The latest additions to the Nokia Asha family are two models – Asha 305 and Asha 311, which bring the touchscreen experience at a price point that will bring smiles to those who are on a tight budget . What we have with us today is the dual-SIM Asha 305, which packs a very basic feature set and exudes style as well.
Design and build
The Asha 305 is about as large as a typical candy bar handset and weighs a little less than 100 grams. It’s quite slim at 12.8 mm and doesn’t feel too heavy in the pocket. You have three colour options to choose from – red, blue and black. We got our hands on the black variant, and we must say it’s a good-looker. The only elements that are black are the frame around the 3-inch display and strips on the curvaceous sides that house the slots and buttons. The trapezoidal bits at the top and bottom are emblazoned in gunmetal chrome and the rear panel is of the same colour but with matte finish. The rest of the body has a glossy finish, which lends a premium look, but the downside is that the shiny surfaces get mottled with fingerprints too easily.
The exterior of the phone has limited components. Just below the screen are buttons for call accept and reject. The right side has the volume control, a lock button and an elongated groove to insert your fingernail and pluck out the rear panel. The left side has slots for SIM2 and microSD card, which makes hot-swapping easy.
The plastic flaps protect the internals of the ports from dust and also prevent accidental removal of SIM and memory card. The top of the device houses a micro USB port for data transfer, a 3.5 mm headhone jack and a jack for the charger.
The rear of the phone sports a 2 megapixel camera with fixed focus and a mono speaker towards the bottom. The SIM1 slot resides under the 1110 mAh BL-4U battery.
Features and performance
The most striking feature of the Asha 305 is the 3-inch touchscreen display. However, the touchscreen is of the resistive type, which doesn’t inspire too much confidence unlike the capacitive ones. In this case, a little pressure is required to register the touch due to the nature of the resistive touchscreen. It would have been nice if Nokia had included a stylus in the package. Typing messages and website addresses can be frustrating, especially if you have thick fingers. To top this, the jittery user interface makes things worse. You have to be patient while scrolling through the icons, contacts and song list. You can’t expect much from an entry-level phone such as this one, but it shouldn’t have been this jittery either.
The overall performance of the Asha 305 is good (for the price at least). The earpiece is loud enough to converse comfortably in noisy public transport and crowded places. The bundled wired stereo handsfree makes things easier. They are acceptably loud and the sound quality is good – quite decent for listening to music and FM radio. The output of the mono speaker is crisp and it’s just a step lower than being annoyingly loud. It sounds good with the speaker grille exposed. With the handset placed on a flat surface, the sound is quite muffled. Place it screen-down, and there’s some brilliance in sound.
Apps and media
Besides the standard set of apps that includes Calendar, Gallery, Internet, Maps, Radio, Mail and Voice recording, the Asha 305 offers a bunch of games and social networking apps (Facebook, Twitter and Orkut). You also get a file browser and an app for managing dual SIMs. You can assign SIM1 or SIM2 for outgoing calls, SMS, MMS and data or choose the ‘Always Ask’ option, which prompts you to choose the SIM each time you make a call, send an SMS or MMS, or use data. The phone comes with the Nokia Store app that allows you to download and install hundreds of other paid and free apps.
The media playback capability of the Asha 305 is quite crippled. It plays a variety of audio formats including MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, and M4A. However, the support for video playback is quite limited. We were only able to play 3GP and MP4 files. AVI, XviD, DivX and MKV videos refused to play. The support for YouTube videos playback is also absent. The phone pops up a message saying that video streaming isn’t supported and videos can only be downloaded.
The 2 MP camera isn’t the best, but it takes decent pictures provided the lighting is very good. The reproduction of colours and the overall contrast is good, but the photos lack detail due to JPEG artefacts, which is a result of excessive compression. The photos taken are good just for sharing on social networks or via email. The video recording feature is pointless – don’t expect wonders at a meagre 15fps .
The lean feature set gives this phone an awesome battery life. Nokia claims the battery life of the Asha 305 is 14 hours. Once the battery was fully charged, we started our battery life test with loops of 1 hour each of call, FM radio and music playback. We completed four loops with bits of video playback and web browsing, and we still had 50 percent battery life remaining. With moderate usage, the Asha 305 should easily last for two days on a single full charge.
Verdict and Price in India
For Rs 5,029, the Nokia Asha 305 is a good package for those who want a compact dual-SIM phone with touchscreen. What we liked most about this phone is the battery life and audio playback. It would have been nice if the user interface was more fluid and the touchscreen was capacitive. But then, you have the option of buying the Asha 311, which is a much better deal for Rs 1,600 more.
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