Nokia Asha 303 review: Type smarter

GSMArena team, 4 January 2012.
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Tags: Nokia, S40, Touch UI

S40 Nokia Store is where the apps are

You can browse the apps available in the Nokia Store by categories – Applications, Games, Audio and Video content, Personalization; or by collections.

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Ovi Store for S40 with a new UI for the touch version

Your account profile keeps track of all the apps you have installed under My stuff. You can now also select where games and apps should be installed and where audio and video should go. That’s nice – we wish Android had that right from the start.

There are plenty of apps and games there, a lot of them free. They are still behind the big players in the app store game, but for a featurephone having an app store at all is more than we expected.

Nokia Asha 300 and 303 owners have an exclusive game waiting for them in the Nokia Store - Angry Birds. It costs €1 and features everything the iOS or Android versions have. The game runs smoothly on the Asha 303, so no worries here. There is a free demo version pre-installed on the Asha 303 too.

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Angry Birds on Asha 303

Nokia Maps can do little

The Nokia Asha 303 doesn’t have a GPS receiver but Nokia Maps can use Cell-ID to get your approximate location. The app doesn’t feature voice-guided navigation anyway and can only plan pedestrian routes.

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Simplified Nokia Maps for S40

So, even if you hook up a Bluetooth GPS receiver to the Nokia Asha 303 it still won't function as a car SatNav. There's no option for a paid upgrade either.

Maps are downloaded through your data connection, which is something else to keep in mind.

It's a nice bonus for such a low-level device, but including it probably had more to do with not using Google's solution than providing a good mapping solution.

Final words

The Nokia 303 Asha is not a particularly hard one to recommend. In fact, if you want a full-featured messenger without the complications of a smartphone, the Asha 303 should be among the first things on you list to check out.

Entry level messengers go all the way back to the likes of the LG GW300 and the Samsung Ch@t. Nokia have a couple of prime examples of their own in the C3 and the X2-01.

LG GW300 Samsung Ch@t 322 Nokia C3 Nokia X2-01
LG GW300 • Samsung Ch@t 322 • Nokia C3 • Nokia X2-01

It’s the combination of a touchscreen and a QWERTY keyboard in a feature phone package that sends the Nokia Asha 303 to a niche that’s virtually free of competition. The Motorola Motokey Social looks a pretty close match at least on paper but we’re yet to see it in real action.

Motorola Motokey Social
Motorola Motokey Social

Surely you can get a droid for around the same kind of cash. But it will be a compromise like the aging Xperia X10 mini pro. To be fair though, a smartphone is probably not an option for anyone looking at the Asha 303.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini pro
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini pro

The Asha 303 is the first S40 phone to combine a touchscreen and a full QWERTY keyboard. It’s the first capacitive screen for the platform too. Of course, the resolution is nothing to be excited about – S40 have been stuck at the QVGA notch for ever. But the Asha 303 is trying hard to make up for that with plenty of new skill.

So much of it that the Nokia Asha 303 isn’t quite the entry-level phone that we make it out to be. It’s actually way ahead of the cheap alternatives in the Asha series. The Asha 201 and the dual-SIM Asha 200 are the most basic of QWERTY messengers with regular non-touch displays and just the simplest of features.

Nokia Asha 201 Nokia Asha 200
Nokia Asha 201 • Nokia Asha 200

In a way, the Asha 303 is dangerously close to smartphones. On the other hand, it’s a great opportunity for many potential upgraders, who’re not ready yet to cross that line for one reason or another.

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