The Nokia Asha 501 is a colorful entry-level dual-SIM smartphone marketed towards students who are looking for their first full touchscreen phone. It is Nokia’s first phone that runs on the new Asha 2013 platform which is basically their customized S40 OS.
Let’s take a closer look how this modern Asha fares amidst the influx of other affordable smartphones in the market today.
The Nokia Asha 501 sports a design inspired by their higher-end Lumia phones that would really appeal to its target market. It has an all-glass scratch-resistant front with a lone Back button below the display. Because of the nature of the Asha platform, this button also serves as the Home button.
On top of the phone you’ll find the 3.5mm audio jack, microUSB port you can use to charge, or opt with the old Nokia charging port beside it. On the right side is the volume rocker and the Power/Sleep button which has ample size and solid enough to press. The rest of the sides are spotless.
The colorful and removable shell is made of polycarbonate with a matte finish to ward off any fingerprints. And if it gets smudged, you can easily wipe it off. You’ll see the Lumia-looking 3-megapixel camera here and also a nub for you to push to pop out the shell.
This phone uses microSIMs by the way. Inside you’ll find the battery that covers the first SIM slot while the second one is located on the site which you can easily swap without turning off the phone. The microSD slot is also on the side and hot-swappable.
Looking at the overall design, the Asha 501 is very pleasant to hold and pocket. The design is simple yet looks attractive and the swappable covers will surely attract the young generation.
Display and UI
The Asha 501 sports a 3-inch display which is not at all small, if only it was 2010. Today when 4.5-inch and above are becoming the norm for touchscreen phones, the 3-inch will only appeal to those who are transitioning from a bar phone to a touchscreen phone.
I had a hard time adjusting using its virtual keyboard just because I’m used to way bigger phones. What I’m not fond of is its paltry 240 x 320 screen resolution. You can clearly see the jagged edges of the icons and even watching videos on it will give you a pixilated view.
As stated earlier, the Asha 501 is the first phone to run Nokia’s Asha Software platform. For first time users, go through the short tutorial on how to navigate the phone. Utilize all sides of the screen with swipes to access different sections.
Once unlocked, you will immediately be presented with all apps installed. No more home screen which is not really needed. Swipe left or right and it will take you to the Fastlane view which shows your recent actions to give this phone a pseudo-multitasking feature. You can also post a status or create a quick note in this Fastlane view. Swiping left and right from within an app also brings you back to the app list.
Swipe from the top and you’ll access the quick toggle for WiFi, Bluetooth, Data, and Sound. Swipe from the bottom will give you the options for the app you’re currently on.
The implementation of the Asha platform is very easy to learn and use which is helpful for a phone with a small screen. What I didn’t like is how Facebook andTwitter are presented. The UI of these apps are clunky and loads slow but I guess I’m used to the smooth and fluid versions found on Android and iOS.
The Asha 501 is equipped with a 1GHz single-core processor. Navigation is smooth for the most part but expect some hiccups every now and then as you swipe through screens.
Internal storage is very limited so you’ll be maximizing your microSD card if you plan to use this for media. It also doesn’t support 3G (EDGE only) so if you’ll be doing some heavy surfing you might want to stick with WiFi. I didn’t use this much for Internet browsing but pages load rather quickly but it’s the display layout on some pages that the browser messes up to save on data.
Making and receiving calls are fast and clear on both ends of the call. Not a surprise considering it is one of e strengths of Nokia phones. In fact I’d rather use this phone for calls rather than messaging.
There’s a basic 3-megapixel camera at the back that can do QVGA video recording which is quite old-school. Don’t expect much from the quality of this phone’s camera.
The Asha 501 uses a 1200mAh battery which may not look enough in today’s standards but it is actually more than what this phone needs.
Using this primarily for basic phone functions, WiFi and Bluetooth on but not always connected, I was able to squeeze 3.5 days out of it before the battery icon turned red. A welcome experience considering I used to charge my phone daily. I really liked how it displays the time and the unread message icon without me having to wake it up. That really saved on batteries.
Overall, the Nokia is a fun-looking phone to use for a certain demographic, students and teens who want to try a touchscreen phone for the first time. It performs really well for your basic phone needs with apps to support your typical social networks and a battery life that won’t make you miss your old bar phone. You will also love the 40 free EA games Nokia is bundling with this phone.
The Nokia Asha 501 retails for Php4,490 which for some might be on the pricey side but it’s actually not considering you’ll be getting the Nokia-quality build on your phone. Oh and don’t compare this to entry-level Android phones if apps are an important thing for you.
|Nokia Asha 501 Specs:|
|3-inch QVGA TFT capacitive display with Gorilla Glass|
|Nokia Asha Software Platform 1.0|
|64MB RAM, 128MB internal storage, microSD up to 32GB (4GB included)|
|3.15-megapixel rear camera (no flash)|
|No front camera|
|Dual-SIM (2G only, microSIM)|
|Nokia Xpress Browser|
|99.2 x 58 x 12.1 mm|
|Li-Ion 1200 mAh battery (26 days standby)|
|Colors: Bright red, Yellow, Black, Bright Green, Cyan, White|