also:

Best deals on the Nokia C7

PC Advisor mobile phone deals

Group test: what's the best smartphone?

The Nokia C7 is a Symbian^3 smartphone with an 8Mp camera and an AMOLED display.

Nokia C7: Looks

Physically, the Nokia C7 is good to look at, although its front might be a little too glossy for some people's tastes. The C7 is a slim phone - almost as slim as the Nokia E-series phones. The phone's back is better to look at with matt steel and anodised aluminium. We just wish the C7 took more pointers from the Nokia N8 in terms of looks and featured more subtle elements in design.

Nokia C7 front

The Nokia C7 has a glossy front which might not be liked by all

Nokia C7 side profile

The Nokia C7 is almost as slim as the E-series phones

Nokia C7: Screen

The Nokia C7 has the same screen as the Nokia N8 except that the C7's display isn’t made of Gorilla Glass. The C7's AMOLED display means that colours look really vibrant and deep and the C7's display definitely stands alongside the N8 as the best screen on a Nokia.

Nokia C7: Camera and multimedia

The Nokia C7's 8Mp camera looks good on paper, but it's definitely one of the most disappointing aspects of the phone.

Looking at how great the N8's camera was, the Nokia C7's imaging capability is certainly disappointing, particularly due to the absence of auto-focus. Because of this any photo of a subject closer than 50cm from the camera comes out looking blurry. Even outdoor shots of subjects at a distance from the camera have low amount of details. This is partly due to the camera's aggressive way of dealing with noise which results in pictures with very low noise levels but also lesser details.

The Nokia C7's dual LED flash is very powerful and close-up images shot in low light often result in the subjects looking washed out. However, the flash range is also quite good, and subjects shot up to a distance of even 10 feet in a darkened room came out clearly in photos.

The Nokia C7 is capable of shooting good-looking 720p videos, although in brighter areas, the videos did tend to look overexposed.

Like the N8, the Nokia C7 is good at multimedia playback. For videos, the C7 supports XviD/DivX formats out of the box and the AMOLED display is excellent for watching videos. Our test videos played without any hitch and the framerates were crisp. The C7 also has great audio quality that's complemented by sound customisation features such as an equalizer and stereo widening. The music player's interface is also nice-looking and easy to navigate.

Nokia C7 music browsing menu

You can browse through your music in the C7 using cover art flow

The earphones bundled with the C7 are disappointing and it's surprising that Nokia didn't bundle a pair of in-ear headphones with a phone that costs as much as the Nokia C7 does. The FM radio app is simple to use and auto-scanning happened fast. However, it did tend to skip certain stations and we had to scan repeatedly to get the app to recognise the stations.

Nokia C7: Browsing

Like the N8, the C7 also uses the default Symbian browser, which means that although rendering is quite good and Flash Lite support is present, the browser lacks certain important features such as the ability to open a link in a new tab or the ability to copy text from a web page.

Nokia C7: Performance testing

Our colleagues at PC World India put the Nokia C7 through its paces in their testing lab. Here's how the C7 got on.

Call Reception Quality: Very Good

Messaging: Good

Browsing: Fair

Imaging: Fair

Audio/Video playback: Very Good/Superior

Gaming: Good

Battery Life: Fair

Screen Quality: Very Good

Nokia C7: Pros and cons

Pros: Beautiful screen; slim profile; Wi-Fi; GPS; 3G support; supports DivX/XviD videos; good audio playback.

Cons: Camera disappoints; default browser feels archaic; glossy looks might not be liked by all; average battery

Next page: Our expert verdict >>

See also:

Best deals on the Nokia C7

PC Advisor mobile phone deals

Group test: what's the best smartphone?

Nokia C7: Specs

  • Quad-band mobile phone
  • 680MHz ARM 11 processor
  • 256MB RAM
  • 3.5in (360x640) touchscreen display
  • Symbian^3 OS
  • 8GB internal storage
  • memory card slot
  • 8Mp fixed-focus camera
  • GPS
  • 3G
  • Wi-Fi
  • talk time 5 hours
  • standby time 648 hours
  • 57x117x11 mm
  • 130g
  • Quad-band mobile phone
  • 680MHz ARM 11 processor
  • 256MB RAM
  • 3.5in (360x640) touchscreen display
  • Symbian^3 OS
  • 8GB internal storage
  • memory card slot
  • 8Mp fixed-focus camera
  • GPS
  • 3G
  • Wi-Fi
  • talk time 5 hours
  • standby time 648 hours
  • 57x117x11 mm
  • 130g

OUR VERDICT

The Nokia C7’s price tag of around £329 SIM-free makes it good competition for both mid-range phones such as the HTC Wildfire and the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro, and high-end phones such as the Nokia N8. The Nokia C7 is a good multimedia phone with a lot of potential which is held back by a disappointing camera and issues surrounding its UI and web browser.

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