Nokia Asha 311 Review

Introduction and Design

The Nokia Asha 311 has arrived in our office and we received it with mixed feelings. It’s part of the Asha lineup, a series of feature phones that is largely keeping Nokia afloat at the moment as it struggles selling enough Windows Phone smartphones. The Asha has gained some momentum in developing markets like India and this here Asha 311 is one of the best touchscreen phones in the series.

The Nokia Asha 311 packs a 3-inch low-res capacitive display and a 1GHz processor, both working in concert to bring the best out of the revamped interface of Series 40. Still, as affordable as the device is, low-end Android smartphones are now available for less and fighting against Android seems like an order way too tall for the Nokia phone. Let’s see, however, how the phone actually performs before jumping into conclusions.

In the box, you get the usual pair of horrid Nokia earbuds that distort sound so much we wouldn’t even try listening to music on them.


There is nothing impressive about the design of the Asha 311. It’s a thick little phone with a good build quality, with no creaky moving parts. It comes in five different colors showing most in the fully colored back cover and less in the matte inward chin on the front. Fingerprints are definitely an issue with the glossy back cover.The screen (more on it later) is encircled with a hefty bezel that looks almost unusual for those accustomed to the narrower framing on smartphones.

You can compare the Nokia Asha 311 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The element that makes the phone easy to recognize are the the two physical buttons placed on a contrasted chromed plastic strip right below the screen. We wouldn’t say it adds much to the aesthetics of the phone (rather the opposite), but we loved the two physical buttons, both very responsive, easy to press.

Unlike the front buttons, the side keys we just couldn’t get used too - they were too rigid, too hard to press to the point of inconvenience. Not a dealbreaker, but definitely something to keep in mind.

Charging is done via either a proprietary Nokia port which is on top or a microUSB port right next to it. On top, there is also a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Finally, the phone does feature an ambient light and proximity sensor, that kick in during calls to dim the screen.


The Asha 311 is a touchscreen phone and one of the best in its family. The 3-inch LCD display with a resolution of 240x400 pixels is capacitive and much more responsive than the one on the younger Asha sibling, the 305. It comes with Gorilla Glass protection, which is great news.

Viewing angles are pretty average so colors only wash out slightly at extreme angles. Nokia is including a polarizing filter for better outdoor visibility, and with it we found outdoor visibility to be around average.


The Nokia Asha 311 comes with the same overhauled interface of Series 40 that we first saw in the more affordable Asha 305. Everything we said then holds true - the UI is a blend of what we’ve seen in earlier Nokia projects and other platforms. There is a dropdown menu a la Android, three swipeable home screen we’ve seen in MeeGo and icon notifications a la iOS.

The improvements start right from the beginning. Notifications about messages show right on the lock screen and you can swipe them to the side which takes you directly to the messaging app. Neat! Unlocking the device is done by swiping to either side. After that, you are taken right to the app drawer which acts as one of three home screens. Swiping to the side changes between them and you also have a shortcuts panel and a dialer/music/radio panel. In either of those you can swipe down from the top to bring a notification drop down with toggles for connectivity and quick access to calling, messaging and music.

One neat little flare that Nokia has added to the Asha 311 new Series 40 UI is a bouncy effect for icons whenever you scroll to the top of a list (can you smell a lawsuit from Apple coming?).

Processor and Memory:

One thing that’s much less visible in the Asha 311 is the terrible lag that ruined the experience in the 305. Mostly due to the more responsive capacitive touchscreen, but also to more RAM memory (128MB) and a 1GHz processor, this device is almost lag-free. Still, speaking about smoothness, even the cheapest Android smartphone easily blows it out of the water in terms of performance.

The phone is listed as coming with a 2GB microSD card in the box, but we were pleasantly surprised to find a 4GB microSD card, on top of the 256MB of internal storage. We don’t know whether we just got lucky or whether Nokia has slightly different packages for varying markets.

Internet and Connectivity:

The Nokia Asha 311 is a well equipped device for its class when it comes to connectivity. Wi-Fi, 3G with HSDPA of 14.4Mbps and Bluetooth 2.1 are all on board. Going online happens with the Nokia Browser and while the 3-inch screen looks a bit smallish and the browser lacks multitouch actions like pinch-to-zoom, we still found that it managed to open even larger websites and maintain a relatively smooth flow.

The phone comes with Nokia Maps preloaded, but there is no GPS chip, so it relies on triangulation from your carrier and/or wireless network to position itself.


The Asha 311 features a 3.2-megapixel camera with no flash. It’s a fixed-focus affair producing very low quality shots with little resolved detail and too much noise ruining pictures whenever it gets dusky. When it comes to the interface of the camera, everything is as simple as possible with little options available.

The camera also captures video in 480p recorded in the .3GP format. The frame rate is 25fps, and overall while video is jittery if you are recording fast-moving objects, it’s what you’d expect from a phone of this class.

Nokia Asha 311 Sample Video:


While it can never be a multimedia powerhouse with that 3-inch 240x400-pixel display, the Asha 311 is a surprisingly well equipped media player with tons of codec support and a clear sounding loudspeaker.

It plays back music nicely, and loudspeaker gets pretty loud, not lastly because of how thick the phone is. The music player works just fine, organizing your music collection into artists, albums, songs and genres, and has an equalizer.

Video playback was solid and we managed to play all our MPEG-4, AVI and 3GP clips including Xvid/Divx-encoded files at up to 640x480 pixel resolution.

Nokia is giving away 60 Java games from EA for free as a gift for Asha buyers, and while basic we found those games to be fun, but way too basic. It’s Series 40 and Java after all. Good news is that Angry Birds comes pre-installed and it runs at actually playable framerates, unlike what we saw on the Asha 305.

Call quality:

After all above, it’s clear that the Asha 311 is mostly a phone, and much less of a device to access the Internet or watch movies. That’s why call quality is paramount to its success, and we were glad to hear clear, natural sounding voices in the earpiece. Our callers also had no issue making out our voice and even in louder environments side noises weren’t in the way. If we had to pick the nits, we’d say that maybe the earpiece could have been a bit louder, but that’s more of a wish rather than a complaint.


As a feature phone, the Asha 311 also takes pride in its longer battery life. It ships with a 1110mAh battery that yields 6 hours of 3G talk time and 14 hours of 2G talk time.


We’ve looked at the Nokia Asha 311 from all sides, but we’ve reserved its most important aspect, the price, for last. The device costs between $120 to $140 depending on the market which puts it in the same category as low-end Android smartphones.

Devices like the Samsung Galaxy Y (sold for around $130), the Galaxy Pocket (around $115), the LG Optimus L3 (some $140) cost either the same or lower than the Asha 311, but bring you into smartphone land with tons of actually useful and well performing apps unlike the Java horror that you’d have to deal with on the Asha.

If for some strange reason, you do not want to use a smartphone, the $100 Samsung Star 3 is another feature phone option that is reasonably priced and similar to the Asha.

On its own, the Asha 311 is not a bad phone. It’s relatively responsive - even though some lag is still noticeable, - it comes with Series 40 in brand new clothes and it’s not too expensive. Sadly (or rather luckily), it’s not in a world of its own. With smartphones packing more and better features, it looks like a device the Nokia time machine has brought from the past into the present at a wrong moment, a couple of years too late.

Nokia Asha 311 Video Review:


  • Capacitive screen brings better responsiveness
  • Refreshed Series 40 UI
  • 3G, Wi-Fi connectivity


  • Not cheap enough, better smartphones now available at same price
  • Design too plasticky
  • Series 40 still feels a bit slow

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

6 Reviews

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless