Early last month, Nokia South Africa launched the new range of all-touch Asha range of phones that expanded the number of available brands in the market to 10.
Nokia Asha 311 is the top of the range model in the Asha line-up and it features a full touchscreen display with two buttons to navigate the interface. It runs an overhauled version of Nokia’s Series 40 operating system and user interface. Let’s take a closer look.

Design
The Nokia Asha 311 continues with the modern trend of curved edges on its rectangular body, which is small enough to fit into one hand. It is also light in the hand weighing just under 100 grams and 12.9 mm thick.

What makes it look stylish and attractive to the younger crowd who are also the target market is the stainless steel strip that is between the screen and the colour-coded bottom part of the phone.

Positioned at the bottom of the phone are also two stainless steel action buttons with the lower part of the phone having what feels and looks like a matte finish and being colour-coded as mentioned earlier. The main issue with the design would be that the back panel has a glossy finish, which captures fingerprints easily and requires regular cleaning. Perhaps the back panel should have been fitted with a matte finish as well.

Despite being targeted at the young crowd who one would imagine take photos to post on social media and share regularly, there is no dedicated camera button The volume buttons are located on the side with the lock and sleep button just below.

At the top of the phone is the micro USB port between the micro charging port and a 3.5 mm audio port.

The look and feel of the Nokia Asha 311 definitely tells of a mobile phone designed with the trendy young crowd in mind.

Performance
Long lasting battery life has become synonymous with Nokia phones, more especially in Africa. With this reputation in mind, the Nokia Asha 311 follows the tradition and does not disappoint. With heavy use, it lasts a full day and with moderate usage that excludes browsing, downloads and social network accessing the phone’s battery endures well over a day, thanks to a 3.7v battery with 1110 mAh power and standby time of about a month when on 2G mode according to Nokia.

For a supposed feature phone, the Nokia Asha 311 packs quite a punch thanks to the 1 GHz ARM11 mobile processor which is also assisted by it having 128 MB RAM and 256 MB dedicated ROM for the firmware.  It comes with only 140 MB on-board storage byt that is not a concern as it has a memory card slot that can hold up to a 32 GB microSD card. Thanks to these features, the touch experience is responsive and fast.

Display and Camera

The phones comes with a rear 3.2 megapixel camera without flash, which seems standard at this level of phones even amongst the competitors. A users needs to keep in mind that the greatest costs associated with manufacturing a mobile phone are the camera, display and processor.

The display is a 3″ WQVGA LCD, which is standard across the Asha Touch family. There are differences compared to the other Nokia Asha Touch phones given this is the best in the range in that  there’s a protective layer of Gorilla Glass on top of the display for extra protection — this is probably one of the few phones in this class that comes fitted with one.

Another difference is a polarization filter that improves visibility when using the phone under direct sunlight.

Software Features

Apart from the standard Series 40 software and features, the Asha 311 comes bundled with 40 Electronic Arts (EA) games to download for free, including Tetris, Bejeweled, Need for Speed: The Run and Fifa 2012. With the target market in mind, this will surely prove to be one of the big drawcards to the young crowd purchasing the phone. It also comes with 15 levels of Angry Birds pre-loaded on the phone.

It’s thus difficult to call it a feature phone. Not just because it has a touch screen but also the revamped Series 40 user interface (rebranded Nokia OS) which supports gestures as used on smartphones.

Alternatives
Samsung Galaxy Y
Samsung Galaxy Pocket
LG Optimus L3
Blackberry 9320

Verdict
With a recommended retail price of R 1,399, Nokia is definitely taking the battle to its competitors as far as this class of phones is concerned. What is refreshing is that they are clear on who the target market is and as such have packaged the phone (e.g. free games) to target specifically the young customers.

Credit: HumanIPO