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Nokia Asha incites low-cost, plastic passion

While not designed to be a smart-phone contender, the phone is great for kids or as a gift

Image Credit: AP
Nokia’s vice-president of marketing Blanca Juti displays the new Asha mobile phone duringthe Nokia World 2011 in London.
Gulf News

We usually cover smartphones in the section here. Focusing on the powerful processors, large screens, flashy cameras, we often tend to forget about the segment on the lower end of the market.

The Nokia Asha 200 belongs to that segment and is the Finnish manufacturer’s lowest entry point device. The name Asha means ‘hope’ in Hindi, and with a price point of AED 288, I guess Nokia hopes to hit the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid. There is a higher spec model – the Asha 303 – which comes in at AED 539, but we’ll be focusing on the 200.

The phone is unmistakably, and perhaps unashamedly, plastic in build. Available in a few colours, the Asha 200 has a glossy finish. The front features the 2.4 inch screen, 6 dedicated buttons, menu pad and a QWERTY keyboard, while the back has the camera and a speaker grill.

Two of the dedicated buttons are for menu navigation, two for answering and rejecting calls, and the other two are a dedicated SIM switcher (yes this is a dual SIM phone) and a dedicated messaging button.

On the side are two latches, one for the second SIM, and the other for a microSD card. The phone doesn’t have a dedicated camera button, or a volume rocker.

The phone is 14mm thick and weighs about 105g. It’s powered by the Series 40 operating system, which you’ll be familiar with if you’ve used a Nokia phone in the last decade or so. For an older operating system, it seems to have learnt new tricks; for one it allows you to assign different functions to the two SIM cards. So you can have one SIM for calls and SMSs, while the other provides mobile internet and MMS.

There isn’t a lot of free memory on this phone – about 10 MB – so you’ll definitely want to get a microSD card.

Don’t expect much out of the camera either; you can shoot stills at 2 megapixels and videos at QVGA.

The phone does come with a decent set of applications including Email support (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, Ovi Mail), Instant Messaging application (Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk, and Ovi Chat) and Social applications (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Orkut and more). In terms of entertainment, the phone features a few trial games and has support for major music formats as well as listening to and recording FM radio.

However you may need some extra time with that because the phone is neither WiFi enabled nor does it support 3G, so the only form of data you have is on EDGE.

The phone obviously cannot, and is designed not to, compete with the heavyweights in the smartphone industry. What the Asha 200 is great for, in addition to having as a spare phone, is to give to your kid or someone back home who may not be able to afford a phone yet.

The Nokia Asha 200 redefines affordability and it does so with a great feature set. You really couldn’t ask for more at this price.

Bhavishya Kanjhan is a digital marketing professional and an early adopter of all things digital. Follow his tweets @Bhavishya