Nokia Asha 303 review: Things are simple

We are now quite familiar with the Touch and Type line-up of phones introduced by Nokia. (Nokia E6, Nokia Asha 303, Nokia X3-02 etc.)
Out of these, the Nokia E6 is a Symbian smartphone and the rest are a mixed bag, including Series 40 feature phones as well as Asha Series 40 phones.

So here we are to quickly review one of them – the Nokia Asha 303.

Lets clear one thing at the very outset – the Asha series phones are not for the app freaks or for the hardcore smartphone maniacs, yet they are slick and stylish with a lot of simplicity integrated.

So lets have a look at the specs of this device:

-Nokia Asha Series 40 OS with Touch and Type omptimization
-1 GHz processor
-2.6″ TFT capacitive touch display with 256K colors
-256MB ROM, 128 RAM
-100MB user available internal memory
-External memory expansion with microSD card slot, up to 32GB supported
-SNS integration
-3.2 MP fixed-focus camera
-Dedicated keys for messaging and music
-Full fledged QWERTY keyboard
-Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
-USB OTG support

Now briefly to the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’:
Pros:
-Simplistic yet sophisticated Nokia Asha Series 40 UI
-Full QWERTY keyboard
-3.2 MP cam.
-1 GHz processor
-Wi-Fi and Bluetooth v2.0 connectivity
-Great output sound
-Capacitive touch display
-3.5 mm audio jack

Cons:
-No multi-tasking
-No protection for screen (no Gorilla glass, scratch resistance etc.)
-Typical Nokia handsfree in the box
-Low screen resolution and ppi
-Non hot swappable memory card
-Doubtful camera performance
-No accelerometer sensor

Now a brief step by step look-up into the features:

APPEARANCE:
‘Impressive’ is the word that pops into your mind right after getting a glimpse of the gadget. The phone simply allures you at first sight. The battery cover on the back gives a slick look nevertheless which is made up of Aluminum alloy. The QWERTY keyboard is placed just below the touch screen with dedicated keys for messaging and music in between and they simply add class to the looks. Convenience comes with the volume rocker and lock key on the right side while the left side has a place for wrist-strap. The lower side has nothing and the upper side has micro USB port, charging port and a 3.5 mm audio jack.

DISPLAY:
The device comes up with a TFT capacitive touch screen of 240×320 resolution, with 256K colours. The display is clear and bright enough, though we still miss the brightness control option. The touch response and precision is high, making it one of the best touch and type devices. The touch also offers haptic feedback that can be turned on or off as per requirement.

CAMERA:
3 MP digital camera with up to 4x digital zoom is integrated, placed on the rear, with no lens cover. The camera UI is Symbian look-alike and what we genuinely miss here is the brightness control and landscape mode capturing of both, still images as well as videos. Hats off to the absence of accelerometer sensor and we are bound to record videos in portrait mode, too. Still images are just about okay, with typical Nokia feel to them. Video quality is simply and terribly not up to the mark, yet does the job for day-to-day users.
But wait.. There is something interesting, too, perhaps. The camera offers face detection in still image mode (don’t think so it helps much though). And they delay between image shooting is annoying, makes you wonder if the phone really features a 1 GHz processor?! And I simply don’t get it why Nokia just can’t get rid of their fixed-focus attitude. Things can be a bit better with auto-focus integration.

TEXT INPUT:
QWERTY keyboard is a delight without a doubt, and its easy to use. A few texts on the device and you simply love the fluidity and awesomeness of the keyboard. There are keyboard shortcuts too, simply increasing the value of keyboard. Some 3rd party apps (Opera Mini for example) offer on-screen typing but wait… You can’t just compare it with the traditional one done on full touch devices.

UI:
Tradtional Series 40 home screen mode with shortcut bars is there to enhance the usage.
A drop down menu is also there that features up to 9 shortcuts, and you can choose them yourself.

MESSAGING:
SMS show up in threaded as well as inbox view, same is for the MMS. There is built-in support for IMs, too. Message storage depends on available internal memory so you do not need to worry about deleting your messages.

APPS:
The pre-installed Ovi Store offers a variety of apps for this device, with some apps designed for pure touch and type experience. A few cool apps that other J2ME phones dont support yet are also available for the Asha line-up, such as WhatsApp. There are some good pre-installed apps, like the Chat app that offers chatting with your mates on popular social networks. There is a mail app, too. Check your mails on-the-go. Google Maps app is also there, pre-installed.

MEDIA PLAYER AND RADIO:
Media player offers audio and video playback of files of various formats, ranging from mp3, 3gp, mp4, aac, ogg, amr and a few others. We seriously miss the DivX and XviD support here along with AVI. The phone also offers the typical stereo FM radio with RDS.

CALLING:
Things are simple. No smart dialling. Calls are good, with clear voice and simple controls. The phone automatically locks the keypad just as to compensate the proximity sensor. Nokia is tricky this time with the mic, as it is placed between the A, S, Z and X keys.

NO MULTI-TASKING:
You just can’t do anything but close what you are doing with an app and go back to do something. But… There is a little bit of it, too. Press the message or music keys with an app running and you can access the messages or change the tracks if playing in the background.

CONNECTIVITY:
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n is one of the key features of the device in this price and specs. It also offers 3G and EDGE connectivity. Bluetooth is there for sharing as well as headset support.

FINAL WORDS:
So, this device is for those who just don’t want or are not bothered by the too much simplistic approach. With QWERTY keyboard and capacitive touch display to its favour, it still manages to stand confident in the mid-range phones.

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About Salman Haider

I have loved electronic communicators and devices since my childhood. Along came the era of Nokia's monochrome display phones, like the mighty Nokia 3310. I was crazy for it. The feeling of having a mobile phone was just out of this world. Time passed and I went through various phones e.g. Nokia 7610, Nokia 3250, Nokia N96, Motorola RAZR, Sony Ericsson T230...and many others. Now-a-days, I am using an Android phone, more precisely the XPERIA X10.