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Nokia Asha - comes with birds

GLOBAL – It’s true that I’m probably the least techie person on the Conversations team. When it comes to devices, don’t wow me with hardware – just tell me what it can do. 

So while everyone else got loved-up with the new Nokia Lumia at Nokia World, I got the chance to get to know the Nokia Asha range. 

The Nokia Asha phones are designed for emerging markets. As someone who travels a lot in Africa and India, I liked the lightweight handsets. It would be nice to travel without feeling that you’re nervously guarding a fragile cut-glass prima-donna in your pocket – and now I can.

The first step in my 24 hours with a Nokia Asha was turning it on. For this I enlisted the help of Adam who sits next to me in the office and only ever sighs slightly when I interrupt his concentration every two minutes with another inane technology question. (Full disclosure: Not every phone comes with an ‘Adam’ tool).

I admit – it was easy, and so was everything else I did on the Asha.  

I borrowed the top of the range Nokia Asha 303. Its size and shape were impressive and it felt both businesslike and fashionable. 

Nokia Asha keys

I’d never actually used a phone with a QWERTY keyboard before, but I was won over the moment I started writing emails and texts. (This may not be very techie – but they’re lovely rounded little red keys…)  

The Nokia Asha 303 combines a QWERTY keyboard with a touchscreen, and for me these worked together seamlessly and intuitively. Sometimes the keyboard is quicker (e.g. for typing emails) and sometimes the screen makes most sense (e.g. for navigating menus).

I set up my three email accounts straight away, and then kept them on the home screen. No complications.    

Then I added my phone numbers, and marked the favorites for the homescreen. I used the photo editing tool to attach photos to some of them, and I even added a little heart frame for one, but I’m not telling you who that was (It was Ian, our Editor – just kidding). 

With the really important things out of the way I explored the other things that you can do with a Nokia Asha. You can use Facebook and Twitter. You can use Nokia Maps, without GPS, which is a big bonus. It’s not just about working out your route, but letting you discover the world. You can surf the web and use WiFi – and although it’s not the same experience you have with a fully-fledged smartphone, millions of people are going to find it a pretty amazing addition to their lives. The specially designed browser is fast even over a 2G connection. You can download songs from Nokia Music, and take photos with a 3.2-megapixel camera – and, on some phones, edit and color correct them. 

It was a faultless experience. 

For the grand finale I played Angry Birds, which comes preloaded on the Nokia Asha 303 and 300 phones. It was as good as playing the game on any smartphone – and the sound effects were just as annoying.