Nokia might be showing off its high-end Windows Phone mobiles at last, but it hasn't forgotten about the budget blowers. The Nokia Asha 303 is a phone that looks basic, but has a few surprises in store. Better still, if and when it makes it to the UK (we've been told to expect it in the first few months of 2012), it should cost around £100.
We've gone hands-on with the Asha 303, so read on for our first impressions, and be sure to check out our hands-on photos and video in the little box to the top left of these words.
We'd be lying if we said we were blown away by the Asha 303's style. It looks like the Qwerty keyboard that sits beneath the screen is meant to slide out, but in fact it's fixed in place. On the back there's an area with a brushed-metal effect, and the top and bottom of this phone feature gentle curves.
The Asha 303 feels light -- it only weighs 99g, so it's no hassle to lug this phone around with you. It's not massively slim, measuring 13.9mm thick, but we reckon it's easily thin enough to squeeze into your pockets.
We didn't get very much time to test the full Qwerty keyboard lurking underneath the screen, but we did note that there's no gap between each individual key, so that might lead to the occasional slip up when you're typing quickly. On the other hand, we're pleased to see that the space bar is really big -- nothing grinds our gears like a fiddly little space key.
There's a touchscreen on board that measures 2.6 inches on the diagonal. Happily it's of the capacitive variety rather than the less classy resistive type, so very light touches will trigger on-screen actions.
The Asha 303 is coming in black and grey versions, though we don't know which will make it to the UK.
The Asha 303 comes pre-loaded with Angry Birds Lite, a smaller version of Rovio's hugely popular bird-flinging mobile game. It's a bit disappointing that you don't get the full game, but on the plus side, in our brief hands-on time we were impressed with how smoothly the game itself ran.
That's on account of the 1GHz processor that's powering the Asha 303. That's a potent chip, and while this phone isn't really built for downloading intensive games or watching movies, it does mean that navigating around menus and inputting text should be snappy.
Speaking of snappy, there's a 3.2-megapixel camera around the back of the Asha 303. That's not a particularly high resolution, especially when compared with lofty mobiles such as the iPhone 4S or Samsung Galaxy S2 with their 8-megapixel cameras. Still, it will probably serve for snapping basic photos while you're out with your mates.
Internal storage is rather low at just 100MB, but you can beef it up using a microSD card. Up to 32GB is supported, and a 2GB card comes in the box.
The Asha 303 is running on Nokia's Series 40 platform. It's reasonably easy to navigate, and if you've used a Series 40 phone before, this will feel familiar.
The downside however is that this platform isn't really built for downloading apps. So if you're looking for a phone that you can use to play loads of games and download a tonne of apps, you'd be better of looking at a cheap Android phone like the rather nifty Orange Monte Carlo.
The Asha 303 looks like a solid basic mobile. Nothing about it particularly impressed us, though for what's bound to be a low price tag, it's good to see a capacitive touchscreen. We'll be testing out how easy it is to rattle out messages on that Qwerty keyboard when it comes time for the full review.
In the meantime, point your peepers at the Orange Monte Carlo, another cheap phone that's good if you fancy dipping your toe into the Android waters.