By Alexandra Burlacu | May 09, 2013 08:35 AM EDT
Nokia introduced its new Asha 501 feature phone, the first handset from a new lineup that will rock a revamped operating system called the Asha platform.
The Asha 501 is a full-touch phone that comes in two versions: single-SIM and EasySwap dual-SIM. The handset sports a 3-inch QVGA TFT capacitive display and will be available in a colorful array of options - Bright Red, Bright Green, Cyan, Yellow, White and Black. Other specs and features include a 3.2-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi connectivity and a 4GB memory card bundled. The phone also has a micro SD card slot for expandable memory of up to 32GB. What it doesn't have, however, is 3G connectivity.
Nokia did not offer details on the exact battery capacity of the Asha 501, but claims the handset will offer standby time of up to 48 days with single SIM and 26 days with dual-SIM.
"The new Nokia Asha 501 raises the bar for what is possible in affordable smartphone design and optimization," touts Timo Toikkanen, Nokia's executive vice president of Mobile Phones. "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."
"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," adds Neil Mawston, executive director of 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."
The new Nokia Asha 501 is expected to start shipping in June at a suggested retail pricing of $99 (before taxes and subsidies). The handset should be available through roughly 60 operators and distributors across more than 90 countries worldwide.
The Nokia Asha 501 is the first phone built on the company's new Asha platform, materializing Nokia's investments in the smartphone company it acquired in 2012. The Asha 501 also builds on Nokia's S40/ Series 40 feature phone platform. According to the Finnish company, the new Asha software platform provides developers with an open-standards-based ecosystem for creating quality apps. In other words, developers will be able to create apps for the Asha 501 and those apps will also be compatible with future devices based on the Asha platform.
Nokia also added more monetization options to app developers, with tools such as Nokia In-App Payment and Nokia Advertising Exchange (NAX), in addition to its operator billing network.
Many of the most popular apps are already available or in development for the Asha platform, touts the company. Such apps include those from CNN, eBuddy, Facebook, Twitter, ESPN, Foursquare, Line, LinkedIn, Pictelligent, Nimbuzz, The Weather Channel, WeChat, World of Redbull, as well as games from Electronics Arts (EA), Indiagames, Gameloft, Namco-Bandai and Reliance Games. The new Asha platform will also get apps from WhatsApp and other key partners.
Nokia Asha 501 users will also be able to download the HERE experience, based on Nokia's location platform, starting with the third quarter of this year. At first, it will include only basic mapping services.
The feature phone is part of Nokia's budget phone lineup, aimed at emerging markets such as India and Latin America. It will reach the UK in the third quarter of this year, with wider European availability from June. Interested buyers in the U.S., however, are in for some bad news. Nokia said the Asha 501 will not reach North America anytime soon, if ever.
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