Asha is the reason Nokia remains profitable and recent additions to the series somewhat weaved a clear picture why the handsets, mostly powered by Nokia's antiquated S40 Symbian platform, were snapped up by close to seven million global consumers as of September 2012.
Fronting the series is the Asha 311, which is the Finnish firm's answer to hit entry-level phones such as Samsung's Galaxy Pocket and Galaxy Y, though the 311 is far from being a full-pledged smartphone.
Tech reviews regard this Asha touch phone as a boosted feature phone that gives users, especially those reluctant to pay too much on their communication tools, the general feel of a smartphone but stripped-down in big ways.
It has a solid build and offers functions that allow users almost unimpeded access to their social media accounts plus amusement servings on the side, courtesy of 40 free mobile games from Electronic Arts.
Like all its Asha siblings, the 311 is not an Android phone so Nokia deploys the apps via its Ovi Store. CNET lauded this Asha's capacitive touch Gorilla screen for being the most user-friendly S40 device so far from Nokia despite the annoying bloat of the Symbian mobile OS that remains bugging the handset.
The Asha 311 represents a decent try on Nokia's part to please consumers with an affordable handsets minus all the intricacies that normally attend today's crops of high-end smartphones such as Apple's iPhone 5, Samsung's Galaxy S3 and even Nokia's own Lumia 920, CNET said.
But the overall technology ported with the 311, the tech site lamented, "just isn't a serious competitor to all the slick budget Androids."
That technology includes a 1GHz processor, sufficient internal memory and expansion options and VGA 3-inch screen and camera - features that are all stripped down in the new Asha 205 that Nokia said will be in selected global markets by Q4 2012.
This is a QWERTY phone that Nokia markets as the closest that users can get to a so-called Facebook phone, owing to the handset's exclusive Facebook button that opens the gateway for any information regarding the hugely popular social networking site.
Clearly, Nokia's intention for the 205 is for social media fans to keep abreast with the latest buzz from the networking world on-the-go and minus the great cost. Hopefully too, Nokia is banking on the possibility that a sizeable fraction of the more than one billion Facebook active users would find it wise to tap into their accounts as cheap as possible.
Nokia believes the Asha 205 is almost a steal at a base price of $US62, which comes with all the packages earlier attributed with the Asha series plus some new features - Slam for instance, that makes file-sharing between devices faster and easier.
This 'ultimate social phone' is initially geared for the emerging economies in Asia and Europe and will come with variations of single-SIM or dual-SIM plus capabilities of hot-swapping multiple SIMs without rebooting the device.
To some, both the Asha 311 and Asha 205 reflect Nokia's attempt in reliving the moments when it was on the top of its game - when touchscreen and QWERTY phones were virtually printed with the brand name Nokia, mighty proud at that time and aching to crash into the top-tier of the elite smartphone party.
It is succeeding in some measures but in a more simplified fashion. As one analyst said, Asha has become the main reason Nokia remains in the thick of the smartphone game.
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