Sadly not ready for prime time May 13, 2011
I've updated my rating of this product from original 1 star to 3 stars (11 months later) after the product firmware was updated.
I'm an experienced smartphone user (previous Nokia E72, Android, iPhone, Blackberry). I so much wanted to love this phone C7/Astound because of its awesomely better mechanical design compared to the above phones, and I'm a fan of the Nokia radio/call quality compared to the above phones. But this C7 has been the most frustrating and most buggy phone I've ever had to use. I'm surprised it actually got out of Nokia Q/A (Quality Assurance), it is so full of bugs. I'm perplexed at so many positive reviews of this phone on other review sites including T-Mobile???
First, the GOOD things:
I love the Nokia C7 hardware design. That's why I got the C7 in first place. It's slim, solidly built unlike many of the plastic-y touchscreen phones and BB. And WHEN the phone can make calls (and that's iffy...more on that below), the call quality is excellent.
And I like that the turn-by-turn navigation is built-in and free, with maps in phone memory, so no data charges when traveling abroad....A Much better app than say Google's navigation on Android phones, although I would prefer to have street names spoken, which I could not get to work.
The built-in Swype keyboard is an awesome improvement over iPhone or vanilla Android touchscreen keyboards (ALTHOUGH Nokia's implementation seems to be old by a few revisions, or has fewer features than Swype implementations on some other phones...like corrections, etc).
And Finally the camera function in the phone is reasonably good WHEN it works (more on that later)...There is a nice dedicated camera button on the phone...but the images appear "soft" to me and the lack of an auto-focus means you can't take pics of handwritten paper notes.
But enough of the positives...
I've had to invest lots of time to "learn" the quirks of Symbian, this phone, and work-arounds for lots of "bugs" that are in the phone. These aren't hardware problems...if you do a web search you'll find that multiple people are reporting these same issues I experienced.
(I use the phone with NO 3rd party apps installed. This is a plain-vanilla installation of the phone as it comes from t-Mobile with the recommended software updates, so the issues I report are not due to some wayward installed App.)
- Right out of the box after setup, my first "plain vanilla" using of the phone, I got "Memory Full" errors. Could not do anything with the phone until a re-boot. These "Memory Full" errors still happen every 1-2 days requiring re-boots.
- Periodically I get an "Unexpected Error" when I use the camera. It will just not allow the camera to be used. Needs a reboot, very frustrating.
- When making 2G/3G phone calls I periodically get "Connection error." Since I can re-dial the same number, there is not a problem with the phone number...it is a problem with the phone. Somehow the phone is getting confused and not allowing connection sometimes? It is frustrating and unreliable to count on to be able to dial a call.
- Compounding the dialing issue is that one time the phone switched to a mode where it thought there was a wired headset plugged into the phone (you can see the headset icon on the screen)...but I had no headset! So when I dialed or answered a call, there was no sound since the phone "believed" it was using a headset! Obviously no headset was attached, and since I never use the headset jack there was no debris stuck in it. Reboot fixed it...but disconcerting that I might not be able to use the phone when I need it.
- The email program does not accept Outlook meeting invitations! Hello? It's 2011, and every smartphone can accept Outlook meeting invites, except Nokia.
- The built-in games on the phone act flakey. These are standard products in the phone, so they should work, right? Wrong. Playing the games multiple times will often result in a blank screen, requiring a reboot to fix. I don't let my kids play the games anymore.
I can go on, but I so wanted this phone to work. I'm highly disappointed, and am suspicious of the glowing positive reviews on other sites for the C7.
Edit Feb 2012
I manually updated the firmware to the "Belle" firmware release. This is NOT for your average consumer, but makes the Nokia C7 a completely new phone. You can skip T-Mobile's "Anna" update...it fixes some of the above problems but still the phone is under-performing.
With "Belle" firmware my C7 has become a new phone. Most of the bugs listed here are fixed (hanging, camera hang, re-boots). The poor call connections were solved most likely because this phone removes the much-desired, but buggy WiFi calling feature available on T-Mobile branded phones.
The update to "Belle" can be done if you're technically savvy. Instructions are on T-Mobile's support forum but this is unofficial and not supported by T-Mobile. It makes your Astound into a generic C7-00.
Additionally you can load Swype from Nokia's App store to make this an awesome texting machine!
I still love the call quality of the C7/Astound. The phone user interface is nice and simple, but quirky in a few places (texting).
But I'm going back to my BB9900 mainly because Nokia C7's email clients are amazingly poor...emails did not get through after several hours of sending, were not updated on the phone, just all-around surprisingly poor, I never knew if emails were working or not. The same emails came in fine on my BB9900 after I swapped SIM cards back. - Minus 1 point
Why it should have been great, and why it wasn't May 19, 2011
Reviewer: Christopher Martin (Omaha, nebraska) -
So this phone, the Nokia Astound. It has a heck of a lot going for it - Ovi Maps is fantastic, Wifi calling (now free with t-mobile, as in won't use up your minutes), the updated software with Swype and a new browser, a great music player with an Fm Transmitter for folks like me who haven't got a 3.5mm jack socket in their car, an 8MP camera which, whilst not Auto Focus, is still good and I have taken some very good photo's with it. The graphics processor makes games, videos and animation smooth and the stereo speakers sound good (for cellphone speakers). So far so good. And this would be a 4 or 5 star device but...
The problems-well mostly, there are some software bugs that should be ironed out with the Symbian Anna update in June. I have had it crash several times, and had weird things happen with the lock screen, plus once had it think i had a headset connected when i didn't. Performance is huge and no-one wants to be rebooting their phone. Hence 3 star overall.
I really wanted this device to work much better than it did and hope that Anna does fix these stability issues (and that T-Mobile is good about getting it to customers quickly). If it does, customers who buy this will have an excellent device in their hands.
I have a lengthy review going up at micronokiadev.wordpress.com
I love this thing September 16, 2011
Reviewer: Menno Aartsen "MEA" (Seattle, WA) -
(Postscript, December 3, 2011: battery life was't great, but following the advice of a Nokia bulletin board user I installed the free Nokia Suite support-and-synchronization software, and reinstalled the operating system. That improved battery life on all three C7s in my household, which now last three days on a charge, with normal use, including WiFi/UMA. At the time of this writing, the update installs the Symbian Anna upgrade as well, even in the USA.)
I am beginning to love my Nokia C7, which T-Mobile calls the Nokia Astound. I don't know that it is as efficient and easy to use as my T-Mobile Blackberry Bold 9700, but it compares to that as a Camaro does to a Mercedes Turbo Diesel. The 2002 Camaro Z28, not one of those newfangled things, I should add.
There are two reasons why I "bought" this phone. First of all, I needed a backup for my Nokia 6110 Navigator, bought in the Philippines in 2007, long before any carrier in the United States thought of selling phones with GPS capability. Back in June, 2011, I was getting ready to drive 3,000 miles, clear across the country, and I wanted to make sure that I had a backup should my main GPS phone fail mid-trip (it didn't). Secondly, T-Mobile offered me this touch screen smartphone for free with a 2 year extension of the contract on one of my lines, and that, combined with the above motivation, clinched the deal for me.
You see, back in the same 2007, when I bought the Navigator, Nokia bought the Navteq mapping company - it is, today, called "Nokia Maps". Navteq was the oldest, largest, and arguably most advanced purveyor of navigation tools - I visited them many years ago, when we (NYNEX Corp.) were contemplating offering navigation services (we didn't). Drove a Hertz car outfitted with their navigation device, which promptly couldn't find the Marriott Hotel in San Jose I was staying at. I mean, I could kinda see it from the car, but the device couldn't get me to the entrance, it insisted the hotel was in the middle of a local park. So Nokia now has one of the largest mapping databases in the known universe, competing with Google (which rolls its own) and Dutch navigation devices manufacturer TomTom, which bought the other "biggie" in mapping, Dutch Teleatlas.
So if you buy a Nokia phone, it comes with a fully featured navigation application-with-everything, Nokia switched from Swiss provider Route66 to the existing Navteq algorithms, databases and software when it bought that company, and integrated them with its Symbian handset operating system. There are many other flavours of navigation, in many other mobile phones, but Nokia arguably has by far the most advanced, and the most experience in building "Navigators". In the C7, that shows.
I love this thing, but I do not know I'd have spent $500 on it (I do, on some, I do). And before you say "iPhone", never had one of those, either. I firmly believe that you can't do everything you do on a PC or laptop on something the size of a pocket calculator, and the C7 (and presumably the iPhone) only confirms that for me. Between the touch screen and the, count 'em, six buttons along the rim, and three keys, I am always touching something I shouldn't, and the handset goes off doing things I didn't mean for it to do. You can certainly get used to "ginger operations", but by (admittedly) comparison with my non touch screen Blackberry it is more of a pain to operate.
Having said that, it can do more, and comes with much more stuff preloaded that I happen to use and like on my PC. There's the aforementioned navigation, there's Skype (which I have not been able to get to work other than in very choppy speech mode), there's UMA, a.k.a. WiFi calling (more about that at the end of this piece, that's T-Mobile USA specific), and then there are PC Suite and Ovi Suite, which synchronize the C7 not only with Microsoft Outlook, but with Lotus Notes, the standard mail and database tool for many corporate and civil service types. The BBC News, a Facebook webapp, Slacker, Twitter, all come preloaded. Especially Facebook pleases me, I am allergic to the Facebook app you can load and install on your phone, as that continually reports all sorts of stuff back to Facebook. I don't mind them having that data, but only if I have pre-approved that and if they pay me for it - after all, Facebook uses that information to make money. Or tries to. There is a lot more, I just wanted to give you a flavour.
In short, backed by the unparallelled mobile phone expertise Nokia has - Nokia was only the second manufacturer that introduced a handheld mobile telephone, back in 1988, and has always built its phones soup-to-nuts, from the operating system to the circuit boards - the C7 is very usable, advanced, full of magic (an 8 megapixel camera, although 8 megapixels in a phone isn't the same thing as 8 megapixels in a Nikon), and the price is right.
T-Mobile offers, on a number of phones, including the C7, "WiFi Calling", known technically as UMA, which allows a GSM mobile phone to make calls over wireless internet as if it was connected to the regular mobile network. Great if you are in a dead zone, or underground, Starbucks, MacDonalds, or in a hotel or office that offers WiFi service (including overseas, where your UMA capable T-Mobile phone will behave as though it is in the United States!). UMA used to be offered on some cheap Samsung and Nokia phones, but today it is offered on business style smartphones, including some Android devices and all Blackberrys, as well as a few Nokias. UMA service does not count towards the minutes in your plan, and that, if you have WiFi at home and/or in the office, makes the C7 an ideal home phone replacement, too. Beyond that, the C7 supports, unusually, both T-Mobile's and AT&T Wireless' 3G network frequencies, and that means that this phone will roam on AT&T's network where T-Mobile does not have service available. I don't know how many TMO handsets have this capability today, clearly intended for use after the two companies merge, but it is great to have, between that and the WiFi calling, it gets you service where you previously might not have had any.
Satisfied June 4, 2011
Reviewer: No Zombies (Missouri, USA) -
I got this phone mainly for voice calls and e-mail and some light web browsing. I chose this one because the reviews on another site consistently touted the great voice quality, and I've found that to be true. Call quality is awesome -- so 10 stars for that. I also love the Swype feature but still find writing a message, whether Swyped or not, to be tedious and slow. I'm small with small fingers, and it's still hard to hit the right keys. I'm not really knocking the Nokia Astound for that, because I think it's just the nature of the beast, unless someone happens to make a really big phone with larger keys. :) Other positives include the built-in maps/GPS feature and the sleek, attractive look of the phone itself.
As for negatives, and why I give it 4 stars instead of 5, the phone is a little quirky. You'll probably have to reboot it every couple of days. I've started doing it every morning just as a matter of routine. But I will also mention that T-Mobile's customer service is top of the line -- they are extremely helpful if you need to call them for technical issues. Another annoyance is that it's sometimes difficult to find settings you want to change because the menu system isn't quite as intuitive as it could be. There is a built-in "help" document, but it's very superficial and just gives you the basics. One more thing that should be mentioned is that you really have to learn to manage your power usage -- otherwise your battery will be eaten within hours.
Overall, I like the phone and I love the call quality. But the real question is, would I choose this phone again? I would choose it in a heartbeat if I were getting a voice-only plan. For e-mail and internet, I'd look around more.
Suprisingly Dissapointing August 29, 2011
Reviewer: The Cow Devil (California) -
Mine stopped working within 6 months of normal use.
Issues I had:
Every once in a while the phone will lose signal and I have to re-start it to get it going again. No warning chime no nothing, just a bunch of missed calls and voicemails from my friends and family.
Internet and software is slowwww...
For some reason it did not play all my mp3s. It would skip songs until it found one that works. These songs work on my Nokia X3 and now on my HTC, same memory card, same songs, different phones.
What I liked about it:
Call quality was awesome. Both speakerphone and normal calls was great sounding.
Great for the price October 9, 2012
Reviewer: Hiram Alfonso Fernandez Hernandez "Hiram Fdz" (Torreon, MX) -
I've been using it for one year and a half now, I have updated it since the original Symbian 3, Anna and now through Belle. I can tell you is excellent smartphone, has great features like NFC, FM transmitter (you can send all your music through your car or home radio), the camera takes excellent photos (though not the Macro as it has no autofocus) I use it with a 32GB MicroSD (up 7 GB internal) so always have space for everything!. Another thing I love is the USB on the go: I bought the adapter and connect it to any flash drive via USB and thus further expand the capacity of the cel (I can see the entire contents of memory, edit documents, play music and photos, back-ups, etc) is extremely useful when traveling. The maps do not say! There is no better suite of maps than Nokia maps, that are off-line so you do not need to consume internet data (excellent overseas to not charge you a penny of roaming). On the software definitely Belle works very well, has great new features, such as widgets, up to 6 home screens, excellent notification bar (you can control with a single click - enable / disable - Cel Data, WiFi, Bluetooth and Silent, has calendar notifications, messages, etc.). The Social app works well: you can update your status and share pictures on Facebook and Twitter simultaneously, but honestly the app is somewhat slow in function. The apps you use the most and recommend are: Foursquare, Whatsapp, Fring (free video call!) Facinate, Auto Mode, Maps, X-plore (excellent file manager), Panorama, DLNA Player (for sharing videos, photos and music wirelessly compatible devices like Xbox and DNLA servers), Drop (share links between the PC and the device), Molome (Kind of Instagram), JoikuSpot (to share my internet via WiFi as an access point), Youtube and Internet Radio. Too bad that Belle OS has its death sentence, despite Hardware that feels somewhat laggy (slow) is very comprehensive, it has very good features and is fully open. Now I'm waiting for the Nokia Lumia 920 arrives in Mexico to change it and see all the beautifulness of Windows-Nokia phones. I hope this helps!
my first smart phone is awesome July 13, 2011
Reviewer: Peazfool (New York NY) -
I've never used a smart phone before and have heard that this was a great starting phone. I really have been a fan of Nokia for a while now so after reading CNET reviews, I decided to get it. I needed three things on my phone 1)camera: 8MP on Nokia -check, 2)speakerphone: call quality is excellent on this Nokia as any Nokia I've had in the past 3)easy texting - with the touch screen, I'm able to text faster, and use less finger strain to text on a touch phone (I type a lot at work and school). The main thing that sold me on this was the camera - I don't care about the autofocus as much as the others who were annoyed with it - I just wanted clear pictures of indoor/outdoor activities when I didn't have my awesome Canon S95 with me. This phone gave me exactly that.
The map application on this is pretty sweet too.
Again, I'm not an experienced smart phone user, but I really enjoy my new Nokia. My was not buggy as others have said, I have heard many ppl who praise the Symbian operating system when compared to the Windows, Android OS. Yes I know it's getting phased out, but I don't have that many apps, so I could care less. A phone should be used as a phone, not as your primary computer/gamer.
The Nokia Astound does exactly what I need it to. Perfect for a first time smart phone user.
Great Mid Range Phone August 2, 2011
I have had two BlackBerrys prior to this phone, and while I liked them, this phone is way better. It is an awesome middle range phone, that gives you top quality features better then most high end phones of other companies. Granted the Symbian system needs a little work (Looking forward to Symbian Anna), but this phone does everything I need it to do and more for work and fun. I have no idea where all these other people are coming up with these problems.
someone use this phone in simple mobile coverage? October 1, 2012
Reviewer: Karla Guzman
i would like to know if this phone work ok or fine in simple mobile coverage and support whatapp app?
someone knows what nokia phone should i buy it for simple mobile thats work ok with them. i know about the internet speed but what can you ask for unlimited data without contract
Take care: Not Pentaband November 2, 2011
Reviewer: Daniel Sokolov (YHZ) -
Just take care: Nokia is AFAIK the only manufacturer who sells Pentaband 3G phones, that means that they support five frequency bands (850/1700/1900/2100 MHz) in one single device. This includes the Nokia C7 but excludes the version sold by T-Mobile USA as "Astound". So if you want a C7 with Pentaband support, do not buy the Astound/T-Mobile USA version.
Pentaband is great for travelling. I wouldn't want to go without.
Totally Unreliable - not worth the trouble October 6, 2011
Reviewer: Mr. Gadget (Chicago, IL USA) -
I'm on my second phone from T-Mobile (after getting charged $20 to swap out a brand new phone!!!) and it has the same problems as the first - totally unreliable and prone to freezing up at any time. I got it mainly for using the wifi calling, but that is the most unreliable feature, almost guaranteeing to have to remove the battery to reset the phone. I cannot recommend this phone.