JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – The Nokia Asha 311 belongs to the Finish brand’s best selling device line-up, bringing a touchscreen and apps to an entry-level price point.
Nokia has managed to squeeze in a 1 GHz processor, 3″ touchscreen display, HSDPA and HSUPA, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, a 3.2 megapixel camera, a microSD memory card slot, and a 1100 mAh battery at a price point below EUR 100.
It’s strange that the device lacks a front-facing camera, since it already has 3G, but it may have been a sacrifice to keep costs low.
The plastic in the handset makes creaking noises, especially when it comes to the back cover, but a low build quality is to be expected in such a device. The weight is acceptable, at 95 g, neither too heavy nor light.
In an age where pixel density plays a large part of high-end devices, with quite a few already bringing full HD touchscreen displays, the low resolution – 240 x 400 pixels – of the Nokia Asha 311′s screen is a noticeable disadvantage. As a bonus, the display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass.
Nokia placed two buttons on the front of the device, for calls and to power it off. On the right side users will find a volume rocker and a lock key. There is no dedicated camera button.
A 1 GB microSD memory card has been offered in the sales package. The SIM card and the latter can only be accessed by removing the battery.
Both 3.5mm audio jack and microUSB port can be found on top of the device. Surprisingly, the handset supports USB-on-the-go, whereby users can plug in flash drives and such to transfer content, but the adaptor was not supplied in the box.
The user interface is rather snappy, with the 1 GHz processor and 128 MB in RAM contributing for fast transitions and smooth operations of the pre-loaded apps.
A notifications bar is visible throughout the screens, for toggling connectivity options, reading messages or accessing the music player.
A QWERTY keyboard is offered together with the traditional keypad, and even though the screen is tiny, it’s quite easy to get all the keys right.
Although this is not a smartphone, Nokia has bundled in an app store of its own, and for starters even offered 40 free EA games, including Need for Speed The Run, Tetris, FIFA 12, and many others.
The music player is the only app that can be minimized, and its user interface is well organized into different categories. It offers functions for shuffling, searching and choosing equalizer presets.
The built-in browser compresses data, similar to what Opera Mini does, allowing users to worry less about data usage. The quality of images received and the pre-defined search engine can be changed. Multi-touch is supported, and hence pinch-to-zoom works in the web-browser, although not very smoothly.
The camera’s quality is poor as expected. Frames, “fun sounds” and effects can be toggled if the user wishes. Video recording is possible, in VGA resolution at 25 fps.
Social network connectivity is done via an app called Social. It offers photo upload straight after capturing a picture, but the usage itself is not straight-forward for non-tech-savvy users.
Nokia’s world-famous maps are also included, but it’s not clear on how they can be downloaded to be kept offline, how to choose voice navigation, or whether it exists at all.
Email, weather, FM radio player, internet radio player, voice recorder and dictionary are just some of the other apps provided in the phone. Games such as Angry Birds, Climate Mission and many others are pre-loaded as well, some just as demos.
With a fluid software and user interface, as well as mid-end hardware with a entry-level price-tag, the Nokia Asha 311 makes for a suitable phone in markets where smartphones may be much more expensive.