Mobile Phone Review – Nokia C7

Review Date: Jan. 01, 2011.

You know by now I’ve been a regular with WOMWORLD Nokia’s trial phone program, where folks get to play with a new Nokia device for 2 weeks, for free.  The last phone of 2010 I received, the Nokia C7, was one of Nokia’s new generation of smart phones (meaning it has a stepped up Operating System named Symbian^3 – don’t ask me how to say that: “Symbian Three,” or “Symbian hat three?” or “Symbian Cubed?”  Oh, WOMWorld, if you didn’t get the phone back, I probably know who stole it… The lady at the DHL counter was eyeing the phone with admiration, so she would be suspect number one.  Err, that would make me suspect number two.  I hated to see it go.

Most of the attention in the mobile tech (geek) community is currently on the N8 (see my review here), which has an amazing twelve, yes, twelve megapixel autofocus camera, with HD video capabilities.  Think of the C7 as the N8’s slim and sexy cousin (okay, that sounded weird, no one calls their own cousin “sexy.”  Oh wait, I DO know someone who married their cousin, but I digress).  Here’s a quick glance:

Nokia C7 pic heisted from techzilo.com

 

Nice looking phone, eh?   This post isn’t meant to be a comprehensive review, as 2 weeks isn’t nearly enough time to try out all the features anyway (and live a normal life, that is).  So, I mainly used various social media apps and surfed the web via wifi (On a tight budget, I am doing my best to NOT pay for a data plan), and took tons of photos and videos.  My main focus is seeing whether travelers would dig this phone.

What Bubba liked (who’s Bubba?):

  • It’s pretty.  (Yes, I said pretty, get over it) I got the grey version, there’s also a chrome trim version that’s sexier.  Yes, I said ‘sexier’ too.
  • Solid build quality, feels more like a nice watch than a phone.  Even if it’s tough, you wouldn’t want to toss it around carelessly, because it’s pretty.
  • Very thin, like the Nokia E72.
  • Bright capacitive screen (3.5 inches) which is great for viewing videos & playing games, and very responsive to the touch.
  • Great call quality and loud speaker.
  • 8 GB built in memory, plus microSD card slot.
  • 8 MP “fixed focus” camera + 720p HD video capture, no macro mode.  Autofocus was nixed to keep the slim shape.  Good tradeoff?
  • Built in photo and video editing apps.
  • Good battery life given my heavy usage of wifi and camera.  Took dozens of shots in one day with little battery drain.
  • Cool details, like large analog clock screensaver, and flashlight–by using the camera LED flash–hold down lock button for a few seconds, then “Wow, I blinded myself!”
  • OS: 3 home screens, easy to set up with widgets.  Not to be confused with “wedgies.”  Trust me, all of us geeks know about wedgies, and widgets are way better.
  • Favorite apps: The newest Nokias come bundled with WEB TV video channels, which load quickly via wifi and look very sharp (e.g., CNN, NatGeo, Movie Trailers), and games like angry birds are brilliant on the C7.  OVI maps with navigation (didn’t use this time, but with past experience it’s a brilliant piece of software).
  • OVI app store is greatly improved from a year ago; more variety, easy to download and install via wifi.

A short list of Bubba’s dislikes:

  • The touch screen User Interface (UI), compared to my ipod touch (3rd gen), is just not as smooth and user customizable.  Long time Nokia users should have no issues learning it, but for those North Americans who are used to the iphone and new to Nokia high end phones, the C7’s OS just isn’t as robust.  After using other Nokias, I was hoping for more of a revolutionary leap, not an evolutionary one (Did you catch that?  Bubba made a rhyme).
  • Apps: Facebook and twitter apps on the Nokia just can’t compare to the same apps for the ipod touch/iphone.  The iOS versions are a pleasure to use, easy to navigate and read, but the Nokia version for Facebook has faint and very small font sizes.  Nokia, be glad I didn’t have time to make a video comparing FB apps of both devices…
  • No camera lens cover or autofocus (both sacrificed for the slim form factor I’m sure).  It’s like a convertible without a top – Yeah the top would make it look fugly, but you still need it, right?
  • Pet peeve: Why are phone makers not including camera lens covers??? (Count ’em, THREE question marks!)  So many users complain about it, so keep them in the design..  Even if you have scratch resistant lenses, it makes the user feel safer.  Take it from Bubba the Psychologist, you as a company WANT your customers to feel good, right??

Okay, enough nonsense, please (oh, NOW you’re polite?) check out the gallery slideshow of 50 images (chosen from the 400+) I took during the 2 weeks the C7 was in my possession.  I tried to take photos in a wide variety of conditions, day and night, here in the beautiful city of Chiang Mai, Thailand.  (Clicking the pic will open the slideshow gallery)

I’ve also linked a video, click the market image to play.

Wrap Up:

To me, the camera and video quality was good enough to not have to carry my small digital camera around in my Thai man bag (don’t you dare say “Murse”), except for the lack of macro capability.  The video was also a bit shaky even with stabilization turned on.  As long as you have cement-tight wrists, your videos should be smooth enough.

Nokia has received quite a bit of flack for this camera by not having autofocus.  But what I haven’t read beyond the whining is the quality of the photos that were taken by the C7.  To me, an amateur photographer, the photos and videos were more than acceptable for my daily use, and for the blog.  However, NOT having the macro setting is a deal breaker for me, and for many travel bloggers (as well as non-bloggers) I know, as they often take closeup photos of food.   How can you have a travel blog without food photos!!  Plus a macro setting allows some cool depth of field shots (yes, Bubba is learning) that is not possible for this type of fixed focus camera.  If you don’t take macro shots, but want a stylish smart phone, the C7 is a good choice.

Yes, yes, I know what you’re going to say, “Real photographers would use a real camera…blah blah blah..” but if smart phone makers are including 8+ MP cameras with HD video capabilities, and charge hundreds of dollars, one should have the expectation that it could be used on a daily basis by serious photographers to capture quick, high quality photos and videos when called upon.  Otherwise, we would all stick with our dumbphones with VGA cameras.

The C7 is like a “good looking” college kid (okay, that makes me sound creepy) who shows great potential, but is an underachiever who is just a few steps away from greatness.

For detailed technical specs of the Nokia C7, check out the C7 page at www.gsmarena.com.

Cheers,

Bubba

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