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Monday, June 13, 2011

Nokia C3-00 Mobile phone - some observations & experience [not a review]

Been using a Nokia C3-00 mobile handset since November. Having used it for more than 7 months, thought of jotting down some observations gathered from these few months of use.

Nokia C3-00 cellphone

  1. Keypad becomes noticeably warm while charging
  2. Videos & Music can not be fast forwarded or rewinded: However if you stop midway, then the next time you open the media player it will resume playing the same audio/video from the point you had stopped [actually from a few seconds earlier, which is nice].
  3. Battery seems to drain fast: 2 days of moderate use for making & receiving around 10-12 calls of 5-7 minutes duration each & around a total of 20 minutes of surfing brings the battery level indicator bar to its last bar.
  4. Not able to update the phone software via the OVI suite or Nokia PC Suite: Keep getting an error message after it has finished downloading the relevant install package. Very frustrating - will keep looking into it.
  5. QWERTY keypad is very convenient: Totally fallen for the full QWERTY keypad. Keys feel solid & typing is very convenient. The bilingual keypads, as are the keypads on most C3s being retailed here, initially feels a bit confusing, but after a couple of hours of using it, it becomes a non-issue. However, it does tend to make the keypad look a tad cluttered IMO. Not planning to buy any future phones if does not have a full-QWERTY keypad.
  6. Multi-tasking: It doesn't have "multi" tasking in the true sense of the term at all. You can run the media player in the background and perform other task like surfing, or running another app. Two tasks can be performed, provided one of the tasks is the media player.
  7. Alarm fails to ring: Found out that if the internet is being used at a time when the alarm had been earlier set to go off, it fails to do so. Only after you've closed the Internet connection, does the alarm ring, even if it is more than an hour after the time the alarm was to go off.
  8. Can't set multiple alarms: At a given time, one can set the alarm to go off at only one time of the day. It could be set to go off at that time on any number of days of the week of choosing. This limitation could be overcome in some manner by using the Reminder feature instead.
  9. No PDF reader available: Was hoping to be able to do some light reading on the cellphone. However found no compatible app that could do so. However, on hindsight, realised that a 2.4" screen is not very conducive for the kind of layout in a PDF, if auto-scaling of the text can not be performed.
  10. D-pad paint chipped off: The silver colored paint of the D-pad has got chipped off at a few small points within 7 months. Possibly due to the initial couple of months of excessively long duration of surfing, which involved extensive use of the D-pad for navigation. On purchase of the C3-00, Airtel, unknown to me before purchase, provided a free Internet connection via GPRS for 6 months that got activated the instant the SIM card was inserted into the handset, with 2 GB of free permissible data transfer each month. Restricting oneself to normal use of the Internet & keeping the nails trimmed would probably have prevented the paint from chipping away.
  11. Speakers loud, but sound quality average: No complains here.
  12. Sound gets distorted during recording if the source of sound is too close to the handset: Find this very frustrating. Say, I'm recording a conversation I'm having with some one standing a few feet in front of me with the camera held in front of me. The voice of the person in front gets recorded in an reasonably audible manner. My voice, on the other hand, sounds all garbled & incomprehensible for some reason. Unable to figure out the reason. An example of this would be the following video that I had shot of a parrot that sat on the window grills at home. While the TV in the background can be heard, my voice, as I speak towards the end comes out sounding all garbled.
    Video caputre using a Nokia C3-00 mobile phone
  13. TXT files get truncated: It is unable to display the full content of a long *.txt file, truncating it to display only the initial few paragraphs of the document, with a prior message saying it is truncating the document before displaying it.
  14. Reminders start up when it strikes 12 o clock if Internet is running: Unlike in case of the alarm issue [point 08] the reminder starts ringing at 12 at midnight if the internet is being used at that time, no matter when it was originally set to go off. Say, the reminder had been set to go off at 0830 in the morning, it will go off the moment it strikes 0000, if the Internet connection was currently being used at that time. Very irritating.
  15. Can't use the camera as a webcam: Did not find any compatible app that would do it. Still looking. If anyone knows of any such free software for the S40 platform, please inform - drop in a line in the comments below. The 2MP camera in the phone takes unremarkable photos & videos, just like any 2MP camera without flash normally performs - no complaints, taking lots of pictures and shooting videos without restraint :)

The phone runs the Series 40 software with a re-worked interface, looking very different from the default interface of traditional S40 phones. Actually, some of the lack of  features mentioned above [02, 06, 09, 13, 15] are inherent limitations of the software platform itself, rather than a deficiency on part of this phone model in particular. Still, goes without saying, being able to overcome these lacunae would help a great deal.

Despite these few minor niggles, totally satisfied with the purchase decision. Considering the price point at which this phone was then bracketed [around $125-$147 USD, depending on your bargaining skills], it certainly made a good buy with the right price-feature balance backed by the reliability that the Nokia brand name provides. Bought mine for Rs. 5650 INR [~$128 USD] then, with a pouch for carrying the phone thrown in with it. Should be available for a bit lesser today - guessing one should be able to get it at around the Rs.5000 [$113 USD] price point. In subsequent reviews of the handset by tech magazines & shows, folks have had good things to say about the handset. Also won the Budget Phone of the Year award at the NDTV Gadget awards held few months back.

Listing out some of the ways this handset is being used:

  1. Media player: Stopped carrying the iPod. Media player in the phone coupled with a 8 GB SD card currently fulfills all multimedia needs quite easily. It also contains an FM Radio receiver, but the RJs on stations here, with their fake display of over-enthusiasm are shite - avoid them like the plague.
  2. Notes taking software: Many of the observations listed above were actually noticed while in the middle of some other activity. So instead of trying to remember it & stay distracted or note it down on a piece of paper & risk the possibility of misplacing it, jotted it down quickly in the notes apps instead, which was transferred on to the computer when convenient. Also being used for noting down other such info & thoughts for perusal later.
  3. Reminder tool: Absolutely heaven sent! Helps neatly arrange & schedule activities in a systematic manner. Forgetting events and tasks are a thing of the past. Had been using Google Calendar with SMS reminder occasionally earlier. This is much better IMO, as I can add a reminder immediately, without having to wait to access a computer, by which time it may have slipped out of the mind.
    Can also be used as an alarm set for different times of the day, something that the actual alarm feature can not do.
  4. Audiobook: Have taken to reading audiobooks recently. That way it becomes possible to go through 2 books at a time - listen to audiobook during commute or while travelling some place or waiting in queue & read a conventional book when not in motion or when back at home. As mentioned earlier, since the default media player does not allow one to fast forward or rewind the track, in the event that playback of the audiobook had been stopped and some other track is then played, it would make it necessary to restart playback of the audiobook, often with 3-5 hours duration, right from the beginning - impractical. Using Mp3splt, splitting the audiobook into files of shorter duration. Find 15 minutes to be the most convenient duration of each segment. In a way, they've made up for not being able to read PDF files, & this is, in a sense, way better IMO.
  5. Shooting photos & videos: Doing lots of it. Picture quality does not make them appear worthwhile at present. But 10-20 years from now, looking through them would impart it a great deal of nostalgic value I think :). Some pictures taken with the camera: Indian Army OT-62 TOPAS Armoured Troop Carrier [Photographs].
    Some other pictures taken with its camera. It has begun raining out here, hence the cloudy outdoors.
    Sample photo taken with the 2 MP camera of a Nokia C3-00 cellphone [outdoor] Sample picture taken with the 2 MP camera of a Nokia C3-00 cellphone [indoor]
  6. Internet: Very convenient to do a quick surf of some sites & forums & be done with it. Earlier, in order to do the same, the computer had to be used. Invariably ended up spending more time than initially planned, as it is quite easy to lose track of time doing so. However, with the cellphone, a bit inconvenient as it is to surf using it, it is easier to stop after the initially planned work using the Internet is completed. Also, as the Internet could be accessed from anywhere using the cellphone, the same work could be done, say during commute or waiting at some place. That way, it frees up time for some other work, otherwise spent surfing the Internet.
    The phone also comes pre-installed with some soc-media apps, which is essentially the reason why this handset was released by Nokia in the first place - an affordable soc-media-enabled handset to be used by the younger college-going crowd to stay connected on current soc-media networks. Haven't used the apps for any meaningful duration of time though - still do most all of my soc-ing through the traditional soc-media IRC network.
    Did not face issues logging on to a Wi-Fi network - was able to do so without issues. Many members on forums have been complaining about being unable to do so.

Having made the purchase decision, am satisfied with it. While looking for a suitable handset, came across a lots of models from Indian companies peddling Chinese-made handsets stamped with their companies name here. Considering that these phones were packed to the gills with feature-sets at a price-point far less than that of the Nokia or other well-established brands, was often tempted to buy one of those. But then again, these phones are known to have several performance issues and are known to go kaput very often. Not having a fraction of the network of service centers of those like Nokia also served as an effective deterrent against going in for those phones.

Recently read about Samsung having released a similar handset of their own - Samsung S3353. It seems to have the same set of specifications & price-point, except for the fact that the Samsung model comes with a track pad instead of a D-pad in the Nokia C3. Haven't checked it out though.

The Nokia C3, at the Rs. 5000-5500 INR price point, IMO, is a good choice for anybody looking to purchase an entry-level QWERTY handset. Does its job well - just remember to keep your nails trimmed while using it.