Nokia recently announced the next Asha phone at a global launch event in New Delhi, India. The Asha 501 features full touch interface, new software, colourful design, and much more. We decided to compare the best Asha phone till date (Asha 311) with the new Asha 501, here is what we observed.

nokia asha 501 back, colours

Let’s dig into the past for a moment. Nokia announced its first ever Asha phone in October, 2011 with QWERTY keyboard. Later, it switched to touch and type input method. Till that date full touchscreens were usually meant to be for smartphones only. Nokia broke that tradition, and introduced a new range of three Asha feature phones with full touch interface (and notification bar) in June, 2012. Yes, Asha 311 was one of them.

This year, Nokia is ready to take the feature phones to a new level with Nokia Asha 501. It comes with great design and software improvements, to be specific with new software. Nokia is calling it Nokia Asha Software Platform, and 501 is the first device featuring the first version of the new platform. Let’s skip to the comparison of both Asha phones, to help you decide if you should replace your old Asha 311 with the new 501 – or maybe just replace any phone you own.

Nokia Asha 501

In terms of design, you know how Nokia is designing the devices lately. Yes, colours. Lots of them. This Asha device comes in bright red, bright green, cyan, yellow, white and black. Plus, the back panels can be changed easily. Thus, if you change your mind after buying the phone – just change the back panel not the whole device (unlike the… you know).

asha 501 side

asha 501 bright red

asha 501 lock screen

As you can see, there are no hardware buttons (Goodbye, keys!); except a volume, power and back key. The display is 3-inch QVGA (320 x 240, 133 ppi) LCD with capacitive two-point touch capability. The display is at par with entry-level Android smartphones.

It comes in two variants – single-SIM and dual-SIM, both micro SIM slots. Of course, it has GPRS connectivity to stay connected to internet whenever you want, but unfortunately no 3G support. A 3G variant is also expected to be launched. Nonetheless, you get WiFi (IEEE 802.11 b/g) to access internet at high speed.

Software part is completely revamped too. There are two home screens, one the default app drawer and second Fastlane. What Fastlane actually does is, when you swipe down it shows the activities you’ve done on the phone recently, with quick controls for ease of access. When you swipe up, it shows the upcoming stuff you’ve scheduled to remember.

The lock screen shows notifications, which can be opened or removed with just a swipe. Does the swipe thing remind you of MeeGo in Nokia N9? Apart from the user-interface improvements there is also the new Nokia Xpress Browser, to save data usage up to 90%. The swipe functionality comes at different areas when you use the device, even while typing. Just a swipe, and you switch from one keyboard to another.

Nokia Asha 311

nokia asha 311 vs 501 comparison

We’ve already posted about Asha 311 in detail. Just to refresh your memory, here’s a quick summary. Asha 311 features 3-inch capacitive LCD touch display, no dual-SIM support, WiFi, both 2G and 3G connectivity, and Series 40 Asha platform. It’s full touch similar to 501, but with completely different design and series 40 interface. (Read more about Nokia Asha 311)

Asha 501 vs. Asha 311: Comparison (Specifications)

BasisAsha 501Asha 311
Dimensions99.2 mm x 58 mm x 12.1 mm106 mm x 52 mm x 12.9 mm
Weight98g95g
Display3-inch two-point touch capacitive LCD3-inch two-point touch capacitive LCD
Screen Resolution320 x 240 (133 ppi)400 x 240 (155 ppi)
Dual SIM SupportYes, OptionalNo
Connectivity2G/WiFi, Bluetooth v3.02G/3G/WiFi, Bluetooth v2.1
BatteryBL-4U (1200 mAh)BL-4U (1110 mAh)
Battery Backup2G: 17 hours (talk time), 48 days (standby)2G: 14 hours (talk time), 29 days (standby)
Camera3.2 MP sensor, No Flash3.15 MP sensor, No Flash

Price and Conclusion

As you’ve noticed, there is considerable improvement in user-interface and design, which makes the Asha 501 worth the price. Talking of which, Asha 311 was priced at $119 (6,500 INR). What about 501? It’s just $99 (excluding taxes and duties). We’re expecting the price will be around Rs.5,500 in India.

Bottom line is, if you’re low on budget, but need a smartphone like experience, Asha 501 is for you. You can even use it as a secondary phone, if you carry more than one at a time. The Asha 501 is scheduled to be launched in market at the end of 2nd quarter of this year. Let us know your views in comments below!