With a refreshed design and software, the candy-colored Nokia Asha 501 turns a new page for the Finnish feature-phone lineup. Low-end Android smartphones continue to be the main target but, for the first time the Ashas, which Nokia has always insisted on calling smart, are walking the walk.
No more of the cheap gloss of the older generations, the hardware call keys are gone too - the styling is simple but finally looks relevant and up-to-date. Touchscreen is in charge and the single Back key under the display is a major feature of the new look and feel - even if it plays a very small part in the actual navigation.
The Nokia Asha 501 is premiering the Asha platform 1.0 - the redesigned interface is heavily swipe-driven - a trend that goes back to the previous Asha generation, but with the right bit of polish and fluency.
The version of the Nokia Asha 501 we have for this quick hands-on is the one with dual-SIM support. There's no side-mounted SIM compartment this time around, but there's still a hot-swappable SIM and a dedicated SIM manager that can remember the settings for up to five cards.
Long battery life, Wi-Fi, a reasonably stocked app store and exchangeable covers make this a compelling package, and a very affordable one at that. It's a nice little phone that looks fresh both on the outside and inside.
As the Nokia Asha 501 is getting ready to hit the shelves in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America, we're about to look at that Lumia-inspired shell and the MeeGo-like interface, and see what makes it tick. Join us after the break.