Nokia Asha 501 launched; priced at $99

Expanding its low-cost smartphone series, Nokia on Thursday globally launched Asha 501 touchscreen model which will be available in the market by June at around USD 99 excluding taxes.

New Delhi: Finnish phone maker Nokia on Thursday unveiled a USD 99 (about Rs 5,350) touch screen mobile with internet capability on its popular Asha series as it looks to regain lost ground after having fallen behind in the global smartphone race.

The Asha 501, which will be built in India, will roll out to 90 countries by June and will cost USD 99 excluding taxes. The phone will use a new software that allows users to multitask between built in applications for popular social media sites.

Nokia, which has lost market share to iPhone and Samsung, is betting on India, its biggest market after China, to revive sales of cheaper mobile phones.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop unveiled new software, called the Asha platform, to run its Asha devises. The new software is revamp of the old version and has been bundled with a pact that lets customers use Facebook for free on their handsets.

Its deal with Facebook and mobile operator Bharti Airtel allows Asha 501 users in India and Africa to access their social networking account without paying any data charges.

"India is very important. It is the bellwether market that is very leading indicator of some of the trend. It is very symbolic that we are not launching this from certain other countries, from Finland, London or the US. We are launching it here in India because so much of our work is focussed on Indian consumers," Elop told reporters here.

The company has decided to manufacture Nokia Asha 501 at its Chennai factory to meet local needs as well as exporting to other countries, Nokia India Managing Director and Vice President P Balaji said.

Asha 501 is dual SIM phone which promises 17 hours of talk time on single SIM use and 48 days of standby time.

Elop said the company has partnered with 60 operators to sell Asha 501 phones in more than 90 countries.

"We will be introducing Nokia Asha 501 at suggestive retail price of USD 99," Elop said.

The device comes with Nokia Xpress Browser pre-loaded, which compresses Internet data by up to 90 percent, free 4GB external memory, in-built chipset of less than 1 Ghz processing speed and a 3.2 megapixel camera.

"Asha 501 is the next generation of Asha smartphones... 80 percent of world operates in 2G environment and Asha 501 is customised to suit 2G environment. We will expand this family with 3G products as well," Elop added.

Nokia said it is eyeing a major share in the smartphone market in India and is seeking to strengthen the smartphone portfolio as it faces tough competition from global rivals Samsung and Apple.

In the first quarter 2013, Nokia sold 11.1 million units smart devices, which composed of 5 million Asha full touch smartphones in Mobile Phones, 5.6 million Lumia and 0.5 million Symbian smartphones in Smart Devices.


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