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Asha 501: Nokia eschews Windows Phone for £65 smartphone

Nokia Asha 501

By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 9 May 2013 at 10:40

Nokia has unveiled the $99 (£64) Asha 501 smartphone - but it doesn't run Windows Phone.

The Asha 501 is the first handset running Nokia's updated Asha software, developed off the back of its Series 40 OS for feature phones. The Asha line is mostly targeted at emerging markets - a traditionally rich seam for Nokia - but the $99 Asha 501 will be sold here in the UK.

Following on from recent Asha handsets, the 501 pushes the Asha line further towards a full smartphone - and even borrows its bright colours and design from the higher-end, Windows Phone-based Lumia handsets. It only works on 2G, but Nokia is planning to add 3G when possible.

The Asha 501 has a 320 x 240, 3in VGA display with 133ppi. It's 12mm thick and weighs 98g - lighter than the iPhone 5's 112g. It features a 3.2-megapixel camera, and supports USB 2, Bluetooth 3, and 802.11bg Wi-Fi, as well as a dual-SIM mode.

Nokia said the Asha 501 was designed to be strong, and built in two parts - the screen and the cover - rather than "traditional phones, which comprise two halves joined together".

Nokia claimed the Asha 501 has 17 hours of talk time and 48 days of standby battery life.

"Asha 501 shows what you can achieve when you design bottom up rather than strip down features to hit the right price point," Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said on Twitter.

Nokia has been criticised by investors for weak sales of its Lumia line - but they've been starting to pick up, helping to cut losses in the latest round of results.

However, while Lumias climbed to a record 5.8 million unit sales last quarter and Ashas slid by a quarter, the lower-end line still sold almost ten times as many units - 55.8 million.

Updated Asha

The new Asha OS features dual homescreens - a standard one, as well as a new hub, called Fastlane, which pulls in key details such as recent contacts, favourite apps and songs, and upcoming calendar reminders.

The new Nokia Xpress Browser compresses data to save on page load times and cut data use by up to 90%, and the phone features a built-in data counting app to help users stay on top of contract limits.

Nokia also released the SDK for the new Asha software, announcing key apps from Twitter, FourSquare and Facebook, among others, were already in development.

The Asha 501 will arrive in the second quarter in 90 countries, with UK availability expected by the second half of the year.

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User comments

Doesn't sound right to me...

320x240 is QVGA, not VGA. And 48hrs standby time? I should hope it's more like 48 days being an old school Nokia!

By 959ARN on 9 May 2013

Doesn't sound right to me...

320x240 is QVGA, not VGA. And 48hrs standby time? I should hope it's more like 48 days being an old school Nokia!

By 959ARN on 9 May 2013

It is 48 days...

Looked at Nokia website and it quotes 1152 hours for standby.

By Tomble2 on 9 May 2013

48 days is correct -- have fixed it in the story. Thanks for flagging it up.

By Nicole_Kobie on 9 May 2013

Might as well mention the microSD slot too; 4GB included with support for up to 32GB.

By Mark_Thompson on 9 May 2013

eschews

"eschews" - Drama, drama and drama

By rhythm on 9 May 2013

3G is a rarity anyway.

Only a disappointing percentage of the UK has 3G, so half the time you won't be able to miss it anyway.

By tirons1 on 9 May 2013

Waste of time

Who is going to buy this it won't run apps for iOS, Android or Windows.

So amount of apps is going to be very limited, which is the whole point of a smart phone.

If it had been an Android phone I would have bought one.

By Ulfarus on 9 May 2013

@Ulfarus

People who don't want to buy apps for ios, android or WP. Maybe in "developing markets", where feature phones far outsell smartphones. And there are myriad developers producing apps for them. I wont be buying one either, but then, the world don't revolve around me either.

By nickallison on 10 May 2013

Review please

Looks like a really well built phone. Could we please have a review, written or on the podcast?

By isaac12345 on 10 May 2013

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