Alongside the release of high-end phablets and its much rumored tablet, Nokia has refreshed its line of budget Asha phones. Scheduled for Q4 2013 availability—with bright green, bright red, cyan, yellow, black, and white colors to choose from—the Asha 500, Asha 502, and Asha 503 are headed toward developing markets.
The sequel to the Asha 501, all three Asha phones show off a unique “crystal-clear design” that makes them seemingly look as if trapped in ice, a shiny aesthetic further enhanced by another layer of bright colors. Polycarbonate material has been used to achieve such effect, besides improving the phones’ sturdiness. Unlike today’s large smartphones, overall dimensions are compact enough for one-handed operation.
Cheapest of the three, the Asha 500 will sell for only $69. It offers a 2.8-inch display, 2-megapixel shooter, and an optional dual SIM configuration. For $20 more, consumers can go for the Asha 502. It features a larger 3-inch display, along with a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash and dual SIM. For $99, the Asha 503 comes in either single or dual SIM variants and has 3G connectivity, 5-megapixel camera with LED flash, and Corning Gorilla Glass 2 for added screen protection. Note that these prices are set before subsidies and taxes.
All three budget phones have 64MB RAM and offer external storage expansion via microSD card for up to 32GB. Bluetooth 3.0 is available, along with Wi-Fi and a micro-USB port. Talk time is estimated to last at least 12 hours.
Changes in the user interface and the operating system have been made “for even more intuitive navigation,” according to Nokia. As such, sharing media files on social networks is expected to be streamlined. The camera can now be accessed easily by swiping up from the lock screen. A feature called Fastlane acts like a secondary home screen where users have quick access to apps they use often.
While not as robust as true smartphone platforms, the Asha ecosystem continues to expand with more apps such as Photofunia, ESPN FC, Danger Dash, Instagram, Vine, Nokia’s own set of first-party apps (Video Director, Beamer, Storyteller), etc. The popular cross-mobile messaging application WhatsApp will also arrive soon for all three devices.