Nokia Asha 210

Nokia Asha 210 yellow

In this post we’ll take a closer look at the Nokia Asha 210, a QWERTY mobile phone device that is optimized from the ground up for instant messaging.  It comes with both single SIM and Dual SIM. There is a lot to like about this new phone, and you’ll soon see why this phone will be favorite among instant messaging addicts.

Physical QWERTY Keyboard Phone – For Whom?

The Nokia Asha 210 has a physical QWERTY keypad. Some people might ask themselves who needs a QWERTY keyboard when you already have virtual key Qwerty keyboard on all smartphones these days?

Nokia is not the only company who released QWERTY phones into the market, Samsung, HTC, Sony Ericsson, LG, Motorola, Acer and Huawei, all released mobile phones with QWERTY keyboard, most of them are Android devices. I am pretty sure that Nokia did their homework and found out that many people prefer having a physical/hardware keyboard to a virtual one. The candidate for such a phone would be people who are using the phone to send a lot of messages each day, whether it’s for Facebook, Twitter, writing emails or chatting with friends.

Those who prefer a physical QWERTY keypad find it more convenient, faster and more accurate to type and compose their messages.   Many people find the virtual keyboard lacking the accuracy of a physical keyboard, and even for me it happens a lot of times that I make typos using the Android virtual keyboard. This is more evident when using the phone in a portrait / vertical orientation, due to the lack of sufficient space that separates one key from another. There are many advantages for a virtual / touch keyboard, but when it comes to convenience, there is nothing like typing on a physical keypad.

Nokia Asha 210 runs on a proprietary OS not an Android OS. It’s an affordable entry-level phone, but it is equipped with a few features that makes it unique and separate itself from some cheap Android phones out there.

It’s All about Messaging

Nokia Asha 210 was designed from the ground up to make it easier to send messages. Here are a few unique features that you will certainly like about the Asha 210:

  • Dedicated WhatsApp key – a built-in button to launch WhatApp app in a single click. WhatsApp is  a very popular cross-platform messaging application where you can chat, group chat, share locations, send images, audio and videos without the costs of a SMS or MMS messages. Furthermore, it’s subscription free of the lifetime of the device. Other users need to pay $0.99 USD / year after the first year.
  • Facebook and Twitter ready to go without you needing to install them separately
  • Nokia notifications – when it comes the time to update, you don’t need to visit the app store, the info will be displayed on the screen, easier for you to see
  • Non slippery matte keys, well separated apart
  • Dedicated camera app launch key, plus a unique self-portrait aid feature that helps you take self portrait shots by making sure your face is in the middle of the frame, it does that by using voice commands (ie. left, right, ok)
  • Nokia Slam technology – a new technology used for sharing multimedia content fast using the Bluetooth connectivity. It works with most Bluetooth devices without the need to pair the devices together. You launch it via the menu options, put the two phones together and the other phones needs to accept the file transfer
  • Nokia’s Xpress Browser – utilizes Nokia’s cloud compression technology to compress data and increases page load times
  • Easy swap Dual SIM (on the dual SIM version) – allows you to switch between SIM cards while the device is still active, no need to shut it down
  • Very Low retail price, only $72 (before tax and subsides) – that’s what I call cheap!

As you can see, the Nokia Asha 210 is a low-end phone model, but it employs some unique social features that really make it stand apart from the competition. Those type of phones are referred to as “Social Phones“, those who are aimed towards people who are heavily consumers of social network content and love to share their experiences with other people, whether online of with friends that are physically close to them. The QWERTY keypad was optimized for fast and accurate typing.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the features, so you can really understand how they work.

What is Nokia Slam sharing?

Nokia ‘Slam’ is a new technology that was introduced last year when Nokia launched its Nokia Asha 205 and Nokia 206 phones.  The idea behind this feature is to allows people to easily share multimedia content with people around them. The great thing about this technology that it allows the exchange of data between two Bluetooth-enabled devices without the need to pair the two together. The ‘Slam’ is done once by your Nokia phone (on supported devices) and the data exchange is done against the closest Bluetooth-enabled device.

You initialize the ‘Slam’ feature through the menu first (Options > Send > Slam), put the phone close to another Bluetooth enabled phone (can be an Android phone too). Now the other phone will receive a message that another device wants to exchange information with it you click ‘accept’ and that’s it, the file will be transferred to the second device.

Here’s a video that demonstrates the Nokia Slam sharing feature, you can see how easy it ease to share a photo with a friend. In the video you can see the Nokia Asha 205 (the one with the dedicated Facebook button) connects to a Samsung Galaxy S3 Android device.

How cool is  that?

Here’s another Nokia Slam demo video

It’s very similar to NFC in many way, but it is done using Bluetooth wireless connectivity.  The great thing about this technology is that you don’t have to choose which device to connect to, it was designed to pick up the one that is physically closest to the phone, probably by checking the strength of the radio signal.

Dedicated WhatsApp Key

The Nokia Asha 210 comes with a dedicated physical WhatsApp button, which allows you to launch the WhatsApp app in a single click. WhatsApp is a cross-platform smartphone app which allows you to send text, audio and video messages without the need to do that through SMS or MMS that costs money. This app runs on Android, BlackBerry IS, iOS, Series 40, Symbian and Windows Phone too. It exchanges information by using a customized version of the open standard XMPP protocol. WhatsApp have more than 100 million subscribers. The app is free to use for the first year, and then you need to pay an annual subscription fee of $0.99 USD to continue using the app.

Dedicated whatsapp key

The good news is that with the Nokia Asha 210 you don’t need to pay for it for the life of the device. So as long as you use the WhatsApp on your Nokia Asha 210, you don’t have to be any subscription fees. Furthermore, the WhatsApp is also integrated with the phone’s phonebook built-in app.

No doubt that this phone is aimed towards users that use WhatsApp on a daily basis to exchange textual data and multimedia content.  Facebook users might consider buying the Nokia Asha 205 that has a dedicated Facebook button instead.

Dedicated Camera Key & Voice Assisted Self-portrait Feature

The dedicated camera key is used to quickly launch the camera app. This allows you to capture the moment as it happens, so you can get more great shots that you either wise might have missed. All you need to do is to press and hold the camera key (prevents accidental press) to launch the camera app, even if the phone is locked.

dedicated camera key and self portrait option on Nokia Asha 210

One of the features of this camera is called “Self portrait” which uses a face detection technology and voice guidance to help the person who takes the picture of himself, get his face at the center of the frame. For may current smartphones it’s not necessary because you have a front-facing camera and you can see a streaming video preview of yourself before taking the shot. However, the Nokia Asha 210 doesn’t come with a front-facing camera, but rather a 2MP (1600×1200 pixels) back-facing camera only. So when you take a selfshot image, you won’t be able to see what you are actually shooting, so this selfshot voice aid is pretty neat and useful feature.

Here’ take a look at the next video shot by Ali Al-Qudsi, that will show you how this feature actually work — tested on the Nokia 301, but it will work the same on your Nokia Asha 201 phone.

The camera will disappoint those who love shooting videos. The back-facing camera can only shoot 176×144 pixels videos at 10 frames per second. This camera is certainly not intended to shoot high quality videos, and that is one downside of this device compare to entry-level Android phones like the Intex Aqua SX (4300 INR, approx. $80 USD) and Micromax Bolt A51 (640×480 pixels video recording, 4599 INR, approx. $85 USD) and Huawei Ascend Y210D (VGA@30 fps, approx. $100 USD) and others.

Nokia Xpress Browser

Nokia Xpress Browser was developed by Nokia to provide you fast and cost effective way to browser the web, and it also ease battery consumption. When you browse a web page, what Xpress browser does is retrieve the page from Nokia’s cloud servers, where the web page is compressed and image size is reduced. Xpress browser can compress data by up to 90%. Web pages will load significantly faster and that can certainly save you money if you are browsing the web on a limited bandwidth Internet plan.

Nokia Xpress browser also allows you to keep track on your bandwidth usage, so you can see how much data you consume, so you can know when to consume less bandwidth. This technology is also known as “proxy browser”, because their is a server (or more) sits in between the Internet and your device, allowing such high compression to be made.

  • Compresses data by up to 90 percent
  • Consume less bandwidth of your data plan
  • Save battery charge
  • Get a control over your data usage
  • Easy access to favorite content
  • Elegant and easy-to-use user interface

Nokia Xpress Browser is available on other Asha devices, including the Nokia Asha 305, Nokia Asha 306, Nokia Asha 308, Nokia Asha 309 and Nokia Asha 311.

Other Features included (or not)

  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g (No Wi-Fi hotspot)
  • Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR
  • microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
  • 3.5mm mic jack
  • Loudspeaker
  • 2.4-inch 320×230 TFT 65K colors display (~169 ppi pixel density), 4:3 aspect ratio
  • Weight: 99.5g (3.42 oz)
  • Dimensions: 111.5 x 60 x 11.8 mm
  • 32MB RAM
  • 1200 mAh removable battery (BL-4U) Battery Life: Singe SIM: 46 days standby Dual SIM: 24 days standby 12 hours talk-time on 2G 40 hours of music playback time 14 hours of Wi-Fi netwrok browsing time
  • Available in five colors: yellow, cyan, black, magenta and white
  • USB: USB 2.0, Micro-USB-B
  • No NFC
  • No Wirelss charging
  • Platform: Series 40 Asha
  • Built in Social apps: Facebook, Renren, Kaixin, Twitter, Sina Weibo, WhatsApp
  • Camera sensor size: 1/5″
  • Camera lens 35mm f/2.8, minimum focus range 60 cm
  • No camera flash
  • FM radio
  • What’s in the box: Nokia Asha 210, Nokia Charger AC-11, Nokia Battery BL-4U 1200 mAh, Nokia Stereo Headset WH-102
  • GPS: using Cellular network positioning

Nokia Asha 210 is cheap phone, but one that equipped with some very useful social features. You don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars to enjoy a phone with great social capabilities. If you are a massive WhatsApp user, you’ll love this phone. It’s important to know what features you don’t get with this phone, just to make sure that you are making the right choice. You don’t get NFC, no wireless charging, no camera flash and no Wi-Fi hotspot. Video quality is a joke, so don’t build on making high quality videos with this phone either. The screen is tiny, but certainly usable for reading and writing text messages.

The QWERTY keyboard is one of the key selling point of this device, and it’s built with the highest standards, including relatively large matte beveled keys, which are non slippery and have matte finish — all to allow fast typing of instant messages and emails. According to a poll done by Nokia, more people prefer using a QWERTY keypad over a touch screen for typing text in messages. This is why such QWERTY-based devices still exists at 2012/2013.

The battery life of the phone is excellent and you will love the its social features. Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp apps are bundles with the phone so you won’t have to install them separately. This phone is aimed doe those who cannot afford buying more expensive smartphone devices. If you are a heavy Facebook user and have more to spend on a phone, I recommend checking the HTC First, that is bundled with Facebook home app.

All in all, the Nokia Asha 210 is a great alternative to some cheap Android smartphone devices. There are better options out there for about $20 more, but Nokia made sure that the Asha 210 will have unique features that aren’t on other devices, and hope that the WhatsApp button, dedicated camera button and hardware QWERTY keyboard will appeal to the audience that this phone is aimed for.

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