The 603 is living proof of the fact that Nokia isn't going to let go of its Symbian platform. At least not just yet. The company is still providing an ample amount of updates to it, probably more than what an average Android phone receives. With the latest partnership with Microsoft, Nokia has got even more offerings to its Belle platform. But does all of this mean that the Nokia 603 is a good buy? Read on to find out.
Design and Build Quality
From their Lumia series to even their low-end smartphones, Nokia has always insisted on a phone that is built to last. No creaky panels, no cheap plastics, no flimsy looks. The Nokia 603 follows that exact same code of conduct. It looks like a carbon copy of the Lumia 710, but that’s definitely not a bad thing. The phone has a matte finish on the back and is covered in a complete black outfit that exudes class. It’s definitely one of the more stylish phones we have seen in this price bracket. Let’ s have a quick tour of the device.
At the top, we have the 3.5-inch IPS LCD display, which has a resolution of 360 x 640 pixels and a 210 ppi density. There’s the usual bunch of sensors – the accelerometer, ambient light sensor and proximity sensor placed atop. Three physical buttons are located below the display and with the slim form factor, they’re pretty easy to access. The lanyard eyelet is located at the bottom right, just above the back cover. The volume rocker and the dedicated camera shutter is located towards the right. The keys have a good feedback and can be accessed without changing one's grip, but it would have been better, if the camera shutter button protruded a little from the body. On top, the microUSB charging slot, 3.5mm headphone jack and power button are located. A 5MP camera and the speaker grill are located at the back. The microSD card slot is located underneath the cover and not the battery and is hot swappable. However, it’s important to note that this phone has a micro SIM card slot, so in all probability you’ll have to acquire a new SIM from your operator, if you’ve not made the switch to a smaller SIM card already.
Speaker grill at the back
Back to the build, the 603 might not be the sleekest or lightest of handsets in the market, but it’s definitely got the curves, the smoothness and that feel to it that makes it stand out in a crowd of tons and tons of plastic phones in the market. For other companies manufacturing phones in the same price range, there’s always Nokia to learn from.
Brilliant viewing angles
Features and Performance
The 603 is powered by a 1GHz processor and has 512 MB of RAM and 2GB of internal memory. Like with the 700 and the 701, Belle is super quick and lag free to use on this smartphone. It’s matured a lot from the early days to become a powerful, fully customizable and fast operating system. With the latest FP1 update, a couple of additions have been made and they’ll be covered in the subsequent sections. The best part is that even with memory intensive apps running in the background, the interface holds strong and is pretty lag free. There’s a slight hint of slowdown when you change screen orientations, as icons load up in the landscape mode, but it is not something we’re complaining about.
Typing on the 3.5-inch screen may be a slight problem for those with chubby fingers, because even though it’s a 3.5-inch screen, it’s longer than usual, just like the other Nokia Belle phones. However, it’ll be something you will get used to eventually. Alternatively, Swype is available as well.
We weren’t disappointed with what we saw on the Nokia 701 and 700 and the same goes for the media interface of the 603. Preset equalizers are present, so you can modify your music to your listening needs. The bass has the right amount of punch to it and music via headphones is definitely one of the strong points of the phone. The speaker is loud enough for personal usage.
The phone supports MP4, H.263 and H.264 video formats and MP3, WAV, еAAC+ and WMA audio formats. 720p video playback was smooth and we didn’t notice any kind of stutter, whatsoever. 1080p videos, however, failed to play on the phone. Also, it’s worth mentioning that the FM transmitter we saw on the Nokia 701 has been removed from this phone. FM Radio has been included, though.
The 603 is pretty loaded in this department. It has 3G with HSDPA at 14.4 Mbps and HSUPA at 5.76 Mbps, Wi-Fi with hotspot functionality (using Joiku Spot), Bluetooth 3.0, GPS with A-GPS support, NFC and USB OTG – which pretty much covers everything. Voice quality is pretty loud via both the earpiece and the loudspeaker. The browsing experience too is pretty decent. Panning and scrolling is pretty smooth and webpages load up pretty quickly as well. However, for heavy websites, we observed a bit of ghosting, while scrolling through webpages. The inbuilt flash works pretty well and we had no issues during video playback.
Nokia Drive, Music and Guide
GPS signals lock on pretty fast and the experience of Nokia Drive and Maps is just as seamless, as we saw on the Lumia 710. The addition of NFC is definitely welcome, considering the price tag hasn’t soared to the sky. However, with very little infrastructure at the moment, it’s best to transfer songs and contacts and pair with wireless devices.
Social networking integration well done
With the new update, you’ll be surprised to see a noteworthy amount of Microsoft Apps making their appearance on the Belle phones, which gives an indication that the Microsoft – Nokia partnership wasn’t just restricted to the Lumia phones. For starters, Microsoft OneNote, Exchange, Lync and SharePoint have already been integrated into the phone. There’s also Doc Connect, Broadcast, Public Transport, Joiku Spot, Poken, Quick Office and Shazam. The standard Nokia apps are also bundled in. These include Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive, Ovi Music, Check In and Nokia Recommends.
The inbuilt games include Angry Birds Magic, Bounce Boing and Fruit Ninja. All of these games require you to tap an NFC-enabled smartphone at one point or another, which is pretty irritating and hampers your overall experience with the game. As you can see, quite a number of apps have been installed, so you’ll have plenty to play around with. More can be downloaded from the App Store, but it’s nowhere close to the Android or iOS store. The content was a little better than what we saw on Samsung Apps for Bada, but still is lacking in good quality apps.
The Nokia 603 comes with a 5MP fixed focus rear camera. There’s no LED flash and no front camera. Also, due to the fact that there’s no autofocus, macro shots are an absolute no go. For outdoor shots, colours are captured pretty well, but again, you will face focussing issues with the handset. Face recognition has been included, though.
720p video recording is present and though there’s a little colour banding, the phone captures a good amount of detail. Because it’s a fixed focus, the 603 should be best used for casual shots.
Best only for casual snaps
The phone comes with a 1300mAh battery, which under normal usage easily gave us close to one and a half days of usage. In our video calling test, we got 9 hours and 40 minutes with brightness maxed out and no connectivity options (besides calling) enabled. The battery life is pretty impressive.
Worth a buy
The Nokia 603 is priced at Rs.12,900 (MOP). At this price tag, it’s got a few older handsets like the Galaxy Ace and the Wildfire S to compete with. Naturally, the 603 is more recommended over those two. For Rs.1,500 more, you’ll get the Live with Walkman, which definitely has a better app store, but a poorer display quality and smaller screen size. As you can read in the review itself, we weren’t disappointed with this handset. The only cons included were the lack of an LED flash and a limited App store. If these aren’t a problem for you, then the Nokia 603 is a good buy.