I’ve spent the past decade using all sorts of mobile phones, and have lived happily with loads of different Nokia handsets. The Nokia Asha 308 is the latest arrival, and it offers a number of key differences. For a start, it’s the first Asha device I’ve used. So what’s it like?
With a 3-inch screen, the Asha 308 is physically smaller than most touchscreen smartphones, and it feels a lot nicer in the hand because of it. It’s a curvy design, it’s lightweight, and it’s a really nice phone to hold.
Even as a complete newcomer to the Asha range, I found it really easy to navigate the Nokia OS on the Asha 308, flicking, tapping and swiping my way around in seconds. The capacitive screen is lovely and responsive, and shows just how far affordable handsets have come.
One thing I loved about the Asha was the ease with which the dialer can be brought up. You can end up prodding at a tiny icon to reach a numeric keypad on so many expensive touchscreen phones these days; with the Asha it’s just a swipe to the right.
Adding shortcuts to the homescreen is just as easy; simply tap and hold the screen, and then pick an app. If you don’t want to access the app from the homescreen, click the menu and select it from the list. Facebook and Twitter are both pre-installed, and it’s easy to stay in touch on the go.
Obviously there are some big differences between the Asha 308 and Nokia’s Lumia devices – there’s no Wi-Fi, for instance, and 3G and 4G connectivity is also omitted. It’s not a problem though, as the Nokia Xpress Browser uses compression technology to require up to 90 per cent less data, and web pages are genuinely quick to load. Quicker, often, than other smartphones on 3G. If Wi-Fi is a must though, you can always opt for the Nokia Asha 309, which adds wireless networking to the mix.
Nokia Maps makes an appearance, and although there’s no GPS, it’s still incredibly useful. In this case, you can get an approximate location via your network operator, and it’s still a really useful app for checking out the local area.
The choice of games is one of the biggest pluses for me though, including Worms 2011 Armageddon, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit and the Sims 3. They ‘re titles that were a staple of consoles and PCs when I was growing up, and they’re just as much fun on the small screen. It makes the Asha 308 perfect for younger users wanting to be entertained.
The Asha 308 also has some neat hardware tricks up its sleeve, such as the hot-swappable second SIM card. Situated right next to the memory card reader, it’s easy to add a second SIM at any point, making it perfect for those with both business and personal numbers, or even to share between two people. With the second SIM added, you can simply select which number to use when sending messages and so on.
Overall, it’s the efficiency of the Asha 308 that’s the most surprising though. It did everything I asked of it, running smoothly and without lag. Even the games ran at an impressive pace. I absolutely loved the fact the battery lasts for days between charges, helped by the relatively small screen and efficient OS. It may not be quite as desirable as the latest Lumia handsets, but it’s a great all-round package.