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Main » 2012 » April » 1 » Nokia Asha 201 review
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Nokia Asha 201 review

Nokia might be pushing at the high end of the smartphone world with its Lumia 800 and Lumia 710, but the company also has a budget series, Asha. The Nokia Asha 201 is designed for the chatterbox.

And costing around £65 SIM-free it sounds like a steal, with its QWERTY keyboard just crying out to be typed on. Our sample came from Vodafone, which sells it for the even cheaper UK price of £45 on pay as you go.

At that price you clearly have to expect some less than stunning specifications. Probably the lack of 3G and Wi-Fi will put many people off immediately. And then there's the small screen (320 x 240 pixels), and the rather old hat Symbian S40 operating system that holds everything together.

Nokia asha 201 review

But that low price beckons, and there's a quoted seven hours of 2G talk time from the battery to lure you too. You've got various colours to choose between depending on where you buy from, with eye-watering shades of green, blue, pink and orange all in the mix as well as more standard, and less frightening black and white.

Nokia asha 201 review

The Nokia Asha 201 is a smallish handset considering it totes a mini QWERTY hard keyboard, and light too, thanks to its plastic shell. At 105g and measuring 115.4 x 61.1 x 14mm, it's a good size and weight for small hands and pockets. We bet that youngsters are high on its target list.

Nokia asha 201 review

The build is reasonable, but not outstanding. The plastic feels solid enough, but on our white sample we could see the join between the pearlescent white backplate and the edges of the phone, which we found irritating.

Nokia asha 201 review

There's a microSD card slot on the right edge, under a hinged cover. You'll need to use this to boost the 10MB of built-in storage. Other than that, all the ports and connectors are on the top, with the bottom and left edges clear.

Nokia asha 201 review

So, the top edge has headphones connector, USB port and a connector for the tiny round pin Nokia mains charger. No, you can't charge over USB.

Nokia asha 201 review

There's no volume rocker or shortcut button for the 2MP camera. Meanwhile, the front of the Nokia Asha 201 houses a physical mini QWERTY keyboard and a nice arrangement of buttons.

Nokia asha 201 review

The central D-pad has a ring where the top and bottom edges move you through the main screen (it's not a touchscreen), while a press on the right edge takes you to the calendar, on the left edge to messaging.

Nokia asha 201 review

Two soft menu buttons offer various changing functions, and there are two shortcuts, one to the web (via Opera Mini), and one marked up for messages but which you can customise. There are also Call and End buttons. It's nothing special, but it is all quite neat.

Nokia asha 201 review

Nokia asha 201 review

The Nokia Asha 201 runs on Symbian S40, albeit a tweaked version. This is an old, old, old operating system that's been beefed up to look and feel modern.

And it does have its good points, but don't for a moment be fooled into thinking it is a bells and whistles smartphone operating system. This is what we call 'feature phone plus' territory.

The single home screen looks quite attractive with its favourite contacts, social media and app shortcuts all lined up.

Nokia asha 201 review

And you can configure how it looks, too, deciding what you'd like to have displayed on the home screen. But doing so is a bit of a faff. We had to walk through five screens to get to the one where we could personalise the home screen view.

Nokia asha 201 review

This being a Series 40 handset, the Asha 201 has a rather old fashioned Nokia look and feel once you get beyond the home screen. Hit the Menu button and you are into an icon driven-area with a very Nokia-esque look.

Nokia asha 201 review

Elsewhere there are other shades of old fashioned Series 40. On the main screen, for example, hit the left softmenu button (marked 'Go to'), and you can then scroll through a number of shortcuts for quick access to them. Well, we say quick, it's a bit tedious tapping away at the D-pad, but if' youre ont used to a touchscreen then you won't find this too much of a hassle.

Contacts are a bit of a bugbear with the Nokia Asha 201. They aren't drawn from your Facebook or Twitter accounts when you sign in, so everyone you know will either need to be on your SIM, entered manually or copied using Bluetooth-based Sync and Backup if you're transferring from another Nokia handset.

Manual contact entry is made easier thanks to the keyboard, but it's still a bit of a pain. You enter a number and name and then save the contact, then have to come out and go back in to add other contact info such as email address, postal address, nickname, birthday and notes.

You can assign contacts as favourites, and these will appear on the home screen with little thumbnail photos if you have assigned them. If you've no photos, hovering the cursor over the generic contact icon will show their name, and you can then choose the one you want to contact.

Nokia asha 201 review

It's quite annoying that contacts are listed by last name then first name. It's a lot more formal than we like.

Making a call is easy enough, but there's no smart dialling support. You can't start tapping out a name or number on the keyboard and then see a list of contacts diminishing as you get close to the one you want.

Nokia asha 201 review

If you do start tapping something out, the handset only recognises numbers, ignoring any letters you press, and even then it doesn't search the contacts themselves to narrow down your selection.

What this means is that when you want to contact someone specific you either have to know their number, have them saved as a favourite for quick access, or trundle through the whole contacts list.

Nokia asha 201 review

Call quality itself is fine, and it is easy to switch to the loudspeaker when you're in a call.

And there's one neat feature we're surprised and pleased to see - you can record calls.

Nokia asha 201 review

The Nokia Asha 201 looks like the kind of handset to suit messaging fans. After all, it has a QWERTY keyboard. And Nokia has integrated social media management with Facebook and Twitter support.

Logging into these accounts, as well as Orkut and Flickr is an easy matter - just choose Social from the main menu and you are at the login screen.

Once you are in, there is a bit of a wait for your account to update itself - this handset has no 3G or Wi-Fi, remember, but you do get a fairly good graphical representation of social accounts and, of course, that keyboard for easily composing your own updates.

Nokia asha 201 review

The screen is a bit small, so you can't see a great deal of anything at once, and it takes a while to scroll through messages, but there are a fair range of options to play with.

Nokia has worked quite hard to integrate social messaging, and while it's not perfect, it isn't too bad either.

Nokia asha 201 review

You can drop feeds into the home screen and view messages by scrolling to the feeds area then using the D-pad ring to move through messages, with the most recent ones first.

Or just hit the centre of the D-pad to get straight into composing your own message.

Nokia asha 201 review

Texting is straightforward. There's a nice conversation view that makes the most of the small screen and you just hit the centre of the D-pad to compose a reply to an incoming message.

Nokia asha 201 review

When you're creating a new message from scratch there's a big window in which to view your composition.

Nokia asha 201 review

Email is dealt with separately from SMS, and you've got a few presets to help make signing in to some accounts easier - Ovi of course, plus Yahoo!, Gmail, Windows Live, BT Internet and Virgin Media. For other accounts you need to go through manual setup.

Nokia asha 201 review

To be honest, with such a small screen, and no 3G or Wi-Fi on board, we'd suggest this isn't the ideal phone for mobile email, despite its keyboard.

The physical keyboard, though, is fairly comfortable to use. The keys are domed and click a little when pressed. There's long-press access to some important symbols such as ! and ?, and the Sym key gives you smileys and other extras in one single grid.

Nokia asha 201 review

But Nokia has made a bit of a design error. It might be different on other coloured versions of the Nokia Asha 201, but on our white review sample, the white backlight behind the keys that kicks in when you hit one of them actually obscured the key markings in some lighting conditions.

It was fine in darker conditions when the backlight shines through really well, but in an unlit indoor room during the day it made the keys difficult to see.

You might know where the QWERTY keys are, but it could take you longer to remember where the symbols are. We found it a real pain

Nokia asha 201 review

With neither Wi-Fi nor 3G built in, and with a screen measuring just 2.4-inches and offering a mere 240 x 320 pixels, web browsing isn't what the Nokia Asha 201 excels at.

Still, Nokia tries, providing both its own browser and Opera Mini. Out of the box the latter is linked to from the apps area, and the former from the home page.

Using Nokia's own browser it wasn't possible to load the full version of the TechRadar home page, so thank goodness for the mobile version. At least the mobile version loaded fairly quickly - just a second or two per page. And it formats well in the screen.

Nokia asha 201 review

Switching over to Opera Mini gave us more scope. Opera Mini comes complete with a range of shortcuts built in.

Nokia asha 201 review

It took Opera Mini 30 seconds to load the full version of the TechRadar home page on the Nokia Asha 201, although you won't be surprised to learn that it was impossible to read anything without zooming.

Nokia asha 201 review

Getting around web pages for reading requires a lot of scrolling and zooming action, and pages in general load slowly.

Nokia asha 201 review

If you fancy streaming video, then you aren't going to be too happy with the Nokia Asha 201. It refused to stream videos from YouTube for us. Nor, perhaps unsurprisingly, was it happy generally streaming embedded video.

Nokia asha 201 review

Really, this isn't a handset for web fans at all - which won't surprise you for the price.

Nokia asha 201 review

With a camera that's capable of shooting stills at just 2MP and that lacks a flash, you can't really expect a great deal by way of capability on the Nokia Asha 201.

And indeed there are limited features, although at least you can get to the features via a single menu accessed using the left softkey.

Nokia asha 201 review

See full res image

CLOSE UP: Fairly close in, on a bright day, this photo looks fine on the handset, though it might not pass muster as your main desktop image.

Nokia asha 201 review

See full res image

NIGHT: At night the camera really struggles, with little ability to cope with low light conditions.

Nokia asha 201 review

See full res image

MOVING: You don't want to shoot a moving subject since there just isn't the shutter speed to cope with it. Fortunately Tiddles held fairly still for us.

Nokia asha 201 review

See full res image

NEGATIVE:You can have a bit of fun with negative shooting mode.

Video

Nokia asha 201 review

Video shooting on the Nokia Asha 201 is limited to a mere 176 x 144 pixels and 10 frames per second, so you really can't expect much of anything at all. Our sample videos show this quite amply.

Category: Vista and 7 Tips and Tricks! | Views: 5588 | Added by: Adamsummer | Rating: 0.0/0
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