The new Asha platform is a grandchild of the MeeGo OS as we had seen on Nokia N9. The phone wakes up with a double tap. It features two home screens – one is Fastlane, the other one is the app drawer. Fastlane promises to show your present and your past. Present includes currently running apps (yes, multitasking, hell froze over), while Past shows messages and other notifications you’ve received.
The Nokia Asha 501 focuses on 2G connectivity as large parts of emerging markets still rely on the slow mobile Internet. There are two apps to help with that – the Xpress browser compresses traffic and Xpress Now that recommends content based location, preferences and trending topics. Also, a partnership with Facebook and Airtel ensures people can access the social network for free, even without a data plan (this will be for a limited time only).
The Nokia Asha 501 features Wi-Fi connectivity for faster local data transfers, plus Bluetooth 3.0 and microUSB 2.0. 3G-enabled Asha 5xx phones will launch later. The new Nokia Asha OS will be a very social platform with Facebook, Foursquare, Linkedin, Twitter, Youtube and more available out of box.
There’s going to be a dual-SIM version too. The second SIM card is exchangeable without having to remove the battery, a feature Nokia was keen to point out is unique to them. The Nokia Asha 501 measures 99.2 x 58 x 12.1mm and weighs 98g. The new Asha platform promises to be very efficient – the 1,200mAh battery in the Asha 501 is enough for up to 17 hours of talk time and 48 days of standby (26 days for the dual-SIM). The Nokia Asha 501 will start shipping in June 2013 in 90 countries on 60 operators.
New Delhi, India and Espoo, Finland – Nokia today unveiled the first of a new family of Asha smartphones with the introduction of the Nokia Asha 501. The handset pushes the boundaries of affordable smartphone design with bold color, a high-quality build and an innovative user interface. The Nokia Asha 501 is the first device to run on the new Asha platform, which is designed to make the experience faster and more responsive. The Asha platform also helps developers to create, publish and make more money from apps made specifically for the new generation of Asha devices.
Standout design, innovative user interface
The Nokia Asha 501 makes high-end design and quality accessible to more people. The device is available in a choice of six striking colours that complement the elegant design. It comes in just two parts: a durable, removable casing and the scratch-resistant glass display, which features a three-inch, capacitive touchscreen and a single ‘back’ button. The compact new Asha weighs only 98 grams, for the ultimate portability.
The Nokia Asha 501 is built to make it easier for people to access everything they love, with a simple swipe and a choice of two main screens: Home and Fastlane. Home is a traditional, icon-based view for launching individual apps or accessing a specific feature, like the dialler or phone settings. The new Fastlane view was inspired by how people really use their phone. Recently accessed contacts, social networks and apps, unique to each person, are stored and presented in Fastlane. It provides a record of how the phone is used, giving people a glimpse of their past, present and future activity, and helping them multi-task by providing easy access to their favorite features.
Smarter and more personal Internet experiences
The new Asha comes with Nokia Xpress Browser pre-loaded, which compresses Internet data by up to 90%. This is aimed at making mobile browsing faster and more affordable. Nokia also announced the availability of Nokia Xpress Now, a new Web application that recommends content based on location, preferences and trending topics. It will be available via the Browser homepage or as a download from Nokia Store.
“Nokia has surpassed expectations of what’s achievable in the sub-100 USD phone category with a new Asha handset that is unlike any other, with design cues from Lumia and a mix of features, services and affordability that is valued by price-conscious buyers,” said Neil Mawston, executive director, Global Wireless Practice, Strategy Analytics. “This is a welcome addition to the market and a refreshing option for consumers looking to upgrade from feature phones.”
Asha platform for next-generation family of devices
The new Nokia Asha 501 was purpose-built to give people the best possible mobile experiences at an affordable price. It is highly efficient, with an industry-leading standby time of up to 48 days*. The Asha 501 is the first smartphone built on the new Asha platform, which leverages Nokia’s investments in Smarterphone, a company which Nokia acquired in 2012.
The new Asha platform provides developers with an open, standards-based environment for creating quality apps for consumers. Developers can create apps for the Nokia Asha 501 that will be compatible with future Asha platform-based devices. Nokia gives developers the chance to make more money through the global reach of Nokia Store and tools like Nokia In-App Payment and Nokia Advertising Exchange (NAX), as well as Nokia’s unparalleled operator billing network.
Many of the most popular applications are already available or in development for the Nokia Asha platform, including CNN, eBuddy, ESPN, Facebook, Foursquare, Line, LinkedIn, Nimbuzz, Pictelligent, The Weather Channel, Twitter, WeChat, World of Red Bull and games from Electronic Arts, Gameloft, Indiagames, Namco-Bandai and Reliance Games. WhatsApp and other key partners continue to explore new Asha.
The HERE experience, based on Nokia’s leading location-based platform, will also be available as a download for the Nokia Asha 501, starting in Q3 2013 and will initially include basic mapping services.
“The new Nokia Asha 501 raises the bar for what is possible in affordable smartphone design and optimization,” said Timo Toikkanen, executive vice president, Mobile Phones, Nokia. “The synergy between the physical design and the engine that is the new Asha platform has created a smartphone with both style and substance at a great price.”
Facebook and global operators to support Nokia Asha 501 with free data plans
The Nokia Asha 501 is expected to start shipping in June 2013. It is expected to be available through approximately 60 operators and distributors in more than 90 countries worldwide.
“We are very happy to offer the new Nokia Asha 501 through our subsidiaries in the continent. We are certain that this innovative device will follow the successful footprint of the Nokia Asha family, combining affordability with the best communication and Internet browsing capabilities,” said Marco Quatorze, Value Added Services Director for America Movil.
A leading operator in the Asia-Pacific region, Telkomsel is also supporting the arrival of the new Nokia Asha. “The Nokia Asha 501 will help us to boost the mobile Internet in Indonesia. It is powered by innovations like the Nokia Xpress Browser, based on a very efficient data consumption technology which allow us to offer best data plan tariff for people,” said Alistair Johnston, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Telkomsel. “We have a billing agreement with Nokia that supports the creation of local applications absolutely relevant to Indonesian consumers.”
The popularity of the Nokia Asha family has also prompted innovative approaches to bundled mobile services. Nokia, Facebook and mobile network operator Airtel announced they have joined forces to offer data-free access to the standalone Facebook app, as well as the mobile site m.facebook.com. By the end of second quarter, current Airtel subscribers in Africa and India** will be able to enjoy unlimited, data-free access to Facebook from their Nokia Asha 501 for a limited period of time.
Commenting on the partnership, Andre Beyers, Chief Marketing Officer for Airtel Africa, said: “The collaboration with Nokia is in line with our strategy of enabling people to access data in Africa as we seek to bridge the digital divide across the continent. We’re already witnessing tremendous growth in data use across the 17 countries where we operate. The provision of free Facebook access is an excellent proposition to the millions of Airtel consumers. We are extremely delighted to partner with Nokia to give our consumers an even better mobile experience.”
Telkomsel will provide a specific Nokia Telkomsel Asha data plan that offers up to 500 MB of data use and includes 60 minutes of calls and 60 SMS. The company will also provide a one month free data plan to consumers using Nokia Asha 501 that can be used for all mobile Internet activities including access to Facebook or downloading apps.
“This bundle is a great way to discover Facebook on your Nokia Asha and enjoy the experience for longer without worrying about data charges,” said Vaughn Smith, VP mobile partnerships, Facebook. “Working in close partnership with Nokia and global operators made this offer possible and we’re excited to help connect the world on Facebook.”
MTN, a leading operator across Africa, said it will also offer the Nokia Asha 501 and ease access to Facebook. “We are excited to support this initiative with Facebook in Nigeria and Zambia and we are looking forward to expand it to other markets,” says Pieter Verkade, group chief commercial officer at MTN.
Product specifications and availability
The Nokia Asha 501 is available in single or EasySwap Dual SIM models. All come with WiFi and Bluetooth. Other specifications:
– Dimensions: 99.2 x 58 x 12.1 mm; 98 grams
– Camera: 3.2 MP
– Single SIM standby time: up to 48 days***
– Dual SIM standby time: up to 26 days***
– Talk time: up to 17 hours
– Additional memory of 4GB (card included in box), expandable up to 32GB
– Forty free EA Games worth 75 downloadable from Nokia Store
– Available colours: Bright Red, Bright Green, Cyan, Yellow, White and Black
– Suggested pricing is 99 USD before taxes and subsidies.
* when using the single SIM model
**Under test conditions; actual results may vary, depending on use.
** *Time implementation differs by country