Nokia’s Asha range kept the company afloat while the transition to Windows Phone happened, however in the last quarter Nokia’s Asha shipments have taken a hit. In the Q1 earnings call Stephen Elop had hinted that a rechristened Asha was coming, and it has been revealed at Nokia’s global launch event in Delhi.
The Asha 501 represents a departure from the existing Asha design language, and is also based on a brand new Asha platform, Series 40 is no more. Now that Symbian is out of the picture, Nokia had been using Series 40 to bridge the gap between Windows Phone and their entry level phones, thus blurring the definition of a smartphone.
The Asha 501 is backed by solid specifications:
- A brand new Asha platform (everything is swipe based)
- A 3 inch AMOLED capacitive screen with a 320 x240 pixel resolution
- A 3.2 MP camera
- MicroSD card support, ships with a 4GB card inside
- FM Radio, WIFI.
- Swappable back covers, Lumia inspired design
- Xpress Now
- Dual SIM version as well, lets you swap SIMs without a reboot.
- 3G version coming later
- Dimensions: 99.2 x 58 x 12.1 mm; 98 grams
- Available colours: Bright Red, Bright Green, Cyan, Yellow, White and Black
All this ensures that the Asha 501 feels like a lot like a smartphone. Asha and Series 40 have supported apps for a while now, with Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp support being its bread and butter. When Nokia killed MeeGo, the promise was that the lessons learnt from the N9 would live on, and we finally get to see that implemented across the board with the new Swipe based UI on the Asha 501.
The UI is controlled with swipes and the only physical button is a back key. On screen the UI is split into a app launch screen and ‘fastlane’. Fastlane is the N9’s notification screen on steroids. The Asha 501 also benefits from Nokia’s acquisition of Smarterphone, and features an impressive talktime of 17 hours and even more cool 48 days standby.
The Asha 501 should have access to 90% of the Series 40 touch apps at the time of sales start. EA and Gameloft games will be available as well. The phone will come pre-loaded with the Nokia Xpress Browser, and a brand new Xpress Now feature that presents local content in a good looking UI, think Flipboard but without the fancy animations. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube etc. will also be available.
The Asha 501 will retail at $99 without taxes, a very impressive price point indeed. It will hit stores in India come June.