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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Nokia C7 review

The Nokia C7 flat out impressed me from since I first unboxed it. It has a very solid feel, even though the body is made of plastic and only the battery cover is made of metal. It feels very good in hand, a bit slippery at times, but it looks much better than some more expensive phones I came across. The display is very bright, and sunlight legibility is incredible, even though it's not a ClearBlack display. The ambient light sensor adapts very quickly to the lighting conditions and improves the user experience a lot.

Here are the technical specifications:

  • Dimensions - 117.3 x 56.8 x 10.5 mm
  • Weight 130 g
  • Screen type - AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
  • Screen resolution - 360x640pixels, 3.5 inches
  • Proximity sensor for auto turn-off
  • Multi-touch input method
  • Accelerometer sensor for UI auto-rotate
  • Memory - 8 GB storage, 256 MB RAM, 1 GB ROM
  • Card slot - microSD, up to 32GB
  • 2G Network - GSM 850/900/1800/1900
  • 3G Network - HSDPA 850/900/1700/1900/2100
  • EDGE - Class 32
  • 3G - HSDPA 10.2Mbps; HSUPA 2Mbps
  • WLAN - Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth - v3.0 with A2DP
  • USB - microUSB v2.0, USB On-the-go support
  • Camera - 8 MP, 3264x2448 pixels, fixed focus, dual-LED flash with geo-tagging and face detection
  • Video - 720p@25fps, video stabilization
  • Secondary video - VGA(640x480)
  • CPU - 680 MHz ARM 11 processor
  • GPU - Broadcom BCM2727
  • GPS - A-GPS support; Ovi Maps 3.0
  • Java - MIDP 2.1
  • TV-out - Standard Definition
  • Digital compass
  • Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
  • Battery - Li-Ion 1200 mAh (BL-5K)

On some websites I noticed that a Gorilla glass display is mentioned, but I think they got it wrong, or at least the unit I tested had no such thing.

  • Symbian^3 OS
  • MP3/WMA/WAV/eAAC+ player
  • DivX/XviD/MP4/H.264/H.263/WMV player
  • Quickoffice document viewer (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF)
  • Adobe Reader
  • Flash Lite 4.0
  • Voice memo/dial/command
  • Predictive text input

I am not going to cover the OS in this review, I have already covered it earlier on in an in-depth review.

The box contains the phone itself, the battery, a short USB cable(maybe too short) and the charger. Unlike the other S^1 touch phones, the C7 charges trough the USB port too, as well as from the Nokia standard charging port available on the left side of the phone.

On top of the phone we can find the power button, the USB port and the 3.5mm jack. The phone can output video in standard definition trough the 3.5mm jack with a dedicated cable. Since there was no such cable in the box, I could not test that ability. On the bottom of the phone we can find the mouth piece. On the right side we have the volume rockers, the voice command key, the lock knob and the dedicated camera key. These keys are very comfortable to use and do not stand in your way when you don't use them. On the back we have the 8MP camera, the dual LED flash and two speakers. On the front we have the 3.5 inch screen, the ear piece and three hardware buttons for answer call, menu and end call.

The C7 covers every connectivity you may need, from Bluetooth 3.0 to WiFi n and the new Nokia technology USB-on-the-go. Unfortunately there is no micro-USB to USB cable provided in the box, so you'll just have to purchase one. Although I could not test this, it seems a very interesting feature, minding that many of the potential users, may find this useful quite a few times.

The WiFi manager worked like a charm, even though not with all WiFi routers I threw at it. It can prioritize connections and save you quite a buck when there's a WiFi available. Every time you connect to the internet, there is a popup that tells you which connection is used.

The SIM card has a nice press and release mechanism unlike the S60 edition phones where you needed a stylus or something similar to remove the SIM card.

The micro SD card slot is located under the battery cover and you actually have to remove the battery in order to slip in your card. That's a pitty, but considering that the phone provides 8GB on onboard storage I never found myself needing an extra card.

A long press on the menu button shows the Symbian task manager, while a long press on the end key triggers the end data connection action.

The touchscreen is very sensitive and the slightest touch triggers the action you intend to do. There are two types of capacitive touchscreens, the kind that make you wish you'd have a resistive one, and the kind that makes you wonder how could you live without one. The C7 falls into the second category. I've have used a capacitive screen before, on a Samsung, and haven't been too happy with it but, the C7's really kicks ass.

The 8MP camera is very handy and takes pretty decent pictures, with very good quality, especially in good light conditions. The camera doesn't dislike poor lighting conditions either, just don't expect the dual LED flash to act as a dedicated camera flash. Here are some photo samples:

There are a variety of fine tunings that can be applied by default to photos, and some helpful functions too. Here they are:
  • Face detection
  • Self timer
  • White balance
  • Exposure
  • ISO - Automatic/Low/Medium/High
  • Sharpness - Hard/Normal/Soft
  • Colour tone - Normal/Sepia/Black&White/Vivid

There are also four options for the flash: Automatic, Red-eye reduction, Always on and Off

Pressing the settings button you find some more options like the Geo-tagging (Save location info) and the image quality settings.

The HD (720p) video recording is really smooth at 25 frames/second, and even shot indoors in poor light conditions look pretty good. Here are some samples again:

These videos were shot in poor lighting conditions but they are still very very good. The compression applied to the movies is not extraordinary so if you plan to shoot a lot of videos you should consider getting a bigger SD card, because 2-3 minutes of HD recording ate up around 500MB of storage.

The video light helps when filming in poor light conditions, but not very far due to the limitations of the LEDs so don't expect to shot videos from the distance at night.

The camcorder provides fine tuning as well, plus some more useful options. Here's what's available:

  • Video light On/Off
  • White balance
  • Colour tone
  • Video quality
  • Save location info (Geotagging)
  • Video stabilisation
  • Audio recording On/Off

Bottom line is this: if you're looking for a smartphone that can take decent photos, record HD video and has neat social integration, the C7 is a strong choice. At it's price tag, there aren't many phones that can record HD (well, there's the HTC Desire, but we all know how it fragments the HD recording).

Here is the hands-on video again for a short preview of the C7 user interface.

So, a family guy such as myself, can really appreciate this phone even if it does not run the smartest OS available today. The phone provides a lot of high-end features and a very good camera, for a price smaller than what you would have to pay for another phone with similar features.