There's only room for the basics in the Asha 501's retail package. An old-gen Nokia charger is supplied, as well as a single piece pink headset (for the Black Asha 501 flavor). You'll also find a 4GB microSD card already inserted in the memory slot. There is no USB cable inside though. We should note however that the Asha 501 can charge off USB with standard microUSB cables and chargers.
The Nokia Asha 501 is a pleasingly compact device at 99.2 x 58 x 12.1mm, and one that weighs just under 100 g. It's an absolute pleasure to handle - it fits snugly in the palm and everything on the screen is within comfortable reach - and that capacitive screen is quite responsive too.
The design and build of the Nokia Asha 501 has got little to do with the older Asha generations. And we mean that in all the good ways possible. The phone manages to make an impression with its colorful outer shell. The back cover that folds around the inner body comes in a candy-box variety of colors.
Up front, the 3" screen has an ample bezel, but that's nothing out of the ordinary in the price bracket. The bigger problem is that the black front is a bit at odds with the bright-colored rear. On a positive note, the capacitive touchscreen is quite responsive and comes with a scratch-resistant coating.
The hardware Back button is the only control below the screen, the earpiece symmetrically placed across. The microphone is in the bottom right corner.
There's no brightness sensor but Nokia has included a proximity sensor, which turns the screen off during a call. The back button is pleasingly firm and springy, slightly raised above the surrounding glass surface and therefore easy to locate by touch.
The Asha 501 essentially breaks down to two parts, which is obviously the second most solid construction after unibody. The colorful shell folds around the inner body, resulting in a slim colorful frame around the screen as an accent. At the back we find the 3.15MP camera lens along with a Nokia logo and a nub at the bottom to push the phone out of the case.
The plastic used is nice to the touch, with a soft matte finish that completely rules out visible fingerprints.
Overall, we quite like the Asha 501's design. The phone is extra pleasant to hold and work with. What we're most impressed with is how such a simple design makes a huge difference compared to the older Asha generation. The Lumia influence is easily spotted - a great way to update an old, stale look while providing consistency and continuity in the Nokia portfolio - from feature phones to smartphones.
The eye-popping colors also add to the fresh feel of the device.
Overall, the Nokia Asha 501 is a perfect mix of affordable and portable, but also good-looking and up-to-date.