Nokia launches $99 Asha phone, reveals new OS

Nokia launches $99 Asha phone, reveals new OS

Summary: Nokia unveils the dual-SIM Asha 501 device powered by an updated Asha OS featuring software capabilities from Smarterphone, which allows developers to create smartphone-like apps on feature phones.

TOPICS: Nokia, Mobile OS, India

Nokia on Thursday announced its US$99 Asha 501 mobile device, which will be powered by a refreshed Asha operating system (OS) featuring software capabilities from Smarterphone.

In a statement released today, Nokia announced the new dual-SIM Asha 501 and its new Asha OS with capabilities from the Norwegian mobile OS developer Smarterphone, which the Finnish phonemaker bought in January 2012. It also claims the phone has a battery standby time of up to 48 days.

nokia asha w headphones
The new Fastlane skin shows users their last-used social media tool or apps. (Credit: Nokia)
The key feature of the new software is its ability for users to swipe between two screens: the traditional home screen to launch apps and phone functions, and the "Fastlane" skin, which lists recently accessed contacts, social networks, and apps, it said. Smarterphone develops an OS which runs smarter, smartphone-like apps on feature phones.
"The new Asha platform provides developers with an open, standards-based environment for creating quality apps for consumers. Developers can create apps for the Nokia Asha 501 that will be compatible with future Asha platform-based devices," Nokia stated.
The new Asha OS is a departure from the previous iteration which was based on Nokia's Series 40 operating system.
The OS refresh is timely, given that the company revealed a 46-percent quarter-on-quarter decline of its Asha device sales to 5 million units in its first quarter results. The company shipped 9.3 million Asha devices in the previous quarter. It said the figures reflect "intense competitive industry dynamics as well as lower seasonal demand".

Collaboration with Facebook, telcos

Beyond the OS update, Asha 501 owners who are also Airtel subscribers in India or Africa will be able to access Facebook--whether via the app or browser--without additional data charges. This service will be available for a limited time after its launch, it noted.
Other popular applications which are already available on the platform or in the development pipeline include Twitter, Tencent's WeChat, and games from Electronic Arts and Gameloft, the company added.
However, popular messaging tool WhatsApp was not available at launch. Nokia said a maps application will only be launched in the third quarter.
From June, consumers can buy the phone, which will be available in six colours, from 60 operators and distributors in more than 90 countries.
Besides Airtel in India, Indonesia's Telkomsel is another Asia-Pacific operator which has committed to bring the phone to market, the company stated. The operator will promote its Asha data plan which offers subscribers up to 500MB of data use as well as 60 minutes of talk time and 60 SMSes. It will also provide a one-month free data plan for Asha 501 users, according to Nokia.

Topics: Nokia, Mobile OS, India

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  • Why?

    Naming a dumb phone "Smarterphone" is too clever by half. And a battery standby time of just two days...that's gotta be a typo. My Monte is rated up to 760 hours on standby.
    • smarterphone is the name of the company acquired by Nokia

      Nokia just integrated the features of SmarterPhone platform into Asha series. So dont blame SmarterPhone for Asha's limitations
    • You're correct.

      It was a typo. The standby life is actually 48 days, according to Nokia.
    • Thanks!

  • Developing Markets

    Appears to be a play to offer an affordable device in developing nations. Worth a shot.
    beau parisi
  • Nokia lost it again!

    There are already amazing smartphones by Samsung, LG and Micromax at less than 5500rs or 99$. And with much better features. Nokia is under-estimating Indian consumers.
    Samsung Rex 60 C3312R - Rs 3770
    Samsung Rex 70 S3802 - Rs. 4385
    LG Cookie Smart T 375- Rs. 4299 (FM, Capacitive touchscreen,dual sim, wifi, 3.2 in TFT, 2MP camera)
    LG T515 - Rs. 4499

    Not to forget;
    Micromax Ninja 3.5 A54 - [ awesome list of features for only Rs. 4599] --- 1 GHz Qualcomm Scorpion, 3 MP Primary Camera ,Android v2.3.5 OS, 3.5-inch Touchscreen, Dual SIM , 3G SUPPORT, 256 MB RAM , Standby Time 170 hrs, Wifi, Hotspot, Bluetooth, FM, GPS,etc.. It blows all mobiles at this price point . I use it and its awesome~!
    • there is a limit to how many apps you can install on a cheapo android phone

      even with app2sd the phones run out of space, battery life is drained out and worst of all phone becomes extremely as more and more apps are installed.
      • Re: there is a limit to how many apps you can install on a cheapo android p

        As opposed to how many can you install on an Asha?
  • $99?

    You can get a decent, no-contract Android smartphone for $99.00. Case in point: I paid $99.00 for my current HTC One V when I moved to Cricket. Sure that included a $40.00 discount for bringing a new line over, but there are other Android phones on Cricket, Virgin and Boost (& others) that normally sell for $99.00 or less, un subsidized, no contract.
  • what about the stand by time?

    how often do you have to recharge your ninja phone? nokia claims that the new asha can last up to 48 *days* in stand by. i would pay $99 just for that feature alone.
  • Nokia pays now the price ...

    ... for the hasty switch to Windows Phone. The low/mid segment will be eaten away by cheap Android phones quite soon and in the high-end market it will be very hard to beat Apple, Samsung and HTC with their premium Android devices. Nokia is doomed. Other companies should learn the lesson that joining Microsoft is suicide. The maelstrom of their decline ( will drag every partner into the same nemesis.