So, there goes another basic package from the Finns, which should be no surprise for anyone familiar with the Asha lineup. The Nokia Asha 308 slides between the most basic offerings and the Asha 311 the experience has been significantly improved.
At first glance, it's the typical entry-level handset: an nicely executed dual-SIM solution and plenty of compromise elsewhere. Yet, the capacitive screen and double the amount of RAM over the Asha 305 are easily felt and bring the user experience up a notch. Who would've thought that 32MB of extra RAM would make such a big difference? The jerky scrolling and laggy overall response of the Asha 305 have been sorted.
What it means is the Asha Touch interface can be fully appreciated - from the swipeable three-homescreen setup and the notifications to the smooth inertia scrolling complete with bounce effect. The new Nokia Xpress browser speeds up page loading, there's a reasonable email client on board, social network integration and a proper app store.
The biggest omission is a faster Internet connection through either Wi-Fi or 3G but that's how Nokia have been doing things for a while now.
Like the Asha 305 before it, the Asha 308 has a single-SIM twin, Asha 309, which is equipped with a WLAN radio. These are the only things that sets the two phones apart - and we should note that the single-SIM Asha 309 costs a little less.
The key feature of the Asha 308 is dual-SIM telephony and we've found the Nokia solution to be better in some ways than even smartphones. And we don't just mean the hardware (hot-swappable SIM slot), the SIM manager app is superbly efficient and there are even quick toggles in the pull-down notification area.
In terms of potential smart competitors, the Samsung Galaxy Y Duos is the most likely pick, being one of the cheapest droids you can get. It comes with a QVGA capacitive touchscreen, a 3MP camera and Android 2.3 Gingerbread. It has better connectivity options including 3G with HSDPA, Wi-Fi with hotspot capabilities and GPS. If dual-SIM telephony is your top priority though, the better battery backup and SIM handling are points in favor of the Nokia Asha 308.
By the looks of it, entry-level smartphones with dual-SIM support are the biggest threat to the Nokia Asha 308, but the good news is there's very few of them (from reputable makers anyway) that come close to the Finn's price. Some people may be less than impressed with how hard the Asha 308 is trying to emulate smartphones. Others will appreciate the fact that this little dumbphone isn't afraid of doing things their way. Nokia is clearly targeting the latter and we don't see why the Asha 308 wouldn't get a warm reception.