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Dear Rafe Blandford, what Nokia phone should I buy…?

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 15.05.40

This is a post for Rafe Blandford, top man, editor, publisher, super-genius Nokia know-it-all and the man behind such sites as All About Symbian and All About Windows Phone.

Dear Rafe,

For some time now I’ve been feeling like chucking my existing smartphones out the window of the train, car or office that I’ve been inhabiting. The data connectivity of my smartphones (all brands — Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Windows) are second to none. We know this. All the whizzy stuff tends to work quite well, network permitting.

However, when I want to make a telephone call that lasts for more than 5 seconds, my smartphones are completely failing me. On multiple networks. None of them seem to be able to maintain a call beyond a few seconds when my train is moving slowly out of Waterloo. None of them seem to be able to cope properly with any audio telephony.

I therefore think it’s time to at least try a proper Nokia. I don’t mean a Windows Phone, I mean one of the Ye Olde Symbian specials. Please could you recommend 2-3 proper Nokias that I can evaluate and then purchase? Ideally I’d like a device with data connectivity and ideally I’d like my address book to sync with Google. But given that I only actually phone about 5 people, adding a few numbers to an address book isn’t a problem. Price is not an issue. Quality is more important in this bracket. So whilst I am attracted to a Nokia 100 series device for a tenner, I’m happy to consider a more expensive equivalent provided you reckon the components I care about (principally the bits that let me make and maintain a phone call to a network) are higher quality.

What is your suggestion Mr Blandford?

Thanks for your time in advance,


When — if — Rafe has the time to pen a response (he’s a busy guy), I’ll publish it and link the reply here.

Update: Barely 2 hours later, Blandford has replied. See the comments!


  1. Dear Ewan,

    It’s so lovely to hear from you. Such a pleasure to receive a proper letter in the age of Twiiter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Skype.

    I can certainly understand the issue you outline in your letter. It’s important for you to know that it is a problem a lot of people face, so there’s no need to feel ashamed. Carrying a voice-only Nokia phone as a secondary device is the 2013 equivalent of carrying an email only BlackBerry in 2010. It’s completely socially acceptable and no one will laugh at you. If they do it’s because they’re secretly really jealous and/or they have a Stephen Elop voodoo doll in their back pocket.

    Most people aren’t always willing to talk about it publicly probably because they feel like a right plonker for spending £500+ on a phone that doesn’t work properly.

    However, I must strongly advise you not to chuck your existing smartphones out the window. Uncontrolled smartphone disposal is a serious environmental issue, but can also lead to serious liability issues should you inadvertently hit someone’s cat or pet rabbit. It may also invalidate your insurance and/or warranty.

    There are several options for you to consider.

    Let’s start by considering two phones from Nokia’s past.

    Nokia 6310i – Many people feel the Nokia 6310i was one of the company’s best ever voice-centric phones – it only need charging once a week – and its tri band GSM radio means it can be used almost anywhere in the world. However, I think the 6310i is a little bit too much of a blast-from-the-past for your needs.

    Nokia E52 – Despite being announced almost four years ago this device would be on my short list for a voice-centric smartphone. It’s a non-touch device, with a traditional numeric keypad, but thanks to it anodised aluminium body and a slim profile (54cc / 98g) it is still a bit of a looker. You can expect its to go two or three days on a single charge and it will meet your data connectivity requirement (WiFi, 3.5G). The Symbian UI isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but should be more than sufficient for your needs. There’s support for Exchange for contact syncing, along with some other neat business extras. Other notable features include HD voice support, microUSB charging, and full SIP / VoIP support.

    There are a lot more “ye olde Symbian” specials too. If the E52 doesn’t grab your attention consider something the Nokia 6720, or the Nokia 701… of course you could be a true Symbian fan and get a Nokia 808 PureView… that way you would also have the world’s best cameraphone…

    And now let’s think about some of Nokia’s current phones:

    Nokia Asha 311 or 300 – These two devices sit at the top of Nokia Asha (Series 40) line up… or put another way they’re at the top of Nokia’s non-smartphone line up. The Asha 311 is a full touchscreen device, whereas the Asha 300 combines a touchscreen with a traditional numeric keypad. Bigger screen usually wins for me, but I think it’s worth considering this option because if you’re really looking to be voice centric then it’s hard to beat the convenience of a keypad (speed dials in particular spring to mind).

    Both devices get surprisingly close to being smartphones. Some people even classify them as smartphones. It’s a smartphone if it plays Angry Birds right? Lots of other apps too, including Nokia Maps and Nokia Browser ( a proxy-based browser that means it is possible do browse the Internet even on a 2G connection – though don’t expect it to match the experience of a high-end smartphone).

    Nokia 301 – This phone was announced at MWC a month ago. You might think of it is as Nokia current classic mobile phone model. Despite being a relatively low end offering there’s still plenty of technology inside including HD voice support, 3G connectivity, and Exchange sync support. There’s also a dual-SIM version, which might be handy when you’re travelling.

    All the best for your purchase decision and a Happy Easter to you and your family,


    p.s. I will bring you most of these next time we do a 361 recording for show and tell… maybe you’ll say something nice about Nokia.

  2. Good heavens, do not get the Asha 300. Truly terrible device…. dials random people when trying to scroll through the address book. Infuriating. Laggy. Shit.

    One of the older E-Series is the way to go, E52/72 for simple voice & text. I use the E62 for my work phone, but thats only because I’m a tight arse.

  3. Good list by Rafe, I owned E52 and still have Asha 311.

    I feel Nokia 301 will best for his requirements. He should not throw away his other smartphones. 301 looks to be solid phone centric phone.

    E52 has great battery life and can be 2nd choice,

    Asha 311 is also good but I felt battery life wasn’t very good though it has many + points, with nice design, great touch screen, scratch resistant screen.

    I will suggest him to try E6 also.

  4. If I were pushed, I’d probably stump for a C2-01 for T9, good old fashioned Nokia robustness and reliability.

    The Asha 302 isn’t too bad for qwerty, although haven’t used one ‘in anger’.

  5. It’s meant to be in the next month or so I think. But, as usual, I imagine it’ll be a bit tricky to get hold of the dual SIM version in the UK. I’ve resorted to eBay in the past for that sort of thing.


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