Nokia C2-03

Hi all,

This is going to be a longish post about the Nokia C2-03 Touch and Type phone that I was gifted few days ago.

I had been thinking of changing my mobile phone for about 6 months now. While the Chinese built mobile phones have been selling in huge numbers in the Indian market, I was not interested in the Chinese offerings as they are usually poorly documented, poor or non-existent post-sale services and no web services and does not any apps ecosystem to speak of. I did know however that I needed to have a dual-sim model due to number of reasons.

So with the above, I knew the choices were between either getting a Nokia piece or a Samsung piece. I had been confused by the Nokia C2 series and the Samsung duos series. I was also looking for a cheapo phone as I’m a bit absent-minded at times. If it was up to me I would have waited longer as neither Nokia nor Samsung have an Android offering in the Rs. 5k range (which I was shooting for).

So anyways, to cut the long story short I was gifted the Nokia C2-03 on my birthday last week. So let’s see what is the good,bad and ugly prima-facie in this phone.

Good :-

a.S40 :- AFAIK the Nokia mobile OS(Operating System) starts OS30, then goes to S40, S50, S60, S60 (5th Edition latest in the S60) and then the Symbian^1,Symbian^2 and finally Symbian^3 . There are also codenames as Symbian Anna and Symbian Belle.

The Nokia 2310 I have is the most basic phone which ran on OS30. As there wasn’t any way to access the net the OS was same during its whole lifetime with no possibility of fixing or/and upgrading any of the feature-set.

In this aspect, with the S40 series its possible to update the OS provided you have both GPRS as well as Nokia Ovi Suite installed on MS-Windows and updated it.

b. Fonts :- I am and continue to be floored by the default font which comes in the Nokia C2-03. The font is thick, nicely weighted and looks good. I am no font designer but still would give full marks to the Nokia team for coming with a nice font.

c.Languages :- I was pleased to note that the phone had in-built support for > 4 Indian languages. I could distinguish Hindi,Punjabi, Gujarati and see couple of Southern languages but could not discern which was what. While its far short of the 13 odd National languages we have in India its still good to see them making attempts.

d. Responsive Touch screen :- While its early days yet, I am happy with the touchscreen as it responds nicely to touch.

Bad :-

a. Resistive Touch Screen :- I dunno why Nokia is still hanging on the Resistive Touch Screen technology. If one is looking for a Touch and Type screen and does not mind getting his/her hands wet with a different UI then probably the Samsung Chat 322 would probably do it for him. The big negative for me is its impossible to use the resistive touch in sunlight. The reflection/glare is just too much rendering it impossible to even figure out who’s calling when one is outdoors. One needs to use a hand or something to create a shadow and figure out what’s going on/who’s calling.

b. No USB power :- I don’t understand the logic of this. Either the Nokia guys do not either know the existence of USB power or they lack some know-how of using the USB port to also power the mobile phone. I have seen this functionality in many a Chinese phones as well at some of the Samsung phones too. Not having this feature means its essential to lug the power cord around when traveling which could have been done away with.

c.Low battery life :- It really does not have enough battery life. While whatever might be stated on the site, in real-life terms the standby is limited to a day, day and a half at the most until the battery runs out. If the LCD-TFT screen takes so much battery then they should have either have invested in a bigger battery (put it with at least 1800 mAh rather than the 1200 mAh its given with or go with LED to save battery). Giving quite a bit of functionality and not giving enough battery juice means taking 2 hours + to just charge the phone or have an additional battery charger and battery doing it.

d. No quick charger :- IIRC Nokia had showcased a Quick charger in some big technology event (Europe-based~Germany) around 2k4,2k5 the quick charger where one could charge a mobile phone, a laptop (whatever used lithium-ion as its battery source) charging it 80% full within 5-8 minutes and the other 20% in the next 30-40 minutes. Cut to 2011 and I’m still taking 2-3 hours to charge this battery. I was under the impression that the battery charging process would have become a lot quicker but that is not to be. Even if one takes in the normal gestation period of 3 years which most of these technologies take it hasn’t come in the market 😦

Hence probably would have to invest in a battery charging unit and an extra battery as well 😦

e. Calibration :- It took me a better part of the day to figure out where the calibration for the touch-screen is. This should have been much easier to find and actually should have been called up in the first few runs. Best would have been the phone software checks itself if the calibration app. has been run in the few times it has been open for some length of time and if not, then present itself to the user.

I also know that overtime the calibration wears off and one needs to re-calibrate it from time to time. I wish there was a way to tell it when to present it to me (say after every 7~15 days or so or maybe longer) but sadly such an option does not seem to be there 😦

The ugly :-

a. Nokia Ovi Suite :- The Nokia Ovi Suite is good, but its good ONLY if you are on MS-Windows or an Apple Mac. Nothing for GNU/Linux 😦

Even on MS-Windows the app. leaves much to be desired. For free software folks there is nothing much there. One can back up the phone and the file gets saved as *.nbu (date-time.nbu).

b. Nokia Maps :- The much touted Nokia maps is useless for India. It probably is gonna take years and again both the database as well as the maps is proprietary. To add insult to injury, the Nokia maps which comes out on this handset is version 1.0 which I think has been long abandoned.

Notes :-

a. There is an Openstreetmap hack for S40 which I would try out in a few days, sadly though it is/would be unofficial. I have no idea whether they will work or not.

b. I would be looking for if some bright debian folks have made a .nbu parser. I think .nbu stands for Nokia backup and I’m sure some bright folks must have tried to parse it. I did spend quite a bit of time fixing up the names and other things. There is still lot of stuff left to do as I can add birthdays and what not to names (finally) along with photos and stuff which is good for people like me who tend to forget things. This is going to take some time though.

What felt nice when I was fixing names and whatever stuff I had about them is that this would finally be in a database format (I think Nokia does this internally) so moving from phone to phone or even from phone to a PC should also be easy/good.

All in all, while the phone has several deficiencies in itself it still serves as a good springboard for better things. Its gonna take me weeks to months to figure out the ins and outs of the phone itself.

I do hope though that in the near future the pricing and availability of something like the NeoFreeRunner or/and Nokia N900 comes to some decent levels so guys like me can hack on it. The end-game would be when the whole free software stack runs on the phone as well and is easily available and cheap to buy as well.

At the end, eternally grateful that I got a dual-sim with ability to be able to manipulate and move contacts to and fro to the memory card, the desktop and/or other phone easily. Also it’s finally possible to add birthdays, photos and other bits to people’s name making it easy to remember. These few functions make it good enough for now. Till later.

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