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.
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 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
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.
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.