Nokia’s Asha phone range is mostly aimed at people who want a marginally intelligent phone that won’t cost them the earth. Their new lineup features the Asha 503 – a brightly colored phone encased in transparent plastic. Featuring a 3-inch screen and 5 megapixel camera, it’s not the most powerful phone you’ll use, but Nokia hopes that it will be embraced by people looking for a cheap phone that’s easy to use.
Build quality & design
I’ll say one thing about the Asha 503 – it’s certainly a small yet attractive phone. You have volume and power buttons along the right side of the phone, and a capacitive button on the front that serves as a back button. There’s a round button on the back that lets you pop the phone away from the actual cover, which gives you access to the removable battery, microSD and SIM card slots. The Asha 503 is a dual-SIM phone, making it great for people who travel often with different phone operators.
Strangely enough what’s the most stand-out feature of the Asha 503’s design is the cover itself. As said before it’s designed to look like the phone is encased in a block of ice, and it’s actually quite a cool effect. But sadly that’s the only thing that I loved about this phone.
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Benchmarks and Performance
Granted that the Asha 503 is a very basic smartphone, so the performance on it will reflect as so. But the experience is painfully slow at times, with certain apps taking their own sweet time to open and close. There’s no multi-tasking of course, so you just run one app at a time. Of course given the phone’s specifications, it would be a real challenge if it ran more than one app at a time. Anyone who’s used a smartphone will slowly begin to really dislike the sluggish behavior of the Asha 503, which may stop them from switching over to a smartphone altogether.
UI and Apps
The Asha 503 features the Asha OS, which is really a carry-over from Nokia’s old Meego software. The OS is easy to swipe around to access apps and frequently used shortcuts, but the overall experience is just too sluggish to bear at times. While there are a few recognizable apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter, they all run so slowly that they’re almost unusable. There are a few games included as well, but these sadly only work for five minutes unless you upgrade to the paid versions.
Screen and Camera
In a market where smartphone screens are trying to get bigger and brighter, the Asha 503’s dinky 3” screen is likely to go under the radar. With a resolution of just 320 x 240, the screen is heavily pixelated, with both text and images looking really poor.
The 5 megapixel camera is decidedly average, with image quality being borderline acceptable. Obviously there’s none of the low-light abilities seen in other Nokia models, but for basic Facebook photo posts the Asha 503 will do just fine.
The 1,200mAh battery pales in comparison to today’s behemoths, but you can squeeze through just enough usage out of the Asha 503 to make you last through the day. While you only get less than 5 hours of talk time, if you’re only doing occasional phone calls or social media, you’ll be able to get through just fine.
The Nokia Asha 503 is certainly great for doing basic phone calls and messaging, but over that it doesn’t impress due to its very average performance. It’s more worthwhile to spend just a little bit extra and get a decent Android phone with more apps and a bigger screen than trying to get things done on the tiny Asha 503.