Jan 8, 2013

Nokia Asha 306 Software: Fun, Prudent, Resistive

The Nokia Asha 306's hardware is one of the most modest drop down device I've tried so far, its dead cheap, attractive, fashionable, lightweight and very handy. Its an entry level resistive touch phone best fitted for its price and targeted consumers. To read my full hardware review, CLICK HERE.

Asha Full Touch UI

The phone is one of the earliest Nokia device running the Asha Full Touch User Interface (UI) on top of the Symbian Series 40 Operating System (OS). The new UI brings a new and smarter touch experience incorporating several optimization set-ups, interface commands like side swipes from the menu page, refreshed icons, drop down menu, among others.

Being at the early stage of development, the Asha Full Touch UI still needs a lot of improvements before it could compete with the existing top UI's. Its not as fluid or smooth but fairly comparable enough to the touch responsiveness of Symbian Series 60 version 5 devices and entry level versions of Androids. It  also brings with it Symbian 60's stability and simplicity like no other.

The Asha 306 make use of resistive touch technology mechanized by a 1Ghz processor. Being resistive, point pressure is needed in order for touch commands to register and this is where I find it fiddly as users needs to control the touch pressure in doing swipe gestures and in opening of apps. Heavy short touch opens the apps being pointed to, while a flick would allow the swipe command. Overall, the system really needs time to get use to.

Another drawback of the Asha Full Touch UI is the absence of multitasking support. Users need to close currently running application in order to use another. This doesn't apply though to the music player since it can be played in the background while using other features.


The Asha Touch UI had no working Homescreen, swiping the unlock screen left to right or vice versa, brings out the Menu page directly. To compensate with such absence, Nokia fully developed the Menu page which is now feature and command rich. The Menu is very much typical by design being icon based arranged in Grids just like the rest of the competing systems except Windows Phones, but its side swipe commands differentiates it from the rest bringing out a shortcut page when swipe left to right and an application page when swipe right to left. The shortcut page had almost similar function to that of a typical Homescreen where users can add icons and widgets while the application page by default bring out the dialer but can be modified to all available apps. I prefer Nokia Social on application page being socially adept.

For the aforementioned widgets, only contacts widget is available for the time being, I would love to see more widgets for important apps here in the future.

A drop down menu is also added bringing up shortcuts to Data, WIFI, Bluetooth, Music Player, Call and Messaging features. This also has notification features for received SMS or missed calls. The drop down menu can be access anytime and in all open application.

Call and Messaging

Contacts is one of Nokia's greatest forte, its simple yet feature-rich that users could add any possible information's on it. Image could be added on a contact, postal or email address, birthday, nickname, among the rest of the possibly needed entry. Pressing one of the contacts displays the following options; call, message, email and go to web. The latter will allow users to search information online about the contacts saved webpage data.

Messaging on the other hand is amiss. Though its messaging system is simple and very much capable, the smallish screen pose a big problem when it comes to virtual QWERTY in portrait mode, the buttons are to narrow that its difficult to write messages. It though had other writing options like the classic T9 buttons of the virtual QWERTY in landscape mode but the T9 would defy the purpose of having a touchscreen device while the landscape mode is quirky to use. SWYPE could be developed here to address the problem, Nokia had it on Nokia Belle devices, all they need to do is port it.

The inbox by default shows a conversations mode but can change to folder mode in the options. Messaging options is wide range, users could send SMS, MMS, audio, video among others.

Web and Email

Nokia created the cloud-based Xpress Browser which is said to provide a higher speed and more affordable access to the Internet through its compression capability of up to 90% per page. It's very capable indeed in rendering full web pages and navigable enough but the compression takes time making page rendering rather long.

Nokia Email on the other hand works ideally on the phone. Users can add any email accounts on it from different networks like Yahoo, Gmail, Ovi, etc., and it can support multiple accounts. It also supports push eMail. I like this application a lot since it combines all my email accounts into one.

Nokia recognized the growing trend of web connectivity towards social networks and so they created a fully configured applications dedicated for such, the Nokia Social and Nokia Chat. Nokia Social allows users to connect to Twitter, Facebook, Orkut and Flickr under one Social account, all if which are accessible at the same time. Users don't need to log-in or log-out to these social network sites every time they'll used one or another. I actually find this very useful being a Twitter fanatic, my only problem with this app is its sluggish interface and limited functionality. Nokia Chat on the other hand combines all chat networks into one Chat account but unlike Social supporting only 4 social sites, this app supports every possible chat sites from Yahoo@ Chat, Google Talk, Facebook, Ovi Chat, Windows Live Messenger, MySpce IM, etc.

Users can make fully make use of all these internet features and functions via its built-in WIFI or through HSDPA, EDGE or GPRS.

Music and Radio

Nokia made a massive improvement in the music player on the new Asha Full Touch UI. One of its prominent features is its added ability to adjust sound equalizers, preset or not, a setting that is missing on early Series 40 devices. Other improvements includes its ability to shuffle songs and repeat songs and the re-sizing of its album image, taking majority of the music player's space. The phone could play MP3, WAV, WMA and AAC files.

Its inability to copy playlist from the Nokia Suite is one of the drawbacks of the UI. Users will need to manually create playlists and add or remove songs on it. This could be change though in the upcoming updates, all they needs to do is add Asha music support to the current Nokia suite.

Radio player is casual, its capable of detecting and playing stereo FM stations with an added RDS support. Finding and saving these stations is just a few press away but like any other mobilephones in the market at the moment, it wont work without a headset.


The phone had a wide range of video support codecs. It can play MP4, H.264, H.263, WMV player and believe it or not, DivX and Xvid files. With its widescreen, watching videos and movies on the phone is a pleasure, though it needs more optimization features like the ability to increase brightness and contrasts, audio to video syncs among others.

Camera and Photo

The phone's 2MP camera take casual images best preferably under good lighting conditions. Casual images that were good enough for Twitter of Faebook. Camera features were rather limited, its only fixed focus with few camera perks.

Camcorder is capable of capturing VGA of up to 10 frames per second.


One of the main selling point of the phone is its Gaming features, not only that it offers full games like Memorize, High Roller Casino, Solitaire, Music Guess, Golf Tour, Picture Puzzle and Maze but also 40 premium games made by Electronic Arts, most of which, very popular. Users can download these free games within 60 days; Monopoly Here and Now, Need for Speed The Run, Tetris, SimCity Deluxe, Bejeweled, The Sims Medieval, Marble Madness, Need for Speed Shift, Worms 2010, Chuzzle, RISK, The Sims 3, Bejeweled Twist, SimCity Metropolis, 12x1 Solitaire, Hard Rock Casino Collection, The Game of Life, CONNECT 4 & Battleship, Peggle, Need for Speed Undercover, Mystery Mania, Tetris POP, Fifa World Cup 2010, Jewel Quest III, Spore Creatures, The Sims 2 Castaway, Medal of Honor, CLUEDO, Spore Origins, DOWNTOWN TEXAS HOLDEM, Monopoly Deal, Sims 2 Pets, Tetris Revolution, The Sims 3 Ambitions, The Sims 3 World Adventure, My Sims, Face Breaker, Zuma Revenge, EA Cricket 11 and finally EA SPORTS FIFA 12.

Beat that! It will take you some time to finish them all!

Nokia Store

If 40 free premium games, and pre-installed apps is not enough, users can access Nokia Store anytime to download 50,000 of them raging from productivity apps, personalization, music, games and more.

I've been using Nokia Store for quite sometime now and I think I've only downloaded 100 apps all in all.

Concluding Thoughts

The Nokia Asha 306 is the first attempt of Nokia to bring the Asha Full Touch touch interface down to the lowest segment and for the quick thought, they made a pretty modest job so far, the Nokia Asha 306 came out as a very competitive entry level device.

The phone is very much decent hardware-wise but needs improvement on the software side of things. Knowing these shortcomings on their software, Nokia added a bunch of gaming feature to compensate, and its not just any other games, but premium games which is equivalent to the phones price when brought individually. On this phone, the value that user could enjoy is double the phones price, very worthy enough to be among the desirable entry level phones.

Though very much commendable, I still would advice people to consider the Nokia Asha 309 instead of this. The phone offers similar specs and features, including the Free 40 EA games, except that it offers capacitive touch instead of resistive. Capacitive touch would mean better gaming experience and smoother overall navigation. Price difference is also subtle, only $10 more or less, separates both so it doesn't matter much.


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