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First Look: Nokia Asha 501
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First Look: Nokia Asha 501

3:33 /

In this video we take a first look at the Nokia Asha 501. It has a 3-inch touchscreen and a colourful design but only uses 2G data. It's cheap though, to help it appeal to emerging markets.

I'm Andrew Hoyle for CNET, and I'm taking a first look at the Nokia Asha 501. Nokia Asha 501 is part of Nokia's budget range of phones aimed to some emerging markets like India and Latin America. It will be available in Europe, but Nokia has said that it definitely won't be shipping to North America any time soon if ever. It has a low resolution capacity of touch screen, uses 2G data network only, but it has a fun, vibrant plastic design and a super cheap price tag of $99. If you spent time with any of Nokia's recent phones, the 501 will be quite familiar. It's got a one-piece poly-carbonate back that's very reminiscent of the Lumia 520. The back panel is made from one single sheet. So, the only theme you'll find on the phone is around the edge of the screen. That helped makes it feel very solid and secure. I wasn't able to put it through CNET's usual brutal sets of stress tests, but it certainly felt like it could take a knuckle, too. It's available in a rainbow of garish colors to suit your mood, or more likely, your outfit. It's comfortable to hold as it's 3-inch screen doesn't require you to stretch your palms out. But its body has a 320x240 pixel resolution, which compared to the full HD smartphones around is pretty poor. You really can't expect that sort of quality for such a cutdown price tag. Icons and larger texts are all perfectly readable. It's not particularly bright, nor does it have great colors, but again, it does the job adequately for the money. It runs on Nokia's own Asha software rather than the swanky Windows Phone 8 software you'll find on the more premium Lumia range. Looks fairly simple and has a couple of neat tricks up its sleeve. But it won't appeal to those of you after a more refined feature-rich smartphone experience. Unlock the phone, and you'll be taken to a grid of apps similar to what you'd expect to see in iOS. Swipe either side of the apps, and you'll see a scrolling activity log displaying recent apps, activities, or recently called contacts. It's pretty easy to operate, so it shouldn't scare off the techniphobes among you, but it doesn't have the sort of slick multi-tasking features crucial to any top-end smartphone. Doesn't have a wealth of apps store either, although some essentials like Wazzup, Facebook, Twitter, and Plants vs. Zombies are available. Surely not going to be a huge issue that a lot of data-hungry apps aren't available, the 501 only uses 2G networks. You won't be able to make use of faster 3G data, and the lightning-fast 4G speeds will only be a fever dream for 501 owners. Sending a quick tweet will just about be doable, but don't try and attach photos or videos unless you want a long wait. Nokia explained that 2G networks are still the most used in countries like India, where the 501 is aimed, so it's perhaps not as big a deal as it first seems. Storage comes in the form of 4 gigabyte SD card which you can swap out for a bigger one if you like. It will also be available in either a single or dual sim version if you want two keep two sim cards on board for easier data roaming. Nokia wouldn't say what processor is on board. We know it's not gonna be anything impressive, but it seemed just about capable of providing fairly smooth navigation for the Asha software. But its low-end specs, cutdown price, and only 2G connectivity, Nokia's Asha 501 really isn't aimed at smartphone purists. Instead, it's aimed squarely at emerging markets like India and Latin America. Its cheap price and steady build quality might make it a reasonable option to pick up as an emergency festival phone, though. I'm Andrew Hoyle for CNET, and this is the Nokia Asha 501.

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