Nokia launched their Asha range of feature phones, back in December 2011 and today we have with us, the Asha 300, the candy-bar feature phone, which was touted as one of the first phones to have Angry Birds pre-installed. Let’s find out if this Series 40 phone is any good.

The Nokia Asha 300

The Nokia Asha 300

Design and Build Quality
As is the case with most Nokias, the Asha 300 brings with it superb build quality and great attention to detail. The candy bar phone rests neatly in your palm and isn’t too heavy as well at just 85g. The phone is mostly built of plastic, but thankfully, there aren’t too many glossy bits, other than the screen and the chrome strip at the front. The volume rocker and the lock screen button are placed on the side. You remove the back cover with the help of the groove on the side. This process feels a little delicate and if you’re not careful, then there are good chances of the bottom retention clips breaking off.

A good looker

A good looker

This is a touch-and-type phone, so there’s no directional pad – just the keypad and the call answer and end keys, along with a shortcut to e-mail. The keypad is built well and the buttons offer good feedback. Having been accustomed to QWERTY keypads, going back to this conventional style was a bit odd, but those who are used to them should not have a problem. The rest of the connectors like the 3.5mm headphone jack, charging port and microUSB port are placed on the top. The Asha 300 also supports 3G, but there’s no front facing camera for video chat. In the box, you get a 2GB microSD card, charger, user manual, data cable and headset. Overall, a pretty good feature set in a very nice form factor.


Features

Interface
Despite the Asha 300 running on the Series 40 Operating System, it still comes with a 1GHz CPU. The interface is fast, but it doesn’t feel snappy and that’s probably the way the OS is designed. The homescreen is similar to the C2-03, which we reviewed a while back with similarly styled icons. You even get your Facebook and Twitter updates through a widget. There’s only a single homescreen, though, so Nokia have crammed in as much as they possibly could.

A similar looking interface

A similar looking interface

The resistive touchscreen is not the best and on several occasions, while trying to scroll through a menu, you’ll accidentally activate an app, which is quite annoying. If you’re careful, though, then the screen responds well, but you need to have some patience. The ‘Go to’ shortcut button lets you jump to applications, like the browser, game, camera, radio, etc. The resolution of the screen is not too much of a problem, as are the viewing angles, which are quite poor. 

Media 

The music player supports the standard fare of formats. The loud speaker is actually quite powerful and music sounds quite good, so you can play it out loud when among friends. The player will automatically pick up any album art, if present and display it. The player also comes with a bunch of equalizer presets and the ability to create a custom setting from a 5-band graphic equalizer.

Music player is not too shabby

Music player is not too shabby

The video player only supports MP4 and that too, only SD videos, so if you have anything else, you’ll have to convert it. Despite this, however, we managed to get our SD AVI test file playing just fine. Video playback is a bit of a hit or miss. If you’re lucky, then the files will play out of the box, else they may play, but without any audio. During playback, we did notice some amount of banding in the picture, possibly due to the type of screen used. 

Connectivity
The Asha 300 is a quad-band GSM phone as well as 3G with HSDPA speeds maxing out at 10.2Mbps and HSUPA speeds at 2Mbps. Unfortunately, there’s no Wi-Fi present, which is one of the biggest downers of this phone.

Facebook is present

Facebook is present

To make up for this, you do get USB On-the-go support, for what that’s worth. The onboard memory is just 140 MB, so you can’t really do much with it, but you do get a 2GB memory card to help you out. Provision for Facebook and Twitter is present, so you can get your social media fix through this phone. Chat applications, like Nimbuzz can be downloaded from the Ovi Store. There isn’t much variety in terms of apps, but we’ll take what we can get. 

Misc. Applications 

The Asha 300 comes pre-installed with Angry Birds, which isn’t very forgiving on a resistive screen. The game isn’t particularly smooth, despite it having a 1GHz CPU. We feel the problem is the less RAM as 128 MB just isn’t enough for such rich multimedia apps. Other games bundled include Brain Challenge, Climate Mission, Diamond Twistr as well as some utilities like Life Tools, Communities, Converter, Money, etc. 

Some Internet apps

Some Internet apps

Camera
The camera maybe a 5MP shooter, but the quality of the sensor is quite appalling. It’s bad enough that it’s a fixed focus camera; the sensor isn’t able to pick up any detail or colours accurately. The picture appears fine on the viewfinder, but the final captured image is quite bad.

Really bad sensor

Really bad sensor

The video recorder can capture videos upto 640 x 480 resolutions, but as you may have guessed, the quality and frame rate isn’t the best. 

Battery Life 

The Asha 300 is fitted with an 1110mAh Li-ion battery, which lasted for about 5hrs in our video drain test, so not the best, but not bad, either. Charging the phone to its full capacity does take quite a while. Our loop tests gave us a slightly better result, since there wasn’t Wi-Fi streaming involved. Here we got 1.5hrs of call time, 2hrs of video and 3hrs of music. 

Verdict 

The Nokia Asha is available for a street price of Rs.7,000; although you can find it for a bit cheaper, if you look online. This is just a ridiculously high price for this phone, all the more, when you can get some very good Android handsets at this price range. The Samsung Galaxy Y, Spice Mi-350n and even the Samsung Wave Y (which is based on Bada 2.0) are all much better alternatives to the Asha 300. Honestly, when the phone first came to our labs, we thought it was under Rs.5,000, since it looks like that sort of handset. Rs.3,000 would be the ideal price for this phone. It may have a 1GHz CPU, but the fact is that power is never fully harnessed and how can you, when you’re using an old Operating System. We guess, even if it was running a 600MHz CPU, you would hardly tell the difference.

The Asha 300 is put together very well and we applaud Nokia for their craftsmanship. 3G support is also a bonus, but besides that there really isn’t anything going for this phone that would make you shell out seven large ones. Like we said, if it drops to 3K, then pick it up without thinking twice.

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