Geek on a Budget: Part 2 – Nokia C3 Review: Simple is Good

Well, my phone curse continues.  It seems that something bad happens when I attempt to buy a phone for myself (to keep, this is not about the loaner phones I get from Nokia every so often).  Even when I bought the Nokia E5 recently, the curse reared its ugly head one more time… One of the spring hinges that holds the battery door cover down was broken, so it won’t stay closed.  Nice quality control, Nokia!  So, back to Amazon it went.

I was about to give up on Nokia and go Android, but even the older model smart phones were beyond of my budget.  The E5, at $189 was on the bubble as it was.  I thought about getting a replacement E5, but decided to go “low end” by getting the Nokia C3, at $119 from Amazon.

The C3 is one of Nokia’s lower end feature phones (not technically a smart phone, since it does not have a sophisticated OS, mail for exchange, nor can it multitask), but I chose it because of this simplicity.  I already have an ipod touch (3rd gen), which as many know, is basically an iphone without the phone.  I’ll save the ipod review for another time.

Nokia C3 with accessories


I like Nokias packaging.  Simple, no waste.  The box is small, there’s virtually no hard plastic (except for bags), no software disc, multiple manuals in 5 languages, etc.

Here’s what came in the box:

  • The phone (slate is actually bluish, but hard to tell in the pic)   By the way, my father made that table. Just sayin’.
  • Battery (high capacity)
  • Charger
  • Handsfree headphones/mic
  • Manual

Yup, that’s it.  Not sure why I bothered with that list, anyone with decent vision can see everything in the picture.

Here’s what I absolutely loved about this simple phone:

  • Not a bad lookin’ piece for $120 unlocked, quadband – i.e., that means it can work in any country’s GSM network.
  • Has Wifi!  Way to overachieve, little guy!
  • keypad is very nice, and a pleasure to use, if you are used to using portrait qwerties (no space in between keys, but it’s a personal preference compared to wider landscape keypads).
  • Very good SMS and chat features, all in conversation view.  Can you believe the E5 smartphone doesn’t have conversational SMS views?  Only Inbox, and the outbox.  That’s sad, for it’s a messaging phone, too…
  • Able to set to large fonts, so messaging is easy on the middle aged eyes.  Hey, did you know there’s a show here in the U.S. (TNT) called “Men of a certain age?”  Yeah, it’s about guys like me, who need large fonts!
  • Good build quality, a little plasticky, but solid nonetheless.
  • MicroSD memory card slot for storing pics/videos and music.
  • Great battery life.  I used it 4 days straight on one charge!  That’s including some wifi use each day.  Big capacity battery + dumb phone + small screen = great battery life.

Okay, here’s the “You get what you pay for” list:

  • Limited apps.  You can use ebuddy and snaptu, but no fring, skype, or other more robust apps like Nokia maps.  Oh, no GPS either
  • Low speaker volume (earpiece, not loudspeaker).  Had difficultly hearing callers when outdoors, or situations with any background noise; even on highest volume setting.
  • Since it’s not a smartphone, syncing your contacts/calendar is a challenge (if you use google).  Not impossible, but challenging.
  • Quality control.  Guess why I’m returning this phone?  Not because of anything major, but small:  The spacebar is messed up, sort of ‘crackles’ when pushed, definitely not right, considering all the other keys provided a confident click feel.
  • The navigation button (silvery square thingy) and enter (center) button produce really loud clicks.  Anyone in a room can hear me clicking away, and it sounds cheap.  The regular alpha keys are fine, but I really hated going through the menus…CLICK, CLICK, CLICK… yeah like that.  On the other hand, you can use it as a clicker for training dogs.  You heard me, training dogs…
  • Camera sucks, but that’s to be expected for a 2 MP cam with no flash even.  Not bad for catching something on the spot, then posting it to FB, but that’s about all it’s good for.
  • Does not access T-mobile’s edge network (T-zones), and I didn’t figure out how to configure it to get Edge data access.  Other unlocked Nokias were able to get on the network easily, so that might be something to research if you plan to access data without the wifi.
  • Lastly, you have wifi access, but often I got a memory error when loading web pages; due to its paltry built-in RAM.  Yuck.

Well, if it weren’t for the faulty spacebar key, I could have lived with the C3.  Messaging was so nice, with the big (middle age man sized) fonts, and the ease of typing.  Wifi was a plus, to do basic checks on FB and Twitter.  It would have been a nice, simple phone to complement my iPod Touch.

So, if you’re a heavy texter, and don’t do much else in the way of ‘smart phone’ usage or gaming, this is not a bad way to go, if you get one that was built well.  it’s solid, tossable, and fairly easy to use, and won’t break the bank.




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