I recently purchased a Nokia Asha just to experience the supposedly improved s40 operating system by Nokia. The new version of the operating system is supposed to be more smoother and richer compared to the previously boring user interface. So does it really meet the stated improvement as far as the user is concerned? Read on to find out.
Even after Microsoft aligned with Nokia to manufacture Windows 7, 7.5 and 8 phones, and Nokia open sourced symbian, their series 40 and 60 operating systems are still doing well in low cost markets. The team at Nokia has revamped these operating systems to a great extent to make better use of available larger memory and processing speeds.
The first thing you notice about the new Nokia Asha series is how the icons are more beautiful against a stark black background which makes the colours not only rich to the eye but also the fonts more clear to read at any point in time.
A notfication bar is almost an absolute must for those who do not wish to dwell into a million settings menus to get what they need. Given that the higher end smartphones have set that bar, Nokia has managed to implement a slick looking pull down blue notification bar for its Asha range of touch phones. Not only is the blue color soothing to the eye, it provides just the necessary information that is needed for us to glance quickly at the status on the phone. The slide down and push up is well implemented and its smooth and nice to use.
Another thing that I liked in this new operating system version is the concept of overlay user interfaces. For example if you wish to have chosen a profile to use for meetings, or outdoors, or slient modes, earlier one had to go into settings -> profiles, and choose one of them. A long press # key also put the phone into silent mode. However, in the Asha series, Nokia has managed to overlay the most important and always used 4 settings or profiles as a simple touchable option over and above the standard icons. This not only provides an easy way of setting the profiles but also goes along with the overall notion of a simplified user interface in the phone.
The settings menu is slick and scrollable and you can reach multiple levels quite easily with a few touches. The way Nokia has chosen the colors for the apps only emphasizes how good they are getting applications to look extremely unique to themselves and at the same time, pleasing to the eye without creating any form of strain. Take the calculator for instance, its neat white background with black keys, and light gray background with black fonts for the keyed in numbers helps the user focus more on using the calculator than getting distracted with wrong colors that hurts the eyes. I always have hated the work of people who used ridiculous colors on their apps or websites as they tend to expose their lack of concentration on how the readers or users of these can feel about their work. In this department its full marks to Nokia which has managed to refresh its really aged and super old s40 OS !
Next on would be the focus on really how usable any input mechanism on such a small phone would be. Compared to the ruling smartphones out there in the market today even in the budget range, the Nokia Asha is still much smaller on the screen which makes it a challenge for Nokia to make the input mechanisms more accurate. Whether its the calculator or the onscreen keyboard for messaging or chat, or whether its scrolling through menus by touching through, I can confidently say after what i have experienced – that the Asha series of Nokia phones finally nails what was missing in the S40 OS since a long time. A super easy keyboard, which is very accurate and highly usable even in spite of tight space between characters makes this phone all the more a joy to use in terms of its elegance!
Continuing with this new tradition, Nokia has left no stone unturned to ensure that all its apps merge with the overall scheme of things to make a highly saleable operating system. The Radio app, the clock, alarm and timer apps use the right type of fonts at the right places to emphasize on what the user should concentrate on. The only other way it should have been is that Nokia must have concentrated on these improvments long back which would have perhaps showed the world what they are strong at. Even now is not a bad time though, and its only more joy to see a new and rich operating system.
Finally much as in the other higher end phones, Nokia Asha comes with three slidable pages or sets of panels where one can put a much wanted app, or shortcuts to frequently used apps.
Coming to other matters, the Nokia Asha 308 has the following specs:
(source : flipkart)
At a cost of Rs.5000+,
This phone has: Bluetooth, navigation, EDGE, GPRS, USB, expandable memory, conferencing support, and dual sim
This phone DOES NOT have: 3G, personal hotspot, WiFi, rear camera.
To summarize on other aspects that we know where Nokia has its strong points:
- This phone has good call quality
- This phone has good battery life
- Detachable batter slot and memory slot, supporting upto 32GB
- Over the air upgrades
- Good touch response
- Socially connected apps are available
- All formats of audio/video mostly supported
- All mail mechanisms are supported
Some sore points of the phone would be:
- Unlock button is on the right bottom which hurts the thumb
- Overall the phone is quite slippery
- Phone is tad bit heavy
- Sometimes the user interface could be a bit laggy
- Opening and closing apps can take time depending on the app
- atleast Wi-Fi must have been included in order to help faster downloads and at the home or at the office use.
So should you buy this phone?
If you need dual sim, dont need 3G or WiFi and can manage with Edge and only need to see mails or chat, then this phone is for you.
If you need strong navigation support, mail attachments, downloading games, music over Wifi or 3G, good video call support and many more apps, then this phone is NOT for you.
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