Nokia Asha 311 Touch S40 UI Demo Video, In the Flesh Photos of Nokia's Very Affordable Smartphone, Initial Impressions!

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Earlier this week, at the Nokia Maps Event held at Greenbelt 2 (and Glorietta and Ayala Ave. and Paseo de Roxas and Makati Avenue; It was fun! I'll talk about it in a future entry.), I got the chance to talk to Mr. Rhomel Marcojos, Nokia Philippines' Senior Marketing Manager.

"Sir, the Lumias are out. What's next for Nokia Philippines?" I asked him at the dinner table after the race.

"Well, we have several touchscreen Asha phones lined up," he answered while taking a rather familiar handset out of his pocket.

I was sure I've seen it in photos. It was small yet it looked reassuringly sturdy. Then I saw the metal accent lining the rear (just above the blue plastic cap) and framing the camera at the back.

It was the yet-to-be-released Nokia Asha 311!

You all know how I giddy I get when I see gadget prototypes so I asked him if I could play with the handset and a take a few photos and videos. He said, 'Sure.' So here you go, TP Friends --

nokia asha 311
If anything, it looks really cute in the flesh. I'd say the design of the hardware perfectly complements the equally youthful Touch S40 user interface.

nokia asha 311
There's the 3.2 MegaPixel camera. I've yet to try that out.

nokia asha 311
It's quite slim yet feels very solid in the hand.

nokia asha 311
There's the metal band and hardware buttons below the glass touchscreen.

nokia asha 311
At the top, you'll find the microUSB port and the 3.5mm audio jack. This handset should let you enjoy your favorite music tracks anywhere you go.

But the one feature of this phone that I totally wanted to check out was its Touch S40 UI, which - those who've seen it say - kinda looks like my Nokia N9's MeeGo interface. I played with it for a bit and yup, some elements of it actually reminded me of MeeGo -- and interestingly enough, Android as well.

Anyway, I took this short demo video so you can also see it. I had a cold when I recorded the audio last night so kindly bear with me, ayt?

Just a few initial impressions:

1. I'm thoroughly impressed with how smooth the touch response is when I navigated the interface using finger swipes. Hard to believe I'm getting such feedback from an entry-level phone, really.

2. As mentioned, the three homescreens remind me of MeeGo's -- only you don't get the panels for multitasking and social feeds. But the "swipe" navigation is practically the same. Obviously, the team behind Touch S40 took inspiration from Nokia N9's UI and I'm just glad that even though Nokia has let go the OS, shards of MeeGo continue to live on in the Finnish company's upcoming phones.

3. The drop-down notifications tab is a lot like what you'll find in Nokia Belle and some Android phones. Aside from its cool, youthful background color, what I like about it is that there's this row where you can easily turn on or turn off Wifi and Mobile Data. That should come in handy for browsing the web or updating your social networking sites while making sure that you have control over the connection that you want to use.

4. I know I wasn't able to show it in the video but Touch S40 comes with its very own Facebook and Twitter applications. I think this just shows that Nokia totally recognizes the power of social networking and continues to do its best to connect us to those we hold dear. I'm looking forward to receiving a review unit soon so I can show you more of these apps.

5. Another highlight of Touch S40 is the new browser which - while not as powerful as what's on Nokia Belle - nonetheless loads mobile websites quite fast. But I bet what you'll find cool about it is that it has links to popular local pages like those from ABS-CBN and GMA7 giving you quick access to their content.

Alright! That's it for now! Stay tuned for updates about the availability of this handset in the Philippines. I believe it should become available in stores either late this month or early August. As for the price, well - like what I said in a previous post, my guesstimate is around Php 4,500 to Php 4,700. Let's see!

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