The Nokia Asha 501 is a fun little device that 's quick to catch the eye with an assortment of vibrant paint jobs. This is a decisively refreshed and up-to-date look for the series and the interface has been remodeled accordingly. We liked the fact that the new Asha Touch UI is involves many more gestures than before. The phone is intuitive to use and extremely friendly.
The new Asha generation does not only build on its predecessors but is trying to set itself apart aesthetically. The Asha 501 does so convincingly - the design is more akin to the Lumia 520 than to the cheap gloss of the older Ashas. The refreshed user interface is an important part of that too. Nokia's insistence on calling the Asha series smart bordered on embarrassing but it finally looks like the Finns may have a point after all.
The Asha 501 is a notch below last year's top dog in the lineup, the Asha 311 but you wouldn't know by looking or using the two phones. The one we got for this preview is the Dual-SIM version of the handset, and the only thing to be held against is the lack of a side-mounted SIM slot, which is a Nokia staple. The good looks and quality build more than make up for that though. And by the way, you can still hot-swap SIM cards, so it's not all bad. The microSD card (4GB in the bundle) and Wi-Fi connectivity are nice things to have in this price range, too.
The Asha 501 might be one of the last representatives of a dying breed and is given the task to buy more time for the WP strategy to work out, rather than lay foundations for a lineup that is aiming to dominate the market one day. Nonetheless, it's a very credible package - good-looking, durable and well-behaved. We'd gladly take it for another spin and will be keeping an eye on the Ashas to come. There's definitely good value to be had there.