Nokia C7 review: Nokia C7

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CNET Editors' Rating

2.5 stars OK

Average User Rating

3 stars 18 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Sturdy, attractive steel case; great battery life; responsive capacitive touchscreen; decent camera.

The Bad Software isn't as easy to use as competing offerings; weak calendar and email services; terrible on-screen keyboard; lame widgets.

The Bottom Line The Nokia C7 smart phone looks and feels the steely business, and its battery life defines 'stamina'. But it's not as much fun to use as many Android phones available for the same price.

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The Nokia C7 is a perfectly serviceable smart phone at a decent price. Its slim metal case, long battery life and heaps of features almost make up for its clunky user interface -- but not quite.

It's available for free on a £20-per-month contract, or £300 on a pay as you go deal. You can also pick it up for around £320 SIM-free.

Cold steel

Our favourite thing about the C7 is its shiny steel case. It's slim, solid and comfortable to hold. The mirrored front is a fingerprint magnet, but, if you don't mind incessant polishing, then you'll benefit from a gorgeous phone that feels like it can take some serious knocks and tumbles.

We enjoyed making calls on the C7, and its excellent battery life meant that we could chat until our ears fell off. In our tests, the C7 scoffed at the prospect of daily charging (unlike many other smart phones), even with live widgets constantly pulling down data over the Internet connection, and push email doing its thang. If we were going on a long trip to a place without plugs, like Glastonbury, we'd pack the C7.

Silly little Symbian

The C7 sports Symbian 3, the latest incarnation of Nokia's favourite operating system. We took Symbian 3 to task when it first came out on the Nokia N8, and our feelings haven't changed. We won't rehash all the details of our N8 review. Instead, let us break it down for you quickly. The OS is tiresome to set up, there's a constant barrage of incomprehensible messages and error boxes, and the user interface isn't intuitive or consistent. 

Symbian 3 has new user-friendly features such as the dialler searching your contacts for you.

That's not to say it's worse than burning eternally in the fires of hell. It's more like singeing your toes on a hottish Aga. You could use the C7 quite happily, especially if you're used to Nokia phones and you're not accustomed to other smart-phone systems. It's just not as much fun to use as some rivals, such as the  iPhone  and  Android phones .

For example, the widgets on the three home screens are customisable, so you can set up shortcuts to your favourite features. Some of them also display live data, such as your latest emails. But the widgets are strictly locked into squares, and often they're not the right size for their content. For instance, the Wi-Fi widget wastes a whole widget's worth of space with a tiny amount of text alerting you to available networks, among other things. Meanwhile, the social-networking widget tries to pack tweets, Facebook updates, a status-update text box and a scrolling list of messages into the same tiny space. The upshot is that neither widget is as useful as it could be.

It's worth noting that some of our users' reviews have complained about software problems out of the box, but we didn't experience them in our tests.

Keyboard carnage

The C7's touchscreen is the capacitive type, which is a big improvement over the resistive variety that we've seen on previous Nokia touchscreen phones, like the 5800 XpressMusic . Resistive screens require the application of pressure or a stylus, and they don't feel as fast or responsive as the capacitive type. In our tests, the C7's screen proved extremely zippy and responsive.

Unfortunately, the on-screen keyboard is truly terrible. In portrait mode, there's only the choice of a 12-key, alphanumeric keyboard. That means the keys are plenty big enough for the fattest fingers, but we'd appreciate the choice of a Qwerty keyboard too. We think there's plenty of room for more keys on the C7's 3.5-inch screen, even in portrait mode. We've seen a keyboard done well on the cheap LG Optimus One, which has a 3.2-inch screen, so we know it can be done.

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Where to Buy

Nokia C7

Part Number: CNETNokia C7

Typical Price: £320.00

See manufacturer website for availability.