With budget Android handsets now available for as little as £70 on Pay As You Go, is anyone really interested in cheap as chips, non-Android smartphones? Nokia certainly seems to think so, as this is exactly the type of handset that the Nokia Asha 311 will be competing against for your attention.
Like all of the phones in Nokia's Asha range the 311 runs on the company's Series 40 operating system. Unlike its Symbian siblings, however, the Nokia Asha 311eschews the keypads and keyboards found on most Asha models in favour of a touchscreen interface that dominates the phone's front panel. The question is, can a Series 40 powered phone really deliver an experience that rivals what you get on budget Android phones?
Despite its 3.0-inch display lining up considerably smaller than many of the latest Android or Windows Phone handsets on the market, the Asha 311 looks pretty much like any other touchscreen smartphone when you take it out of the box. Beneath the touchscreen there are just two buttons that are used for call handling as well as moving through the menus. The red hang up button doubles up as the back button, for example. The right hand edge of the phone is also home to a volume rocker switch as well as a lock button, and that's your lot as far as physical controls are concerned. All other aspects of the phone are controlled via its capacitive touchscreen.
Naturally the Nokia Asha 311 has a standard headphone jack which is sensibly placed on the top edge, and here you'll also find both the microUSB port and Nokia's mini charging socket. The charger that comes in the box uses this mini charging port, but the phone can also be charged via its microUSB port if required.
The body of the Nokia Asha 311 is made entire from plastic and lacks the premium feel of Nokia's high end models such as the Windows Phone filled Nokia Lumia 800. However, the chassis doesn’t really twist or flex much when you apply pressure to it and overall it comes across as being quite sturdy when you hold it in your hand. It's not the most stylish looking handset Nokia has produced, but the combination of its smaller size and the curved battery cover on the rear make it feel very comfortable to hold.
Processor and Memory
Powered by the same 1GHz Arm 11 chip used within the recently reviewed Nokia Asha 302, the Nokia Asha 311 has 128MB of RAM to play with alongside 256MB of ROM, of which around 120MB is free for you to use. Although playing host to a fairly limited amount of internal storage, the Nokia Asha 311, like many of its rivals can be expanded through the use of the integrated microSD Card slot. The budget handset accepts cards up to 32GB in size.
Sadly, and slightly annoying, in a design faux pas, the microSD card slot sits under the battery so you have to remove the battery to swap cards. On the plus side, Nokia includes a 2GB card as part of the package, giving you a decent amount of space to store your music tracks, photos and videos clips. On the connectivity front it supports 3G as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but sadly GPS doesn't make an appearance.