Nokia Asha 501 review
A cheap, cheerful and well-made compact smartphone, but it’s far too slow
Review Date: 29 Jul 2013
Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray
Price when reviewed: Expected price: under £100
Features & Design
Based around the firm's in-house Asha platform, the Nokia Asha 501 is the newest addition to Nokia's range of handsets aimed at "emerging markets" – cheap phones intended for sale in territories such as India and South America. Unusually, the 501 is also making its way to the UK, and although there's no official pricing yet, you can safely assume it'll be cheap.
It's a far cry from the flagship handsets we're used to. There's a small, 3in, 240 x 320 display, and the sturdy plastic case fits in the palm of your hand. It's available in a range of bold colours, too – red, blue, green and DayGlo yellow – as well as black and white.
Inside, there's a replaceable 1,200mAh battery, a microSD slot and a pair of SIM slots. You can use one SIM for local calls and data and the other for roaming or international calls. To choose, simply dial the number and select your preferred SIM.
The Asha software is easy to us: after unlocking the phone with a swipe to the left, the first screen you'll see is an app grid; swiping down from the top edge brings up an Android-esque notifications list and quick settings buttons.
Swiping left or right from the app grid accesses the Fast Lane screen, which provides a historical feed of recent messages, emails, websites and apps you've used.
In terms of apps for basic smartphone tasks, there's a music player, Facebook, Twitter and email apps, a notepad and a calculator, among others. You even get an app store, although the choice of software and games is poor.
There's a web browser, too, but it feels cramped, and the low resolution means you have to zoom right in to read anything. Scrolling is horribly sluggish, and as the phone is GPRS-only, pages take an age to load. The browser failed to run the SunSpider test, too.
One advantage of the GPRS connectivity is excellent battery life. We weren't able to run our usual tests due to browser issues, but in informal testing the 501 survived three to four full days per charge with moderate use.
If it's given a suitably low price, the Asha 501 will fulfil the role of a very basic smartphone. However, given how superior Nokia's range of Windows Phone handsets is – in particular the affordable Nokia Lumia 520 – we think most people will be willing to pay the premium.
Author: Jonathan Bray
Better than the Asha 300?
Currently I am using a Nokia 6230i because the Asha 300 I was sent cannot do one touch voice calling. I do not care about music, web or other junk, all I want is that one touch voice calling. Nokia did have it sussed but really lost their way with the 'dummy' phones
By Jonesr18 on 29 Jul 2013
- Swatch Touch smartwatch in development
- Did iCloud flaw lead to celeb photo hack?
- Microsoft refuses to hand over customer emails
- Apple signs up credit-card companies for NFC payments
- Apple bans developers from selling your health data
- Intel unveils eight-core Haswell-E CPU
- Forget robot butlers: meet Fuji Xerox's robot printer
- Wing it: Google's drone delivery revealed
- Facebook testing keyword searching in old posts
- It's on: Apple announces 9 September event for the iPad, iWatch and iPhone 6... maybe
- 20 years of PC Pro: our best covers
- Why we've closed the PC Pro forums
- How to turn off Google Location Tracking
- 20 years of PC Pro: our greatest review mistakes
- 20 years of PC Pro: our first A-List
- Wikipedia's "right to be forgotten" protest hits the wrong note
- 3D printing hits the high street for plastic selfies
- 20 years of PC Pro: What amazed us in our first issue
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Best of IFA 2014: what smartphones, tablets, smartwatches are expected to launch at IFA this year?
- How to uninstall a program on Windows: remove unwanted apps from your PC
- How to format a USB drive on a Mac or Windows
- What’s the best 4G network in the UK?
- How to set up a wireless hotspot for your business: give customers free or paid for internet access
- How to download YouTube videos: save YouTube videos to your iPhone, iPad, laptop or Android device
- How to access iCloud on a PC
- Nexus 5 vs Moto G 4G (2014 model)
- Chromecast vs Roku Streaming Stick vs Apple TV: what's the best TV streaming device?
- The 8 best small tablets of 2014: what's the best compact tablet?
- How to sell more ebooks on Amazon
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office