Nokia C5 review: Smart and trusty

Smart and trusty

GSMArena team, 12 May 2010.

Symbian is pleased to serve

The Nokia C5 is powered by Symbian 9.3 and runs on the S60 3rd edition user interface with Feature Pack 2.

On the homescreen you can enable a Contact bar, which has been an option on Nokia handsets long enough now. It’s a row of select contacts that add to the usual shortcuts and tabs of the Symbian S60 Active standby homescreen.

The favorite contacts are placed on top, each represented by the contact photo and their first name. Four contacts are visible at a time and you can scroll left and right for the rest.

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The Contacts bar • viewing a contact from the Contacts bar

Under the Contact list, it's pretty much standard Active Standby. There are a few tabs for homescreen applications. The user-configurable options are: Calendar, Ovi Contacts and the Contact bar.

The calendar tab shows the most recent upcoming appointment in the calendar. The email tab shows the number of unread messages and sender and Re: field of the most recent message. The Ovi Contacts panel shows your status and number of friends online.

If the Contact bar is enabled, the music player tab is missing – there’s obviously no room for it on the screen. The player can be minimized to play in the background but you have no way of controlling it unless you go back to the app via the task manager. A bummer, we know.

At the bottom of the screen are the usual 6 Active Standby shortcuts to applications or bookmarks of your choice. Shortcuts can be assigned to either of the soft keys too.

The old Active Standby layouts are still available and include Basic - you can assign shortcuts to the D-pad, Horizontal icons bar - the old Active Standby and, finally, the Vertical icons bar, which has only tabs (shortcuts, calendar, music player and personalization) but doesn't hide much of the wallpaper.

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Basic standby mode* Horizontal icon bar • Vertical icon bar • Contacts bar

As with all Symbian phones, there is a built-in voice recognition system. It does a good job, being fully speaker-independent.

The task manager appears on every pop-up menu. It's actually placed on top of every list, which can be a little irritating at times, considering you can still invoke it with the well-known shortcut of pressing and holding the Menu key (the one with the House pictogram).

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The Nokia C5 is a good multitasker

The Nokia C5 is powered by a 600MHz CPU, which might sound inadequate in the world of Snapdragons, but it’s actually pretty good by Symbian standards. The UI is zippy and multitasking isn’t a problem.


Signal reception is fine on the Nokia C5. The phone has good in-call sound quality with crisp sound. Vibration is also strong enough to make sure you never miss an incoming call or message.

A pleasant surprise was the smart dialing feature, which is usually reserved for the Eseries.

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Calling Dexter on the Nokia C5

The results from our loudspeaker test are at your disposal - Nokia C5 turned out to be an average performer. Check out the table showing how it stacks up beside some of the handsets we've put to the same test.

Speakerphone testVoice, dBPink noise/ Music, dBRinging phone, dBOverall score
Sony Ericsson Elm61.6 61.369.8Below Average
Nokia C567.7 64.775.6Average
Samsung S7220 Ultra b71.267.076.7Good
Nokia 6700 classic75.166.675.7Good
Sony Ericsson C90268.872.282.8Very Good
HTC Touch275.775.782.7Excellent

You can find more information about the test itself and the whole list of tested devices here.

A good phonebook

Symbian handsets have an excellent phonebook with virtually unlimited capabilities. There is storage space for a practically unlimited number of contacts and fields with all the available memory potentially usable for the purpose. Contacts can be freely ordered by first or last name and can naturally be searched by gradual typing of any of the names.

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Contact list • searching • viewing contact details

Editing a contact offers a great variety of preset fields and you can replicate each of them as many times as you like.

Personal ringtones and videos can also be assigned to a contact. If you prefer you may group your contacts and give each group a specific ringtone.

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An enormous variety of fields is available when editing a contact

Synchronization is also nice and easy although you do need the Ovi Suite for things to go smoothly. Sending and receiving contacts via SMS or Bluetooth is also a piece of cake.

The Call log on the Nokia C5 is organized and efficient, typical Symbian. It holds up to 20 call records in each of the tabs for outgoing, received and missed calls. These are all accessed by pressing the Call key on the homescreen.

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The call log is there to keep track of your communications

If you enter the Log application from the main menu, you'll see a detailed list of all your network communications for the past 30 days. These include messages, calls and data.

Reader comments

Hi, I recently bought the Nokia C5 and use a phone only SIM. If I miss a call the caller is offered to leave a message sent as an MMS. I can't seem to find how to open the MMS, does it need a data SIM. I would rather have the caller leave a voice ...

  • Ayoub

M gig

  • Anonymous

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