Nokia 603 Review – A pleasant surprise

A while back I received a Nokia 603 from the folks at Nokia Connects as part of their latest Try Something New contest. Since I had the Lumia 800 review in the works, the 603 review got sidetracked, but here it is today.

Spec sheet

GPU 2D/3D graphics HW accelerator with OpenVG1.1 and OpenGL ES 2.0
Storage 2GB
Micro-SD up to 32GB
Primary 5MP 2592×1944 pixels, full focus(EDoF), LED flash
Front facing No
Video HD [email protected]
Size 3.5 inch
Resolution 640x360px
Technology LCD ClearBlack
Endurance Scratch resistant glass
Multitouch Two point
WLAN Yes, b/g/n
Network GSM, 3G
Bluetooth 2.1 A2DP
Sensors Accelerometer, proximity, compass
Radio Stereo FM with RDS
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support

The box

The box contains the usual wired headsets, Nokia USB charger, a Micro-USB data cable and the phone’s battery. As part of the trial the #NokiaTSN box had a Nokia Luna too, as you can see in the pictures above, but keep in mind that if you purchase yourself a 603, you won’t get a free Luna.


The bump in specs is obvious for the new generation of Symbian devices. The 512MB or RAM and 1GHz CPU makes the 603 run Symbian like never before. Not to mention the GPU was also upgraded.

The internal storage is 2GB which cannot be compared with the N8’s 16GB or the C7’s 8GB, but I have to say that it can fit all the games and apps you can think of. You will have to buy a SD card for music and pictures though. I recommend you set you camera to store photos and videos on the SD card and set you Nokia Store to install apps and games on your mass memory and not on your SD card. The internal storage is way faster than your SD card, and as a consequence, you apps will start faster from your mass memory.

The display is a capacitive 3.5 inch LCD screen protected by a layer of scratch resistant glass. The first week I kept the protective plastic foil on the phone, until it actually peeled itself off and then I had to remove it. To my surprise, after a week of normal usage, there was no scratch whatsoever on the 603 display. I even checked the 603 specs sheet again to make sure it doesn’t have Gorilla Glass.

Below the display you will find the three single body keys: Call, Menu and End call/Power off, while above the display you’ll find the ear piece.

On top of the phone you can find the power/lock button, the Micro-USB port and the 3.5mm audio jack port.

Of the right side, you will find the volume rockers and the camera key. I have to say that the camera key is a bit hard to press, but keeping in mind that there is no auto focus on the 5MP snapper, you don’t have to worry about pressing the key half way.

You can see NFC sensor and connector on the inside of the back cover, and I have to say that it works perfectly. I only used NFC to pair the phone with the Luna, since I had no other NFC enable devices around.


I don’t know which design Nokia came up with first, the Lumia 710 or the 603, but the point is, it’s great. I’m not saying amazing, I’m saying great. It’s no polycarbonate, it’s not anodized aluminium but you’ll quickly fall in love with it. It just sits neatly and comfortable in the hand. I actually could not believe that I picked up the 603 lots of times just to feel it in the hand again.

Build quality

The build quality is very good. There is no metal or Gorilla glass present, but the plastic used in the 603 is good quality plastic. The back cover that practically covers the entire back, has a soft rubbery touch that helps with the grip too. The scratch display makes a big difference compared to the Nokia 500 plastic one, that could get easily scratched if left unprotected.


The 603 comes with Nokia Belle preinstalled(you can read my full review here), but about a week ago Nokia Belle Feature Pack 1 was made available for the 603. FP1 brings lots of new features and improvements, and a lot of widgets too. I will have a review of FP1 once I get my hands on a device running it.

The 603 however got left behind in the CPU bump department, where the 700 and 701 got a 300MHz bump, now running at 1.3GHz on FP1, but honestly I don’t think the 603 is gonna suffer because of this. It’s as smooth as they get, and FP1 will only speed it up.


Close ups are a no go on EDoF cameras, but landscapes are a pleasure. The 603 is very snappy when taking pictures, part of this speed comes from the lack of focusing time. Outdoors pictures look very well, but indoors, as any LED flash, it suffers. It’s no match to the N8 and it’s Xenon flash.

Here are some samples in broad daylight.

Video recording is as good as it gets with [email protected] recording. However, if you wish to record lots of HD videos, you’ll have to get an SD card.

As a video sample, here is the 603 unboxing shot by the 603 itself:


That being said, the 603 is not exactly your typical budget phone. It’s on the cheap side, but you get a lot of value for money with it. It’s target, first time smartphone buyers.

Java senior developer, Nokia enthusiast, amateur blogger at TechMobility and NokiaTips. My Motto is: Your rise, you fall, you’re down then you rise again. What don’t kill ya makes ya more strong

Facebook Twitter YouTube