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If you are looking for a budget phone with a good touch screen and a simple interface then the Nokia Asha 501 is the one for you. It is ideal as your first feature phone and gives you the basic functionality as a phone and access to social networking and a basic app library. You can definitely consider this device over the Android offerings in the same price range.
If you are looking for a phone around the Rs. 5,000 price point, there are a few options that make sense. Sure, you have some devices that boast of the Android OS, but these smartphones provide a lacklustre experience. Nokia on the other hand has had a good run with the Nokia Asha series smartphones that are great value for money around the Rs. 5,000 price point.
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Today, we have with us the Nokia Asha 501. With this, Nokia has introduced a sturdy build and a new OS (Asha OS) on the budget phone. Is it worth checking out?
Design, Build and Specifications
There are two things that you will notice once you get the smartphone in your hands. The first is that the build is really good and the second thing is that the display feels really small at 3-inches.
Starting with the build and design, the Nokia Asha 501 takes a leaf from Nokia’s Lumia series of smartphones. Its build isn’t polycarbonate however. The Asha 501 has a plastic rear shell that encloses the device, leaving an accent around the front borders of the phone. The unit we received was pinkish is colour, ideal for girls, but it is available in a number of colours such as green, white, black, blue and more.
The rear panel of the Asha 501 is a bit tricky to remove. Under the rear panel you have the battery. Below the battery you have a slot for the primary SIM card. On the side panel you have a slot for the second SIM card and the microSD card.
The front of the Asha 501 has the 3-inch capacitive touchscreen display. Below the display there is only one physical back button. The right of the device has volume rocker and the power button. On the top we have the microUSB port and the headphones jack.
Overall, the build and design of the Nokia Asha 501 is really good. It’s small, compact and sturdy enough to survive quite a few drops.
In terms of its specifications, the Asha 501 has a 3-inch display with a 240x320 pixel resolution giving it a 133ppi pixel density. The display is a capacitive touchscreen with two-finger multi-touch. It has 128MB built-in storage (expandable up to 32GB via a microSD card) but the phone does come bundled with a 4GB microSD card. The rear houses a 3.15MP camera (without flash) and there is no front-facing camera. The previous generation Asha phones ran on the S40 platform with the Asha 501, Nokia has introduced a new OS with this phone, called Nokia Asha software platform 1.0.
Performance and Apps
The interface of the new Asha software platform 1.0 is really simple once you get the hang of it. Swipe right or left on the home screen to unlock the Asha 501. Just like Android, you can swipe down at any point and see your notifications. Once you have swiped from the lock screen, you have access to an app listing page that lists all the apps available on the phone. Swipe again and you can see your recently used apps. If you are using an app and you want to exit it, you can use the back button till the app closes or you can just swipe left or right and you will be back at the app listing page. Quite simple.
Some apps, such as the music player and more, give you the ability to access some options. Swiping up from the bottom of the display can access these options on the Asha 501.
Coming to the Asha 501’s display, the 3-inch screen may feel small but when we started using the device, it felt really comfortable to navigate. The keyboard may feel cramped at first but it was surprising to see how easily we got used to it. The response of the touchscreen is great too.
In terms of customization on the Asha 501, you are limited to the wallpaper and audio. You can’t list the apps into folders and there are no widgets. The display constantly shows the clock when locked but this feature can be turned off from the settings menu.
The Asha 501 comes preloaded with a bunch of apps such as Facebook, Twitter, mail, FM Radio, recorder, notes, weather and some games. The graphics of the games are very basic and there are no accelerometer capabilities on the device. The social networking apps that come on the smartphone are very basic and not as fancy as what we have become accustomed to on the Android and iOS platform.
You also have access to the Ovi app store for your apps needs on the Asha 501. You do get access to a large app library that will work well on this entry-level smartphone.
The audio output from the Asha 501 speakers was quite loud, but the device doesn’t recognize MP4 videos. It recognized the SD AVI files, but they didn’t run smoothly at all.
The battery life of the Asha 501 is really good. It has the ability to last for two days with absolute ease. If you use it sparingly, you could get more from it.
The performance of the camera on the Asha 501 is nothing to boast about. The images appear over saturated, the contrast is all off and low-lit images are very noisy. What did you expect? The camera on the Rs. 5,000 device isn’t great.
If you are looking for a budget phone with a good touch screen and a simple interface then the Asha 501 is the one for you. It is ideal as your first feature phone and gives you the basic functionality as a phone and access to social networking and a basic app library. You can definitely consider this device over the Android offerings in the same price range.