The Nokia C7 is a stylish smartphone with a great metal design, excellent battery life and plenty of features. Unfortunately, like most of Nokia's Symbian-based smartphones, the C7 suffers from software that isn't as intuitive or easy to use as competitors' offerings.
Check out other top Nokia phones and read our Nokia N8 review.
UPDATE: The Nokia C7 is available in charcoal black and frosty metal colours for $0 upfront on Vodafone's $29 cap over 24 months (total min cost $696), or $0 upfront on a $45 Vodafone Infinite plan over 24 months (total minimum cost $1080). All Vodafone Infinite plans are available on both 12 and 24 month contracts and feature unlimited standard national calls made in Australia, unlimited text messages and unlimited social networking on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and MySpace.
Nokia C7: Design and hardware
Much like Nokia's flagship N8 smartphone, the C7's physical design is one of its best features. The aluminium body feels excellent in your hand and build quality is superb. We aren't a fan of the mirror-style bezel surrounding the display; it attracts far too many fingerprints, is too reflective and is tough to keep clean. The C7's black aluminium finish — including a battery cover that doesn't rattle — along with well positioned power and volume keys make it comfortable to use. We also liked the physical answer, end and menu keys; they are backlit, and responsive.
The Nokia C7 uses a 3.5in AMOLED touchscreen — the same size as the iPhone 4's display. While it has a lower resolution than the iPhone, the capacitive touchscreen is responsive. It has excellent viewing angles and produces vibrant colours. Its performance in sunlight is also pleasing, though smaller text can often be difficult to read because of the resolution.
The Nokia C7 lacks the multitude of features of the flagship N8 — there is no HDMI output, no USB On-The-Go connectivity and no 12-megapixel camera. The C7 instead has an 8-megapixel camera with dual LED flash. Images produced lack the wow factor of those produced by the N8, which remains the best camera phone on the market, but they are respectable and possess good detail.
Nokia C7: Software
The Nokia C7 is just the second smartphone released in Australia to run the Symbian^3 mobile operating system. Symbian^3 improves on its predecessor in many respects; it is smoother, faster and easier to use than the software on previous generation phones like the Nokia N97 mini.
Unfortunately, the Nokia C7's interface still looks inferior to most of its competition and is clunky to use compared to the iPhone and Android phones. Performance is sluggish, especially when you have a few apps open simultaneously. Multitouch zooming, particularly on maps and in the browser, isn't as slick as with competitors. Swiping through home screens results in a noticeable delay, and transitions between menus aren't smooth. The included Web browser takes longer to load and renders pages poorly in comparison to competing phones. It does display Flash, and there are a few nice touches (such as browser history shown as separate thumbnails). But text doesn't automatically fit the screen when zoomed and basic tasks like refreshing the page take way too many touches on the screen.
Despite Symbian^3 being a clear improvement over its predecessors, it's still evident the OS hasn't been designed with a touchscreen in mind. A perfect example is the on-screen keyboard; there is no QWERTY keyboard in portrait mode. Instead, the C7 has a numeric keypad with T9 predictive text input. You do get a full QWERTY keyboard if you rotate the phone to landscape mode, but the keys are fairly small and there are no intuitive, context-sensitive buttons like .com. Symbian^3 also brings up a new screen when you have to enter text, meaning you can't see any messages you are replying to as you are typing.
Nokia C7: Live widgets and Ovi service
The Symbian^3 OS offers a number of live widgets across the C7's three home screens, but they can't be resized. One handy widget allows you to add your favourite contacts to the home screen, while the social-networking widget displays recent status updates from Facebook and Twitter. It should let you to update your Facebook and Twitter status from the home screen, but instead tapping on the widget simply opens the full client to update your status. Text is too small and can't be resized, the app is noticeably slower to load than clients on other smartphones, and the size restrictions imposed on widgets means that tapping the up and down arrow buttons to read status updates is awkward.
Extra widgets can be downloaded from Nokia's Ovi Store. Though the Ovi Store has steadily improved since its release, it has only about 13,000 apps — far fewer than its competitors. There are still no official Symbian apps for Twitter, eBay, PayPal or Dropbox (to name just a few). There is also a distinct lack of apps that have a 'wow' factor, such as 3D games, and the store itself isn't as easy to use as its competitors.
A nice touch is the fact that the preloaded Ovi Maps application includes a lifetime, free subscription to full turn-by-turn navigation. This is an excellent feature considering you have to pay up to $100 for the same service on the iPhone. The upgraded music player is slicker than ever and displays albums in a similar "cover flow" style to the iPhone.
The Nokia C7 is also sold through online store MobiCity.
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