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Nokia 6303 Classic review: Nokia 6303 Classic

Unlike most budget phones, the 6303 Classic is worth getting excited about. While it doesn't offer any high-end features, it's simple in a remarkably elegant way. It's a perfect choice for those seeking a good-looking and solidly built handset for basic calling and texting

Flora Graham
4 min read

It's not often that a budget phone causes us to feel a tingle of excitement. But the Nokia 6303 Classic is so elegantly simple, with easy-to-press buttons and a relaxed, basic user interface, that we want to clutch it to our hearts like a baby monkey.


Nokia 6303 Classic

The Good

Handsome looks; solid-feeling metal body; big keys; standard 3.5mm headphone jack; memory-card slot; simple user interface; good syncing with PCs; dual LED photo lights.

The Bad

No 3G, GPS or Wi-Fi; no syncing with Macs.

The Bottom Line

The Nokia 6303 Classic lives up to its name by refining the best features of the phones of yesteryear, and packing them into a solid case that's lovely to hold. It's a perfect phone for anyone who wants easy calling, texting and music for a low price, and is happy to forgo high-end features like GPS and Wi-Fi

The 6303 can be yours for free on a £15-pound-per-month contract, or from around £80 on a pay-as-you-go deal. You can also find it SIM-free for about £120.

Big buttons, big fun
Our 6303 review sample is black, and the matte finish makes it look sleek. It's also more resistant to fingerprints than the shiny, chrome option. The heavy stainless-steel case and rounded body make the 6303 feel lovely in the hand. The keys are larger than on most phones and they're easy to press, too. In fact, as soon as we picked it up, this phone seemed like a welcome balm for the current rash of overly complicated handsets with tiny keys.

The rather charming blue buttons on our review sample are a delight to press

The 6303 uses Nokia's simple Series 40 operating system, which will already be familiar to many people. By default, the home screen is mostly empty, but you can add alerts and shortcuts if you want to.

There are a few irritating UI quirks, but no deal-breakers. For example, the progress bar for things like downloads whizzes back and forth merrily, rather than progressing from start to finish as we'd expect to see. And, although we like informative messages, Nokia goes overboard -- a message pops up to tell you that you've got voicemail turned on every time you make a phone call. Despite these minor irritations, the phone is easy to use and the UI is generally very good.

We're ready for our close-up
The 6303's 3.2-megapixel camera does a good job of capturing snapshots, especially for such an inexpensive phone. Colours are accurate and bright in good light, and close-up shots are better than those of the average phone. In low light, the dual LEDs do a good job of brightening things up, although they did give our shots a greenish tinge. Also, the shutter lag is rather long, and you have to wait while your files are written to memory.

The 3.2-megapixel camera does a surprisingly good job, especially considering the 6303 is a budget phone

You may miss having a dedicated shutter button on the side of the phone, but we had no trouble taking photos using the centre of the five-way function button. The 56mm (2.2-inch) screen shows off snaps well, and looks bright and vivid.

Let the music play
The 6303 doesn't bill itself as a music phone, but it has a straightforward, easy-to-use media player and an FM radio that supports RDS. It also has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom, so you can use your own headphones. That always gives us a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

There's only 17MB of built-in memory, but you can add a microSD card of up to 4GB.  You'll definitely need one if you want to load some tunes onto the phone.

Once you've got it set up, syncing your tunes or files via USB is fairly easy using Nokia's PC Suite software, and it also works well over Bluetooth. PC Suite isn't the most elegant software, but Nokia releases frequent updates, and it has a few great features. For example, you can use it to type SMS messages on your computer and then send them via your phone, so you benefit from a full-size keyboard when typing your missives. You can also back up your phone and update its software. Sadly, Mac users aren't included in the fun -- PC Suite only supports Windows.

No surfing for you
With two browsers pre-installed -- Nokia's own and Opera Mini -- you can go online if you want to, but the 6303 doesn't have 3G or Wi-Fi, so you'll be surfing in the slow lane.

There's also no GPS receiver in this phone, so, although you can use map apps like Nokia Maps, they'll have to triangulate your position using phone masts. That means they won't be as accurate.

You can download more apps for the 6303 from Nokia's Ovi Store, but it could be slow without a 3G or Wi-Fi connection, and we imagine that most people who fancy this simple phone won't be too bothered about making it more complex. It comes with Flickr already installed so that you can upload your photos, though. If you want to try installing more apps, the Facebook app is a good choice and it's free from the Ovi Store.

There's no doubt that the Nokia 6303 Classic is a basic phone, lacking high-end features like 3G, GPS and Wi-Fi. But it offers great build quality and its good looks will send other budget phones running in shame to put paper bags over their hideous heads. It's also got good-sized keys, a standard headphone jack and a simple user interface, so, if your focus is on making calls and texting, while listening to an MP3 or two, we think the 6303 would make a fantastic choice.

Edited by Charles Kloet