While gadget hounds and smart-phone lovers eagerly await the first glimpse of the fabled Nokia Windows Phone, at the other end of the scale the company continues to pump out surprisingly decent budget devices. The C1-02 (not to be confused with the confusingly recent C2-01) is the latest in this lineage. It cuts more corners than a particularly unscrupulous Finnish rally driver, but ultimately delivers astonishing value for money.
The C1-02 is available for around £20 on pay as you go. SIM-free prices are a little higher, at around £50.
Beauty is only skin-deep
Those of you expecting Nokia's latest release to be a formidable multimedia powerhouse will be
deluded disappointed. The C1-02 is as humble as they come, and lacks the physical attractiveness of devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S 2 or the iPhone 4.
That's not to say the C1-02 is ugly. When compared to other budget phones -- including such siblings as the creaky Nokia 1616 -- the C1-02 comes off looking quite refined. The entirely plastic casing doesn't exactly exude sophistication, but it feels as solid as a rock. The slightly rubberised texture is also a bonus, as it prevents the phone from slipping out of your hand.
The big, bold keys on the front of the C1-02 make for quick and easy texting, while the responsive D-pad allows for intuitive navigation through the phone's venerable S40-based operating system. You'll also find a 3.5mm headphone jack, Bluetooth file transfer and a microSD card slot -- the latter of which is quite a rarity in the budget sector.
The 1.8-inch screen -- which, er, 'boasts' a resolution of just 128x160 pixels -- is pathetic when set against the iPhone 4's pin-sharp retina display. But compared to the murky, washed-out screens seen on similarly priced mobiles, it's actually impressively sharp and bright. The colour balance is also decent.
Alas, something had to give to cram this tech into the C1-02's dainty 108 by 45 by 14mm, 78g frame. There's no camera, so if you're a fan of capturing impromptu snaps with your mobile, you're going to be out of luck here.
You're also jiggered if you're expecting fast data performance, as the C1-02 lacks support for 3G networks. Although a Web browser is included, hitting the Net is a cumbersome experience. The screen is just too small to properly view most sites, and the lack of 3G results in painfully long loading times.
The lack of processing grunt results in a rather stripped-down degree of functionality, too. You won't find any apps to download, widgets to configure or social-networking clients to update. The C1-02's menu structure looks and feels like a phone from almost a decade ago, but this is no bad thing if you crave simplicity.
With microSD-card support up to 32GB and a 3.5mm headphone jack on-board, the C1-02 makes a rather unlikely music playback companion. If you hook up a decent pair of headphones (none are bundled with the phone, sadly) you'll discover it makes a surprisingly viable substitute for your MP3 player. There's also an FM radio built into the phone.
The C1-02's battery stamina is fantastic. Nokia has pitched the talk time at a muscular 10 hours, and after using the phone for a few days we've no reason to doubt that remarkable figure. A standby time of 21 days is equally impressive, and just as feasible. If you're looking for a cheap, almost disposable phone to take away travelling, this could be the ideal candidate.
The C1-02's sturdy construction and impressive music playback capabilities belie its status as a bottom of the barrel budget blower. It's disappointing that a camera and 3G connectivity couldn't have come along for the ride, but these features aren't necessarily a given in this sector of the market.
It's worth noting that the Nokia C2-01 outclasses the C1-02 in many areas, but has a slightly higher price. When compared to similarly cheap devices such as the Samsung E1080 and the LG GS101, the C1-02 is even more appealing.
Edited by Nick Hide