Nokia Asha 501 gets an official launch

Some high-end phones are likely to launch next week, but this week it's budget time for Nokia with the debut of the Nokia Asha 501.

Described as the first of a new family of Asha smartphones, it is also the first device to run on the new Asha platform. Take your pick from six bold colours for the shell, which is a durable, removable casing. There's also a scratch-resistant glass display, which features a three-inch, capacitive touchscreen (320 x 240 resolution) and just a single 'back' button. Keeping things nice and simple (not to mention fairly tough).

There's also the option of single and dual-SIM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a 3.2-megapixel camera, up to 32GB of storage (via card), a talk time of up to 17 hours and 40 free games from EA thrown in. The phone also uses the Nokia Xpress browser, which compresses data by 90%, ideal for saving costs. Facebook and Twitter pre-installed naturally.

Turn it on and you'll find access to two main screens, Home and Fastlane. Home is a traditional, icon-based view for launching individual apps or accessing a specific feature (the dialler or phone settings, for example). The Fastlane view was apparently inspired by 'how people really use their phone'. Which means accessed contacts, social networks and apps, unique to each person, are sat waiting for you.

'The new Nokia Asha 501 raises the bar for what is possible in affordable smartphone design and optimisation,' said Timo Toikkanen, executive vice president, Mobile Phones, Nokia. '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.'

Interestingly, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop added that the company has partnered with Facebook and global operators for the phone. That will allow users to access Facebook on their phones over the web or through the dedicated app for free - that time won't be charged to a data plan.

The Nokia Asha 501 is expected to start shipping in June 2013, available through approximately 60 operators and distributors in more than 90 countries worldwide. No UK price, but $99 in the US suggests a seriously budget offering in the UK. Even more so with that Facebook deal.

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