back to article Nokia's debuts new 'Fastlane' UI in $99 flagship Asha 501

Nokia has unveiled a new UI in the flagship $99 Asha 501 to help fend off a dramatic collapse in sales of the low-end devices. Strong sales of cheap but decent quality Asha in growth markets like China and Africa had helped the fallen Finnish giant weather a tumultuous transition to Windows Phone, which saw its smartphone sales …

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FAIL

This will struggle to compete with low-end Android devices

Nokia would have been better served by producing a low end Android device. Doh!

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Re: This will struggle to compete with low-end Android devices

Initially I thought you were wrong, because I doubt that low end smatphone users in emerging markets really care about the OS.

But on reflection, if the article's correct that it is a 2G device, then I'd guess they are crippling the device intentionally. What's the use of a smartphone with a 2G connection? Maybe its part of Elop's death wish for Nokia?

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Re: This will struggle to compete with low-end Android devices

The specs for the Asha phone mention...

Standby time: Up to 48 days (Dual SIM standby time: up to 26 days)

Talk time: Up to 17 hours (all variants)

Which Android phones realistically last more than a couple of days without charge?

I should imagine this is aimed at those markets where it is important that phones don't die as soon as you're out of sight of a mains socket!

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Go

Re: This will struggle to compete with low-end Android devices

I have my smartphone forced to 2G most of the time, as this is MORE than enough for chat / mail / light browsing. Even fast enough to fetch tiles from Google Maps on the fly. Only switch on 3G for longer browsing sessions / downloading / streaming.

You should try it too, and see the effect it has on battery time ;)

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Anonymous Coward

2G Phone

Uses much less juice than 3G.

Also when was the last time you actually believed a manufacturer's battery claim?

Unless it comes with two backpack mounted truck batteries I think 48 days is abit unrealistic.

My old 3310 got about a week, I can't see this one managing more than that.

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JDX
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$99

That's only a little below the full-smartphone Lumia 520 price-point. So presumably Nokia will soon be competing directly agaisnt android with WP8 in the low-end, which could be pretty interesting to watch.

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FAIL

Nokia competing against Android

To be fair, with Android stellar - vs WinPho's morobund - growth rate, the race is already run. WinPho lost. FAIL.

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JDX
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Re: Nokia competing against Android

Not really. You can't make generalisations across the entire world like that. WP could be a surpise hit in the low-price sector.

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Re: Nokia competing against Android

Not really. You can't make generalisations across the entire world like that. WP could be a surpise hit in the low-price sector.

You hope. After previously noting that the new phone competes head-to-head with the Lumia 520. AFAIK the Ashas are still outselling the Lumias by quite a margin and with phones like this, presumably with Facebook doing an Amazon and financing the data, are not likely to change that very much.

Meanwhile the cheap Android phones will continue to benefit from platform (hardware and software) improvements and continue to flood the market. Support for apps and services like Mpesa in key markets could be far more important than OS, battery life and Facebook.

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JDX
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Re: Nokia competing against Android

Why would I hope that - I don't live in a developing nation. I know that WP is a good platform, and reviews say it is better than Android on bottom-end smartphone hardware so from that perspective it would be good to see competition - Android should not have the whole market.

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Re: Nokia competing against Android

> reviews say it is better than Android on bottom-end smartphone hardware

The dead WP7 was fine on low end hardware, but that was because it couldn't run stuff in background*. Apps were tombstoned if another app was started and then it had to restart if 'brought back'. All WP7 phones were single-core because WP7 did not support multiple cores, nor multi-tasking.

* there was a sort-of background that was more like MS-DOS TSRs than actual multi-tasking and it was as difficult to write for.

The current WP8 _requires_ dual core 1GHz, which is why no WP7 phones will run WP8. So how is that "bottom-end smartphone hardware".

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JDX
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Re: Nokia competing against Android

Because hardware marches on at a crazy pace... hence Lumia selling at £99 already which will very soon be $99.

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How long till the 2G signal is turned off in the UK to make way for 3.5G/4G/Whatever the marketing department calls it today G ?

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re: How long

I think I heard a figure of 2016 for "Technology neutrality" meaning any technology can be used on a any band. Considering that a full swap could take up to 2 years we have another 5 years to go minimum before 2G is turned off.

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I don't get the this Landfill Android meme

The implication is that these devices are pretty much worthless and should be consigned to landfill.

But they are not worthless - they work fine, and most people are entirely uninterested in S/W upgrades etc, so will continue to use these cheap and cheerful devices just as long as they would use any other cheap and cheerful device - irrespective of whether they run Android.

You may as well use the phrase "Landfill phone that isn't a top of the range smartphone". It's nothing to do with Android.

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Boffin

Re: I don't get the this Landfill Android meme

He means that the cheaper the phone, the greater the chance that it will break and rather than fix it, its cheaper to throw it away and buy a new one. Hence the landfill...

Unfortunately that's the sad truth. Cheap disposable devices will win out.

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Re: I don't get the this Landfill Android meme

"The implication is that these devices are pretty much worthless and should be consigned to landfill."

Because they often are exactly that. With cripplingly slow processors and a lack of memory, they fill up just installing basic and common apps, let alone anything fancy.

...and since people think "Android" means "always the same" in terms of capabilities, just like they think a Windows Laptop for £200 will be as good as the £1000 ones (admittedly sometimes true, but you know what I mean...) it's no wonder they're then fed up and blame Android for the device issues later...

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Re: I don't get the this Landfill Android meme

I completely agree - there is a big difference between selling a "cheaply made" knock off of a premium product and producing a "cheap to make" basic product.

The first will almost always fail to meet performance expectations and likely break much earlier than expected, the later has a decent chance of doing the functional things its intended to do in a reliable fashion and to last a long time. We shouldn't forget that in the markets they are pitching this into, $99 is still and expensive product and I suspect reliability will be a big long term selling point.

I think Nokia will want to introduce an Android phone range at some point - but I wouldn't be at all surprised if that was 2-3 years away. All the reviews of their current range are generally positive, everyone I've spoken to who's used one has liked it and they've got themselves to almost neutral in terms of cash burn.

As a business the strategy looks to be working for them - the last thing they need right now is another product line to distract them. They also don't need to get to 30% market share - 10% would do just fine and I dont think thats impossible for them.

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FAIL

Re: I don't get the this Landfill Android meme

I see people 'upgrade' their smartphone every two years or even less, where upgrade actually means buying a new one and throwing out the old one. From what I read this is even worse in countries where 2-year contracts that sponsor the phone is common.

I bet many entry-level last longer than two years, given that this is the minimum warranty they need to give on them in Europe.

So which phones are contributing to landfill? Yup, those bleeding-edge 'never-fast-enough' ones.

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Re: I don't get the this Landfill Android meme

> Because they often are exactly that. With cripplingly slow processors and a lack of memory, they fill up just installing basic and common apps, let alone anything fancy.

Many people just want a phone to make calls and maybe a bit of email and messaging. They don't care about the latest games or irrelevant apps.

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Re: I don't get the this Landfill Android meme

I think what they refer to is the number of low spec Android devices that just do not perform to the level expected. Lets face it Android needs a fair bit of power to run nicely, something the landfill devices do not have. Also these devices usually come with old versions of software. Again not great all round. Not everyone is interested or has the know how to start rooting and tooting.

I see this a lot when people by cheap Android tablets. They think they have a bargain but once they realise they dont run as expected they end up on the heap. I guess you could say its their own fault for buying an unsuitable device but it also depends how it was sold to them. That is Landfill Android.

So to have a phone that out of the box runs nice and smooth, has the main functions and a good battery life at a cheap price is not a bad idea from Nokia and will entice people that have been let down by cheap Android phones..

p.s I still 1up your comment though :)

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Re: I don't get the this Landfill Android meme

"Landfill Android" was obviously created by some wanna-be competitor...

For Microsoft's marketing department, for example, that kind of thing would be a natural... remember the roidrage attempt to malign Android...?

I think at this point in time, a lot of Microsoft employees would find a fitting home in a landfill...

They have lost the ability to get anything right, partly by being inept, partly by purely following corporate agenda instead of customer needs.

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FAIL

Landfill

For that you can get a Hisense HS-U2 here in México: 800 x 480 screen, 4.0 inches, Snapdragon MSM7227A @ 1 Ghz + Adreno 200, Android 2.3.7 and it´s rootable :P

Nokia really needs to join the Android party before it´s too late.

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FAIL

Re: Landfill

I'd bet at least some Nokia executives agree to you by now – but it's hopeless. Nokia sold their self-determination away to Microsoft for a bucket of cash and a broken OS with an unnameable UI; guess what Redmond would have to say about an "Android strategy"?

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JDX
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Re: Landfill

Please don't spout this crap. You might not like W8/Metro but WP8 is in no way a broken OS, I'm not sure even Eadon has made that claim, and the WP UI is at worst average.

Nokia is already selling non-WP phones as this article is all about, so obviously they are 'allowed' to.

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Mushroom

Re: Landfill

Nokia is already selling non-WP phones as this article is all about, so obviously they are 'allowed' to.

The only reason Nokia keeps working on non-WP phones is because WP cannot be crammed into the price/feature niche devices such as Asha are intended to fill. But ever since Elop unleashed his plan to run Nokia into the ground for the enjoyment of his true masters overhaul Nokia's premium mobe line, anything that could pose as an alternative for WP* – Symbian, acquired platforms, internal mobile Linux projects – has been sold over or killed off.

So yeah, surely Nokia can work on sub-premium S40 derivatives to their hearts' content – so far as it doesn't compete with Redmond's offering.

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WTF?

How do they offer access to Facebook for free?

Surely any data has to go over the carrier's network and therefore is subject to a data plan - unless they're effectively "reverse charging" this to Nokia somehow?

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JDX
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Re: How do they offer access to Facebook for free?

Easy to see which data is to facebook.com

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Re: How do they offer access to Facebook for free?

Yes but it still has to be carried over the operator's network, so it must be a reverse-charge deal or something. It's not like some magic connection to Facebook is suddenly available globally.

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Coat

Vultures

In a way we are all vultures, as soon as somebody is "belly up" in the slightest way we will attack in drones. Kudos to Andrew Orlowski for trying to be neutral and to the point comparing cell phones, also made by Nokia.

I am pissed off by how Nokia has performed, but the problems started before Elop, or should I say they fell a sleep before him. Rotten and lazy at the top. Elop was like "an elephant in a china shop" and that was not amusing either. Killing off too much too early without any good reason. And even if I rather get a N9 now than a MS phone, I hope they will eventually recover and take part in the competition.

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Anonymous Coward

Android

I bought a Samsung Duos dual sim android phone here in vietnam for a little over 55 USD from a proper shop with all local taxes etc nothing dodgy.

I also have a nokia 1280 ... for another sim for Singapore.. i think that cost me around 20 USD and is a nice reminder of the old days when batteries lasted for a week or more and all it does is makes calls.

Why am i going to buy a $99 phone that is not any of; iOS (it could happen), Android (any flavour/version) or even Winphone.

All of these let me download games and apps from a realistic store...

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Thumb Up

Good Stuff

Love to see glimpses of the N9 design in this little bugger. If I was the target, I'd get this over some low-spec droid in a heartbeat. Great design in quality hardware, fluid UI, designed to work on very little bandwidth (which is sugar on top of the price), great battery life … the only thing a cheap droid has to offer in return is the same price. And you have seen cheap droids, you know you don't want them. Admittedly, no 3G (I hear it will come to Asha soon) is a tough sell to 1st world powerusers but Asha a) is designed for emerging markets and b) not for powerusers in the first place.

I am still repulsed by the idea of a mobile OS that is so inefficient that it needs a high-end device to produce a pleasant experience.

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Re: Good Stuff

Archos Carbon 35

3.5" IPS Fully Black display

3G

Bluetooth

Dual Sim

1Ghz Processor

512Mb RAM

4GB up to 32GB via SD Card

Ice Cream Sandwich

Front facing Camera

http://www.archos.com/products/smartphones/carbon/archos_35carbon/index.html?country=gb&lang=en

Unlocked $99 / 69.99 GBP in UK

"I am still repulsed by the idea of a mobile OS that is so inefficient that it needs a high-end device to produce a pleasant experience."

Yeah I Know :( I was sure this Asha would have run WP8...........after all we are constantly told how efficient it is ?

Prepare to see Nokia's bottom end shrink further if this dinosaur is all they have to offer.

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Happy

Re: Good Stuff

I've seen that Archos too but as anyone who has ever bought any Archos product will tell you. "they're Crap".

You won't get any update and or support and don't even think about calling their customer service if you manage to avoid the lunch hours.

It's very French

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Re: Good Stuff

I feel sorry for anyone having to run Android on 512Mb Ram

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Trollface

Competing with Landfill Android...

...or competing with Android in the landfill?

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This post has been deleted by its author

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Re: Landfill Android vs SEWER-FILL WinPho8

It used to be said that the British Standard test for a toilet flush was half a rolled up copy of the Daily Telegraph.

Perhaps modern cisterns should be calibrated by the size of the smartphone they can send round the U-bend.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

Re: Landfill Android vs SEWER-FILL WinPho8

You didn't even read the article, did you? Just saw the word "Nokia" and knee jerked yourself into a comment.

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Boffin

Re: Landfill Android vs SEWER-FILL WinPho8

Eadon, I know you normally meticulously research your posts and provide clear and concise reasoning to your points, which has left me in shock that it seems to have escaped your notice that this phone doesn't run Windows Phone 8.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Landfill Android vs SEWER-FILL WinPho8

He's removed his post, that means that he can actually be embarrassed, who'd of thunk?

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WTF?

Asha is not that bad

And certainly not for that price.

I have a relative who has a 302, and I've used it a few times. Every time I was impressed by the speed of the UI: instant response. Furthermore, it did the stuff required by its owner, including Google talk chatting, basic email and even SIP VOIP. My first point of comment on it was the screen resolution, or size to be exact.

Not sure a real smartphone offers 5x to many users, as that's the price difference.

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Silver badge

Re: Asha is not that bad

Yep, previous Ashas are pretty good, but this one takes it to a much higher level.

Looking at the in-use videos, this phone is very smooth and slick - the transitions and scolling are full frame rate, with no skips or judders: only one feature showed a delayed response (pulling down the SIM switcher drawer widget), and the whole thing is really well thought out. I'd like to see this same UI on a full-feature phone, actually, but for a sub-$100 phone, the perceived quality in the UI is astonishing, and well ahead of anything at this price.

The reason? The underlying software isn't Series40 anymore: it's Smarterphone - the Norwegian Linux-based OS that Nokia bought last year. Still the same Java ME API, though for third party apps, but Nokia mention that there will be new, device-exclusive APIs coming for these.

If they'd just add background agents for certain tasks (downloading in my case), I could even get over the non-multitasking aspect of the software. And even Java.

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Thumb Up

Nice

That's a really nice looking phone. I might want to go out to the shops and actually have a look at this. As a 'just-for-work' phone, this might be just perfect. Frankly, the iPhone is overkill for what I use my phone for day-to-day, and for this price, I'm really intrigued.

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Anonymous Coward

Horses for courses

The last time I upgraded my phone there were two major features required" Namely 2G PAYG and a flip/slide cover to protect the keypad and screen in my pocket. In the end the simplest one in stock had the unnecessary extra of a radio. In extended use the predictive text options also proved to be unnecessary modes that merely slowed down typing with correct letter cases.

The pretty brushed aluminium casing has very rounded edges and corners. This has proved to be akin to handling a bar of wet soap when trying to open it in some conditions. However, by luck or design, it has survived a few resultant drops.

Now the idle battery life has dropped to less than a week it is time to think about a new one. This time the casing and typing modes will be given more educated scrutiny. Long battery life is expected - although a louder ring tone would be useful in winter..

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Facepalm

Landfill Android ??????

Android is encroaching this segment fast……..Nokia will NEVER be able to compete with the Chinese giants, pumping out ever cheaper Phones

Example of as you put it "Landfill Android"

Archos Carbon 35 – $99 (confirmed 69.99 GBP in UK)

3.5" Full Black Display, 1Ghz Processor, Dual SIM, Ice Cream Sandwich, 512Mb, 4GB up to 32Gb with SD Card Slot, fully unlocked……pretty decent specs

http://www.archos.com/products/smartphones/carbon/archos_35carbon/specs.html?country=gb&lang=en&#a

This Asha phone is just a toy, and will never be able to compete with The google play store and thats what will kill it.

Nokia has well and truly fallen between the stools with Asha and Lumia…….Elop is just too slow to keep up with the pace in the mobile sector, I'm sorry but it is this antiquated, dead-end Asha that will be appearing at a Landfill near you.

I hate having to say this (again), but should Nokia have went Android

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Devil

Multitasking and Swipe

Looks like this Asha has multtitasking and gets the swipes from the N9 MeeGo. Do I smell a rebelion inside Nokia?

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I'd still rather use my GF's Sony Xperia Tipo than this handset TBH.

At 80 quid it must fall into the landfill category - but it jogs along very nicely running ICS out of the box, has 4 gig built in storage plus SD slot. No issues with any apps that we've chucked at it from Co-Pilot to Quick Office to RemoteDroid, plus the mundane ebay, Facebook etc etc, and has a quoted standby time of around 20 days.

Plus, there's always the option to Root it and chuck a custom ROM on.

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