(Pocket-lint) - The Nokia Asha 210 is the latest in a long line of affordable S40-powered phones from the Finnish manufacturer. The difference here is that the Asha takes a design cue from the more-expensive Windows Phone powered Lumia smartphones that Nokia produces.
As such it is one of the most colourful Qwerty keyboard phones available right now. We like the way it looks and the design and build quality is actually fairly good, but we will come to that later. First, to the real selling point of this phone: it costs $72 (£47) in the US, with UK pricing to be announced soon.
For that you get a 2-megapixel camera which, from the pics we have taken, is of fairly low quality. There are also dual sim capabilities, so you can switch phone networks should you be taking the phone abroad. As for internal specifications, Nokia is being pretty cagey about the processor power, but we imagine it sits below 1 GHz, but for a phone this cheap the lack of a proper powerhouse is forgivable.
The other big draw is that the phone features a dedicated What's App button, or in some markets, a Facebook key. Irritatingly, it lacks a 3G connection so any interactions with the internet need to be done via Wi-Fi. The browser is pretty bare bones and very slow, YouTube is also about as low resolution as it gets.
What the phone does get right however is in the feature phone department. Apps are slow to load, but being so stripped-back, core functions like messaging and the phonebook are very simple to use. The Qwerty keyboard is also very good and delivers a speedy typing experience. The whole phone has a good weight to it and the sort of invincible brick feel that older Nokia phones used to carry. We imagine this thing would survive plenty of drops, 3310 style.
We were testing a Nokia prototype here, so the speed at which the operating system works and apps open could be different, although nothing ever lagged or froze so badly we had to reset the phone. We weren't able to test the Facebook button version of the handset and annoyingly, it just didn't want to play ball with our SIM, so we couldn't get What's App up and running. Facebook's app is also present on the phone, but there is no hardware shortcut.
S40 is unfortunately as clunky as ever. The app shortcuts on the home screen are nice but in reality it's just a slow and cumbersome process when doing anything more than sending text messages or making phone calls. Thankfully, with a phone this cheap, most will be using it for just that. The web connectivity and free What's App lifetime membership is just a bonus.
Finally, the screen, which sizes in at 2.4-inches and has a 320 x 240 resolution, isn't bad. Viewing angles are fairly nasty, with colours fading almost immediately when you tilt the handset in any direction. The screen never feels overly cramped though, but don't expect its resolution to impress.
In the end, the Asha 210 is a great little Qwerty feature phone, which is cheap enough to justify its shortcomings. Build quality is good and the ability to use a 64GB microSD card to expand its memory means you could use it as a cheap media player. For those after a budget Android alternative, it strikes us as a safe bet. If you are a What's App fan, then it might be handy.
Expect to see the Asha 210 on sale by June this year.