The Nokia C3-01 Touch and Type is simple, cheap and attractive, so what's not to like? Its touchscreen isn't the most responsive we've ever used, and the software is basic at best, but, if you've got a hankering for the simple life, the C3-01 is a winner.
The C3-01 costs £160 SIM-free, £99 on a pay as you go deal, or can be yours for free on a £15-a-month contract from Nokia's online shop.
A touchscreen gets classic
We've long been fans of Nokia's classic, well-built, budget phones, like the Nokia 6303 Classic. Sturdy and reliable, they're well-suited to anyone who's not interested in jumping on the smart-phone bandwagon. Compared to other cheap phones, they tend to have plenty of great features for the price, and many people are already familiar with Nokia's basic operating system.
But, for those who fancy a little change, the C3-01 updates the classic candybar phone with a touchscreen. Instead of using the familiar five-way navigation button, you can poke at the C3-01's screen to select what you want.
The C3-01's familiar user interface has been updated slightly to accommodate touch interaction, and we think Nokia has done a good job. The on-screen buttons are generally big and easy to jab, while the user interface sticks closely to familiar icons and menus, so as not to scare off fans of classic Nokia handsets.
Unfortunately, the touchscreen could be more responsive. It's the resistive kind, so you have to apply some pressure to use it, and the software isn't always fast enough to keep up with pokes and prods. Animations and transitions within screens are sometimes jerky and unimpressive, betraying the C3-01's inexpensive insides.
But this isn't a fancy, whizzy, pricy smart phone like the iPhone or the HTC Desire HD. This is a friendly, familiar and cheap candybar, and we think most people who choose it won't be too bothered about its lack of whizz.
Arrested app development
On the other hand, there are places where the C3-01's software is annoying. The social-networking app, for example, supports Facebook and Twitter but is slow to load and update. We'd rather Nokia hadn't bothered including apps that don't work brilliantly.
This phone has no multitasking or app-switching capability, so, when you close an app, it doesn't just hide in the background. As such, whenever you try to close certain apps, you receive a message checking if you really want to shut the app down -- and sometimes a few seconds elapse while it's being closed. Overall, moving around this phone takes serious patience.
If you fancy getting into the wonderful world of apps, or other smart-phone features, we'd stay away from the C3-01. You can download apps fairly easily from the built-in Ovi Store, but the C3-01 doesn't support anything too fancy. For the same price, there are ultra-cheap Android smart phones that are worth a look instead.
Surfing in slow motion
The same warning goes for surfing the Web and checking your email on the C3-01. Both are possible, and the phone has Wi-Fi and HSPA for fast surfing over the mobile-phone network. But the C3-01's Web browser is slow to respond to commands, and doesn't support multi-touch zooming. You can double tap the screen to automatically reformat pages for easy reading, but be prepared to wait a few moments while the squirrel that powers the phone gets up to speed on its treadmill.
The email app is decent, but it doesn't support Microsoft Exchange, so you won't be able to check your work's Outlook mail. Although the C3-01's keys are large and easy to press, the familiar 12-key layout isn't the best for typing anything longer than a quick text message.
Keeping it simple
If your focus is trained laser-like on making calls and texts, the C3-01 has plenty to recommend it. It's slim and good-looking, with a solid-feeling metal body that's still light and comfortable to hold. You may find the buttons on the side small if you've got big fingers, but we're happy to sacrifice giant buttons in favour of a sleek look.
There's a dedicated camera button for the C3-01's 5-megapixel snapper, but we weren't particularly impressed by the photos it took. The focus point seemed off in our shots, nailing the edges of the image rather than the centre. It's fine for a few snaps here and there, but that's it.
On the plus side, there's room for a microSD memory card to store your shots and music. But our review sample didn't come with one, so you may have to invest some more of your hard-earned cash to get one.
The Nokia C3-01 Touch and Type is sluggish in places and fails when it tries to ape smart-phone features, but, compared to its cheap candybar contemporaries, it cuts a fine figure. Its resistive touchscreen isn't as zippy as those on some other phones, but the handset is still pleasingly usable. Overall, it's a good choice for traditionalists seeking something fresh but familiar.
You should also take a look at the Nokia X3 Touch and Type, which sports the same keyboard and touchscreen combo, but has a funkier design. If you're ready to bite the bullet and jump into the wonderful world of Web surfing and mobile apps, we'd suggest one of the cheap Android smart phones that are flooding the market instead.
Edited by Charles Kloet