Nokia Asha 503 review: Affordable but so slow and cumbersome

The Nokia 503 offers many of the main functions of a fancy smartphone and at just Dh349, however, it can be a frustrating experience.

The Nokia Asha 503 smartphone is priced at Dh349. Courtesy Nokia
Powered by automated translation

The Nokia Asha 503, a slim, rugged and aesthetically pleasing smartphone, was designed with the fast-growing middle classes in emerging markets in mind. This is mainly because as the first of Nokia's new generation of affordable 3.5G smartphones, it retails for the wallet-friendly price of Dh349.

However, it may also appeal to those in the developed world who feel they have been distracted by their high class phones.

Study after study has shown far from making us productive, such devices have turned us into obsessive compulsive email checkers, news junkies and game time wasters among other things.

The benefit of a phone such as the Nokia 503 is that while it offers many of the main functions of a fancy smartphone, it is so cumbersome to use it that you will only check things on the internet or use an application when it is of utmost importance to do so.

The function I did enjoy though was the ease of transferring contacts through blue tooth. I had in fact delayed reviewing the phone because of the fear it would be a complicated to transfer my contacts on to it. For this task, the bluetooth function worked efficiently.

However, when I came to try to pair the phone with my car, I did not have such an easy ride. Indeed, I failed altogether.

Once on the phone, by far the greatest annoyance is the difficulty of shifting between applications and going back to what you were doing somewhere else.

Doing so is not as intuitive as some of the more expensive phones. Plus the slowness of the phone makes the idea of trying to get on the internet seem pointless.

For those searching for a smartphone that won’t distract from everyday life and comes at a reasonable price, this could be the model for you - though a simpler and cheaper model may be more suitable

However, consumers that want an all singing all dancing smartphone, I’d advise saving up for your ideal smartphone as the costs of maintaining the Nokia 503, in terms of paying for fast 3G or 4G networks and the time wasted fiddling with it, would make the returns on this investment sub par.

What are the phone’s dimensions?

Its height is 102.6 millimetres, it’s width 60.6mm and its thickness 12.7mm. That includes a 3” scratch resistant screen.

Does it have a camera?

Yes, it has a 5 mega pixel camera that comes with an LED flash. The camera is also good for social media users, with the option to post an image to Facebook or Twitter with just one touch.

How long can I use it before the battery runs out?

Its users say that you can talk on it for 12 hours if you use the 2G mode and 4.5 hours if you use the 3G mode. That’s roughly in line with what I experienced while using it. It also has a standby time of 35 days, Nokia says, making it ideal for a second holiday or travel phone.

What colours does it come in?

It comes in yellow, bright red, bright green, cyan, white and black.

Any other features?

For the first time, WhatsApp is available to Asha Platform devices, which is a huge bonus for obsessive texters. It joins other chat and messaging apps already accessible - these include WeChat, Line, eBuddy and Nimbuzz. There are also lots of free games and apps available at the Nokia Store.

Follow us on Twitter @Ind_Insights