The market is so overcrowded with budget smartphones lately that it seems impossible to find which handset provides the highest quality for a reasonable cost.
Elements such as speed and camera quality are all factors to bear in mind, but really it all comes down to which handset will provide the best all round service at the lowest price, and so we present a hands-on with Nokia‘s latest budget offering, the Nokia Asha 503, to see how it fares against the competition.
The Asha 503 is a vibrant and colourful looking handset, with interchangeable back covers so that you can keep the device fresh. However, with a hard plastic frame with square corners and at 12.7mm thick, it’s hardly the most comfortable to hold, or most stylish offering out there.
Sporting a 5mp camera with flash, the Asha 503 is at par with many mid-range handsets out there. Of course, megapixel is not always an accurate reflection of image quality, but for a budget handset, you can’t complain too much.
Rather than choose to pack in Android or Windows Phone into the Asha 503, Nokia has built its own custom software for the device. The software is actually fairly intuitive – you can swipe down to show notifications and quickly turn on/off WiFi, Bluetooth and mobile data.
Swipe up from your lock screen to quick launch the camera, and swipe left or right from your apps homescreen to unveil a ‘today newsfeed’, similar to HTC‘s BlinkFeed, only much more basic.
The Asha 503 has the necessary apps pre-installed; this, however, is where the phone lets itself down. We tried to boot the Facebook app up to see what it was like, and five minutes later, it was still loading – not acceptable when so many other budget handsets do the same thing without an issue.
Twitter and WhatsApp booted up with little issue, but again the lag was apparent; we would struggle to use this for more than a day, but perhaps that’s because we’re accustomed to high-end handsets. As a first phone, you might be none the wiser.
All in all, the Nokia Asha 503 is a curious offering. The decision by Nokia to design unique software for a budget smartphone is to be admired, and it has the potential to be decent, but we’re just disappointed by how slow some of the apps are, especially when navigating the menu is fairly quick.
At £70, the Asha 503 is cheap, but consider other handsets like the ZTE Blade V (£77) first. There’s definitely better to be found.