Nokia Asha 303 review: Type smarter
Nokia S40 browser has improved significantly
The Nokia Asha 303 boasts a really cool new browser. Its start screen has the usual URL and search bars and three side-scrollable panes below, which are quite reminiscent of the Symbian homescreen (complete with the three dots at the bottom that indicate the current pane).
From left to right, the panes are History, Featured (lists popular sites in several categories) and Favorites.
One excellent new feature is the autosuggestions as you type in the URL - it lists recently visited sites and filters the list as you type. It even offers to save you a few clicks by guessing the ".com" at the end - Symbian^1 users can only wish their browser can do these things.
The browser uses the Opera Mini trick - compressing web pages on a dedicated server before sending them to the phone. Pages load quickly (even on EDGE) and don't waste much data. Image quality is adjustable (Best/Good/Average or No images).
Kinetic scrolling is available (relatively fast, not very smooth). You get only two zoom levels (again, just like Opera Mini) - page overview and zoomed in.
Overall, the performance is not perfect (the start page UI is quite laggy) and we had some issues where instead of opening a page, the browser would spit out error 400 "Invalid request".
Despite the Adobe Flash Lite 3.0 support, Nokia Asha 303 web browser doesn’t support Flash. If you want to watch some YouTube stuff you’ll have to rely on the mobile version of the website. Anyway, the lack of Flash is not a big deal, especially for that small screen and the hardware specs.
Organizer and apps
The organizer on the Nokia Asha 303 is well stocked as usual and things have been touch optimized.
The Calendar starts off with the month view – when you press and hold, a bigger number will pop up just above your finger so you can aim easier. When there’s an event on that date, the event description will pop up instead (it’s not visible otherwise, just like in the old S40 version).
Day view is also available, but strangely, week view has gone missing. You have various kinds of events available – reminder, meeting call, birthday, anniversary and memo.
There are Notes and To-Do apps as well.
The alarm app uses the big, touchable numbers, making it easy to set and you can make it go off only on specific days. You can customize the snooze time too, but there’s only one alarm available.
The other organizing functions include a voice recorder with no time limit, a stopwatch and a countdown timer. They have been touch optimized as well, though we wish the countdown timer used the same big numbers as the Alarm clock.
The Nokia Asha 303 touchscreen calculator is brand new but has lost the advanced functionality (you only get the four basic math functions).
The Asha 303 comes with the traditional Converter app as well.
The World clock can tell the time in up to four cities. It offers a long list of supported cities, but there’s no search (so you have to scroll a lot for, say, Washington) and you can’t just tap on the map either.
In the Nokia Asha 303 the Social app is in charge of SNS. It handles Facebook, Twitter, Orkut and Flickr accounts, including several accounts of each type (though only one Facebook and one Twitter account can be connected at a time).
The Facebook section supports most of the communication capabilities of the service. You can view messages and events, friend requests and event invitations. Write on people’s wall and browse their profiles, post photos (either from the Gallery or you can snap a new one on the spot), post status updates, read news feeds and follow groups.
Twitter is an inherently simpler service but the app has plenty of features too. You can update your status, check your @mentions, send direct messages and reply to tweets too. We missed automatic upload of photos though.
S40 doesn’t have multitasking, even in this touch-enabled phase, but you can still receive updates even when you exit the Social app. Put the Social tab on the homescreen and pick a default account and you’re good to go.
The default account is what you see first when you start the app (so if you only have a Facebook account, you don’t have to tap the Facebook tab every time). Also, only the updates from the main account will be visible on the homescreen. You can also set the time to receive new updates – say, from 8:00 to 22:00.