Nokia C5 review

Jonathan Morris
July 28, 2010

This fully-functional smartphone has a ridiculously cheap price tag – surely there must be a catch?

Cheap and nasty is the first thought for many when you mention a new range of affordable mobile phones. You think of budget phones that you only buy because you’ve got no money, or have decided to make a statement that you won’t allow yourself to spend a fortune on something that makes calls.

The C5 is quite different. Firstly, it’s not a £10 budget phone, but at around £150 or less for a SIM-free model, it certainly isn’t expensive given its specification. You’ll easily pick this up free of charge on a low-cost monthly tariff too.

It’s different because it isn’t a normal Series 40 phone, but a full-blown smartphone running Symbian Series 60 (3rd Edition). 3rd Edition is the non-touch version, which has matured well compared to its touchscreen counterpart. The phone is also 3G, with a 3.2-megapixel fixed-focus camera plus LED flash and GPS for free navigation using Ovi Maps, as well as memory expansion via microSDHC cards. It doesn’t support Wi-Fi though.

You can’t even say the phone is cheaply built either, or hard to use. Nokia has used decent materials and kept to a totally inoffensive design that has a keypad and associated buttons nicely laid out and easy to use. So, all things considered, the C5 is not a bad little offering.

Upon first switch on, you’re invited to transfer content from another Nokia device. This might be quite presumptious, but there’s a fairly good chance that a lot of people buying this phone will do so because they like using Nokia models.

Compared to other Series 60 phones, the C5 is a little sluggish. It has a slower processor and less memory than more expensive models, but it is never so slow as to be annoying. It’s considerably better than prepay phones that try to offer a smartphone-like experience with a totally proprietary user interface. Series 60 has had years to get to where it is today, and it’s easy to use and highly customisable.

There is also a large number of applications available via Nokia’s Ovi Store, although a lot of the good stuff will cost you more money.

Highly capable

If you’re looking for a phone that can do more than just voice and text, there’s a lot of potential with this phone, and the free navigation might also prove appealing – even if the onscreen maps won’t be as large as on a phone running Nokia’s Series 60 5th Edition (such as the Nokia 5230 or the X6). However, these are more expensive offerings which would make you forget why you opted for this in the first place; a good solid phone, that’s easy to use and has plenty of potential. We can see more good things from the Cseries family to come.


The new range of ‘Classic’ mobiles from Nokia is given a good start with the release of the C5. Bringing the world of Symbian down the price range is a good way to encourage more support of the smartphone platform that is struggling against the new boys in town. In its non-touch format, the user interface is pleasant and intuitive. There are a number of great features on this phone, despite the affordable price, including Ovi Maps and free navigation, a reasonable camera and good battery life. Better still, the phone doesn’t look cheap and is very simple to operate.

Ratings (out of 5)

Performance: 4
Features: 3
Usability: 4

Overall: 4

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