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back to article Nokia Asha 311 budget smartphone review

Nokia’s smartphone sales may be in the toilet at the moment but it still flogs a fair number of handsets under the Asha brand of feature phones. Newest to the ranks is the Asha 311 which looks and behaves a bit like a smartphone but has a far lower purchase price – around £100 unlocked and SIM-free. Nokia Asha 311 budget …

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What is a smart phone?

My very first was a Sony-Ericsson P800 in about 2003, followed by the much improved (and still missed) P910.

So this one: It looks like a smart phone to me. So why isn't it? Itr certaily does a few things that the P910 didn't and yet that was a smartphone at the time.

What really is the definition?

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Happy

Re: What is a smart phone?

It depends on whether a phone is also considered a computer. The general criterion for being a computer is being programmable, that is having an operating system and being able to load and execute other programs written for that operating system than what the device shipped with to give it new functionality. So, a phone that does that is a smartphone, a phone that doesn't is a "dumbphone" and a "dumbhone" that comes loaded with apps that allow you to do most of what people generally do on their smartphones is a "featurephone". (Truth be told dumbphones can often run small JavaME apps, but, probably because they aren't written for any particular OS its not enough to consider a device a computer.)

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FAIL

or get a full-fat smart phone for less money - t-mobile vivacity

S40, wow, so last decade.

If I can buy a t-mobile vivacity, unlock it, and get a 5mp camera, better screen and better apps, for half the price, then how can you possibly say "the Asha 311 has much to appreciate. It’s cheap," It's not even that.

You've already done a <£100 android test which has several phones that beat the pants off this.

If I want cheap for the "but as a backup or travel phone or your young’uns first handset" I want it either sub £30, or rugged and water proof.

This is neither, You can pick up loads of S60 and S40 phones cheap on ebay, why...simple nobody wants them, there are better phones about now.

If you really want a backup emergency phone, then I'd take a 6210, which has days of talk time, and weeks of standby!

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Re: or get a full-fat smart phone for less money - t-mobile vivacity

Take away T-Mobile's subsidy, and that Vivacity is about £150, not £50, but it's hard to tell, as it's a specially stripped-down version of an existing ZTE phone.

The 311 is better made than the Vivacity, its UI is more responsive, and it lasts longer on a battery charge than any Android phone ever prodcuced. The ZTE has more apps, but I wonder how many will run well on such a slow device (its CPU is clocked at 600 MHz, with no GPU support). "Full fat" indeed, but precious little muscle to haul it around.

If you want Android, best to save up a bit more money and get a device that can run it properly. If you want a good touchscreen phone for a limited outlay, the 311 is the better choice.

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JDX
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"normal use"

What is this exactly? I get nearly a week between charges on my Nokia Lumia but then for me 'normal use' is not very much, whereas some people are constantly on their phone. Which does El Reg consider 'normal'?

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Run to the hills

Having grappled with a E72 and N8 over the last couple of years, a herd of wild horses couldn't drag me to within a mile of a Nokia phone running any flavour of S40/S60. Just quit now, eh lads?

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On the contrary

I've been "grappling" with an E72 for two and a half years now.

The battery lasts a working week, Exchange and tethering work well and although it has been dropped numerous times to concrete and other hard surfaces (and it shows) it just works. Nokia Maps works well (would be a lot better with a touch screen though), the camera is all right for taking work pictures of device serial numbers, messy cabling orders behind the rack in pitch black (apart from blinkenlights) and so on. The Putty SSH client is also very handy in a qwerty phone.

The built-in web browser is pants and I used it to download Opera. The "optical navi key" was worthless as well.

To summarize - this has been a very handy tool so far.

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Shame about the Nokia OS

Would like to know what the reviewer thought about the OS. Assuming it is as crap as most Nokia software in the last 5 years, the phone will be gimped.

Shame, looks reasonable, and could do with a decent backup phone with good battery life

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128GB RAM!

A new high in a phone.

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FYI: Series 40 is not Symbian

Just to clear this up:

Series40 is Nokia's own private phone OS. It's a lightweight, realtime OS with no exposed APIs. On top of this, a JavaME runtime provides the API for third-party applications. While the name "Series40" has been around for a while, the underlying OS may have dramatically changed several times as hardware evolved (but as it's not exposed, it's impossible to say this for sure).

Series60, on the other hand, was Nokia's brand-name for its version of Symbian.

It's Series40 that gave Nokia its reputation for solid, reliable, easy-to-use phones.

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Chz
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Re: FYI: Series 40 is not Symbian

There's nowt wrong with S40 so long as you know what you're getting into. Kind of like flying EasyJet. It's cheap for a reason, but if it fulfils your needs then it's an excellent value phone (or flight).

I never liked S60. All the drawbacks of Android without the benefits.

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Not just battery life.....

....but durability of battery. The battery in my LG base model phone died within 18 months (replacement cost more than the phone did).

Switched to an ancient Nokia 2610 and was astounded at the life still in its original battery. Now on secondhand Nokia E71 smartish-phone and its battery good for a few days use.

By contrast friend's new ZTE TMob Vivacity is constantly running flat and I wonder how easy a replacement will be to find -- and at what cost ?.

So, tempting as Android cheapies may seem, unless you must have GPS, the Nokia Asha doesn't look too silly.

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Is this the mysteriaous plan B?

Maybe Nokia have decided that Series40 is now capable enough to support everything Symbian could (and the stuff it can't is now in the chips anyway) and that JavaME is sufficient (or will eventually be) for the vast majority of applications and that having dumped Symbian quite unceremoniously, that Plan B is S40 phones?

The battery life alone would convince a great many people to use this phone.

No Skype will please the carriers.

S40 is totally controlled by Nokia (no API).

S40 is rock solid, and the UI is a UI. It can always be changed. UI!=OS for those who have yet to understand.

This looks like a pretty cool phone. Missing is WiFi hotspot tethering, but that is obviously doable from Nokia.

For a hundred quit it would be a great phone for traveling.

p

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Headmaster

Re: Is this the mysteriaous plan B?

Just to make a few pedantic points, Series 30 and Series 40 are the UIs and Nokia OS is the underlying OS.

Now to go off on a tangent, Series 40 has steadily progressed and can now do things like touch input.

Series 60 and the late lamented Series 80 ran on top of Symbian. Series 60 and Symbian were later thrown together to make Symbian 3/Anna/Belle and is just about to be dumped by Flop.

Series 90 ran on Symbian before being chopped up and thrown onto the Series 60 bonfire. It was later risen from the dead and adapted for Maemo. Maemo became MeeGo, however Series 90 was replaced with QT and Swipe which was then unceremoniously dumped by Flop. Jolla is now keeping MeeGo going under the name Mer but without the Swipe interface as that belongs to Nokia.

Unfortunately the conclusion you could draw is that smarter Nokia platforms got, the less they knew what to do with them.

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Anonymous Coward

Looks no worse than an early iPhone, plus it has 3G :P

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Samsung Galaxy Y - £60@CPW

Nokia Lumnia 710 - £99.95 + £10 top up @CPW

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Anonymous Coward

choices, choices

I'm in the market for a cheap phone. I don't need a smartphone as the tablet does that. But I'm a big fan of the free mapping/satnav that Nokia provide.

The Asha doesn't have the mapping, GPS etc which is a big downer. On the plus side it does have contacts stored on the phone rather than on Microsoft's servers (as the Lumia does).

Sigh.

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And the point is?

I'm not sure what the point is. There are Android handsets being peddled for around the same price and some of them are vastly superior to this effort from Nokia.

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Re: And the point is?

It's for the anti iOS & Android boys!

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Facepalm

"Nokia’s smartphone sales may be in the toilet at the moment"

Well, that's where you end up pretending you're leaping from a burning platform.

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Anonymous Coward

GPS

A gps chip costs about 2 quid -- why did they decide not to include one?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: GPS

Bang on!

This is typical Nokia.

Rule #1:

Never make a phone with everything you need, unless it's a flagship model. Always cripple it in some way, just in case people buy it.

They've always done this. I looked through their phone catalogue a couple of years ago, trying to pick one that did what I wanted. A phone with 3G would be missing WiFi. A phone with 3G and WiFi would be missing a GPS. A phone with 3G and GPS would be missing WiFi. In the end I thought f*** it and bought an Android which does everything.

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