The Nokia Asha 300 is good for calls and messaging, but its software is outdated and the touchscreen is hard to use.
The reviewed Nokia Asha 300 from their new touchsreen mobile phone series packs a 2.4-inch display on a classic candy-bar body with numeric keyboard. Inside the phone, there are a 1GHz processor empowering S40 software, 3.5G connectivity, and a 5MP camera. The price tag is currently around 110 EUR.
Nokia Asha 300 Specs
- Software: Series 40 Asha edition 9.2 with Touch and Type UI
- Display: 2.4″ 240×320 262,000-color, resistive touch-screen
- Processor: 1GHz
- Camera: 5 megapixel full focus (EDOF), 4x digital zoom, up to 640×480 video recording, no flashlight
- Data storage: 140MB + up to 32GB via MicroSD
- Ports: 3.5mm audio, micro USB, power
- Bluetooth: Yes, 2.1 EDR
- Wi-Fi: No
- FM Radio: Yes
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, Nokia Messaging Service Email 3.0
- Networks: GPRS/EDGE, HSDPA cat 9, HSUPA cat 5
- Frequencies: GSM/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900MHz; WCDMA 850/900/1900/2100MHz
- Battery: BL-4U, 1110 mAh
- Dimensions: 112.8×49.5×12.7mm
- Weight: 85g
Design and Build Quality
The 85-gram phone is 12.7mm thin and has a plastic casing, with dark chromed-like finish on the front and sides and a gray matte surface on the back. The Asha 300 is also available in red. It’s slightly rounded and fits in a hand nicely. The phone is sturdy, except on the top area around the 3.5mm jack hole, where flex at a mild push is noticeable.
The keyboard keys are horizontally close one to another, but they’re big enough, and vertical spacing is big, so you will hardly make typing mistakes if you are familiar with numeric phone keyboards. But, call answer and call end buttons and a dedicated message button between them are really thin, which I personally don’t like, although the phone looks elegant with these three chromed-like glossy buttons. The keyboard has backlight, but I’ve noticed that light leaks on the left and right sides of it. These holes that allow light leakage are not big, but I’m concerned about dust which can get into the case through those holes and collect over time inside the case.
However, keyboard is not the only input method on this phone. You can use the touchscreen which, unfortunately isn’t capacitive, but an old resistive one. How bad is that Nokia’s choice? The use of the touchscreen isn’t worse when compared to resistive type panels I’ve used over years. But, if you want to avoid use of that kind of screen for phone navigation, you’re out of luck, since there are no dedicated navigational buttons on the Nokia Asha 300. During navigation using the screen, I had hard time trying to scroll and not to accidentally press menu items at the same time, since for use of a resistive screen you have to put a certain amount of pressure. This would be OK, if I had a choice to use physical buttons, but I hadn’t due to the phone’s design.
The screen picture itself is pretty bright and colors are lovely.
S40 Software on Nokia Asha 300
On the software side, I’m not impressed either. I’m an Android user, but I do understand that S40 isn’t a smartphone OS. That hasn’t helped me to overlook how limited S40 is when compared to software on available Android-based alternatives at the similar price point as the Nokia Asha 300. For me, S40 on the Nokia 300 is great as a simple way to make calls, send SMS (conversation mode is a plus), or set clock alarm in a few clicks from the home-screen, but other than that I don’t find anything appealing about it, especially when it comes to widely used mobile apps.
“Memory Full” messages pop up quite often during web-surfing with the default browser. I’ve noticed that on web pages with size of 2MB or up, so if you open a blog with a couple of large images you will fill phone’s memory to the max and some parts of the page, like images, will not be shown. I haven’t find a solution for this problem other than switching to Nokia Browser, located under Applications / Extras / Collection.
Although the Nokia Asha 300 uses a 1GHz processor, web browsing and gaming are not so fast as I expected. I’ve compared it against a “slower” 600MHz Android phone, the Samsung I5500.
Web browser scrolling and page rendering is much slower on the Nokia with the default S40 browser, involving lots of freezing and lags. In Nokia Browser performance is way better, but it’s still a little bit slower than on I5500’s default Android browser. Objects in Angry Birds also move at a lower frame rate on the Asha 300, but the difference is not that big. On the other side, Youtube videos play smoothly in both low and HQ modes. Other things which are completely smooth are navigation through phone’s menus, as well as scrolling thorough the default image gallery.
Call and Speakers’ Quality
Now, lets take a look at the bright side of the reviewed Nokia Asha 300. It’s phone call, main speaker, and handsfree speaker quality. Nokia’s phone speaker gives a very pleasant voice sound, which is on the other hand loud enough. Also, the signal reception is good. I’ve compared it to the I5500 and Motorola Droid 1 and the signal was equally good on all three devices. Voice leakage is not present. Nokia obviously took a good care of the call quality/signal reception area, unlike some phone makers who maybe don’t pay too much attention on the main purpose of a phone – phone calls.
I think the mono loudspeaker located on the back is the best part of the phone. I’ve used many other mono loudspeaker phones (but not Nokia’s so far except the 101 recently) and I can say that the Asha 300 via its loudspeaker sounds the best. I can even hear a little bit of bass when playing house-music mp3 songs, which is nice and gives an impression of a good quality.
Photos and Video Recording
The 5MP camera does a good job of taking daylight shots at a resolution of up to 2592×1944, but forget about night shooting since there’s no flash light. The same applies to video recording, which can be done at up to 640×480. At that resolution, the Nokia 300 records videos at 15 frames per second, while in 320×280 it’s 25fps. That’s according to the recorded file info showed in MediaCoder software.
Here’s a sample image at the maximal resolution (1.3MB).
I’ve drained the BL-4U 1110 mAh battery in a day. But, that’s under a really intensive phone use. I had about 2.5 hours of talk time, lots of web browsing over a 3G network and lots of software use, about a half an hour of music playback via the handsfree speaker, and a couple of played YouTube videos. Please note that this is not an accurate battery life test. I’ll post a more accurate result here after a longer use of the phone.
If you would like to buy the Nokia Asha 300 because of its looks, compact size, numpad nostalgia, or some other reason and you’re in doubt because of the negative sides mentioned in this review, maybe the key is to look at the device this way: it’s not a smartphone and it’s not made for apps or hanging on the Internet. It’s a simple feature phone for quality phone calls, SMS, and e-mails, with a big screen and decent camera. Look at it as an advanced and better looking version of the Nokia 100/101 and you will be satisfied. Now, the only question is if the Nokia 300 is worth 110 EUR. I don’t think so, because of no great benefits from the 1GHz CPU, uneasy navigation due to resistive screen technology, limited software, and about four times higher price than dual-SIM Nokia 101’s.
Unboxing Video with Software Walk-Through
Feel free to use the comment system below for any questions regarding the phone and this review.