Nokia’s has added some more colour to its Asha family with the new Asha 501 Phone.The new Asha phone is slotted for a price of about Rs.5600 excluding taxes. Nokia has introduced a new design and form factor with the Asha 501 – A full touch screen with no buttons at the bottom except for one back button that sits pretty, right at the bottom. We got a chance speak to Peter Skillman, VP, Mobile Phones User Experience, Design, about the Asha 501 at the launch event. You can check out the video below and also read the full transcript of the interview here.
Apart from the form, Nokia fans will feel a new user interface designed specially for the Asha phones starting with the Asha 501. The entire user experience is based on swipe gesture. Swipe to get to home screen, swipe to get to Fastlane (more details ahead). Which is why the Finnish company has decided to remove most buttons from the front side.There is no front-facing camera. The screen is an LCD screen.
The new form factor
The back cover is so easy to remove and replace. The colourful back covers are constructed in a fashion that it surrounds nearly all sides of the phone giving a firm hold and a beautiful look to the handset. Its very simple to remove the cover, simply press a button on the back and pull out the cover from the sides. This back side button also doubles up as a speaker output.
The Asha 501 is a dual SIM phone. One SIM sits comfortably behind the battery. The other is in a hot swap position. Which means that the other SIM can be inserted in the phone from the side of the phone without removing battery. Just besides the hot swap SIM slot, is the memory slot. Nokia has promised to bundle a 4 GB card, in the box that can be used here.
The back flaunts a 3.2 MP camera with fixed focus.
one side of the spine are the volume controller keys and the screen lock button
Home screen has all the apps. Swipe by to see the next screen – this screen keeps track of recent activities. Nokia has christened this feature ‘the FASTLANE’ – a multi tasking screen that brings all the recent activities together. It shows the user, the past, the present and the future of applications used.
A drag down notification window has also been incorporated which gives a very easy access to choose a SIM that needs to be activated.Simply touch one of the two network bars to activate the one desired. This new Asha phone supports Bluetooth and WiFi.The Asha 501 supports 2G networks in its current form. However a 3G version might be launched later in the market.
Asha 501 comes with a 1200 mAh battery that can give upto 17 hours of talk time over 2G and 48 days in standby.
Xpress Browser and Xpress Now
Nokia has tried to tweek nearly every aspect of the Asha phone. Xpress Browser and Xpress Now are designed to give easier access to websites via group tabs representing News, Entertainment and more.
Nokia Xpress Now is a web application. Here the internet becomes more personal. The user’s information like location and web history, are used to bring together content, from the internet, for the user. Information gathered, like local news, cricket scores, etc are presented in a magazine format on mobile screen.
Multitasking on the web can be done with the multi-window page where upto 6 web windows can be seen together.
Nokia has also stressed that it is focused on making new apps for the Asha series. This Asha might see a bunch of new apps. The LinkedIn app is expected to be included soon in Asha phones.
A new onscreen keypad
An interesting feature added to the new Asha is a very easy and quick way to change the language of the keypad. Long press and swipe the space bar to change the language, its that simple.
But how comfortable is it to type on such a small screen? We’ll test the phone soon to know how accurate the touch response of the onscreen keyboard is.
Launch date and Price
Asha 501 comes in vibrant shades like a Fuchsia or Bright Pink-Red, Parrot Green, Lemon Yellow, White, Black and Ice Blue shades.The Asha 501 will hit the market in Q2 at a price of Rs.5600/ 99 USD excluding taxes.
Nokia has indeed done a fantastic job with the set of new features it has brought to the economy phone range. We’ll test the phone soon to share more insight about the device.