Review

Nokia Asha 302 – #SmartphoneLiteWeek

25 May , 2012  

A couple weeks ago, Tom from Nokia Connects made an offer that a Nokia blogger as myself just could not pass: trial a Nokia Asha 302 and use it as my main phone for a week. Me and three other guys took the offer and so the #SmartphoneLiteWeek has begun. I decided to write a daily post describing how I got along with the Asha on my personal blog, and now I’m gonna tell you the whole story here on NokiaTips.

Day one

First day without a smartphone… Using Asha 302 as my main device made me realize that I’m nor really using my smartphone to it’s full potential. Asides from smart dialing, the weather app and Dungeon Hunter 2 HD, I haven’t missed much so far.

Here are the pros and cons of the Asha 302 so far. I’ll start with the cons.

Cons:

  • No smart dialing
  • No Nokia account contacts and calendar sync
  • Installed apps are not visible in the main menu
  • No search app
  • Update The widget can be configured [Shortcuts widget cannot be reconfigured]
  • APN settings very hard to find
  • Materials used for the keyboard look cheap
  • No SD card in the box

Pros

  • Flawless connectivity management (never did I once have to choose a connection)
  • Good mail client
  • Good social client
  • CPU speed more than makes up for java apps
  • Email notification in the system top bar (Symbian Belle still does not have this feature)
  • Ability to handle multiple email accounts with ease
  • Very good hardware QWERTY
  • Solid build with metal cover on the back (despite the cheap looking plastic of the keyboard)
  • Threaded SMS view
  • Camera UI surprisingly good
  • Good loudspeaker volume
  • Decent 150+MB free in phone memory on first boot

So far so good. Hopefully I can stay away from smartphones for 6 more days. I wonder how I will survive the weekend, considering I usually play a lot DH2 then.

We’ll see how it goes.

Day two

As you know, the Asha 302 dropped by for a visit, and today we get to see what’s in the box.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much to say about the Asha 302 package, as it contains only the phone itself, a charger and a wired hands free. I would have liked to see at least a 2GB micro SD card and a data cable. That is are the bare minumum in my opinion.

But I guess it all depends on how you look at the Asha 302. If you buy it as you main phone, you’ll most definitely have some change to spare for a SD card and a data cable, or if you’re buying it as a backup phone, you’ll already have at least a data cable available.

So without further ado, I give you the Asha 302:

Day three

So far I’ve been able to steer away from smartphones but it wasn’t that hard because it was a busy work week and I had tons of other things to think about. But now it gets tricky… The weekend is here and I see smartphones everywhere. I haven’t played Dungeon Hunter or Angry Birds in a while and I miss then. But I have to be strong and resist the temtation to pick up the N8.

On day three I just realized that some features I missed from smartphones were actually there on the Asha 302 too. On day one I said that the shortcuts bar was not configurable, when in fact it was.

Being a Facebook and Twitter only kind of guy, Asha 302’s social apps suited my needs and so far I have no complaints about it. The social client looks very similar to the Symbian WRT client, and that’s a good thing.

The chat client works perfectly and it’s up for the task of keeping you connected to your friends. It supports lots of chat networks, but I use only GTalk and Facebook. Yahoo, Ovi, MSN are there too if you need them. Good to see that FB chat is there as I believe most of you use that as your main chat means.

I started missing the 12MP snapper badly. Every time I think “It’s macro time!” I quickly realize that I no longer have the cameraphone queen in my pocket. But the Asha does it’s best to help me take a snap with it’s 3.2 camera.

What I like about the Asha the most it is the speed the apps open up with. The 1GHz CPU sure makes it’s presence felt. Opera Mini opens faster than on some Symbian S60 handsets.

I guess Nokia’s strategy to replace Symbian with the Asha/Windows Phone combo is starting to show. Clearly the Asha family is eating it’s way up the food chain into the low budget Symbian market, trying to replace the likes of Nokia 5320 or the Nokia 5800 or even the E5. The Asha family has a long and bumpy road ahead, but only time will tell if they’re up for the task.

Day four

To call this last day with the Asha full of surprises would be an understatement. Until now I’ve used Opera Mini, because I’m used to it and I wanted something familiar. But yesterday I started using the Nokia Browser for S40. To my surprise I discovered that it was faster than Opera. I’m still having a hard time believing it.

I tried to figure out what was happening and I think I managed to do so. Opera uses a very flexible rendering engine, but, since it is a Mini version, some websites have trouble rendering their content. On similar sites, I haven’t seen the Nokia Browser acting up. Instead of using a web render engine on the phone I think the Nokia Browser uses the cloud to render a plain HTML file, the file that it actually displays on the phone. There are advantages and disadvantages for both methods. Opera will be able to render pages even if the cloud is down, while the Nokia Browser may be fully dependent of the browser. On the other hand, Nokia Browser will have to get less application updates than Opera because the rendering is done in the cloud. That means that you may find yourself loading pages faster without needing a software update.

I have to say that Nokia’s browser approach is suitable for this kind of device, with limited RAM and limited resources. I am using the Nokia Browser now as my main browser for that reason.

Day five

 

 

Once upon a time there were four warriors. These brave souls swore to let go of their favorite smartphones and use only an Asha 302 for a week.

One has fallen prey to the demon lord Windows Phone, who lured him away from the Asha with it’s seductive tiles. But three, will carry on, to reach new heights and conquer the challenge that lays before them. Two more days… and the brave warriors will have succeeded.

Asha cannot compare it’s powers with the reigning lords Windows Phone or Symbian, but it sure is agile enough to elude them for a while, a week, that is.

This is day five. Asha is still in my pocket. When I pass my N8 around the house, I feel like an addict near dope. Hard to resist, yet I must. A challenge is a challenge, and once I accepted it, I must see it trough.

Today Asha has shown one if it’s limits. When trying to send a raven in reply to the other brave warriors, I realized I could not. Asha would only let me send a raven to the first one of them. But Asha’s help, the Opera lead me to the raven’s official guild, where I could send messages to all of them at once.

Day six is ahead… What other challenges must I face next?…

Day six

So far I didn’t get the urge to shoot photos so often knowing I don’t have the N8 in my pocket no more. But when I could actually take a great snap, I pulled the Asha from my pocket and I just went for it.

I wasn’t expecting much, so I was surprised to see a decent snap in my gallery, but I noticed that the Asha is very quick to snap a photo. I removed the review time from the camera (first thing I do on any phone I get my hands on), and noticed that Asha is a very happy snapper. It snaps photos with a speed I’ve never seen in a feature-, ahem, smartphone lite. In broad daylight, the snaps look great, but indoors it get tricky because there’s no flash on the Asha. Even so, if you get a steady shot, the pictures look good. Here are some sample shots in various lighting conditions.

 

The sleeping beauty, close range, poor light
The sleeping beauty, close range, poor light, slightly better shot
Rainy sky, good light conditions
Landscape, good light conditions

 

Next, we go on to the video recording. 640×480 pixels at 30 frames is not much, but if you consider that the Nokia 500 has the same resolution, I’d say the Asha is game. Here is a video sample of what you should expect.

Some people may not have all these expectations from the Asha because if you compare it to other phones in it’s price bracket, you won’t get a better camera than this one. Frankly I was expecting a 2MP snapper when I first heard the price of the Asha 302, so with a 3.2MP one, in this price range, I’m more than happy.

One more day to go and the challenge is complete.

Day seven – Mission complete

The final day has come. The challenge is complete. Asha has served it’s purpose well. It replaced my N8 for a week, and for in most aspects, excepting the camera of course, it has done it pretty well. I had to suffer some shortcomings, but I have to say that the intended audience for the Asha 302 will be more than thrilled with the features it has to offer.

The handset is well connected, with 3G and WiFi, which work incredibly well, comparable if not even overtaking some of today’s smartphones in that department. I could tweet, use Facebook, browse (and quite good browsing considering it’s a feature phone after all), email, IM, but unfortunately a very small selection of games.

I have used 10MB of data, yes ten, in a whole week. The Nokia cloud based browser is very good at compressing stuff, and my guess is the Social app and the Email client have some kind of compression too.

Once it will be updated to the latest software version, the Asha will be able to run the Mail for Exchange client giving you access practically to every type of email account you can think of, which puts the Asha on par with any smartphone outthere, even beating some of them at email capabilities I might say.

On the other hand, I have missed multitasking a lot, even though apps support some kind of hybernation I suppose. For example if you open a link from the social browser, when you close the browser you’re back in the social client exactly where you left off.

The intended audience for the Asha is teenagers with messaging habits, feature phone upgraders and probably companies that want to keep their employees connected without needing document transfers or editing. This audience will love the Asha 302. It looks good, the battery lasts to about 3 days od moderate usage, it’s cheap and brings great value for money.

Conclusion

I am a heavy smartphone user. I try to do as much stuff as possible with a smartphone, I like to push it to the limit. That being said, I have to say that the Asha 302 did extremely well. It had some shortcomings, but I got over them and considering the very good quality browser Nokia put on this thing, I can say you can do pretty much everything with it, except handling office documents.

Is this phone for you?

If you’re looking for a capable and cheap device, the Asha 302 is the right device for you. It’s fully connected and it has the QWERTY keyboard to prove it’s messenger purpose.

Java senior developer, Nokia enthusiast, amateur blogger at TechMobility and NokiaTips. My Motto is: Your rise, you fall, you’re down then you rise again. What don’t kill ya makes ya more strong

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