The most recent launch from Nokia's stable in the smartphone market is the Nokia C7, the second handset to feature the Symbianˆ3 OS. We had earlier written about how Nokia's platform fared in the N8 and here we check if the Nokia C7 pulls it off with any more flair.

Build and design

Styled like a candybar, the Nokia C7 has two touch buttons on either end of the bezel at the bottom and a longish physical button at the centre which enables you to access the main menu that displays all the apps and widgets. On the right side of the body, you have a quick camera launcher button which also doubles up as the Shutter button in case the virtual one is not to your liking.

Between the volume buttons, you have a voice activation button. A long press of this will prompt you to speak into the phone, to say either a name or a nickname of a contact you've already recorded and stored, and dial the contact for you.

You have the Power button, a 3.5mm jack and a mini USB port on the top and the charging slot for the mini-plug on the left.

The full glass capacitive touch screen is an AMOLED display, something that most Nokia smartphones aren't endowed with so the C7 scores a couple of brownie points with this.

To get the SIM card in, you have to yank the battery out every time, which is quite inconvenient and is a step backward considering even lower-end models from other brands have done away with this rather cumbersome design.

What's inside?

After the Nokia N8, the Nokia C7 is the second Symbianˆ3 smartphone to be launched, but the hardware crafted for the platform is very different from the first one that had been marketed heavily.

You have the Social Network App which is a tad better from the Communities App that slightly lower-end Nokia handsets featuring the S 60 OS include. While the social widgets on Symbianˆ3 provide you with the most popular clients, Facebook and Twitter, the presentation and features are still very rudimentary compared to the likes of Sony Ericsson's Mediascape.

A longish press of the physical button on the handset launches a matrix of all the applications running in the background and you switch from one to another or kill whichever ones you want at a touch.

The touch response of the C7 proved to be quite smooth and precise though it faltered more than just once while typing messages, especially in the portrait mode. The virtual keypad automatically swaps to QWERTY when held in the landscape mode.

On each of the home screens you can have only six widgets or app shortcuts. We tried a long press on an app icon from the main list but this action doesn't automatically move it to the homes creen of your choice, unlike in Apple's iOS or Android.

Camera

One feature that sets the C7 apart is the presence of a front-facing camera along with an 8-megger at the back. This is aided by a dual-LED flash that fills in light perfectly when the surrounding is badly lit. There's no auto-focus but a full-focus feature means you save on the extra time that the lens takes to focus on the subject before you click it.

The pictures we shot were clean, without any noise and the colours too remained true to life. You can also record videos at 720p with the 8-megger cam.

The interface supports multi-touch gestures like pinch-to-zoom. You can use two fingers to zoom in to your pictures or have a clearer look at the web pages you are browsing.

Apps

The Videos and TV app which is a new addition to the Nokia series has YouTube, Nat Geo, a series of teasers of Hollywood flicks, E! and a CNN app (came loaded in the review unit). Nat Geo and CNN had some playback issues but we checked out a couple of videos and interviews on ‘E!', which streamed just fine.

While videos streamed on YouTube with ease, we had problems with the resolution and weren't able to expand the video to fit the screen completely while it buffered in the landscape mode.

We played back a couple of Boney M tracks and some by Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Both played back without any hitches and the sound quality was quite enjoyable.

To test the video quality, we loaded Frost/Nixon on to the smartphone and the video came out quite crisp on the AMOLED screen. The volume level is good enough for a couple watching a movie or a sitcom in a not-too-large room.

The native player, however, did not recognise .avi files but DivX ones played back without a hitch.

Connectivity

On connecting to a laptop or PC via the mini-USB the C7 only shows up as a still camera; to access the internal memory for the rest of your data needs like videos, music or documents you'll have to go to Connectivity settings and tap on Media Transfer or Mass Storage for those files to be detected. With 8GB of internal memory available you could even do away with the need for external storage, which is otherwise expandable up to 32GB.

Priced much lower than the N8, the C7 however, doesn't include a HDMI port. The battery lasted us close to two days with the regular number of calls made and with multimedia use.

We did have a couple of issues with the unit that we reviewed. The phone froze a couple of times and that too while performing simple tasks like scanning for Bluetooth devices to pair, without any other applications running in the background. And this was despite having better RAM and more processing power than its predecessors in the same series.

Our verdict

While Nokia has been getting its smartphone strategy right, even if only in the Indian market, the Nokia C7 is something that doesn't really stand out despite having a couple of media capabilities that put it ahead of its rivals. The Symbianˆ3 did not bring about as radical a change to the user experience in the N8 and it doesn't do the trick with the C7 either.

Rs 18,999

Love – Excellent camera, decent touch response

Hate – Occasional sluggishness, not the best OS