It might not be as exciting as Nokia's new high-end Windows Phone smart phones, but the Nokia Asha 300 is still worth talking about, because it's going to be really cheap. We suspect it will cost roughly £75, and we've heard that it's heading for the UK sometime early next year.
The Asha 300 doesn't offer a great deal in terms of looks. In fact it's a pretty basic blower -- there's a touchscreen sat above an alphanumeric keypad, and that's about it. The bottom of the phone is rounded, and it looks reasonably classy.
The keys themselves are pleasingly spaced out, so you shouldn't have too much trouble tapping out texts, and if you're used to typing on this kind of keyboard then you'll probably be rattling out messages really quickly in no time.
At 12.7mm thick, the Asha 300 isn't the slimmest phone we've ever encountered, but you'd hardly call it bulky -- this blower will slide into your jeans pocket or handbag with no complaint. It weighs a mere 85g too, so you'll hardly notice you're carrying it.
The Nokia website lists the Asha 300 as coming in red and grey versions, though the one we tested had a white back. We don't know which colour options will make it to the UK however.
The 2.4-inch screen is large and clear, but we have one serious gripe -- this is a resistive touchscreen, not a capacitive one. Resistive touchscreens don't feel as slick as their capacitive brothers, and it means that navigating the Asha 300's interface will feel a lot less smooth than a touchscreen on a more luxurious smart phone.
That resistive screen will definitely count against this mobile, as these days you can get quite cheap phones with more respectable capacitive screens, such as the Orange Monte Carlo.
Processor and software
Something that's a little more up-to-date is a 1GHz processor, that should make this phone move like a fighter jet. We didn't get much chance during our brief hands-on to really test its speed capabilities, but hopefully it will make things like Web browsing or opening apps quite rapid.
It's worth noting though that the Asha 300 isn't really built for downloading stuff -- if you're after a phone to fill with apps and downloadable games, you'll be better off with a cheap Android mobile (again the Monte Carlo springs to mind) than with the Series 40 platform that's running on the Asha 300.
On the other hand, if you're already used to Nokia's Series 40 operating system, and the idea of getting to grips with a whole new load of software gives you a headache, then the Asha 300 becomes a more tempting offer.
A very pleasant surprise is a 5-megapixel camera residing around the back of the Asha 300. We'd be surprised if this snapper was able to grab prize-winning shots, but for simply snapping a few piccies when you're out with your friends, it should get the job done.
There's not a great deal of memory on board for storing photos once you've snapped them -- there's only 140MB of internal storage here. You can extend it up to 32GB using a microSD card, but annoyingly Nokia doesn't appear to be putting one in the box. That means a trip to Maplins, and a bit more cash if you want to put a decent amount of photos or music on this phone.
Angry Birds Lite comes pre-loaded on to the Asha 300 for a spot of gaming while you're on the bus. It's not the full version of the game, which is a shame, and as we mentioned above there's not a huge amount of potential for filling this phone with other games.
The Nokia Asha 300 isn't revolutionary, but if you're in the market for a cheap, simple phone then it could be one to watch. The inclusion of a 5-megapixel camera is a definite plus, but the resistive touchscreen means it could prove fiddly to use. Stay tuned for the full review.