Nokia Asha 501 Hands-On and Initial Impressions

Nokia Asha 501 Hands on – Colours Fly

Last week, I was invited to attend the launch of the Asha 501 in Bangalore and from the very beginning it was quite evident that Colour was the theme of the event which gave a Lumia vibe to it. I wasn’t expecting much from this budget phone, but was really impressed with the form factor and nice little touches Nokia has added to the UI.

Specs

The phone comes with a 3” touch screen display, supports WiFi connectivity, Bluetooth 3.0 but misses out on 3G connectivity. This came as a big surprise to me. The phone is expected to retail at about Rs. 5000 when it hits the stores.

Here a look at the specs

  • Display : 3.0 “ capacitive touchscreen, 256K colors with a resolution of 240 x 320 pixels (133ppi), supports Multitouch upto 2 fingers.
  • Processor : 1GHz
  • Connectivity:  GSM 900 / 1800 MHz (Micro SIM), Dual SIM Support, Wi-Fi b/g, Bluetooth 3.0 with EDR, microUSB port, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Storage: 128MB, Expandable via Micro SD upto 32GB
  • Camera : 3.15MP fixed focus camera.
  • OS : Nokia Asha software platform 1.0
  • Battery: 1,200mAh
  • Software : A big list of preinstalled apps and games.
  • Colours : Bright Red, Bright Green, Cyan, Yellow, White and Black.

Nokia has started refreshing the Asha line-up for the year and the 501 is the first of the launches. This time Colour, swipe and long battery seems to be Nokia’s mantra at the ever-growing budget phones market. In a way the 501 can be viewed as the successor to the Asha 311, gone are the shiny and glossy plastics, hardware call keys and in come the vibrant, colorful, candy form factor.  The styling looks simple and in line with the Lumia series, the rubberized plastic feels good to hold. The revamped S40 UI has a touch of MeeGo and it works well.

At the event the most talked about feature of the revamped UI was the FastLane. FastLane is essentially a task switcher with added functionality. It keeps track of all your recent activity including any unclosed apps, recent call logs, calendar events, music player and so on.  Even though the 501 has received a UI upgrade, specs wise it is a step down from the 311. So will it perform well? Stay tuned for the full review. Here are two hands-on video until then.

Gaming Apps & Settings on the Nokia Asha 501

Nokia Asha 501 Keyboard, Music, Video & Fastlane

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Nokia Asha 501 – Colourful and Affordable Touchscreen @ Rs. 5,500

Last week, in an event in Delhi, Nokia had launched the Nokia Asha 501, a Full-touch, Dual Sim phone based on their new Asha Platform. The Nokia Asha 501’s UI is a welcome improvement over their older ones with a swipe driven interface to navigate the phone features and switch out of apps.

Stephen Elop with the Nokia Asha 501
Stephen Elop launched the device at the event, with Peter Skillman taking us through the features of the Asha 501, and quick demos of the features as well. Sangeeta Bavi the followed up with the giving a quick round-up of what developers can expect from the Asha Platform and additional monetization avenues available to them.

Quick Specs

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  • Display: 3 inch LCD Touch Screen with QVGA resolution (320 x 240)
  • Memory : 128 MB, 64 MB RAM
  • Storage: 4GB included, upgradable to 32 GB via MicroSD cards
  • Camera: 3.2 MP fixed focus camera, no Flash.
  • Connectivity: 2G, WiFi, microUSB
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Proximity sensor
  • Battery: 1200 mAh battery, with standby time of upto 48 days and 17 hours talk time.
  • OS: Nokia Asha Platform 1.0
  • Colors Available: Yellow, Red, Green, Cyan, White and Black

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Rather than going over the standard phone overviews, which I’m sure you’ve already read up on countless other sites already, here are a few insights about the Asha 501 based on our experience at the Launch event and a Q&A session with Stephen Elop after the launch. If you are looking for a demo of the Asha 501, jump over to the end of this post for the video.

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Where’s the  Asha 501 placed?

According to Stephen Elop, the Asha 501 is not meant for the main-stream smartphone users, but for the  80% of the world’s market, especially the emerging markets. What makes this phone ideal for them?

The price for one, since the Asha is announced at $99, which is around Rs. 5,500. It’s a full touch-screen phone, which is a good phone to transition to from a basic phone. So people using basic phones and who are looking to upgrade to the next level, the Asha fills the void between the basic phone and the Smartphone range.

Why not a Cheap Droid?

Well, we all know that there are phones from “other” platforms too in the Rs. 4000 and up ranges. Why not those you ask? Have you really tried those phones? Since an OS which was built for better hardware is  being squeezed into cheaper components, the user experience on these devices really lack polish and smoothness.

Apart from that Nokia’s Build quality is well known, which is miles apart form those other “cheap” smartphones. To mark his point, while he was talking, Elop just took a phone he was holding and threw it on the floor! The phone came out of this unscathed and working.

700-nokia-asha-501-red-frontWhy not Windows Phone then?

According to Elop, they “didn’t try cramming a high-end OS into a low-end phone“, and compromising on the user experience. If they did, with the processing power this phone has, the “live” tiles wouldn’t be live any more, and the entire UI wouldn’t be as smooth as it needed to be. The Asha Platform on the other hand is optimized for this low-end smart phone.

Nokia’s aquisition of SmarterPhone, and integration of their technology into the Asha platform allowed then to bring the fully swipe driven interface which gives a smart phone like experience on a lower-end device like the Asha 501.

Amazing Battery life

Most touch phone these days don’t last more than a day or two on a single charge.  Nokia did have a tall order to fill in order to achieve and amazing 48 days and talk times of upto 17 hours on the Asha 501. To achieve this the phone’s new Operating System did play an important role. They’ve limited the multi-tasking ability on the device.  Background tasks is one of the main battery killers on smart phones. Some system apps like the Music Player do run the background, but most others don’t. Of course it seems as if the phone multitasks since the applications restore their state when they are re-launched, but most don’t run the background.

The OS itself can’t contribute to such a long battery life, so Nokia did take some decisions to skimp on some functionality. Forgoing a 3G connectivity and some sensors. But this was required to boost battery life. 2G lends to a longer time between charges for the device. When we asked Elop regarding this, he did mention that a 3G version is also expected soon.There’s always WiFi if you want faster connectivity when you’re at home or office.

Nokia Xpress Browser and FastLane

Nokia Asha 501 FastlaneThis phone comes with Nokia Xpress Browser, which works by compressing the data being sent to the phone while you surf, allowing for faster surfing even on 2G connections. The browser also features the Nokia Xpress Now, which is a magazine like content discovery engine which shows up trending news in your location and doubles as your browser’s Home page.

The Asha Platform now has a new feature called the FastLane which shows up to 50 Recently accessed contacts, social networks and apps in the order of the last access time. This feature provides a record of how the phone is used, giving you a glimpse of your past, present and future activity. This also works as a shortcut for your frequently accessed apps and contacts, since they show up in your Fastlane.

Launch Dates?

According to Nokia, the Asha 501 should start hitting the shelves in India some time in June priced at around Rs. 5,500.

Nokia Asha 501 Demo

Nokia India says it’s Time to Shift Gears on May 9th – We’re covering it live

Nokia India has been sending out invites to the press and blogging folks for an International event in Delhi on the 9th of May.  The invite itself doesn’t state much about what’s in store, but just says that it’s “Time to Shift  Gears”. This is just a week before Nokia’s launch event in London which is to take place on the 14th of this month.

For the May 14th event in London, I’m pretty sure we’re going to see the next line of Nokia’s Lumia device be it phones or phablets. There’s still no official news on what’s in store for the 9th. The event on the 9th could point to a new range of Asha phones, since they’re Nokia’s smartphone for the masses here. Or could this be the launch of new “Gear” as in accessories?

We’ll know soon in a day. Stay tuned, since we’ll be live in Delhi covering the event. You can follow us on Twitter @myportableworld for live updates on the 9th.

[Contest] Win a Nokia Asha 305 each day with One Minute Songstar

Here’s a way for you to win a Nokia Asha 305 everyday. Nokia India is running a contest where you can  can record your favourite songs in your own voice and submit your entry into the contest. Since this contest is running on Nokia India’s Facebook page, you’ll need a Facebook account to enter. Once you’ve recorded your masterpiece, share it with your friends and get them to vote for you.

This contest runs for 6 weeks, so get started recording your masterpieces and win yourself an Asha. Here’s the link to the contest page. If you’re not looking at competing, you can still head over to the page and check out the content entries and vote for them.

Contest Link: 

One Minute Songstar on Nokia India’s Facebook Page.

 

The Nokia Asha 311 Hands on – Swipe, Pull and Pinch!

The Nokia Asha 311

Last week, we covered the release of Nokia’s latest range of Asha phones. Luckily, while I was attending Nokia’s Strategy Sharing Summit in Chennai last week, I got a sneek peek at the Asha 311 in action, with some hands on time with the phone.  I wasn’t expecting this kind of performance out of an Asha phone! The new revamped UI of the phone is smooooooth! More on this later.

Quick Specs

Let’s start with a quick overview of the phone specifications. The Asha 311 is a 3G enabled phone, with a 3″ touch screen display. Unlike the earlier Asha phones which were also 3G enabled, the 311 also features WiFi connectivity. The phone is estimated to retail around 92 Euros ( approximately Rs. 6500), before taxes, when it hits the stores.

Display: 3.0 inch Capacitive Touch Screen with a resolution of 400 x 24o
Processor: 1Ghz
Camera: 3.2 MP Camera
Storage: 256MB, Expandable via Micro SD upto 32GB
Connectivity: Quad Band (850, 900, 1800, 1900) GSM/EDGE, Pentaband (850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100) HSPA, Bluetooth 2.1, Micro USB for data and charging, WiFi 802.11 b/g
Bundled Software: Pre-installed Nokia Maps, 15 Levels of Angry Birds and the Nokia Social Client which allows users to access Facebook and Twitter.

The upgraded S40 UI

As I mentioned earlier I wasn’t prepared for the new update to the S40 interface. Since the Asha 311 is a full screen touch device and has no hardware buttons for typing, Nokia has upgraded the S40 UI to a full touch interface. Even though I’ve reviewed earlier Asha phones with 1Ghz processors, this phone really takes the cake! Nokia’s done a lot of optimizations in the S40 systems to speed up interactions on the phone.

Most of the home screen interfaces are now swipe enabled, so all you need to do is swipe across screens. The latest version also features a notification bar on the top of the screen, for events requiring your attention. Even the volume display in the media player doesn’t just show you the volume level bars, but nice new animation! And did I mention that everything is so smooth? Since there’s not much more I can write about it which would do justice, check out the video to take a look for yourselves.

A video of the Nokia Asha 311 in action

Photos of the Asha 311

For more information about the Asha 311, you can check out Nokia’s product page. Thanks to the Nokia India folks for letting us have some hands on time with the device and a demo for the video.

Nokia’s new Asha phones: S40 meets Touch

It was in Nokia World 2011 that Nokia announced the new Asha series of phones, the new set of S40 non-smartphones (or ” Lite Smartphones” as Nokia calls them). They are quite capable handsets that let you do most of the things that you could do with a normal smartphone (check our Hands on Video and our Asha 300 Review). There have been rumors of the Asha series getting Touchscreen devices (on a new platform named “Meltemi” according to some). Well, part of that turned out to be true. Today, Nokia announced three new touchscreen Asha Phones, that run S40: The Asha 305, 306 and 311. These phones will also use Nokia Browser 2.0, which, just like Opera Mini, uses server side data compression to serve up webpages faster (even on slow EDGE networks) and reduce data usage at the same time. The phones have all the usual Social Networking, IM and Email Support and also have Nokia Maps preloaded. And yes, you can play Angry Birds.

Nokia Asha 305

The Specs:

  • Display: 3.0″ WQVGA (400×240), Resistive Touch Screen
  • Imaging: 2.0 MP Camera
  • Connectivity: Dual Band (900, 1800) GSM/EDGE, Bluetooth 2.1, Micro USB for data and charging, Dual Sim
  • Storage: 64 MB, Expandable via Micro SD upto 32GB

The 305 is the new barebones (well, it has most of the stuff you would need) device, which has Nokia’s Easy Swap Dual SIM technology for quick SIM swap and removal. It should be available soon (Q2 2012) for around 63 euros/85 USD. Check out the Product Page here.

 

Nokia Asha 306

The Asha 306 is basically the same as the 305, but adds WiFi b/g support. At around 68 euros/93 USD, available sometime in Q3, 2012, it should be one of the cheapest WiFi capable phones. Check out the Product page here and the Video below.

 

Nokia Asha 311

The Asha 311 is the most expensive of the trio (around 92 euros/121 USD). But it has quite a few things that the others do not, chief among them being a Capacitive Touch Screen.

The Specs:

  • Display: 3.0″ WQVGA (400×240), Capacitive Touch Screen
  • Imaging: 3.2 MP Camera
  • Connectivity: Quad Band (850, 900, 1800, 1900) GSM/EDGE, Pentaband (850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100) HSPA, Bluetooth 2.1, Micro USB for data and charging, WiFi 802.11 b/g
  • Storage: 256MB, Expandable via Micro SD upto 32GB

While it doesn’t support a dual sim setup, the rest of the specs should more than compensate for that. Check out the Product Page here and the Video below. You can also check out our Asha 311 hands on post for more details on this device.

 

What do you think of the New Touchscreen Ashas? Let us know by commenting below, or catch us on twitter.

Source: Nokia Conversations

Nokia Lumia: What’s in a name?

Seriously.. What IS in a name? Why not just call a dog a ‘dog’? Would you be more afraid of a worm simply because it was called ‘Godzillus’? Sometimes things just are what they say on the tin.. Or are they? Well, as far as naming goes, it would seem the folks at Nokia have hit upon the right idea. For a generation of users struggling to remember the difference between a Nokia C3-00 or a Nokia X3-00, can breath a sigh of relief with the introduction of the New Nokia Lumia and Nokia Asha families.

Even for someone who has been a part of the Nokia brand architecture team, Chris George admits that “the number of Nokia products on the market had become so great that even we were becoming confused by our naming”. The decision to name products by families, rather than individually, was driven by two factors: The success of similar strategies for other technology companies and the complexity of finding so many individual product names each year.

“From an initial list of nearly 200 names only a handful made it through this stage for what was eventually the Nokia Lumia,” says Chris George. Then experts in 84 dialects started work, checking for any negative associations in different languages and assessing how easy they are to pronounce. Some letters like J, L R and V are difficult to pronounce in certain countries. Some languages don’t have certain letters in their alphabet (like Q in Polish). This process is never foolproof – as a couple of comments pointed out lumi, or lumia, is a very old Spanish word, long fallen into disuse.

Lumia has particular meaning in Finland where ‘lumi’ means snow, and ‘lumia’ means snow in plural (they know a lot about wintery weather). The Nokia Asha range has more multi-cultural connotations. Knowing that the Series 40 phones were most heavily sold in emerging markets, the Nokia team worked through a different range of name possibilities. In the case of the Nokia Lumia the team were looking for a name that sounded great when used with the Nokia brand name and ended with a vowel to make it work phonetically. Asha is the Hindi word for hope: it sounds good, and it has meaning.

The final stage involves running through the shortlist and working out what sounds best with the Nokia brand name.A shortlist was presented to the Nokia Leadership team and Lumia emerged as the winner.

[source: NokiaConversations]

The Nokia Asha Series – Hands On Video


I’m just back from the Nokia World 2011 event which took place last week in London, and have just got around to uploading videos from the event on Youtube. Here’s a video of the Nokia Asha range of phones giving you an overview of the phones, features and functionality.

Nokia released the Nokia Asha range of feature phones which are inexpensive and targetted towards the youth market. They run on the Symbian Series 40 (S40) operating system. Even though these are feature phones, they pack a punch because the devices like the Asha 303 run on a 1 Ghz processor giving the phone enough processing power to … wait for it… run Angry Birds!  It’s now become a fad to say that a phone’s arrived if Angry Birds runs on it. Apart from that, you’ve also got the popular multi-platform messaging Whatsapp service available on this phone. The S40 range of phones also have access to a lot more apps on the Nokia Store, with more on the way.

One main feature of the phone is the Nokia Browser, which streams web pages you access through their Cloud servers, compressing data, for a faster web experience. So even on an Edge connection, you should see a much faster browsing experience.

Enough of writing, and let’s jump to the video:

Nokia releases new Asha Range of Series 40 Devices

Nokia 201

Apart from the Lumia 710 and 800, Nokia’s Windows Phone devices, they announced a new range of series 40 devices. The series 40 devices were their low-end range of non-smartphone devices, meant for the average user who needed a Reliable phone, with a few other features (such as web browsing and email) added on. The new Asha series of devices, which includes the newly announced Nokia 200, 201, 300 and 303 phones add a bit more, such as the new Nokia browser, which promises to compress data up to 90%. Useful if you’re on a limited data plan, even more so if you’re stuck using 2G networks for your data access.

As Nokia says:

Nokia’s new Asha mobile phones come with all the features you really need to connect with the best of the online world at an affordable price, plus some nice surprises you’d normally expect on more expensive devices.

They are colorful, stylish and powerful and they allow you to access social networks via the web on Nokia’s amazing browser. But, by delivering the essential functions for customers, they stop short of being fully fledged smart phones, making them ultra efficient and simple to use. It also helps to keep the costs down.

 

The Specs though, for the most part, are more reminiscent of mid-range smartphones. So let’s get started.

Nokia 200 and 201:

 

The Nokia 200 is a basic s40 device with a qwerty keyboard, with Dual SIM support and a shortcut key to easily switch between them. Additionally, you can set up and manage profiles for up to 5 SIMs via the SIM manager. It has access to the net via the Nokia Browser, there’s email, IM and social network support. There’s a 2MP Camera and storage is via Micro-SD card, expandable up to 32 GB.  It has access to more access via the Nokia Store. It’s a GSM 900/1800 MHz device (no tri/quad band access here).

Talk time is up to 7hrs and there’s a 36-hour standby time. It should be available before the end of the year, for around €60 before any local taxes or operator subsidies. It will be available in 6 colours; pink, aqua, green, blue, orange and graphite. More details available on the product page.

The 201 is basically the 200 without the Dual-SIM. It’s got shortcut access to social networks, and messaging applications like Whatsapp and Facebook Chat. It should cost around the same as the Nokia 200. More details here.

 

Nokia 300:

The 300 has specs that are almost smart phone like. It has a 1 GHz processor, a 5MP Camera, a 2.4″ Touchscreen (resistive unfortunately), and a keypad. You have the usual connectivity options; Bluetooth & 3G, but no WiFi. It’s quadband GSM/WCDMA (2G and 3G). There’s 140 MB internal memory, expandable via Micro-SD card upto 32 GB.

Oh, and one more thing:

Yup, Angry Birds (lite)! On a non-smartphone. Nice Move Rovio (and Nokia).

It should be available at the end of the year, for around €85, pre tax and subsidies. More details over at the product page.

 

 

Finally, the Nokia 303:

Just like the 300, the 303 has a 1GHz Processor, a 2.6″ resistive touchscreen, Quadband 2G and Pentaband HSPA (3G), WiFi b/g/n, a qwerty keyboard, a 3.2MP camera, and all the other goodies mentioned above, including Angry Birds, the Nokia Browser, Whatsapp, etc..

It should be available for around €115. More details on the product page.

 

So what do you think?

More hands on photos and videos coming up soon. Follow us on twitter, we`re @myportableworld.

 

Source: Nokia Conversations