he Nokia Lumia range might be making headlines, but Nokia's feature
phones including its relatively new Asha series phones are the ones
making cash registers ring for the company across India. The latest to
join the bandwagon is the Asha 501, which was unveiled a few months back
by Nokia chief Stephen Elop
at an event in India.
been known to come out with solid, sturdy devices rather than flashy, glitzy
ones when it comes to its budget phones. However, we think that the
Nokia Asha 501 is here to change that and reveals the brand's playful
side in the feature phone segment. The much hyped Nokia Asha 501 has
finally made it to the Indian market. But does it live up to
expectations? We take a close look.
At a time
when phones seem to be getting bigger, the Nokia Asha 501 goes the
opposite direction, opting for a compact build with dimensions of
99.2x58x12.1mm. When we got the device in our hands the first time, the word that came to our mind was 'cute'.
The Asha 501 easily reminded
us of the Lumia smartphones and though it is a bit chunky, thanks to
its design, it fits in one hand easily. It is pretty light in weight at
just 91 grams.
Be it an entry-level feature phone or a Lumia
smartphone, the one thing that remains consistent in a Nokia phone is
its style and design, which generally exudes quality and matches
international design standards. The Nokia Asha 501 lives up to this
The front panel is dominated by a 3-inch display that is
surrounded by a black bezel with a physical 'Back' key placed at the
bottom of the panel and the Nokia logo on top of the screen just below
the earpiece. Nokia has followed the same Lumia design language, placing
the physical keys for volume controls and power buttons on the right.
We did miss a camera hardware key, though. The top panel houses a 2.5mm
charging port, a Micro-USB port and a 3.5mm audio port.
of the device includes a 3.2-megapixel camera placed at the centre
towards the top, with a vertical Nokia branding just below the camera.
At the bottom of the rear panel, there's a button that can be pressed to remove the back panel. This sounds simple, though it took some time to get
The back panel is an exchangeable shell which can be
replaced with other bright coloured panels that include Red, Cyan
Yellow, Green, White and Black colours. The battery is removable and a Micro-SIM card slot hides behind it in the same compartment. The second Micro-SIM can be changed without switching off the device and same is
the case with the memory card. Overall, the Nokia Asha 501 is
impressive in design and, definitely a looker. The handset, despite its
relatively low price, feels solid and is comfortable to use.
Nokia Asha 501 includes a 3-inch capacitive display, a huge advantage
for a device in the price segment. The 3-inch TFT capacitive display
comes with a resolution of 240x320 pixels and boasts a pixel density of
133PPI. It includes options like brightness control, RGB Stripe,
and support for the double tap to wake up gesture. The display
is responsive to touch, though at times it has a bit of a lag. It supports
two-point touch and includes a
proximity sensor. The display has good viewing angles and is readable
under the sun.
With the Asha 501,
Nokia has introduced a new platform, which it calls the Nokia Asha
software platform 1.0 instead of S40 (Series 40) which powers other Asha
devices. However, the user-interface is similar to that of the S40
operating system found in previous versions of the Asha series of touch
phones, based on the Nokia N9's swipe concept.
Nokia Asha 501 comes with a UI that is easy to use and largely dominated by gesture controls
like swiping. The Back
hardware key proves to be handy when stuck
in app or for closing an app.
Nokia unveiled the Fastlane feature
for the Asha 501. It collectively shows all the recent apps in a list
form according to dates. The feature gives a quick overview yout activity. For instance, if you played a game or used an app on the
device it will automatically be featured on the Fastlane as a log. It
is also the default homescreen when one unlocks the phone, and doubles up as a task-switcher of sorts. Swiping the
screen from either side, from any app or game takes you directly to the
Fastlane. While using an app, you can access options by swiping up from
the bottom and these appear. It worked well for us.
If you want
to change the location of an app or even delete it, just long press and
hold the app icon on the menu list. There are not many personalisation
options on the Asha 501, which is a bit of a let down and one can only
change the wallpaper and sound profiles. The phone comes with the
default standby screen with a digital clock, and you can change it in
the Settings through the 'Glance screen' option. There is a notification
bar at the top, similar to what we have already seen in previous Asha
phones. You can pull it down to see SIM information and adjust Wi-Fi,
Bluetooth, mobile data and sound profile settings.
The Nokia Asha
501 comes with the company's proprietary Xpress Browser, which was
introduced for the Asha range of phones. The browser compresses the
data, much like the Opera Mini. We had no complaints browsing the web on
the phone. One can open up to 6 web pages on the device at once and can
switch between them.
The phone comes with some preloaded apps
and games. The games are Java-based but the experience was great for a phone at this price point. Some popular apps that come
pre-installed include Facebook, Twitter, Nokia Chat, twist Music and
NewsHunt. The Asha 501 comes with 40 free EA games that can be
downloaded using Wi-Fi. WhatsApp is said to be available on the platform shortly. One
can browse and download apps through the Store. We downloaded the Here
Maps Beta version on our Asha 501 and it worked well with Wi-Fi.
Nokia Asha 501 comes with a 3.2-megapixel camera without flash and
auto-focus options. The camera comes with some basic features and offers
toggles for timer settings, white balance, effects and photo resolution
adjustment. The resolution can be changed to 2048x1536, 1600x1200,
1280x960 and 640x480.
The camera can take decent shots in
daylight with good colours but lacks details, and we found that night
shots were not that great. Same was the case with indoor photos which were rather grainy. The Nokia Asha 501 is not a device
to click close-up shots because of the camera's fixed-focus nature. The camera comes with digital zoom up to 3X.
pictures miss out on detail but considering the price and the audience
that Nokia is targeting, we can say it doesn't disappoint completely.
Nokia Asha 501 handled swiping well and was smooth and responsive for
Some apps did freeze at times, but we were able to exit to the
home screen through the back key. The phone offered good call clarity
with both the SIM slots and the FM radio reception was decent. The phone
can be unlocked either by using the power key or by double-tapping the
screen, which is a cool feature.
Sadly the music player of the
Asha 501 misses out on basic options like adjustable equalisers and
pre-set music profiles. The music player interface does show the artwork
related to the song and the album. The speaker was good and loud.
had no complaints watching some of our favourite videos on the device
through YouTube, though the video playing experience was limited with no support for MP4, MOV, MKV or AVI file formats. It was unable to play 720p (or higher) video either.
have loved if Nokia included a notification light as it would have enhanced the overall experience of using the handset.
The Gallery app supports pinch to zoom and gives options to share images
through Bluetooth and email. The pinch to zoom feature worked well
during our time with the phone.
The Nokia Asha 501 comes with
128MB of internal storage and 64MB of RAM. It also supports expandable
memory cards up to 32GB thanks to microSD card slot. Connectivity
features include like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Micro-USB. However, we did
miss 3G on the device.
The device packs a 1200mAh battery that
the company claims, delivers 624 hours of standby time and a talk time of
17 hours. However, we were not very happy with the back-up.
we used the device (with Wi-Fi) for Web browsing, chatting,
playing games like Litle Big City, Bubble Bash, Wolverine and others, we
found that the battery just about lasted a day, which is less than what you expect from phones in this category.
However, when not using Wi-Fi or data on the phone and
using it for just normal calling, messaging, occasionally clicking
photos and playing some games, the device lasted a couple of days with
just one full charge.
The Nokia Asha 501 is
definitely good in some departments but disappoints in some. If we
consider the price of the device and the features that it brings, it is overall a very good deal.
For those looking to buy a feature
phone that delivers a smartphone-like experience, the Nokia Asha 501 is a
decent package. One thing that surprised us was that both the
SIM slots supported Micro-SIM, which may be an inconvenience for some. Overall, the Asha 501 scores well in terms of design,
user-interface and build quality.
Those looking for alternatives
can go for a Samsung's Galaxy Star that comes at a price of Rs. 4,900.
Another Android option is the Micromax Bolt A35, which comes at a price
of Rs. 4,400.
If you want a Nokia alternative then you can also opt for Nokia Asha 305.
Nokia Asha 501: In pictures
Price: Rs. 5,199