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Nokia's Asha series: Simple, but oh so useful (photos)

Nokia kicked off its Mobile World Congress press conference by introducing the new Asha series. Though the Symbian devises are hardly smartphones, they're hardly dumb.

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Kent German
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Nokia Asha 202

BARCELONA, Spain--You can't say that Nokia didn't come to Mobile World Congress with something for everyone. Even before it introduced the Windows Phone 7-powered Lumia 610 and the 808 PureView super camera phone, the company unveiled its new Asha series. Designed for budget-minded consumers and emerging markets, the three Asha series handsets, may look simple, but they offer a few surprises.

On the outside, the 202 has a simple candy bar design that looks like it was plucked from the '90s. Beneath the 2.4-inch display are the calling controls and an alphanumeric keypad. The display is a touch screen, though it felt the slightest bit clunky.

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Nokia Asha 202

The highlight of the Asha 202 is its support for two SIM cards. That means you'll be able to load two SIM cards (even if they're from different carriers in different countries) and make calls and send messages on either line. Though dual-SIM phones are not new, major manufacturers like Nokia have largely shied away from them. Since the Asha 202 will come unlocked, it won't be popular with U.S. carriers (so don't count on AT&T or T-Mobile picking it up), but it would be a great phone for international travelers. The signal meter and the carrier name for both SIMs is at the top of the 202's display.
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Nokia Asha 202

You can customize each SIM to receive only the communication that you want including calls, data, and text and multimedia messages. That's a very nifty option for saving money on your roaming bill when you're abroad.
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Nokia Asha 202

The 202 comes in several colors, though the red version (pictured here) makes the boldest statement. The camera lens sits at the top end next to the speaker.
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Nokia Asha 202

On the right spine you'll find the volume rocker and a camera shutter.
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Nokia Asha 203

The Asha 203 supports only one SIM card, but like the 202 it brings integration with popular social media services. What's more, its design is nearly identical.
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Nokia Asha 203

Like each of Nokia's Asha handsets, the 203 runs Symbian Series 40.
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Nokia Asha 302

The Nokia Asha 302's also has a retro design. Still, the keyboard is relatively spacious, and the domed keys make for a comfortable typing experience.
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Nokia Asha 302

Below the display are the spacious navigation controls.
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Nokia Asha 302

As you might expect, messaging and access to social media apps are central features on the 302.
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Nokia Asha 302

Yet, the handset even has something for worker bees in the form of Microsoft Exchange support.
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Nokia Asha 302

And, of course, the 302 comes in multiple colors like red and white.
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Nokia Asha 302

A metal trim extends around the 302's slim profile.The microSD card slot rests on the left side.
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Nokia Asha 302

And around back are the camera lens and a speaker.

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