Nokia may be focusing quite a bit of attention on its Windows Phone-powered Lumia 928 as of late, but that doesn't mean that the Finnish firm can't introduce a new device that's on the opposite end of the spectrum as well. That's precisely what Nokia did this morning with its announcement of the Asha 501, the first handset that's built on the new Asha platform that utilizes what Nokia has learned from Smarterphone, a company that Elop and Co. acquired in 2012.
The Asha 501 features a 3-inch 320x240 touchscreen on its face that sits above a back button, which is the lone physical key on the 501's face. Also included is a 3.2-megapixel camera, 4GB microSD card, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 2G GSM 850/1900 or 900/1800 connectivity options. There will be both single SIM and Easy-Swap dual SIM versions of the Asha 501, with the former quoted as lasting a full 48 days on standby, while the latter will get 28 days of standby battery life. Finally, the Asha 501 will come preloaded with 40 free EA games.
On the software side of things, the Asha 501 runs on what Nokia is calling its new Asha platform. Since it's got just one button on its face, the Asha 501 relies on a lot of tapping and swiping to get around, not unlike the MeeGo-based N9 that Nokia launched in 2011. The Asha 501 features two main screens that can be used to get around the phone; the Home screen is an icon-based view that many smartphone users are accustomed to, allowing owners to jump into a specific app. Meanwhile, the Fastlane is a list of a user's 50 most recent apps, contacts and other content.
Nokia says that the Asha 501 will launch in over 90 countries starting in the second quarter. The device will be priced at $99 before subsidies and will be available in bright red, bright green, cyan, yellow, white and black. The Asha 501 isn't the only colorful part of the package, though, as Nokia is also including a pair of red headphones with the unit.
With its squarish look and range of bright color options, the design of the Asha 501 appears to be heavily influenced by Nokia's line of Lumia smartphones. With a $99 price tag and a spec list that includes a small 3-inch QVGA touchscreen, the Asha 501 is more entry-level than any Lumia model, but its attractive design and app selection mean that price-conscious consumers or those customers in emerging markets can still get a nice-looking phone for their money. For a look at the Asha 501 in action, you can check out Nokia's demo video below.