The Nokia C2-01 harks back to the days when candybar was king. Those days are gone, and however much Nokia tries, it can't squeeze a pint (eg good web browsing), into a half pint glass.
Good battery life
Comfy number pad
3G not HSDPA
Outclassed by similarly priced Android offerings
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Nokia may have made a deal with Microsoft to bring Windows Phone 7 to the fanbase, but in the meantime Nokia struggles on with Symbian in various flavours. Right at the bottom of the tree is S40, a relatively basic OS version.
Now, Nokia can endow S40 with touch, and we saw this in the Nokia C3-01, and the Nokia X3 Touch and Type, both of which are candybar handsets just like the C2-01. But the C2-01 takes Nokia back a step, to pre-touch days. There ain't no touchscreen here.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Sure, touchscreens are regarded as a necessity for a modern handset by many people, but not everyone wants singing, dancing mobile phones. Some people really do still want a phone for voice calls, the odd SMS, and a bit of simple photography. You can have that in the Nokia C2-01 in exchange for £79.99.
In exchange for that cash you'll get a smallish (109 x 46.9 x 15.3mm), light (89g) handset with two-inch 320 x 240 pixel screen, classic D-pad and standard numberpad design. There's no Wi-Fi, but the handset does support 3G, there's a camera (albeit just a 3.2-megapixel flashless one) and you can customise the single Home screen to offer links to frequently used apps.
There is a sting in the 3G tail – it runs at a very minimal 384Kbps upload and download. Yes it's 3G, but not HSDPA.
As basic specifications go, this is a reasonable enough bunch, but as ever we're tempted to compare a handset at this level and price with low-end Android offerings such as the Orange San Francisco, which costs a shade more at £99 on Pay As You Go, but offers a far wider range of features including full HSDPA.
Still, in the hand the Nokia C2-01 feels comfortably retro. The D-pad is large and sits neatly under the thumb. The number keys are well sized and great to pick at with a thumb for one handed use, or tap away at for two fingered texting. Call and End keys are small but well isolated from the rest so that hitting them accurately is a breeze.
Nokia has kept side buttons minimal. In fact there are none. Volume is adjusted in-app where appropriate (e.g. in the music player via the D-pad), and using profiles rather than with a rocker. You turn the phone on and off using the End call button.
There are headphones and charge slots on the top edge, a covered microSD card slot sits on the left and a covered micro-USB slot on the right, and that's your lot. As we said, minimal.