Nokia appears to continue to push the envelope of what it truly means to bridge the featurephone/smartphone gap. A new range of Nokia Asha devices just hit the market – the Nokia Asha 500, 502 and 503. Labelled the “Nokia Asha Ice Family”, these new devices are most noticeably distinguished – from the older generation – by their very slick ice-cube-themed design.

We just recently acquired the Nokia Asha 503, which happens to be the flagship of the Nokia Asha Ice Fleet, and I’m going to be playing with it in the course of the coming days.

Specs and Features Highlight

If you’re expecting mind-blowing specs, you probably need to be reminded that the Nokia Asha 503 is meant to be a pseudo-smartphone. Nevertheless, the specs and features worthy of note are:

  • 320 x 240 resolution, 3-inch LCD “Glance” display with (surprise) Corning Gorilla Glass 2 protection.
  • Double tap screen  to wake phone, easy camera access with upward swipe from locksreen
  • 5MP fixed focus camera with LED flash. No front-facing camera.
  • Dual micro-SIM support, 3.5G (SIM 1) and Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • 128MB RAM (not bad for a featurephone)
  • 4GB memory card included (expandable to 32GB). No mention of ROM capacity
  • 1200 mAh battery:  35-day standby; 12-hour (2G) and 4.5h (3G) talk time; music playback time: 35 hours.
  • WhatsApp, WeChat, Line and a collection of hit apps and games all preinstalled (or available free for a limited period)
  • Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync and VoIP support
  • More personalized Fastlane with improved social network integration. Fastlane is a Blackberry Hub-esque second homescreen.
  • Ships with the latest Nokia Asha software platform 1.2

If you’re into more detailed spec sheets, I doubt you’d find any resource better than GSMArena.


A really expensive “budget” “smartphone”?


At a 16k price tag, one might wonder why anyone would pick the Nokia Asha 503 over any of the budget smartphones within that price range. I mean, the Nokia Asha 503 is at best an ultra high-end featurephone (even though Nokia would have you think of it as a smartphone). So how much of a “budget” “smartphone” really is the Nokia Asha 503? How exactly does it compare with the say the Tecno S3, Gionee P2 or, a little bit closer to home, Nokia Lumia 520 that costs only about 3k extra? All probably not fair comparisons specs-wise but quite comparable in price.

I’m looking to answer these and (probably) many more unanswered questions in the coming days, as I attempt using the Nokia Asha 503 as my daily driver. One thing I can tell you now for sure – based on a brief experience I had at Computer Village – the Nokia Asha 503 is becoming increasingly popular in the market. Watch this space for more on the Nokia Asha 503.

Awesome photography by Wale

Muyiwa Matuluko Author

Get the best African tech newsletters in your inbox