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
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- Met Police unveils FALCON to fight cybercrime
- Free Windows attracts 50 new tablet and phone makers
- Send a text and these SSDs will self-destruct
- How to download Windows 10 Technical Preview
- Mozilla takes aim at Chromecast with $25 dongle
- Microsoft reveals Windows 10... no, really
- eBay and PayPal split up
- iOS 8.0.2: old problems remain, new bugs added
- Technopop: London sci-tech festival is just for kids
- Windows 10: a step back to go forward
- Michael Dell: Cloud infrastructure is the roads, bridges and highways of the 21st century
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- Apple Watch, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: Tim Cook's Apple back with a bang?
- BT Home Hub 5: how to get maximum speed
- 20 years of PC Pro: one-star reviews (including "the worst tablet we've ever seen")
- iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus screen comparison
- Mac OS X Yosemite release date, price and new features
- Smartphone benchmarks 2014: what's the fastest smartphone?
- What is Kindle Unlimited and how does it work?
- BlackBerry Passport release date, UK price and specs
- How to change keyboard in iOS 8: customise the iPhone 6 keyboard
- The 7 best Chromebooks of 2014
- Apple iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: is the new iPhone 6 better than the Galaxy S5?
- How to install iOS 8 without deleting apps and data
- The best smartwatches of 2014: what's the best smartwatch?
- 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