Nokia Asha 302 review - Smartphone Lite
As you may or may not know the past week I used a Nokia Asha 302 as my main device, as part of a challenge. The nice folks over at Nokia Connects sent the device over to me, and so I turned of my N8 and went Asha for a week. I wrote a series of daily posts describing each day and the challenges I faced with the Asha, if and how I got around them. Now it's time for the full review. I won't go trough every little setting on the phone since the purpose of this review is to show how you can get along with the Asha 302 to do your daily tasks.
First of all let's see the specs.
|Micro-SD||up to 32GB|
|Primary||3.2MP 2048x1536 pixels, no flash|
|Technology||TFT, 256K colors|
|USB on the go||Yes|
|Radio||Stereo FM with RDS|
As you can see, the specs are very impressive for a feature phone, rivaling some of the early Symbian devices with 128MB of RAM and the 1GHz CPU. My guess is the Asha 302 could have ran Symbian S60v3 without a hassle, but since Nokia is ditching Symbian, S40 will have to do.
Here is where the Asha 302 is lacking. The box is bare, only a charger, a headset and the phone itself. No data cable, no USB on the go data cable, no SD card. That's a pretty lite box to say the least. Oh, well, at this price point what did you expect?
The 1GHz CPU makes S40 look like it's on steroids, which makes the Asha 302 the snappiest S40 I've ever seen so far. Everything is nearly instant. Opening apps, going back to the homescreen, everything.
The phone is powered by Nokia BL-5J 1430 MAh battery which is actually bigger than the 1200 one on the Nokia N8. That keeps the Asha 302 alive for more than 3 days of moderate usage.
The SIM card is under the battery cover so is not hot swapable.
On top of the phone we have the Nokia 2mm charging port, the micro-USB port that can also be used for USB on the go and charging, and the 3.5mm audio jack port.
On the left side of the phone we have a plastic lid covering the micro-SD card slot which makes it hot swapable.
On the front of the phone we have the ear piece on top, the 2.4 inch TFT 256K colors plastic covered screen, and the keys. The plastic covering the screen stretches from the top of the phone down under the D-pad keys group.
The keyboard is composed of two parts: the upper group includes the D-pad, Call key, End call/Exit key, Left soft key, Right soft key, the Contacts and the Messaging keys. Below there's the 4 row full QWERTY keypad.
On the back of the phone we can find the speaker grid and the 3.2MP snapper. The back cover is made of metal to better protect the battery and the camera.
Seen from the front, the Asha 302 looks like a rounded E63 and that's a good thing. It's reasonably thick at 13.5mm but it compensates with a very low weight of 106 grams.
The build materials are pretty good, though I have to say that after using a keyboard such as the E6's, the materials on the Asha's look cheap. However, the keyboard handles great.
The metal cover on the back melds into the back of the phone perfectly, so you hardly notice there are two types of materials used there. The color on both the metal and the plastic body is identical, though light reflection tells the truth about the metal cover.
One thing that worries me about the design is the chrome accents on the front and keyboard of the phone. I hope they are of good quality and don't rub off in time. Otherwise, the Asha 302 looks like phone with double the budget.
The S40 series on the Asha 302 has surprised me many times. The phone comes packed with a lot of communication and messaging apps and it handles connectivity flawlessly. I never once had to manually configure how it connects to the internet. I never once encountered a unable to connect message of some sorts. It just worked.
Since widgets are the new hype, Nokia deciced the Asha should get them too. You can configure your homescreen to include up to 3 widgets. There is a pretty wide range of widgets like Contacts, Shortcuts, Mail, Chat, Social, Calendar, only to mention a few.
You can check out the video below for a demo on how you can configure your homescreen widgets.
The homescreen personalization does not end here. You can assign applications or actions to any key on next to the D-pad. You can reasign the Left soft key, the Right soft key, the D-pad keys and even the Contacts and Messaging keys. One key of the D-pad has to remain assigned to switching to homescreen mode though. You can configure these shortcuts by enter the homescreen edit mode and pressing the Options left soft key. Now select "Home screen settings" and everything is there to be configured.
The menu has a default layout of 4x3 icons grid, but can be changed to a list view. The icons remind us of the Symbian and MeeGo icons, though these are clearly more simple mainly because of the low resolution screens on the Asha series.
Check out the video below for a tour of the menu and the preinstalled apps.
The contacts application is the standard S40 application, it does not include smart dialing or number search, but you can search for names very easily.
For each contact you can assign lots of phone numbers, email address, web address, ring tone, image and even video. You can also add personal information to each contact like Birthday, Postal address, nickname, Company, Job title and more.
The calendar application on the Asha 302 is the stock S40 application good enough for daily use. It's a shame it can't be synchronized with your Nokia account calendar, but only with your Nokia Suite app. The calendar has three views: Month, Week and Day.
The email client supports multiple accounts and the email notifications can be seen on the homescreen widget. If you don't have the widget visible you can still see a new email notification on the top status bar. This is a feature that Symbian still does not have yet. The message view is pretty simple, and cannot handle complex HTML emails. It shows the plain text email instead. It does handle attachment downloads, so that's a plus.
The email client has advanced features like update frequency, and notification period (like between 7 AM - 11 PM) just like the bigger Symbian brothers. It can also add a signature to your sent emails.
The social client is decent enough satisfy your daily Twitter and Facebook needs, but I did find some shortcomings such as the inability to reply to all people mentioned in a tweet, or the fact that you can't see more than 10 tweets in a page. You have a "Get more button" but it's not as intuitive as a method such as load as you scroll would have been. The social client comes with a homescreen widget that allows you to see tweets and status updates from your friends. There are also separate shortcuts for Twitter and Facebook available for the shortcuts widget.
Anyways, check out the video below for a demo of the social client.
The store application is similar to what you can find on S60 devices, sporting four tabs: Home, Categories, Search and My stuff. The choice of apps is somewhat limited, but considering we're talking about a feature phone, it's actually very good.
Connecting to the Store requires a Nokia account. If you don't have one, you can choose to create one on the spot. The process is easy and it takes a few moments not more.
The apps are split into categories but most of them are games and audio/video stuff. I was very surprised to see that the official Facebook java application was missing from the Store. I tried to install it from the web but it was unsigned apparently so it kept asking for permissions. Being a new device a few incompatibilities with the Store are expected, but they will eventually be fixed. However, it makes you wonder how many apps I actually missed in the store because they did not have the Asha 302 in their manifest.
The web browser on the Asha is excellent. It surprised me more than once with the rendering accuracy and most of all, with the data consumption. The entire week I used the Asha 302 as my main phone I only consumed 10MB of data.
Check out the video below for a demo of the web browser.
The camera on the Asha 302 is nothing special, but at this price point it would require magic to have a special camera. The 3.2MP shots look decent enough in good light conditions, but that changes when you're trying to shoot in low light. Don't event try to shoot moving objects in low light.
The video recording is actually very decent with a resolution of 640x480 at 15 FPS. The videos are not large in size, and are recorder in 3GP format. For example, a 2 minutes video weights around 30MB of storage.
Check out the video below for a tour of the camera and video recorder software.
The gallery app is called Photos and it lets you access your snapped photos and videos as well as start up the camera or the video recorder. The My Photos section is the actual photo gallery. You can also view your albums and you videos.
The Timeline section shows you the photos in a streamed view according to the date they were taken, something similar to Symbian's cover flow.
For this price bracket, the Asha 302 is the phone to have. It's very well connected and social. You won't have to go trough the painful process of setting up as you do on smartphones. For most users the Asha 302 is going to be "plug in your SIM card and ready to go". This is what Asha is all about: connecting.