Nokia Asha 210 pulls a HTC, launches with WhatsApp button

Nokia recently announced the Asha 210, a featurephone with a QWERTY keyboard and dedicated WhatsApp Key. For phones in Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific, WhatsApp is the special feature. For Latin America and Europe, it’s a Facebook key.

The single or dual-SIM Asha 210 costs a paltry US$72, is 2G only and has a standby time of up to 46 days. This is cheap phone, with plenty to offer and it’s perfectly priced. Moreover, it could be Nokia’s answer to the BlackBerry Curve range: a cheap phone, with free WhatsApp for life and a battery life that seems practically immortal.

That WhatsApp button though, it smacks of desperation. Remember the HTC ChaCha? It came with a dedicated Facebook button and was complete flop.

A very decent-looking phone, actually

Free for life

WhatsApp is offering a free lifetime service for the Asha 210, a great move that’ll instantly migrate users to this inexpensive phone. It’s not as if WhatsApp is expensive (it usually costs under a dollar) but when something is free, it usually flies off the shelves. It’s also brand loyalty. Users who cannot afford a smartphone that runs WhatsApp can easily pickup the US$72 Asha 210 and enjoy one of the world’s most popular IM.


The Asha 210 also has an interesting dual-SIM feature: one SIM remains inside the phone behind the battery, but the secondary SIM is hot-swappable via a flap on the side of the device. There’s a 1Ghz CPU inside the Asha 210 and a ridiculously small 64MB internal memory. But there’s a microSD port that supports up to 32GB, so let’s not fuss about lack of space.

Looks great

From the pictures, it’s easy to tell that this is a fetching phone for the considerably small amount of cash. The dedicated camera button is quick to access, yet the 2MP camera will be too weak to make any meaningful impact. At least Nokia included a camera, but without a front-facing lens, many users may be turned off by the Asha 210.

The phone does have a voice prompt for any user who wants to take a self, but with a lack of an Instagram app (for now at least), will anyone really use this awkward-sounding feature? The Next Web published an excellent review of the Asha 210 and called this voice-assisted selfi feature, “embarrassing if you’re out in a public place.”. We fully believe it. Look for the Asha 210 in Q2 2013. It’ll come in five fetching colours:  magenta, yellow, black, white and cyan.

Steven Norris: grumpy curmudgeon


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