The low end smartphone market is still a very fertile place, and is also very competitive. While we have companies like Micromax, Spice, Karbonn etc. lining up a wide range of handsets in this range, a brand bias towards Samsung, Nokia etc. still exist. That’s why when Samsung launched its cheapest Android phone at INR 5000, a lot of eyebrows were raised. Nokia, which is still struggling with its smartphone market, has been able to find some traction with its Asha feature phone series. The Nokia Asha 501 price in India is around INR 4,900. Both of these phones actually target the same audience, but one has an Android OS, which the other one doesn’t. Both come at around the same price range, and have many same specs. So, which one really wins? Let’s try and find out.
Samsung Galaxy Star, doesn’t win any points for design. It looks like a minimized Galaxy S phone and might well be mistook for another of the Samsung’s cheap Android phone, Galaxy Pocket. It’s all plastic and the roundedness and the overall obesity for the phone makes it look cheap at the first glance. Nokia Asha 501, on the other hand, is a superbly designed phone. It’s also all plastic, but the vibrant color range and the glossy design make it look very up market. As far as the budget phones go, Asha 501 might well the best built phone.
Asha 501 comes with a 3 inch TFT display, with a QVGA resolution of 240-by-320 pixels. That gives it a pixel density of about 133 ppi, which is pretty much what is expected from a phone in this price range. Galaxy Star comes with an almost identical screen, of 3 inches, TFT panel and a resolution of 240-by-320. So, there’s really no tangible difference between the displays of the phones.
Galaxy Star comes with a 2 MP camera, no flash and can capture videos at QVGA quality with 15 fps speed. That’s really not very impressive. Asha 501 comes with a 3.15 MP camera, no flash, with the same video capturing capabilities. Both the phones lack a front facing camera, which is not really a disappointment because of the pricing. Nokia cameras have a reputation of being better than other phones, and hence Asha 501 would be your choice if you are very particular about using the camera.
Nokia Asha 501 comes with an internal storage of 128 MB, and hence, Nokia usually bundles a 4 GB memory card along with it. Asha 501 has 64 MB of RAM. Star, on the other hand, has 4 GB of internal memory and 512 MB of RAM. Star also comes with 1 GHz Cortex A5 processor. On the hardware side, Star is simply brilliant compared to Asha 501. But again, they run different operating systems, which use memory in different ways. In the end, however, Asha 501 is very responsive and can be a nice companion.
OS and Features
This is where the actual choice is to be made between the phones. Galaxy Star comes with Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. At such a low pricing point, Samsung has managed to put together hardware which can carry forward the Jelly Bean OS. It’s really a remarkable feat. Asha 501, comes with Asha OS. While you might have seen or heard a lot about Jelly Bean, the Asha OS which comes with Asha 501 will be a refreshingly new. Asha interface is a reminiscent of the N series’ interfaces. The over all experience is very smooth. There is only one physical back button, and almost every important feature in the phone is accessible via swipes and gestures. There is double tap to unlock feature, which is new compared to the usual swipe to unlock for Android. There’s a smartphone like notification bar, and everything works very responsively.
As for the connectivity part, both phones support WiFi and GPS. Asha 501 comes with Nokia Maps, while Star comes with Google Maps.
The only perk you would have with Star is that it has the latest Android OS and hence has access to loads of apps. But, with not-so-powerful processors, Star wouldn’t be able to handle a lot of apps with justice. It’s all about the choice here.
Galaxy Star and Asha 501, have the same philosophy. These are phones which can do more. Star has the extra tag of being a smartphone because of the processor and an Android OS (Jelly Bean, nonetheless!), while Asha 501 is simple a feature phone. As far as the usage goes, Asha 501 does a nice job too. It is easy to learn and fun to use. But you don’t get as many apps as you can with Jelly Bean. Both are priced very near to INR 5000. So, it finally boils down to your personal preference. Whether you want an entry level smartphone or a superb feature phone?