Layman’s Take on Nokia Asha 300–Ray of hope for cheap phones?
May be you might not have given much weight to Asha series phones when Nokia announced them for the first time, but considering their response with people and kind of features they put on offer with ultra low price tag, it’s hard to ignore them. So, I am breaking my silence again with a Layman’s Take on Nokia Asha 300.
The review coming a bit late as after launch of Nokia Asha 302, I was a little confused if people wanna know about its older cousin Nokia Asha 300 or not, but after receiving a few queries on it, I thought to post it finally.
There was a time, when for India, a low end mobile phone was meant to be Nokia only and then with the arrival of cheap dual SIM phones things kept on changing. Nokia was needed to spice up the things on the loyalty of their buyers, built in years based on legendary signal/ battery performance of their buyers and that’s where Asha Series phones stepped in.
With Nokia Asha Series, the first big decision was the inclusion of 1GHz processor for the handsets which were supposed to be sold at 100$ -150$ and the second was revamp of their S40 operating system to support the bigger processor and also to include the support for Touch-n-Type segment. With customizable home screen and a much richer application store, Nokia wants to keep their loyal low end user base content with them, let’s see how it goes.
Nokia Asha 300: The content inside the box
I knew that Nokia Asha 300 has USB OTG feature, but obviously considering the price tag, I wasn’t expecting that Nokia will manage to include one USB OTG cable inside, but for my surprise, they didn’t even include a MicroUSB cable too this time. Yes! we are in for a very very minimal content inside the box without the traditional MicroUSB cable even.
This is all what you will find inside the box:
One 2Gb Memory card
This was really strange to see that Nokia chosen to remove the MicroUSB cable though included one of the best in class charger (Zero Power loss while charging) and an equally good stereo headset though on the other hand. May be people switching for some ultra low end phone wont mind it, but considering the fact that it has HSDPA up to 10.2mbps and has the option of dial up networking, an out of box MicroUSB cable should a reasonable liability.
Nokia Asha 300: The exteriors
The unit that I got was a red one and holding the same in hands was kind of exactly same feeling of as it been with holding Nokia 500. Looks slightly bulky with dimensions of 112.8 x 49.5 x 12.7 mm but feels very light in weight with just 85g and even though plastic but kind of pleasant build quality. Though do not expect it to break the floor if you dropped it by mistake.
You can spot the strange position of microphone on the “7” key and also metallic coloured yet plastic Call, Call END key and Message key.
The unit I received was painted in red and looked quite girlish, but honestly speaking, I felt that the design could have been more polished than this.
We have four rows of well spaced traditional backlit T9 keys along with green Call & red Call End key (Backlit in colour). Moreover, a dedicated Message key finds its place in middle of Call and Call End keys.
You have a well illuminated 2.4” resistive touch screen to go along with the traditional T9 qwerty, which offers an interesting face of S40 to you, but at the same time, neither the colour resolution nor colour depth nor the angular visibility nor the outdoor visibility is something to get excited about. But hey!! we are talking about an ultra cheap range of device here not some premium one, right?
The surprising part of the small screen would be its haptics which ensure great tactile feedback and adds into experience.
The back of the device is smooth without any cuts/ highs on it and there is trick to open it from sideways lock rather than usual slide to upside. The back also contains a 5MP camera (fixed focus and without flash) and speaker.
The camera results may surprise you, as you are already not expecting much from them. No chance on night shots due to lack of flash, but daylight shots came out pretty decent for the price range. Also the speaker even if not the loudest, should stack well against others where only Asha 303 like do better than it.
Now when coming toward the negative side of the device, then bringing a Touch-n-Type device with equally capable 3G speed is quite a feet in itself and I wasn’t expecting much from the device, but somehow lower colour depth of screen was kind of sport spoiler to me. Obviously, I was coming from the high res screen, but still even after lowering my expectations to the grounds, S30 like icons wasn’t a nice welcome to me.
Apart from lack of flash and lower resolution, some might complaint on lack of Wifi too but I would say first check the price and then decide what to ask for.
Nokia Asha 300 – The Interiors
When it comes to list out of specific details on low price range phones, then it always been a shady business as no company flaunts the low specs, but Asha series and recent low price Nokia handsets been an exception. Nokia been continuously flaunting their 1GHz ARM processors in recent cheap handsets and I am sure others not gonna challenge them very soon with some dual core processor in cheap phones segment
It might be a counter attack on other manufacturers for talking on specs, but honestly speaking, it felt like just a number only here being a non-multitasking and in general Java based apps with S40 OS. Though I will admit that I never felt a lag in opening anything pre-installed with Asha 300.
Also we are in for 128 mb RAM and looking back at RAM size of handsets like Nokia N82 in past, its definitely a very decent specs for a low price handset like we see in Asha Series.
Not Pentaband, but its a Quad Band GSM handset anyway and you get 3G with HSDPA Cat9 10.2 Mbps/ HSUPA Cat5 2.0 Mbps with this handset. On memory side, you get 140 mb user storage and a 2Gb card shipped with the phone (the maximum possible size is 32Gb and card is hot swappable).
The disappointing part (at least for me) been the 2.4” LCD Transmissive screen with resolution of 240×320 though I was needed to remind myself every time that we are not talking about some 10k handset here. With 16 bit colors (65k) and resistive single-touch, this is not gonna your prime time hooby dooby Touch Phone with some kinetic scroll or pinch to zoom like fancy things.
The fancy part of the phone been the 5MP Full Focus camera. Fancy because anyone buying the phone, must not be expecting big things from the camera of this one and it definitely gonna surprise you with its f/2.4 camera that also does VGA recording at 30fps.
The handset also got FM Radio with RDS as well that is obviously capable of running in background with other primary tasks as messaging etc.
One of the major omission from the specs sheet is accelerometer that will pain you in Auto Rotation etc, where you need to set things manually.
Check a sample of video (taken by someone else)
Nokia Series 40 OS redefined for Touch n Type:
Its not that I never used S40 before, I had a Nokia 5310 XpressMusic and enjoyed it quite a lot, specially the messaging part where it allows you to choose the recipients from the favourites or from the calls logs as well apart from the conventional Contacts. But the S40 that I see on Nokia Asha 300 had quite a different flavour.
Before I start talking about the OS itself, let’s watch the official video giving you some bits about the device itself.
Now coming to device, I was surprised to see slide to unlock on Nokia Asha 300 and got reminded of a few patents in the same regards by Apple and Motorola I guess.
Once you unlock the device, you find a pretty customizable OS underneath that might not rival those high end handsets, but feels rock solid when it comes to get the job done.
Fonts and icons seem same or somewhat refreshed as they been in earlier S40 devices while in place of D Pad on keys, Touch Buttons have taken place on the screen real estate.
As you can see, the screen is divided in six parts: Status bar on top, Four customizable Widgets (including clock) and Back/Options buttons. You have a kind of Pull Down menu as well for quicker access to the things. One more Interesting part was the mention of Swipe Gesture.
Basically two of the Swipe gestures are available here, left to right or right to left, which can be configured to change the profile or launch any particular app. By default, it right to left swipe opens app collection while left to right swipe opens java/game apps folder (not sure that how to configure it to open any particular folder like photos etc).
Whatever you expect from a decent phone offering, you will find that here and for my surprise, it was good to see native call recording option available via menu.
You get a very decent Email app here that supports POP3/SMTP/IMAP4 etc with SSL though no luck with Exchange ActiveSync here that is on offer with a little higher end Asha Series only. It also got traditional Nokia Chat as well like we seen on S60v3 devices.
The interesting part with Nokia Asha 300 is the Social Network part that is being taken care by Nokia Communities app here. We can add one Facebook, One twitter and Multiple Orkut/Flickr Accounts here. Nothing fancy to expect from here but it has got most of the basic options that one might be needing on the go.
The another interesting part is the presence of App Store for S40 and availability of actually many apps inside it. Last time, when I been through it then it certainly didn’t had these many apps inside as it has nowadays after Nokia Pushing big for S40. Sure a welcome thing for an enabler device like Nokia Asha 300.
Then it comes toward the gaming. With its 1GHz processor, the second thing that Nokia been flaunting about Asha Series was presence of exclusive Angry Birds for Series 40. Let’s see how it works
Sorry for the shaky/shady video, but as you can see, the resistive screen has its own disadvantages even then the experience of Angry Birds on Nokia Asha 300 is nowhere a let down. Same for the other game titles I been through. Sure, Nokia getting the nerves rights with ultra low price handsets this time.
Though on the negative side, I found the connectivity settings a mess. Nothing like that they changed anything badly about it, but when you are giving the device more and more services which are Internet based, you should have given more flexible APN settings etc rather than relying on Operators only. I struggled a lot to set MTNL APN with this particular otherwise Vodafone etc with their default settings worked like a charm.
When I seen Nokia Asha 300 for the first time, then it was one of the better option around in the same price band but once Nokia Asha 303 etc hit the market with a nominal price difference, then this one likely to loose some charm, but still not a lot of low end phones (<5000/- INR) offer you a touch screen, 5MP camera and a decent 3G capability with loyalty of Nokia behind it.
Choice is yours.