Nokia Malaysia has announced the arrival of its new Asha smartphone, the Asha 501, to our shores. Built from the ground up to be a user’s first smartphone, the new Asha 501 brings the smartphone experience to lower price points.
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Continuing Nokia’s tradition of well-built budget-friendly devices, the new Asha 501 also retains the colourful and funky spirit that epitomises the Nokia that it is today. In addition, the Swipe user interface from the ill-fated MeeGo-powered Nokia N9 makes a return on the Asha 501 as well, making this device one of the most Nokia of smart devices to have come out from the Finnish company in recent years.
Powered by a new mobile OS built from scratch as a direct result of Nokia’s acquisition of Smarterphone in November 2011, the new Asha 501’s OS – called the Asha platform – is extremely lightweight, allowing it to run efficiently on limited hardware – thus allowing Nokia to offer ever lower prices for the Asha 501. The UI also remains impressively slick, despite the limitations in hardware.
The Asha 501 has a 3-inch TFT capacitative touchscreen with a resolution of 320 x 240 – very low on both screen size and resolution by today’s standards, but then again not many “smart” devices are priced at the same price range as the Asha 501. There’s also a 3.2MP rear camera, WiFi connectivity, Bluetooth 3.0, microUSB as well as support for two SIM cards with 2G connectivity. A 4GB microSD card is also included with every Asha 501. The 1200mAh battery is also rated for 26 days of standby, and 17 hours of talk time.
For such a small device, Nokia has managed to include some nifty software features into the Asha 501. First up is the new home screen called Fastlane, which keeps track of every activity the user does on the device, such as recent contacts, messages, apps, and even social media entries. In Nokia’s words, Fastlane tracks the user’s “past, present and future”, displaying up to 50 entries at a time, including reminders for future events such as calendar appointments or birthdays.
In addition, the always-on display makes a return to Nokia devices – and now has a new name. Called the Glance Screen, the screen stays in a low-power state when the phone is locked and displays important information, such as the time and any notification entries. And, like the Nokia N9 as well as future Lumia devices, users need only double tap on the screen to wake the device.
Finally, the Nokia Xpress Browser has also been given an update. On top of compressing website data by up to 90% to reduce data costs, the new Xpress Browser now also supports tabs, and there’s also a new pull-up menu for additional settings.
Nokia’s latest Asha 501 will be available at all Nokia retail stores in Malaysia at the end of this month, at a very competitive price of RM299. At launch, the Asha 501 will be available in Bright Red, Yellow and Black colours, while another three (White, Cyan and Green) will be available soon afterwards. Nokia Malaysia also announced that the Asha 210, which features a QWERTY keyboard, will also be available at the end of the month, at a retail price of RM219.