One or more additional members are expected to join Nokia’s Lumia line-up next Tuesday, but today the company has chosen New Delhi as the stage to unveil the Asha 501, a new touchscreen handset that further blurs the line between featurephone and smartphone.
Stephen Elop just announced the new Nokia Asha 501 on the stage of the Nokia press in India. It’s the first product of the new generation Ashas with a brand new platform. The design is inspired by Lumia and Nokia picked red as the signature color.
The new Asha platform is based on the SmarterPhone acquisition Nokia made a few years ago. The new interface focuses on swipe events and a new feature called Fastlane.
The Nokia Asha 501 is made of only two parts to make it more durable and cheaper to manufacture. The back is removable to access the microSIM, the pre-installed 4GB microSD card (up to 32GB supported) and the battery.
The phone packs a 3″ QVGA capacitive touchscreen on the front (133ppi), it supports two finger multitouch. On the back, there’s 3.2MP fixed-focus camera.
The new Asha platform is a grandchild of the MeeGo OS. 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 in 90 countries on 60 operators. It will cost $99 before taxes and subsidies for the single-SIM version.