Nokia Asha 501 is a “next gen” 3-inch touchscreen for $99

The gorgeous Asha 501 Range

The gorgeous Asha 501 Range

Nokia’s Asha range, an affordable line of feature phones pretending to be smartphones, has cranked out the 501, a US$99 full touch device. Nokia calls it “next generation”, we call it overenthusiastic marketing. What the Asha 501 represents though, thanks to its sleek design and candy-coated colours – bright red, bright green, cyan, yellow, white and black.

It’s a first for Nokia too, as the Asha 501 is a micro-SIM phone with “Easy Swap SIM technology” (change SIM cards without turning off the device). It also has a respectable 3.2-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, 4GB internal memory, 17 hours talk time. Sadly, there’s no 3G internet option, only EDGE.

Further specs are below:

  • System: GSM 900/1800 + WLAN; GSM 850/1900 + WLAN
  • User Interface: Nokia Asha Platform
  • Dimensions: 99.2 x 58 x 12.1 mm (H x W x T)
  • Weight: Single SIM: 98g / Dual SIM 98.2g
  • Display: 3.0” QVGA TFT Capacitive Display
  • Memory: 128 MB Flash, 4 GB MMC included expandable up to 32GB
  • Connectivity: Micro USB connector and charging, 3.5 mm AV jack, 2 mm Charger connector
  • Standby time: Up to 48 days (Dual SIM standby time: up to 26 days)
  • Talk time: Up to 17 hours (all variants)

The Asha 501 is still a series 40 Nokia phone, but it’s powered by an “all new software platform” designed by Smarterphone, a mobile OS company Nokia acquired in 2010. The Asha 501 isn’t a smartphone per say with hundred of thousands of apps to download, but a compactly designed platform for social interaction. There will be apps though, and these will be compatible with future Asha phones.

The Asha 501 has an ace up its sleeve with its version of the homescreen, cutely named “Fastlane”. Fastlane was inspired by the interface of the N9, which had one of the slickest mobile OS’ of all time, is a second homescreen of sorts but it’s better explained in this jazzy video from Nokia.

Doesn’t it just make you want it?

Fastlane captures recent media and turns it into a quick-fix collage of up to fifty of your most recent activities. So a text message, an email, a Facebook notification and an uploaded photo appears on an Xperia-like timeline. Not as fancy though mind you, but definitely as usable. Perhaps even more so if the video above is an indication of the user interface.

Nokia also promises faster internet with the 501. In the video below, the browsing experience seems very nippy indeed.

It’s still the Xpress browser which is sadly crippled by a name from the late nineties. Nokia says “it still uses cloud-compression technology to reduce data by up to 90 per cent” but for anyone who’s used Xpress, you’ll know how fiddly and ugly it can be. Hopefully the latest incarnation has good looks to back up it’s nippy performance. The Asha 501 is a gesture-based device and as such, Xpress browser and the interface of the phone itself seems like it’s a joy to navigate.

As it is with all decent smartphones, the Asha 501 will be loaded with social media basics right out of the box. We’re talking Twitter, Facebook, an unnamed IM platform (it’ll be Whatsapp) plus 40 games from EA that have to be downloaded. Nokia’s cute little feature phone with smartphone ambitions will launch in ninety countries Q2 2013.

Nokia Asha 501 Image Gallery
left right

Asha 501 Homescreen

It’ll be a success for Nokia. Low-priced, well-specced and comes with everything you need. Budget iPhone, watch out.

Asha 501 Rear Cover

It’ll be nice and grippy, with a seamless unibody design.

Asha 501 And Its Candy Bar Colours

It’s only US$99, but it’s no throwaway device. This is a social media phone that wears its heart on its sleeve.

Asha 501 Just Laying Around

For a 3-inch screen, the Asha 501 is very handsomely designed.

Asha Showing Off Fastlane

It’s the Timeline-like status updates for the 501

The Range Of Asha 501 Phones

Bright red, bright green, cyan, yellow, white and black.

Steven Norris: grumpy curmudgeon


Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Memeburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.