Nokia Asha 210 is clearly targeting heavy texters and IM junkies with its physical portrait QWERTY, WiFi and WhatsApp integration deep in the contact book. It also has the Nokia Slam feature for sharing images and videos via Bluetooth without having to pair first. Will these be enough to attract the teen crowd, where the candy colors of the Asha 210 seem targeted at?
Nokia Asha 210 is a rather boxy 0.46” (11.8 mm) portrait QWERTY handset which lies pretty well in the hand, and whose set of keys is pretty clicky and fast to master, unless you have larger digits that cover two or even three letters at once. The space bar doubles as an on/off Wi-Fi switch upon long press, and the symbol key on its left does the same for Bluetooth.
Besides the usual call, end and two context keys, navigation is done via a large home button in the middle with an eliptical trackpad around it for navigation in the menus. Nokia added two dedicated quick launch keys, too, one for your social needs that can be programmed to launch the Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter or simply the browser, and the other for camera access. All the keys are with good tactile feedback and easy to feel and press.
The dual SIM version of the Asha 210 has a hot-swap slot on the left side that takes regular cards, and is covered with a protective flap in the same color as the phone’s candy chassis, as it comes in a pink, yellow, white and blue colors. The default SIM card slot is under the battery, again a regular size, and there’s a microSD slot there as well for storage expansion, stuffed with a 2 GB piece out of the box.
The build quality of the Nokia Asha 210 feels pretty sturdy, with no creaks or gaping crevices, even on the back where the easy to pry open back cover is snapped into place. Granted, the handset is rather thick and squarish, but the design is kinda cute and the plastic is of a pretty pleasant to hold quality for the price point.
A basic 2.4” 320×240 pixels screen is what Nokia has chosen for the Asha 210, and its 169ppi density make the new Series 40 UI appear somewhat pixelated even at that small diagonal. The display is otherwise sufficiently bright, with a tad subdued colors and with decent vertical viewing angles The horizontal ones are pretty bad, though, which will keep you from prying eyes in the metro train at least.
The new Series 40 UI for non-touch Ashas is verry simple. The icons are very Symbian-like and there is a shortcut row at the bottom for quick access to your most used application.
Above them the Asha 210 sports widgets for rapid firing of the music and radio apps, and the dual SIM version we have adds another widget at the top, which gives you the signal status of both SIM cards, and from where you can call the SIM Manager app that lets you control which one to use for calls, texts, data and so on by default. The SIM card is hot-swappable, meaning that you don’t have to turn off the device first, as the phone immediately connects to the second line upon insertion.
The Asha 210 feels pretty slow with a basic ARM11 processor of undisclosed frequency, and just 32 MB of RAM, despite that the Series 40 UI is not graphically intensive. Going in and out of apps or simply strolling through menus takes quite a bit for modern standards. There is a 2 GB microSD card for storing your pics, videos and files by default and you can always add another, for up to 32 GB of storage.
The Nokia Xpress Browser precaches the pages on Nokia’s servers and streams optimized content to you, saving you a lot on data traffic. That’s similar to the Opera Mobile concept, but on the 2.4” screen you’d be hard pressed to stay in the browser longer than needed for a quick reference or just for watching low-quality YouTube vids.
The Asha 210 sports a simple 2G connectivity, so the addition of Wi-Fi is a huge plus. It also sports Bluetooth and FM radio through the connected headphones serving as the antenna. There’s no GPS, though, so that Nokia Maps navigation thingy needn’t apply here.
The 2 MP shooter on the back of the Asha 210 lacks a flash and can only shoot very low resolution 176×144 (QCIF) videos that are good for nothing. It is pretty quick to focus and snap, but saving the photo takes a while afterwards, so shot-to-shot time is about 4-5 seconds at least. There are a couple of effects you can apply on your shoots, and that’s about it.
The pictures actually look fine for the expected camera quality. Granted, the reds are somewhat off, and there’s plenty of noise, but detail is enough for a 2 MP shooter and the phone gets high dynamic range scenes right most of the time, plus there are no white balance issues.
Nokia cites the 1200 mAh battery of the Asha 210 as good for 12 hours of talk time, and, given that it only has to maintain a frugal 2G connection, the figure should be pretty close. When you insert two active SIM cards, though, and two network connections have to be maintained, these talk and standby times are likely to diminish.
The Nokia Asha 210 goes for around $72 without a contract subsidy, so for that price you can’t really ask for more than its good call quality, decent picture-taking and cool exterior. It is rather slow, though, and the dedicated messaging features and the whole Series 40 apps quality comes in rather gimmicky.
For this kind of money you can’t really get even a low-end Android, though we’d recommend splurging a bit more for one given the features tradeoff, but you can look at the touchscreen-equipped Ashas like 310, as at least you’ll have more screen real estate to work with. If you are nostalgic for portrait QWERTYs, though, the Asha 210 is a quite cutsy and ultra affordable representative.
Nokia Asha 210 spec:
Display Type: QWERTY
Screen Size: 2.4 inches
Sim:Dual SIM (Mini-SIM)
WiFi: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
Internal Memory: 64 MB, 32 MB RAM
Card Slot: microSD, up to 32 GB
Camera: 2 MP, 1600×1200 pixels
Front Camera: No
Battery: Li-Ion 1200 mAh battery (BL-4U)