Nokia has launched three new good-looking, mid-range 'almost smart' phones priced in the Rs 4,200-6,300 range.
The phones -- Asha 305, 306 and 311 -- are, unfortunately, no great leap forward, either for Nokia or for consumers who are in the market for an affordable, mid-range smartphone. The new phones are essentially an upgrade to Nokia's own C2 series.
The phones are comparable to those offered by Samsung, but fail to meet the specifications offered by Indian brands such as Micromax, Lava and Spice in the Rs 4,000-5,500 price range.
The biggest gripe is with lack of 3G on the cheaper models.
The Asha 305 and 306 are both 2G (edge) phones, while the Asha 311, costing about Rs 6,300 according to initial indications, has 3.5 G. All of them are built on the S40 platform and applications from Nokia's mobile store, and Java applications, can be installed.
All three have 3 inch displays. The 305 and 306 have 400*240 pixel displays while the 311 has a coarser 320*240 pixel display. The more expensive model, 311, has a 1 GHz processor.
The 305 looks like it is designed with the Indian market in mind. Both the 305 and 306 have nearly the same specifications, except that the 305 is cheaper by about Rs 350 and has dual-SIM support. The other two are single-SIM phones.
They are all full-touch phones and are aimed purely and squarely at the people who now buy Samsung, Micromax and Spice phones.
However, Nokia is unlikely to find much success if the phones are going to compete with Samsung and other phones, especially at the (euro converted) price ranges.
For example, you can buy a 3G-enabled full smart (as different from 'half' smart) phone from Micromax, the Ninja A50, for Rs 5,000. The Micromax phone, despite costing about Rs 1,300 less than the comparable Asha 311, has a 3.1 inch display, supports dual-SIM and runs Android.
Similarly, the Lava S12, priced at Rs 5,400, also offers better specifications such as Android, a 5 megapixel camera and a 3.2 inch display.
The Samsung S3770 too, at Rs 5,000, is cheaper than the Nokia Asha 311, despite offering similar features. However, the Samsung model has a 2.8 inch display, compared to the 3-inchers on the Asha series.
Interestingly, if priced at Rs 6,300, the Asha 311 will find it difficult to even face competition even from older Nokia models such as Nokia C5-05. The Nokia C5-05 has a 3.2 inch display (compared to 3 inches on the new models) and supports a full 'smart' operating system, the Symbian series 60.