Nokia's Asha Touch now 'officially' a 'smartphone' platform

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Back in the day, a 'smartphone' was something which ran a proper multitasking OS and which was extensible with extra applications. We then had the likes of the original iPhone (no multitasking, no apps) 'redefining' the term, followed by a number of editorials from me (e.g. here) trying to pin down just what constitutes a smartphone these days. With the (still not fully multitasking) iOS now considered the archetypal smartphone platform and with Windows Phone well and truly in the same camp, despite almost zero multitasking, it shouldn't be surprising to the reader that Nokia's old S40 feature phone platform, now with widescreen displays and touch, has been classified as a smartphone platform too, under its new name, 'Asha Touch'. This was revealed today in a press release from Nokia announcing the Asha 308 and Asha 309 for select world markets.

From the Nokia Conversations piece:

Nokia-Asha-309The Nokia Asha 308 and Nokia Asha 309 are being welcomed into our family of Asha Touch smartphones today.

These beautiful and sleek handsets offer an innovative and affordable smartphone experience, packed with Internet connectivity, apps, maps, social networking and games.

The new devices offer a fluid ‘swipe’ user interface and an open environment for third-party app development – characteristics that have earned the complete Asha Touch range full smartphone classification from global market research companies and analysts such as GfK and IDC. 

The Asha 308 and Asha 309 feature 3-inch, scratch-resistant, capacitive touchscreens, a 2-megapixel camera, powerful built-in speakers and the fun-to-use Asha Touch operating system.

The Touch experience

The swipe-inspired Asha Touch experience is fast, entertaining and intuitive. Scrolling and swiping on the responsive capacitive touchscreen is used to navigate and explore each of the new phones.

You can easily and quickly swipe between your application launcher with all your apps in one place; your  ‘My Screen’ can be personalised with favourite contacts, apps and shortcuts — and a third home screen provides quick access to most-used features such as the phone dialer or music player.

Web and social

Being connected to the Internet lies at the heart of all Nokia’s Asha Touch devices.

The Asha 308 and Asha 309  feature Nokia’s new Xpress Browser, which uses cloud compression technology to make surfing the web faster whilst consuming up to 90 per cent less data.

One of the nice features of the Nokia Xpress Browser is that you can visit YouTube in the browser, and actually stream YouTube video via the phone’s video player.

Although it's clear that the new handsets are based on Seires 40/S40, it's also clear that the use of full-screen touch does at least give Nokia an excellent excuse for a rebrand of their lower end handsets - like 'Symbian' and 'S60' before it, 'Series 40' had a lot of history behind it and the tech world does seem to like 'new and shiny'... 'Symbian' became shortened to just 'Belle', its latest version, or 'Nokia Belle', and it now seems that 'Asha Touch' is the new way to refer to Nokia's lowest mobile operating system.

It's true that there's still no real time multitasking for third party applications, but, as mentioned earlier, along with iOS and Windows Phone, Asha Touch is at least in good company here and it's good to see that analysts are starting to count devices like the Asha 308 and 309 as full smartphones.

At the very least it'll mean that Nokia's share of the smartphone market, once skyhigh at 60% with Symbian and S60, and now down in the region of single percentage figures, should be rising signficantly again with the inclusion of all the Asha Touch devices being sold across the world in developing markets.

With full-face touch, a modern UI, a fast (proxy-based) browser, wifi and decent app ecosystem, I don't think anyone will begrudge the new 'smartphone' accreditation for Asha Touch. 

Comments welcome - would you like to see reviews of any of these new phones on All About Symbian, despite the different OS?

Source / Credit: Nokia Conversations