Nokia Asha 503 review: a gem of smartphone with a battery that lasts weeks
David Phelan takes Nokia’s latest affordable phone for a spin
Thursday 12 December 2013
There’s never been a better time to buy a smartphone. The most powerful handsets ever (Apple iPhone 5s, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, LG G2 and so on) are all available at prices from reasonable to premium.
But now, for the first time, there are real jewels to be discovered at lower price points, too. The newly released Motorola Moto G offers outstanding power, screen and speed for £135 or less. And now Nokia has released the latest of its Asha range in the UK.
Asha, you may remember, is Hindi for hope and the Asha range is primarily focused on emerging markets such as India. Asha phones use their own smartphone operating system called Asha OS. It’s a smarter cousin of the Symbian 40 OS that Nokia phones have featured for years. Of course, Nokia was developing its own mobile phone OS, called Meego, until it plumped for Microsoft’s Windows Phone system. A senior executive at Nokia described Asha OS to The Independent as “Meego but at a fraction of the price”.
That means there aren't very many apps available for the system yet, with numbers measured in thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands that iOS and Android boast. But it also means that Nokia can produce phones designed to be economical in every way. And the Asha 503 is the first 3G phone in the series, so no wonder it's on sale in the UK as well. And it may be enough to keep those low-end Nokia Android phones from turning from rumour to reality.
The Asha 503 has just come out, and is exclusive to O2 for the moment. It's very competitively priced: just £79.95 on pay as you go. And while it won't suit someone aching for a premium smartphone, it's well worth a look.
Let's get the negatives out of the way first. Actually, there's really only one major disappointment, and that's the screen. It's a 3 inch screen but the resolution is low, just 133 pixels per inch. That's a long way short of that other well priced mobile Moto G which manages 326 pixels per inch. And it shows. It lacks the pin sharp precision of many other smart phones on the market, but then again, they will be more expensive than this one.
If you don't mind the screen, everything else is pretty great. The design is gorgeous. The colours are the same bright hues that Nokia is becoming known for including an eye-searingly hot red and improbably bright green. The case is clad with an extra level that looks as though it's been dropped into an ice cube, with a clear perspex case around the back of it. Not everyone will like this but it's certainly a statement, which is more than you can say about Moto G with its demure straight lines and is default black casing.
And it has a neat way of waking the screen: you double tap the phone. The LG G2 does this, you might point out, As does the Nokia Lumia 1020. True, but the Nokia Asha 501 released in the summer was there first. Just as it was with the on-screen clock in standby mode that is now on Lumia phones. Then there's the battery which is really groundbreaking. It lasts weeks between charges if wi-fi and some other features are turned off. This is especially useful in places where the electricity supply isn't routinely reliable. But it's a benefit for everyone, and it's a sign of where phones should be heading.
The camera is a five-megapixel model, way more than most phones of this price point can offer. There’s no GPS, though the inclusion of Bluetooth and wi-fi will surprise some. And though there are familiar apps like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Weather Channel and free games including Plants Vs Zombies, the apps available are not plentiful.
The Asha 503 is pretty responsive, too, even though it lacks a super-speedy processor. And though storage is limited, there’s a microSD card slot, with 4GB included - you can expand this by swapping to a 32GB card.
For a super-affordable phone, this is a gem: capable, fun, carrying a decent camera and with a design that looks classy and will certainly turn heads. This is a great my-first-smartphone.
- 1 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Piers Morgan attempts to save the Union by promising to go back to the US if Scotland votes 'No' to independence
- 4 Tyler, The Creator says having new U2 album automatically downloaded on his iPhone was 'like waking up with herpes'
- 5 Grandmas keep accidentally tagging themselves as Grandmaster Flash on Facebook
David Haines remembered: Death of British hostage executed by Isis lamented from the Balkans to Sudan
Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton nude pictures exhibition cancelled after artist concedes photos were 'stolen property'
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Piers Morgan attempts to save the Union by promising to go back to the US if Scotland votes 'No' to independence
Jennifer Lawrence to make public appearance after nude photo leaks as Met Gala Ball 2015 co-host
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
George Galloway on Scottish independence: The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Scottish independence: Britain faces 'constitutional crisis' at next election
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...
£70 - £100 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Experienced bursar or business...
Competitive & Flexible: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education are l...
£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Qualified and/or experienced te...