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Nokia C5 review: Nokia C5

The Nokia C5 offers a simple candybar design and good range of features without being too costly. It won't blow you away, but it shouldn't disappoint either.

Damian Koh
5 min read


Nokia C5

The Good

Excellent keypad Good set of connectivity features Free real-time navigation with Ovi Maps Good battery life Snappy performance.

The Bad

A few minor design flaws Doesn't support Wi-Fi Camera doesn't have autofocus.

The Bottom Line

The Nokia C5 offers a simple candybar design and good range of features without being too costly. It won't blow you away, but it shouldn't disappoint either.


Nokia is good at making simple candybar phones and the C5 is a good example. The handset is made from a combination of plastic and aluminium, which feels pretty light in the hands. Our review unit came in the white version with a metallic silver band that runs along the sides of the device. The C5 is also available in a warm-grey shade.

The build quality is generally solid, although we were marginally put off by the matte-silver battery cover, which was slightly loose at the bottom. The implementation of the microSD card slot and volume buttons is also questionable. The microSD card, when inserted, goes too deep into the slot, which makes it a painful experience trying to pry out the card with our fingernails. The volume buttons are also thin, stiff and sunk into the chassis. We had to press down hard before the buttons registered the command. Now try doing that while the phone is next to your ear.

Happily, the numeric keypad is a joy to use and the 2.2-inch QVGA display adequate for a device of this size. The TFT panel is capable of displaying 16.7 million colours, but legibility of the screen under the sun is only average. We had to squint a little while framing our pictures using the camera. Indoors, the display appeared sharp and vibrant. Elsewhere on the C5, there's a 3.5mm audio jack, micro-USB port and 2mm charging connector at the top, while a 3.2-megapixel camera with LED flash is around back.


The C5 runs on the Symbian S60 3rd edition operating system with Feature Pack 2, which is practically on every other non-touchscreen Nokia smartphone. Smart dialling, conference calling (up to three participants), voice commands and video calling are all supported. The latter uses the secondary, front-facing VGA camera. The latter has a focus range of 20cm to infinity and is also capable of recording 144x176-pixel videos at 15fps.

(Credit: CNET Asia)

The home screen features a shortcut carousel of your favourite contacts in the address book. Up to four people are displayed at any one time, although the sides of the two contacts at the edge are chopped off due to the limitation of the display (see our screenshot for illustration). Still, chances are you'd be able to identify who these friends are by their pictures. Clicking on each of these contacts brings you to an aggregator, which displays your recent history with this particular person. Below this contact carousel are active standby applications for calendar appointments, emails and statuses of your Ovi contacts. Further down at the bottom edge of the home screen are six application shortcuts that are configurable, as well as the left/right customisable keys. If you've used a recent Nokia smartphone, none of these should be new to you.

Most of the applications that the average user would need are pre-installed. There's QuickOffice for document viewing (although you'll need to register for the paid version in order to create new documents), an Adobe PDF reader, dictionary, ZIP manager, notepad, RealPlayer, voice recorder and Ovi Maps for navigation. Real-time walk and drive navigation are free on the C5. In Ovi Maps, you'll also find Lonely Planet and an events guide, as well as a weather update application. The C5 comes with 128MB of built-in memory, of which about 50MB are available to the user.

Aside from Ovi Contacts and Maps, the C5 also supports application downloads via the Ovi Store directly from the device and Files on Ovi. One thing we've griped about time and again is the lack of applications and the dreadful user interface on the Ovi Store. What's fortunate is that there's a robust amount of third-party apps written for the S60 platform. The only problem is you may not be able to find them on Ovi Store and instead will have to search on the web for it.

Files on Ovi lets you view, download and send files (what did you expect?) that are on your computer directly via the handset, which is a lifesaver if you need to access a particular document on your PC remotely. You'll have to install the File Connector program on your PC and the latter also has to be online in order to use this service. The 2GB microSD card that comes with the C5 also has the installation file for the Ovi Suite program, so you don't have to download this separately.

The 3.2-megapixel camera is a fixed-focus module with a maximum aperture of F2.4. In our field tests, we found the image quality just passable. We noticed a water colour effect as well as noise in quite a number of our pictures taken in daylight. That said, we didn't expect much from the camera in the first place. Because of its fixed focus, we'd recommend not going too close to your subject unless you are able to correctly estimate a distance of 25cm for the camera to focus. Any closer and you'll end up with a blurred image.

The C5 has a basic camera that lets you take 2048x1536 snaps and VGA videos at 15fps. The stitching of images in panoramic mode weren't very well done in our tests as you can see the seams of each picture clearly. Our videos also looked choppy due to the low frame rate for video capture. The built-in LED flash has an operating range of about 1.5m.


Call quality was good and we didn't encounter any issues during our review period of about a week. The speakers weren't too clear, though unless you're in a very noisy environment, you should still be able to hear the other party on the line while on a 3G video call. The video image also doesn't break up during the call when we were moving around.

The C5 is powered by an ARM11 600MHz processor with 128MB of RAM. Overall, the handset felt snappy and the occasional split-second lag barely registered on our annoyance meter. The only exception was when we accessed the Gallery. Browsing images and videos automatically rotated the display to landscape orientation, which took a laggy two seconds.

This is a basic smartphone that handles most tasks efficiently. The 1050mAh battery is rated for 12 hours of talk time and approximately 26 days on standby. With our office email on Microsoft Exchange set on push, occasional browsing on the web, downloading applications, and Twitter and Facebook updates, the battery lasted 2.5 days comfortably.


The Nokia C5 doesn't excite, but it won't disappoint, either. If you're looking for a basic handset with smartphone-like features, the C5 is worth considering. It's a neat, compact and affordable mid-range device that delivers for the most part.

Via CNET Asia