Friday, 25 March 2011

Nokia C2-01 review: A little something

Price-  Rs.3600/-


Little cash in your pocket and a good phone on your mind. Is the Nokia C2-01 it? A still camera, 3G and a memory card slot sound like we’re on the right track. In contrast to the C2-00, this one omits the dual SIM handling but there are other goodies to make up for that.
Nokia Nokia Nokia Nokia
Nokia C2-01 official photos
It’s a cheap phone alright, nothing too flashy, nothing to shout about. But the Nokia C2-01 deserves some credit for squeezing a number of nice little features into its budget. 3.2MP still imaging does sound refreshing after reviewing a VGA primary camera recently. Data speeds top EDGE and a microSD card slot means there’s more than enough room for your music collection. A 3.5mm audio jack too perhaps is better than expected for the price you pay.

Key features
  • Entry level phone with decent features
  • Quad-band GSM/EDGE connectivity
  • Tri-band 3G connectivity
  • 2.0" 256K-color QVGA TFT display
  • 3.2MP fixed-focus camera
  • QVGA@15fps video recording
  • Series 40 UI, 6th edition
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • Bluetooth 2.1 (with EDR)
  • Standard microUSB port (charging)
  • microSD card slot (16GB supported)
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • Dedicated Facebook app

Main disadvantages

  • Poor video recording
  • No smart dialing
  • Miserable display (almost no such thing as a viewing angle for this one)
  • Relatively poor audio reproduction quality
We have some complaints (seriously, it’s 2011 and S40 still lacks smart dialing) but other than that the C2-01 looks pretty decent. Arguably, you can hold the lack of dual SIM support against the Nokia C2-01. This feature though is obviously left to the most basic of handsets in the C-series. The C2-01 is a budget phone but not that much of a penny pincher.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
Nokia C2-01 live shots
You know, phones with a flashlight have long been bottom of the Nokia barrel. Recently, it’s dual SIM phones. Well, the C2-01 is neither. Now, how good is this – or how bad? Jump to the next page, as we try to find out.
But there’re other questions to be answered first. What’s in the box? Is the Nokia C2-01 durable? Out tour of the phone’s hardware is about to begin.

Unboxing, design and construction

The Nokia C2-01 comes in a plain cardboard box. Once you take the phone out, all that’s left is a charger and the good old one-piece headset that ends on a 3.5mm audio jack. There is no USB cable and no microSD card enclosed: keeping the price down was their main objective.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
The Nokia C2-01 retail package
The Nokia C2-01 is not the most compact phone around though its size and shape are the norm in this class. It measures 109.8 x 46.9 x 15.3 mm and weighs 89 g: a simple all-plastic handset.

We wouldn’t mind if the C2-01 was a bit thinner, but durability counts more than styling as far as such phones are concerned. The Nokia C2-01 is solidly built though its body is likely to get scratched pretty quickly. Aesthetics will suffer but overall, the phone will keep working – it’s what this kind of phones do.
The design of the Nokia C2-01 is as basic as it gets – screen, two soft keys and call buttons around a D-pad and a phone keypad below. The D-pad is a five-way key – unlike the most basic of Nokia phones, it has confirm action. And by the way, we don’t mean basic in a bad way. This layout has been used just about since the dawn of time (of mobile phones anyway) and it’s proven to work.
The 2.0” TFT screen has QVGA resolution (240 x 320) and is OK as far as colors and brightness go, but viewing angles are terrible. Sunlight legibility isn’t any better.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
C2-01’s display
The softkeys and D-pad are well-sized and have a good feedback. The call keys are rather small knobs but sufficiently raised. Calling is after all the primary function of the Nokia C2-01.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
The keypad and navigation deck
The 12 keys of the keypad are decently big and the slightly convex shape makes them quite comfortable. We don’t quite agree with making the bottom row taller – the extra height should have been spread out equally, which would have looked better too (more symmetrical at least).
The exposed 3.5mm audio jack and the charger plug are up top both clearly marked with easy to understand symbols. On the left and right respectively are the microSD card slot (cards up to 16GB are supported) and the microUSB port (charging), both of which are covered by plastic flaps.
Our memory cards had an annoying tendency to get stuck in the slot and we had to pull hard to eject them.
There is no volume rocker, nor a dedicated camera key – the D-pad is used instead.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
Well-connected: microUSB port, card slot and 3.5 mm audio jack
Rearside are the large hole of the 3.2MP fixed-focus camera lens and the loudspeaker grill.
Under the back cover lies a 1020 mAh BL-5C battery that is rated at 16 to 19 days of standby (depending on network : 2G or 3G) and the C2-01 will give you up to 8 hours 40 minutes of talk time (in 2G, about half that in 3G).
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
The camera lens and loudspeaker grill at the back • the battery and the SIM bed under the rear cover
Budget puts limits to what the C2-01 can do and we’re glad Nokia spent most of it on good build. The choice of materials and the finish are unexceptional but the different parts of the phone are well put together – no gaps, no squeaky noises. With a durable battery, the C2-01 does a great job of being a phone and the Finns even managed to add a few bells and whistles before they reached the price limit they set for themselves.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 

User interface

The Nokia C2-01 is yet a S40 6th edition device. The user interface is very basic and easy to use. No need to spend hours with the user manual or digging through the menus without a clue. It’s simple and intuitive: everything is pretty much where it should be.
The Active standby is the trademark homescreen layout. If you’ve ever used a Nokia device you should be familiar with it by now. It divides the screen into tiles that can be scrolled with the D-pad and edited as users see fit. They can be rearranged but the default layout is the most logical. The General Indicators tile is on top, featuring date, time and missed events.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
The S40 Homescreen • Homescreen options
The second one is Radio and Media, and the next one is dedicated to email.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
Active standby options • Re-ordering the tiles • Tile options
The bottom section of the homescreen is the Shortcut bar. It holds user-configurable shortcuts to favorite functions. The default selection features Facebook, camera, Messaging and Ovi store.
A handy feature is that pressing the end key while the keypad is locked, displays a lockscreen showing the time and date.
The main menu has the usual optional layouts: Grid, Grid with labels, List and Tabbed.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
The main menu • Menu options • List view
The major complaint with S40 handsets is they don’t have multitasking. Another thing to consider is the lack of smart dialing. Some of the competing feature phones have had these features for a long time.

No-frills Phonebook

The phonebook of the Nokia C2-01 will store up to 2000 contacts, which isn’t as good as unlimited storage but is enough for most people. You can set the phonebook to display contacts from the phone memory, SIM memory or both.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
Contact view • Contact search
Each contact can be assigned a variety of fields but the phone numbers are limited to 5. First names are separated from last names, eliminating problems, which may occur with synchronization. You can assign ringtones to each contact.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
Adding a number • Adding E-mail • Detail selection


Nokia isn’t one to skimp on proper telephony, even in the lower end of the market.
The Nokia C2-01 was good at holding onto signal. In-call sound is clear but not too loud even at the highest setting.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
Calling Dexter • In-call options
There’s no smart dialing on the C2-01 – not surprising for an S40 device. There’s no voice dialing either, nor the Voice Clarity feature that many other S40 phones have.
We carried out our traditional loudspeaker test to find out the Nokia C2-01 is a solid performer. You won’t have trouble hearing this one even if it’s hidden deep in you pocket or purse. You can find more details about our test, as well as the results of all other tested handsets here.
Speakerphone testVoice, dBPink noise/ Music, dBRinging phone, dBOveral score
Nokia E7265.760.266.3Below Average
Nokia X2-0170.265.571.8Average
Nokia C2-0172.866.079.7Good
Nokia E575.166.275.7Good
Nokia C375.866.677.5Very Good
LG GW30078.675.780.7Excellent

Messaging does the job

The Nokia C2-01 handles messaging without a problem, though with no fanfare either. It’s as basic as you can get on a phone. Don’t get us wrong, that’s not a bad thing and we are quite aware this isn’t an E72.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
The Messaging app
The supported formats are SMS, MMS, flash and audio messages and the C2-01 handles email too.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
Choosing attachment • Creating MMS
The keyboard of the C2-01 will give you reasonable typing speed. It’s a good package in terms of software support too, with Conversations enabled.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
Conversations • Creating a message
The message editor is very simple and easy to use. You start typing your message (you have the available character counter and number of messages available), when you’re finished and happy with it you can pick a contact. You look up contacts, or choose from the recently used numbers, the call log or contact groups. You can have a favorite contact too (just one).
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
Typing a message on the Nokia C2-01
The email client does pretty well to meet most user needs. It works with POP3, SMTP, and IMAP4 protocols and supports multiple email accounts. The email client supports SSL, which enables it to handle a Gmail account for example.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
E-mail client • Gmail inbox • Gmail options • Creating an E-mail message
Setting up the email client was extremely easy. It just required an email address and entering and confirming the password – the phone took care of the rest.

Photo gallery and File Browser got a divorce

A dedicated gallery is a relatively recent feature in S40. The gallery app – Photos – handles your image files hassle-free. There’s no eye candy, no fancy transition effects but it performs fast enough.
Nokia C2-01
The Gallery
The gallery can be viewed in either portrait or landscape mode. In landscape mode, images load full screen.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
Portrait mode • Landscape mode
Zooming in on a single picture is pretty comfortable with the zoom in and out shortcuts placed on the D-pad and the right soft key. It’s also fast and relatively smooth, even for pictures of higher resolution. We even tested it with photos made with the Nokia N8 and the C2-01 handled them like a pro.
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Zooming on photos in the Nokia C2-01 gallery
You can organize photos into albums, view them in a timeline (they are ordered by the date they were taken) and of course you can set up a slide show.
As for the regular Gallery app, it’s still here – but it’s hidden in the Applications menu. It’s quite a capable file manager, especially for a feature phone. It can manage folders and files – both one by one and in bulk.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
Regular Gallery is hidden in the Applications menu

Music Player is great for the low end

The music player of the Nokia C2-01 has decent looks and a solid set of features including a fair number of formats supported.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 
The music player • Sorting by artist
The music player can be accessed from either the media menu or the gallery, and you can add it as an Active standby shortcut on the Homescreen too.
Tracks can be filtered by artist, album and genre. The player handles MP3, WMA, WAV and eAAC+. Naturally, the A2DP profile is supported, allowing Bluetooth streaming of stereo sound.
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Music player interface • Music player options
As usual, the artist and title of the currently playing song are shown on the homescreen. They appear in the Radio and Media tile on the homescreen – it has to be enabled in the Homescreen mode settings.
The music player has several equalizer presets and two slots for users to configure. The loudspeaker of the C2-01 is quite strong.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 
The equalizer presets • Creating your own preset

Radio Player is standard too

There’s an FM radio on the Nokia C2-01 too. It has the standard S40 6th edition interface, which is very easy to use. RDS support is enabled. All you need to do is plug in your headphones and you’re good to go.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 
FM Radio interface • Options • The Radio has RDS
You can manually tune in to a station or let the Nokia C2-01 do an auto scan.

Video player is practically useless

Let’s face it, watching a movie on this small low-res display is not exactly our idea of fun.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01 
The Video player menu • Viewing a clip in portrait and in landscape
For the record though the Nokia C2-01 supports MP4, H.264, H.263 and 3GP. The lack of DivX or XviD support isn’t a surprise.
Playing an occasional clip someone sent you via MMS is as much use as this player might be getting.
Videos can be play in fullscreen mode, and you get play and skip buttons.

Disappointing audio quality

Unfortunately, the Nokia C2-01 output was pretty disappointing. We've used to seeing flawless output from every Nokia handset we have tested recently so this came as a pretty big surprise to us.
Now the C2-01 is actually excellent (and almost as loud as it gets) when connected to an external amplifier (such as your home or car stereo). If that is how you plan to use it disregard the first paragraph.
However when you plug in a pair of headphones the degradation is so severe that you are left with mediocre output. The intermodulation distortion skyrockets and the frequency response deteriorates significantly. Then there's the usual increase in stereo crosstalk and this time it's garnished with lower dynamic range. We suppose that most of the C2-01 users will end up listening to music on headphones so you can understand why we are disappointed with the overall results.

Fixed focus camera

The Nokia C2-01 has a 3.15MP fixed-focus camera, capable of taking shots of 2048x1536 resolution. No, it’s not a cameraphone though being able to take an occasional picture is something users will appreciate.
In terms of settings the C2-01 is limited to white balance, various effects and a self timer.
No flash, no autofocus and no shutter key, this phone could’ve made sense with a 2MP camera as well – or even VGA. 3 MP is quite a surprise in this price range.
When it comes to the actual image quality, the Nokia C2-01 has its ups and downs. The colors are pleasant and punchy but detail is where the camera falls short – and it’s not due to the 3 megapixels sensor, but rather to the heavy noise reduction. Still for a low-end device, the Nokia C2-01 delivers above expectations.
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Nokia C2-01 camera samples

Photo quality comparison

The Nokia C2-01 enters our Photo Compare Tool to join the other 3MP fixed-focus shooters. The tool’s page will give you enough info on how to use it and what to look for.
Photo Compare Tool Photo Compare Tool
Nokia C2-01 in our Photo Compare Tool

Video recording

Video recording on the Nokia C2-01 matches the price tag. It does QVGA at 15fps, which is right at the bottom of the food chain: good for an occasional MMS and not much more.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
The video recorder • Options in video recorder
Here’s a QVGA@15fps sample for you to enjoy.


The Nokia C2-01 is no internet-centric phone. But it does pretty well for the price. You get quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and stereo Bluetooth, and even UMTS 384kbps.
The microUSB port is the easiest way to transfer files and charge the phone (you can’t always find a 2mm charger, but microUSB cables are common enough). The easily accessible microSD card can help with bulk data transfers. And it’s hot-swappable so you can handle it without having to reboot.

Browser: Opera Mini reporting for duty

The Opera Mini 4.2 is the default browser on the C2-01. It’s long been part of the standard S40 package: a good data-efficient choice. The Opera Mini browser supports multiple tabs and the compression notably improves loading time and saves on data charges. For example, clocks in at about 370KB through Nokia’s S40 browser and just under 70KB through Opera Mini.
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The Opera Mini 4.2 interface

Organizer and apps

Nokia have always been on top of things in the organizer department. And the C2-01 has that written in its DNA.
The Calendar is the full-featured app we all should be familiar with by now. It has month, week, and day modes and five types of events to set up.
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The Calendar application
The alarm clock is repeatable: it can be set to go off on any selected day of the week, even when the phone is switched off. You can also customize the snooze time if you wish.
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The Alarm application
The other organizing functions available include a voice recorder with a 60-minute limit, a stopwatch and a countdown timer.
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Voice recorder • Stopwatch • Countdown timer
The Nokia C2-01 calculator offers two versions - basic and advanced. In addition, a loan calculator is also available.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
The Calculator
The consistently useful unit converter tops the list of additional applications. It offers all kinds of converting options and, if provided with enough information about the rates, offers currency conversion too.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
The Unit converter
If you are into sharing images, video and audio files with your buddies straight from your handset have a look at Ovi Share. After a quick sign-up process, selecting files for uploading is easy enough.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
The Ovi share
The Search application offers Google Search or Bing Search initially, though other search engines might be available depending on your country and region.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
The Web search
The World clock can tell the time in any time zone at the cost of only a few clicks.
Nokia C2-01 Nokia C2-01
The World clock
Finally, there’s the Facebook app. It’s a pretty capable piece of software – you can manage your profile and post status updates, but also browse your friends’ profiles and photos. There’s even an option to take a photo right in the app and upload it.
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The Facebook application in action
What’s missing though is the ability to receive notifications of new messages and status updates – you can’t run the Facebook app in the background and there’s no panel to put on the Active standby, like there was on the Nokia C3 for example.

Final words

It’s hard to criticize a phone like the Nokia C2-01 – it was built to a budget and with beginner users in mind. A good first phone to give to a kid. A phone with mom and dad on speed dial rather than one used for complex and important grown-up tasks like playing Angry Birds. Alternatively – it’s a phone for the emerging markets and that’s where Nokia are doing quite well.
Two and a half weeks of promised standby and generous talk time are a great asset and the C2-01 can take on other duties too.
The native functionality of S40 is rich enough with Java apps filling in the holes: the data-efficient Opera Mini is a great example. And the phone can play music too (radio as well) which is as good a bonus as you can expect in the entry-level segment.
And if you feel the Nokia C2-01 is missing something there’re enough options to choose from in this price bracket.
The Nokia C2-00 has more modest specs but it is a dual-standby phone with a hot swappable second SIM card. Or if you’re not in a hurry, you might want to wait for the Nokia X1-00, which offers a powerful loudspeaker and dedicated music keys (with a target price of 35 euro). The Sony Ericsson Cedar is pretty popular and it does add HSDPA/HSPA to the mix.
The Nokia X2 demands a slight price premium but makes up for it with copious features such as a bigger screen, loud stereo speakers, built-in FM antenna, dedicated music keys, excellent audio output quality, a bundled microUSB cable and microSD card, and USB On-the-go functionality with an optional adapter.
Nokia C2-00 Nokia X1-00 Sony Ericsson Cedar Nokia X2
Nokia C2-00 • Nokia X1-00 • Sony Ericsson Cedar • Nokia X2
The typical user of the Nokia C2-01 is indifferent to touchscreen but there are affordable offers already if some are willing to consider such a bold step. These three are a good sample: a 2.6” or so touchscreen with social networking added in.
Sony Ericsson Yendo Samsung C3300K Champ LG Cookie Style T310
Sony Ericsson Yendo • Samsung C3300K Champ • LG Cookie Style T310
Nokia knows how to make good hardware in mass numbers. The C2-01 will give you your money’s worth – actually, considering the price, maybe even more than that. This is what counts in the end – more important than carefully considering all the available options.


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