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

Image Gallery

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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 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]

Nokia and Windows Phone: Notes from Nokia Dev Con

Nokia held the Nokia Developer Conference in Bangalore on Friday (that’s the 4th of November 2011) and it was an interesting event; more so because we were all interested to see how Nokia would engage developers and push forward development for Windows Phone.

We also got to talk with Vipul Mehrotra, Director and Head of Smart Devices business for Nokia India, and Kris Efland, Chief Architect for Location and Commerce Platform Products at Nokia.

I’m not going to talk too much about the developer space, but here’s what we found interesting:

  • Nokia’s push for the Next Billion (Mobile users) is focused on S40: The belief is that as  Nokia Pushes the smartphone platform, more regular users will be introduced to smartphone like features in S40, such as hardware acceleration and GPS enabled devices to provide more location aware services. Since data usage on S40 isn’t that prevalent right now, applications would use binary SMS to bring in small amounts of data to provide the web like experience that smartphone users are used to. It may not be the full application experience, but it brings more data and services to a market that wasn’t really exposed to such experiences in the past.
  • Symbian: Vipul Mehrotra confirmed that Nokia is not dropping Symbian, and that Belle isn’t the end of the road. He mentioned that there was much more coming up for the Symbian Platform in the future (and I hope it’s the near future). Having used Belle, I can say that it’s a completely different experience coming from Symbian Anna and earlier Symbian Devices. Vipul also mentioned that payback to the developers on Symbian had been quite good, especially in markets such as India, where the Nokia Store has the highest downloads.
  • Windows Phone and the Nokia-Microsoft alliance: Vipul mentioned that the reviews that came in for the Nokia N9 were really good, and the hardware design was something that everyone loved. Therefore, the first Nokia Windows Phone device was made using what Nokia is known for (the hardware) and use it to provide a better Windows Phone experience. The process used to make the N9 wasn’t something that you used once and dropped, especially because of the attention to detail on the unibody polycarbonate device, and the curved glass display. Having used the Lumia 800 and the N9, I can say that the tiles interface looked really good on the Lumia 800.
  • Changes to Windows Phone:Vipul did mention that they had a deep partnership with Microsoft, and it was more an Interlock than just a tie-up. As such, Nokia would not call for changes to Windows Phone that would change the end user experience across the Windows Phone ecosystem, irrespective of the Manufacturer device.
  • On NFC: Kris spoke about NFC and the differences that exist right now, because there are no standards as such. The protocols to initiate a connection (the handshake) is pretty much the same, but beyond that, the data transfer, the storage, the secure elements, etc are not the same across devices and platforms. As such Nokia is looking towards NFC standards that would allow all (or most) services to function, irrespective of the platform. This could be data/media transfer or Mobile Payments, or any other use of NFC.
  • Nokia Maps & Bing Maps: Nokia Maps exist for pretty much every (if not every) country, and as such Nokia doesn’t intend to keep it to themselves. Kris mentioned that Nokia Maps would be coming to all Windows Phone Devices, irrespective of the Manufacturer, sometime early next year. This includes the free Turn-by-turn navigation that makes Nokia Maps so brilliant. What’s more interesting is the fact that Bing Maps would be leveraging Navteq and Nokia Maps’ resources in the future, and that rollout would occur across ALL platforms; xbox, pc, web and more.
  • LTE & Pentaband 3G: Going forward, Nokia definitely intends to bring LTE to its handset lineup. How soon is the question though. My guess is, just like apple, they’re waiting for LTE radios on phones to be more battery friendly; Nokia devices are generally pretty good in terms of battery life and standby. Also, LTE isn’t really available everywhere just yet. Regarding the current Lumia phones not having pentaband 3G, something that made Nokia devices unique (and truly global), it sounds like it will make a return in the future; it just depends on the chipset that goes into the next set of Nokia Windows Phone devices.

Will Nokia’s entry into the Windows Phone space help Microsoft? I think so yes. But how much can they do? It’s really nice to hear that Nokia’s going to play fair, and let other Windows Phone OEMs use Nokia Services (some of it at least). Will this help Nokia rise back up to the top of the smartphone list? Personally, I don’t think that’s going to happen just yet. Windows Live restrictions are quite irritating, especially the fact that you cannot change the country of residence and therefore, the billing details. If I were Nokia, I’d push for that change. But this is a start.

The first tech post I ever wrote was titled Nokia really doomed?. I’m happy to see them back in the news, and for something good.

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

 

 

Nokia drops budget & Symbian Phones for North America. No N9 either

Nokia, which doesn’t have much of a presence in the US or Canada (apart from a few low end budget phones) has decided to pull out from that market. They won’t be selling Symbian phones either (again, not like they sold many). The only Symbian^3 device that I can think of that’s available from a carrier is the Nokia Astound from T-Mobile.

Nokia’s US President, Chris Weber, had this to say:

“When we launch Windows Phones we will essentially be out of the Symbian business, the S40 business, etc. It will be Windows Phone and the accessories around that. The reality is if we are not successful with Windows Phone, it doesn’t matter what we do (elsewhere).

We’ll develop for North America and make the phones globally available and applicable. In fact, evidence of that is that the first Windows Phones that will ship are being done by our group in San Diego.

Without getting into numbers, it is significantly larger than anything we have done in the past and the most we will invest in any market worldwide. They are putting their money where their mouth is.”

 

That’s not all folks; Nokia says they won’t be selling the N9 in the US either (when it eventually launches that is). Oh wait, they won’t be selling it in the UK either!

Now, I understand that the focus has shifted to Windows Phone 7. Nokia really needs the Microsoft push (and wallet. Oh and it’s clout with the carriers too). For a device (or a series of devices) to be successful, it has to be available on all possible carriers at an attractive price point, maybe with a decent data/voice tariff too. It’s good to see that Nokia has FINALLY decided to do something about that. The US market would be a HUGE bonus for Nokia and would turn the company around (and prove Stephen Elop right). But what I don’t get is why the N9 isn’t coming to Nokia’s traditional markets. The limited launch “zone” so to speak, doesn’t cover India either.

Well, time will tell. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to what Nokia will bring to the Windows Phone party.

Source: ZOMGITSCJ (1)(2)

Batik Indonesian Theme for Symbian Phones


Looking around for a cool theme for the N8, I came across this nice looking theme on IND190. Give you Symbian Phone an Indoensian twist with the Batik Theme. The theme is available on OVI Store for Symbian^3, Symbian ^1 and S40 phones. Here are the links to get the theme for you phone:

Batik Indonesia for Symbian^1 & Symbian^3
Batik Indonesia for S40 C3-00

Nokia C3: Camera and Music Player (as well as Push Mail)

The Nokia C3-00 isn’t an imaging phone, isn’t an XpressMusic phone and isn’t even a smart phone..

But when you have the option of plugging in a 8gb memory card, you will definitely have enough music at your disposal and well as the ability to take all the pictures you would need.

The Camera:– The maximum resolution you can take pictures is 2.0MegaPixel, You quite literally have no option to fiddle with any setting. The only things you can change are the image size(from 2.0 to 0.1Megapixel), simple effects like sepia and greyscale, and white balance adjust. You do have an option of a self-timer as well. There isn’t an LED flash and you can forget taking any close up shots as there isn’t any auto focus or the ability to take macro pictures.

But the camera is functional, if the conditions allow.

Outdoor, Daylight
Outdoor, Daylight
Outdoor,  low light
Outdoor, low light
Indoors , low light
Indoors , low light

The camera isn’t ideal but i couldn’t really complain, it serves its purpose and that’s about it. One thing i did notice was that you have the option to turn camera sounds off, which is something i haven’t seen on a camera phone in a while. I feel that option be removed with future firmware updates.

The Gallery is quite easy to get around.
The Gallery is quite easy to get around.

Navigating through images is the usual as with all S40 devices, but the added feature of a image timeline does make things a lot easier.

The timeline feature in the image gallery
The timeline feature in the image gallery. Useful!

Music Player: The C3’s speaker is good enough to handle voice calls, but suffers when made to play music. Everything sounds tinny and horrible, luckily the C3 comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack. So plugging it into your headphones or a larger audio system is always an alternative. It takes a special kind of boredom to subject yourself to music from the C3’s speaker. Using the headphones is a good alternative as they serve their purpose quite well.

In cases like this you truly find the 3.5mm jack to be a boon, plugging in external devices makes life so much easier and the consequently makes the phone much more usable.

The Menu navigation for the C3’s music player is well laid out and you should never have a problem getting to your music. The C3 comes with an equalizer to fine tune the sound quality, i’m not sure how often it would be used, but  its always a good thing to have it as an option.

The Music Menu along with the Equalizer
The Music Menu along with the Equalizer

I would suggest buying a small capacity memory card to use with the C3 for your music, the phone has an inbuilt memory of 55mb which is barely enough for music. While the speaker quality is nowhere close to the mark for music playback the headphones and the 3.5mm jack make it quite usable as a music device.

Push Mail: The C3 is by no means a smart phone, but in this day and age the ability to check emails on the go is pretty much a minimum requirement.

Multiple Email addresses, all taken care of easily
Multiple Email addresses, all taken care of easily

The Push mail service on the C3 is laid out extremely well, with no complications. Ideal for a first time user.

The interface for Push Mail is very to navigate through.
The interface for Push Mail is very to navigate through.

All the functionality of a web based mail box without much fuss. The mails are displayed clearly and subfolders are easily accessible.

Simple and Functional
Simple and Functional

The inability to multitask is a problem, but since this isn’t a smartphone, its not too big a deal.

Uh, Oh, Signing into chat shuts down the mail application
Uh, Oh, Signing into chat shuts down the mail application

Its a point worth noting that when you use the C3 for online applications its limitations become quite apparent. Its ability to function as a daily phone is superb. But when given the task of being online constantly the lack of multi-tasking makes things quite difficult.

The C3 performs exceedingly well, but if you need a phone for the internet, or you have to be online for an extended period of time i would recommend a phone capable of multitasking.

Thats all for now! Coming up soon The Final Round up of the Nokia C3 as well as a few Size  Comparison!

Stayed tuned to our Twitter Channel for constant updates ! We’re @myportableworld !

Nokia C3: First Impressions

At first glance the Nokia C3 seems quite impressive. With its Qwerty keyboard, smooth glossy finish and neat design most people think its a smart phone. Unfortunately it runs the S40 Operating System and is incapable of multitasking.

You can check out the specifications at the Nokia C3-00 device profile post, you could also check out The Nokia C3 Unboxing.

Fit, Finish & Feel: The C3 has an excellent feel to it, the panels are quite flush and lend an upmarket feel to the phone. The glossy finish is definitely worth a mention and doesn’t make the phone feel plasticky. Though the surface is a bit of a fingerprint magnet, it isn’t much of a problem.

Definitely a good looking phone..
Definitely a good looking phone..

The only grouse i have with the body of the C3 is the annoying battery panel, it never seems shut flush, and seems to be squeezed in too tight at times. This may have just been an issue with our trial piece, but its a small, yet irritating problem.

Irritating Battery Panel
Irritating Battery Panel

There are no buttons on the sides on the phone, all the volume function are handled by the D-pad. The keys are large enough (for a qwerty), and offer good tactile feedback.  The space bar seems a bit off, it feels like there are two internal buttons being operated by one big space bar. I never had an issue with the operation of the space bar, its worked perfectly every single time. Just that there were occasions where the feedback left me with a quizzical expression on my face.

The Call Disconnect button(the big red one) handles the duties of switching the phone off(as well as switching it on), as there isn’t a dedicated On/Off button for the phone.

But here is where I had a huge issue with the phone. The OFF button just switches the phone off , you can’t control the profile selection for that you either; need to traverse menus to change your profile or assign profile selection to the either of the menu keys.

Its more a matter of convenience, my age old Nokia 8310 has that function and  so do most Nokias, so why not this one?

The Keyboard
The Keyboard

Ah, the keyboard. What a lovely mess it is. In an effort to squeezed in local language support, the keyboard takes a massive hit. There are just too many letters on it. I assume most people buying the C3-00 will be buying their first Qwerty enabled phone, trying to type was a pain especially when you realise the Hindi text has swallowed a few special characters (here’s a fun game, try finding the ; on the C3’s physical keyboard).

Luckily the C3 IS available with a normal keyboard(phew).

The battery life of the C3 is quite impressive, equipped with a 1320mAh battery the C3 lasts over 3 days with normal usage, including web browsing. Limiting my usage to just calls and texting I was able make the battery last almost 5 days.

It’s been a while since i last used an S40 device, but honestly i can’t really complain. The interface is smooth, though a bit slow at time. If you haven’t used a smartphone on a daily basis you won’t really miss the multitasking.

That all for now, up next we’ll be checking out the 2.0 MegaPixel camera and the Music player on the C3.

Stay Tuned to our Twitter Channel for regular updates. We’re @myportableworld !

The Nokia C3-00 Unboxing

We got the Nokia C3-00 review piece a few days ago and thought it was about time we showed everyone what’s in the box.

For a detailed list of the C3-00’s specifications you can check out our C3-00 Device Profile.

The Box
The Box

Well to be honest the box doesn’t contain much. You get the bare essentials –

  • A Nokia C3-00
  • Nokia Battery BL-5J  (1320mAh !)
  • Nokia Compact Charger AC-3 (which is a bit chunky, when compared to the AC-8)
  • Nokia Stereo Headset WH-102 (3.5mm jack, which is thankfully becoming the standard)
  • User guide
  • And a Thank You note from Nokia :)
and what it contains..
and what it contains..

Honestly there isn’t much to complain about, apart from not having much to begin with. But its definitely good enough.

We’ll be putting the First Impressions of the C3-00 soon.

So stay tuned to our Twitter Account for updates, we’re @MyNokiaWorld.