Nokia Malaysia today previewed the latest addition to the highly successful Asha smartphone family – the Nokia Asha 501, and looks to redefine the value smartphone market. The striking Asha 501 was recently unveiled at New Delhi, India.
Set to be available in retail channels in the Klang Valley at the end of June, and early July for the rest of Malaysia, the Nokia Asha 501 will retail at RM299 (RRP).
At first glance, the Nokia Asha 501 embodies the consistent, distinctive look of a Nokia – the vibrant colours, candy bar form factor with polycarbonate back also found on its higher end Lumia family. The smartphone can be described as ‘cute’, for lack of better word.
The device is available in a choice of colours – yellow, bright red, and black. An additional three colours will be available soon (white, cyan and green). The Nokia Asha 501 comes in two parts – durable removable polycarbonate casing and a scratch-resistant 3″ glass display. A single tactile ‘back’ button is featured at the bottom front. The Asha 501 weighs only 98 grams.
Powering the Nokia Asha 501 is a whole new Asha platform, built upon its existing S40 base, and leveraging on the technologies from its acquisition of mobile OS developer last year – Smarterphone. The result is an efficient, fluid, gesture-based mobile OS that’s light and intuitive.
The overall user interface is pleasant, with two main screens – Home and Fastlane. Home is a familiar icon-based view of available apps; and Fastlane features recently accessed contacts apps and social networks. Fastlane learns how and what the user accesses and re-arranges Fastlane accordingly. Pretty nifty. Navigation is simple. Swipe left to right or up and down from outside the bezel.
The new platform is indeed efficient, and boasts an incredible standby time of 26 days when in dual-SIM mode, and a whopping 48 days when in single-SIM mode.
By virtue of its S40 underpinnings and support for open standards-based environment, developers can easily recompile Java apps for the Nokia Asha 501 device. There are currently over 38,000 Java apps which can be easily ported to the Asha platform.
Many of the most popular apps are already available or in development for the new Nokia Asha platform, including Facebook, Foursquare, Line, LinkedIn, Twitter and games from Electronic Arts, Gameloft, Indiagames, Namco-Bandai and Reliance Games. Facebook and Twitter, are in fact, pre-installed on the Nokia Asha 501. Every Nokia Asha 501 owner will also get the EA 40 Games Pack for free (a US$75 value).
Popular IM client Whatsapp is reportedly coming to the platform soon.
With the Nokia Store and tools like the Nokia In-App Payment and Nokia Advertising Exchange (NAX), as well as Nokia’s operator billing network, the platform provides developers the opportunity to make more money. With a target audience likely to not possess credit card facilities, operator billing offers an easy, convenient way to purchase apps.
While there is no GPS built-in, the Nokia Asha 501 has the Nokia HERE experience – Nokia’s location-based platform. It will be available as a separate download, starting Q3 2013. Nokie HERE on the Asha platform uses WiFi triangulation for mapping.
As much as first impressions and hands-on experience goes, the adorable Nokia Asha 501 is fluid, and sufficiently zippy. Perfect for the emerging, value-driven market it targets, and most suitable for those seeking their first smartphone experience.
Nokia has created a smartphone of tremendous value, and may just have re-defined the entry-level smartphone space.