Nokia’s Asha 311 is the flagship handset in its trio of ‘Full Touch’ phones, which also include the Asha 305 and Asha 306. Having just reviewed the Asha 305, the 311 is quite similar to it except it also offers better features like a capacitive screen, Wi-Fi etc. for a little more. Let’s see if this is enough to make it worth a purchase.

Design and Build
One thing that can be taken for granted is the build quality on Nokia handsets; it’s always going to be great and the Asha 311 is no exception. The tiny little candybar phone is built from a very sturdy and glossy plastic. There’s absolutely no sign of flex or creaks anywhere throughout the phone. The one issue you will face is fingerprints and the glossy back is easily prone to scratches. Also, the chrome trim along the call keys and around the camera will wear off after sometime.

A well built handset

A well-built handset

The buttons on the Asha 311 are uncomfortably hard and it takes an effort to use them. We have the volume rocker and sleep/wake button on the side, along with the 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB port and thin-pin charging port on the top. The speaker is placed at the bottom around the back along with the 3.2MP camera. The Asha 311 is a smart-looking phone (when not covered in fingerprints) and you get A-Grade build quality. It also feels very comfortable even if you have large hands.

Features
Interface
Just like the Asha 305, the 311 also runs on the Nokia Series 40 OS, so there’s no multitasking as such, but it’s a lot more functional than what Series 40 used to be. The 3-inch capacitive screen responds well to touch and there’s support for two-finger multi-touch as well. You get three homescreens: one with the date and time and shortcut to apps, the second is the dialer and the third is the list of all the apps. There’s a drop down notification bar that lets you jump to tasks like SMS, call and music player. It also has toggle switches for data, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and silent mode.

Playing Angry Birds on the 311 will only make you angry in frustration

Playing Angry Birds on the 311 will only make you angry in frustration

The Asha 311 packs in a 1GHz, but that’s pretty meaningless since there aren’t any apps to take advantage of it and the ones that come with the phone are very sluggish. You can’t really swipe across the homescreens ‘fast’ as no matter how quickly you swipe, they’ll change at the pace that was programmed. Same goes for the the drop down notification bar and scrolling in apps. The display also features Corning Gorilla Glass, but the display quality is not great and there’s a lot of colour banding that’s evident in wallpapers.

Media
The music player is basic but functional. You can sort music by album, artist, genre or through playlists. You even get a few equaliser presets and have the option to stream audio via Bluetooth. Audio through the speakers is quite loud, enough to fill a small room. Audio quality through the bundled earphones is strictly average. You also get FM Radio with RDS support but there’s no internal antenna, so you will need a headset. The video player only supports formats like MP4, but due to the poor screen quality, you won’t be doing a lot of movie watching while on the move. One redeeming media feature is Nokia Music, which gives you access to a truckload of music for free.

Connectivity and Misc. Apps
The Asha 311 is a quadband GSM and 3G handset and supports 3G data speeds of up to 14.4Mbps. You also get Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth v2.1. Charging and data transfer is done via microUSB and you also get USB On-the-go support. There isn’t a dedicated GPS chip onboard so you’ll have to rely on cell towers to find your position, which isn’t very accurate as GPS. Other apps include Nokia Life, File Manager, Internet Radio and Weather. There are also some social networking apps like Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, WhatsApp, Nimbuzz and a bunch of games, which includes Angry Birds. The Ovi Store doesn’t have much of a collection either, so you’ll have to be content with the apps that come with the phone.

Ovi store doesn't have much to offer

Ovi store doesn't have much to offer

Camera
The 3.2MP camera lacks auto-focus, so naturally, pictures are quite blurry irrespective of the lighting condition. You get the standard fare of settings and options to tweak, including effects and frames. Video recording maxes out at VGA resolution so not much to talk about here either. We just have to wonder why Nokia even bothered with a 1GHz CPU on this phone because clearly, they haven’t put it to any use.

Not ideal for any type of photography

Not ideal for any type of photography

Battery Life
The Asha 311 packs in a chunky 1110mAh battery that dishes out a very good battery life, enough to last you up to two full days of heavy usage. We easily managed to complete one entire loop test which involved 1.5 hrs of calls, 2 hrs of video, 2 hr of audio and 2 hrs of audio streaming over Wi-Fi. Even after this, there was about 20 percent of the battery still remaining.

Verdict and Price in India
At Rs. 7,200, the Nokia Asha 311 is very expensive and not worth a buy at all. We highly recommend you add another thousand and blindly pick up the HTC Explorer. If you want a newer version of Android, more internal memory and a slightly bigger battery, then for a little more, the Sony Xpera tipo is a very good choice at around 9K. The Asha 311 has good build quality and battery life going for it, but that’s pretty much it. It doesn’t really make sense to buy it when you can have really good smartphones under 10K these days.

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