A nice little phone that looks fresh both on the inside and outside. That's what you’ll take notice with the Nokia Asha 501. With phones that go a dime a dozen, you always risk making it sound like a condescending pat on the head. The Asha 501 though, is a lot better than that. It's an entry-level package. A budget, dual-SIM phone that fits the Asha description to a T. It's a fresh take on the touchscreen dumbphone concept - in terms of both industrial design and software. However, it’s unique and serves its purpose quite well.
A capacitive screen is making the right difference (not a first for the series anyway) and there's even a proximity sensor - finally. A fact that speaks to the Ashas' rising standing in the pecking order. A fixed-focus camera and a low-res screen are things most users should be able to live with, considering the phone's price. No fast network data is a thing to consider but if you can't have both 3G and Wi-Fi, the latter is the more sensible choice, particularly in a cheap package like the Asha 501. But it's not all about the features. More importantly, it's a good-looking, compact handset with a battery that lasts. If it sounds like something you might be interested in, you're most welcome to read on. We'll tour the bright-colored exterior and then continue with the clever, swipe-driven interface.
The interface runs reasonably fast and is easy enough to navigate but could've been smoother - scrolling animations could certainly use a higher framerate. Once you get a feel for the swipe navigation there's really no way to go wrong. Even if you open an app by mistake it's only a swipe from either edge of the screen to exit and get back to first base. The notification area comes in handy for toggling quick settings like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and spares you the need to open up the settings menu. Recently opened apps are just a swipe away in the Fastlane.