MNB RG: Dual Shot Nokia Asha 503 Unboxing (Yellow)

| December 5, 2013 | 69 Replies

MNB asha_503_1

Janne delivers an unboxing of the new dual shot Nokia Asha 503:

Yesterday December 4th was the tax-returns day and also a major Nokia launch day in Finland. Nokia Asha 503, Lumia 1520 and Lumia 2520 went on sale here, with apparently fairly good availability all around (you could buy devices without pre-orders, even though pre-orders I hear were excellent too). Initial colors the phones in black, white and yellow, and the tablet in black and red – although I hear the red tablet deliveries were delayed by a few days. Also available are Lumia 1520 covers Nokia CP-623 in black, white, red and yellow up-coming. Unfortunately the Nokia Power Keyboard seems to be delayed until early next year, it will come in black and red then.

My last hands-on thoughts on these devices came from the DigiExpo 2013 fair (my report on MNB: and last closer experience with a “basic” Nokia, the Nokia 301 a while back (my report on MNB:ย As I’ve had plenty of time with Lumias and Windows 8.X devices, I was surprisingly most curious about the “baby” of the new launch group, the Nokia Asha 503 – the mini-N9 of sorts. The cheap(ish) price of less than a hundred euros also playing into it, I went and bought one as an impulse buy.

What follows are unboxing photos. Initial feel is that both the box and the phone itself are absolutely tiny, like all recent Asha/basic Nokia phones and their boxes of course. You could literally fit six Asha 503 retail boxes in the space a Nokia mobile phone box from 15 years ago took. While Asha 503 as a device isn’t the thinnest of them all, with all the big-screen smartphone madness going on, it is still very diminutive even inside its fairly thick shell. What’s really new about it is of course those half-transparent dual-shot covers, which seem quite like a scratch magnet though, judging by my DigiExpo experiences, but of course look stunning and very new otherwise. Anyway, the 3″ screen is supposed to be covered by Corning Gorilla Glass (some Nokia pages say version 2, some without a number) and the body itself, of course, wholly removable and easily replaceable, so those bases should be covered.

The sales package (single-SIM here in Finland) contains the phone, a 1200 mAh battery, a 4 GB microSD memory card (pre-installed inside the phone), AC-20 charger and WH-108 stereo headphones – in bright red, for whatever reason, in this yellow phone package.


I will try to post some further experiences in the comments below as I get them. The big deal here, of course, is the upgraded Asha operating experience with swipe. The phone’s swipe to camera feature and 5 MP snapper have actually earned the moniker “Nokia Asha 503 camera phone” in some Finnish retail advertising, which I thought maybe pushing it a little. Then again, 5 MP at this range is perfeclty respectable of course. Although, the QVGA 15 fps video shooting makes it certainly no video camera. Maybe a potato video camera. Well, haven’t tried the camera yet…

MNB asha_503_2

MNB asha_503_3 MNB asha_503_4 MNB asha_503_5

MNB asha_503_6 MNB asha_503_7 MNB asha_503_8


Category: Nokia

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  • I forgot how ridiculously huge normal sized sims were…

    Thanks for the pics janne

    • Janne

      You forget how small the phone is, it used micro-SIM. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Oh, I thought this was the SIM slot:

        • Janne

          It sure looks like one. ๐Ÿ™‚ But it is not, not even in the dual SIM version.

      • sunnyvale

        Hey Janne, excellent and detailed unboxing. Like Ali, I thought that part was the SIM slot, and I was like WTF.

        Gotta say Janne, I want to congratulate you for providing a lot of valuable content lately (and always!) and I appreciate it.

        • Janne

          Thank you!

          Yes, the middle part where the product label is over some metallic shielding looks very SIM-like, with the angled corner and all! But I double checked yesterday, it is not a SIM slot even in the dual-SIM version.

  • Ravi Kumar

    Don’t know why they always provide red earphones with asha touch phones, no matter what colour phone you have got.

    • Janne

      So they always do this, then. Since which model? I don’t recall.

      Maybe they wanna be funky? ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Jai

        Thanks for the post. Janne, your name is so sweet just like those of kids.You are a good person.

      • Marc Aurel

        My white Asha 311 bought in February this year has regular black earphones.

        • Janne

          OK. Maybe it is a 50x feature?

  • Janne

    Some very early notes about the Asha 503, I must admit my past experience with touch-screen Ashas are merely from three, four expo type of settings, so I’m fumbling along:

    Like I said to Ali above, it uses micro-SIM. In the case of my single-SIM model, the slot is in the top middle under the rear cover (which is quite stiff to remove). Were this a dual-SIM model, there would be a push-in-push-out type of second SIM slot on the middle right – still requiring removal of the back shell to swap I believe, but that one could be removed without removing the battery. Finally, micro-SD card slot (already populated from factory but upgradeable up to 32 GB if need be) is on the top right when looking from the rear side.

    The swipe UI has two homescreens, the apps menu (app icon grid) and the “Fastlane” that shows what you’ve done recently and what events etc. are happening. Basically the UI works like this:

    – Click the power button and the glance screen recedes and lock screen appears. It didn’t seem to respond to double tap, though, in initial testing. Swipe in from left or right to go to the home screen you left open (both sides always go to the same screen) or swipe from the bottom to open the camera. This bottom to camera swipe seems to exist only in the lock screen, not in home screens. (In the camera you can swipe left and right between camera and video.)

    – If you swipe from left or right, you get to the home screen, either one of the two – whichever you left open last. You can swipe between them normally. In the home screen swiping up and down moves the background image in a sort of parallax effect, which brings a bit of three-dimensionality to the home screen. If you swipe in from the top now, a pull-down menu appears with the usual turn wireless on/off buttons and the like.

    – Start an app, and you can exist it smoothly by swiping in from left or from right – the home screen you left starts appearing smoothly as you swipe. This looks very much like the N9 and is an improvement over the very first touch Ashas. Swipe long enough and you will exit the app (short swipe will just bounce back to the app) and be back in the home screen.

    – What about multitasking? Well, it seems to me your recent apps go to the Fastlane side of the home screen. So if I click Twitter from the app list, it opens, then exit Twitter by swiping left or right, I can return to it from the Fastlane which now shows it topmost. Of course, any return is contingent on the apps ability to resume – there is only limited multitasking.

    – As far as I can tell from early testing, Java-based apps behave the same as native ones, although of course starting them may be slower. I need to test this more later.

    – Screen quality is of course lowish compared to modern alternatives, but perfectly acceptable. Colors are a little washed out, the Gorilla Glass on top is nice though, as is the capacitive menu screen – although side swiping works so well I don’t find myself using the button much. Mostly the 3″ screen is just small – and quite squareish, which is actually very nice for a small screen. It sort of looks instagrammish the whole thing. ๐Ÿ™‚ Well, it isn’t quite square of course.

    – Scrolling etc. smoothness is fairly good. I would say movement and responsiveness is very smooth, but scrolling animation itself shows the of GPU-less horsepower in limited framerate. But responsiveness and smooth following of the users actions is more important – and that part is very well implemented.

    I like this little thing.

    • jiipee

      mr sales rep, some questions:
      – MfE support?
      – internet tethering?
      – Google contacts and calendar sync?
      If those are fullfilled, Ill try to get dual-sim version somehow.

      • Janne

        I have to look into those…

        • jiipee

          If you have time, would be appreaciated. With proper location services it would fit well as my primary phone coupled with a tablet/new laptop.

      • Janne

        OK, so finally have some answers for you:

        – MfE support?

        Email works. It is labelled “Outlook / Exchange and”. I tested my Exchange Online account and no problems there, emails appear after giving the username and password. I’m not sure if there is a Mail for Exchange app for Asha 50x, nor have I been able to sync calendar or contacts.

        – internet tethering?

        Through micro-USB cable and Bluetooth. I tested the Bluetooth tethering, took me a while since I had all but forgotten how its done on the desktop end, but it works fine once configured on the computer. Micro-USB cable or software is not included, but driver for using your own is available from I don’t think Wi-Fi tethering exists, couldn’t find it, although the phone does support Wi-Fi and that works normally of course.

        – Google contacts and calendar sync?

        Google Mail works, I tested. But I haven’t been able to sync calendar or contacts. A quick scan at the store didn’t find the usual app solutions for Asha 503 either. So, no solution that I know of yet.

        • jiipee

          thanks! Need to consider a while. Could be enough as a interim solution.

          • Janne

            It seems to me the newest Asha platform is still missing certain things that were in the older Series 40 platform, this both in apps and features. So, it may well be some things will still come – but haven’t yet. Or they are available through some new means I’m not aware of.

            But from what I’ve read online, some people with e.g. 311 might be disappointed with some missing things compared to what they had before. OTOH, personally I think the swipe itself is much slicker on 503 than on the past full-touch Ashas I’ve tried – 503 is much more “N9-like” instead of swipe lite.

          • Janne

            Spent some more time researching this online this morning and found no solutions for Google calendar and contacts syncing – other than the one time suggestion to export contacts as vCard and then import them to the phone.

            I recall quite a few people being miffed at missing features like this in the new Asha family, since the older Series 40 based ones had many of these things. So, a case of new OS/distro/whatever not having all the features of its predecessor.

            Hard to know what kind of a roadmap Asha software updates have or will have under Microsoft. If these things are in an update just around the corner, I’d expect Asha 503 to get them. Or if someone makes an app (couldn’t find one). But if this is longer in the tooth, who knows how much and fast Microsoft intends to ignore Asha and leave things like this hanging.

            We shall see.

            • jiipee

              ok, Ill skip it for now.

              Nokia should release the Meltemi/Maemo source since they dont seem to be using then and MS will only keep it n their safe. I wonder why no one in the EGM asked what happens to Nokia’s sw IP. Maemo might have been owned by NMP and Meltemi by CTO office.

              • Janne

                Let’s face it, Nokia had too many operating systems and forks within those systems. They lacked direction and focus. The mess was never really fixed, too many false starts and thus incomplete products because keeping all those forks complete was impossible.

                The Asha platform is just the final insult and proof of that indecision. One more Meltemi would have only underlined the mess.

                • Random Random


                  In the book Impossible Success Jorma Ollila points out how lost Nokia was in the last 10 years. They just didn’t know how to compete.

                  It’s also apparent that they lacked focus.

                  People are all the time telling us how Nokia had this and that but so what? Focusing on the right things is what matters.

                  Jolla has the same problem. They add features but obviously lack focus. The simple question? What problem does Jolla solve?

                  Nokia had the same problem with the operating systems. They had features but usually couldn’t tell what was the actual problem they were trying to solve.

                  • Janne

                    I have no idea what Jolla has to do with this.

                    But if they start pumping out half-a-dozen different operating systems, I will join your criticism… ๐Ÿ˜‰

                    • Random Random


                      It was already explained what does Jolla have to do with this.

                      They don’t have a focus.

                      Just like Nokia didn’t have a focus when they developed operating systems.

                    • Janne


                      Jolla has one operating system.

                      That’s more focus and restraint Nokia almost ever had. ๐Ÿ˜‰

                    • Random Random


                      Unfortunately picking just one operating system doesn’t mean they have focused on right choices.

                      Jolla seems to be adding features after features to the UI.

                      What is the actual problem they are trying to solve?

                      It’s quite obvious that they don’t have a focus.

                      Then again it’s an old Nokia tradition to just add features after features.

                    • Janne

                      For me, it is too early to say where Jolla’s UI design will evolve.

                      We agree Nokia was for the longest time too focused on adding features to singular products, and too lost on the platform front, to have a focused approach that made iOS so successful.

                      As for Jolla, just too soon to say. They may run out of money before we know, or they may not. We’ll see.

                    • Random Random

                      We already know that for Jolla.

                      They have added too many features making the UI too complex.

                      One example.

                      They are using two different sets of user interfaces for the native code and for the Android applications. That could have been avoided but they took the easy path and used two different sets of user interfaces.

                      Waiting for the future versions is also something very familiar Nokia used to do.

                      Jolla is a small Nokia.

                    • Janne


                      Waiting for future versions for Jolla and for Nokia were not the same thing. With Jolla, it isn’t so much waiting for future versions, but waiting for enough material to be able to reasonably judge the modus operandi of Jolla. So far we have far too limited material.

                      With Nokia we already had a pattern of how that established company worked. They had, at one time, near unlimited means and did what they did.

                      Jolla is a start-up with seriously limited means and time, much of which has been taken up by getting basics rolling. We can’t judge them on initial efforts as we would judge Nokia’s established efforts.

                      This is like judging Lumia on it’s first year sales. It was too little material to judge Lumia on.

                    • Random Random


                      Jolla has already released a phone. Just like Nokia did with Lumia. We were able to judge Lumia based on the first phones Nokia released. We are also able to judge Jlla based on the phone they have released.

                      We were not able to judge the unit sales Nokia had with Lumia because there were no YoY numbers for a comparison. This is also the case with Jolla.

                      The phones can be compared.

                      The Jolla phone is not as polished as WP7 was. It also lacks as polished UI as WP 7 had.

                    • Janne

                      Yes, we can analyze the first product – although neither of us have seen it yet? ๐Ÿ™‚

                      That said, and I see we disagree and that’s fine, I think it is too early to draw conclusions from that first phone.

                      Time will tell if Jolla repeats Nokia’s mistakes in a continuous way or perhaps has learned from them.

                    • Random Random

                      Something can be said once the first reviews and videos are out.


                      When the first iPhone was released in January 2007, it was pretty easy to say that Apple had a real winner on their hands.

                      It was also quite easy to say that Symbian 3 was not going to be a huge hit only after seeing it on the first videos where it was used by real end users.

                      It’s also not too early to say that the Jolla phone’s UI is too complex. It can be seen from the videos.

                    • Janne

                      Random Random:

                      Just for clarity, I’m not disagreeing with your conclusions on how the initial Jolla UI looks from preview videos and unboxings etc.

                      I’m merely disagreeing on the extent we can judge their intent and future actions based on such limited data, from such a young company with limited time and funds under their belt.

                      It might be misleading. Or it might not. I’m just saying we don’t know.

                    • Random Random

                      There are most certainly some things we don’t know but it really doesn’t matter if Jolla is a small or big company.


                      Some geeks probably will give Jolla some extra credit for being a small company but that doesn’t apply to the normal people.

                      Normal people check the actual product and they might even do it by looking at the videos on the net.

                      Then again Jolla is a niche product.

                      It would be interesting to know if they think they are going to get enough sales from the geeks. Currently it doesn’t look that good since they were promoting the opportunity for getting the Jolla OS for regular Android phones.

                      How much did they say Jolla got investments?

                    • Janne

                      Size of the company matters in objective assessment of why they do what they do – and what might be expected of them in the future. I’m not talking about consumer perception here – on that you certainly have a point – but just our analysis of what the company is doing and what mistakes it may be making.

                      A new start-up with limited time, means and funds may do certain things for different reasons than an established, well-funded one. For example, these limits might force them to launch a product that isn’t fully representative of what their plans, knowledge and intent are.

                      iPhone you mentioned is a good example to the contrary – resource-wise. Apple developed two smartphones, but ended up selling only one of those radically different concepts. Who knows how many prototypes those two product-lines had in addition.

                      A start-up like Jolla doesn’t have that luxury, not with their first product anyway.

                      Now, Nokia is certainly a good example of having had a lot of resources without focus. They did all that and much more – scale-wise – that Apple did, but bet on the wrong horses and too many horses. But then this Nokia example doesn’t apply to Jolla either, because Jolla doesn’t have those resources and thus can’t even be that scatterbrained.

                      So it is really, if one wants to objectively assess Jolla’s intent, why they do things and what they might deliver next or not, silly to compare them to either Apple or Nokia/BB as some have. Jolla is just so different in scale, that the comparison just becomes meaningless. Jolla’s reasons for doing anything, really, are vastly removed from those larger companies.

                      No, I can’t agree Nokia is trying a play from Nokia’s book. Nor even BB’s (no pun intended).

                    • Janne

                      Typo in the last paragraph, fixed: No, I canโ€™t agree Jolla is trying a play from Nokiaโ€™s book. Nor even BBโ€™s (no pun intended).

            • Carsten

              Sorry for my bad English but start to sync to your live account and then sync live account to google. Or the other way around..

              • Janne

                Can one sync Asha 50x to Live account? I wouldn’t know.

    • Janne

      Click the power button and the glance screen recedes and lock screen appears. It didnโ€™t seem to respond to double tap, though, in initial testing.

      Dual tap is found in the settings, it was off by default.

      Curious thing is, at first I had no idea how to operate the dual tap. I never had any issues with it on N9 or Lumias, but I literally spent five minutes tapping the phone in all possible ways I could think of, rebooting a couple of times and switching the setting on/off/on…

      Then later, the phone was next to me and I tapped it twice with force, just to try it out. And it worked. Then I picked it up and tried double tap again – it didn’t work. Put it back down and smashed it with my front finger a couple of times and again it worked.

      Turns out, the normal force with which I tap the phone is not enough to launch the double tap on Asha 503 – even though it works just fine on the N9 and Lumias. You actually have to give the phone a fairly solid beating to invoke double tap.

      It is quite hard to do with the thumb. Easier on a straight finger when holding the phone with the other hand.

      I turned double tap off, felt like I’d eventually hurt that Gorilla Glass with the force it seems to require.

      • Pekka

        Try tapping back of the phone instead of the screen. ๐Ÿ™‚ I do like double tap to wake, it is pretty cool.

        • Janne

          OK, so that’s weird. I thought you were joking, but the double tap actually works similarly by tapping the back of the 503!

          Still, even that way it requires more force than I’m comfortable creating in one-handed use. If I hold the phone in one hand and double tap on another, I can reliably open the lock by tapping the back of the phone – or the front.

          I think Asha 503 uses an accelerometer or something for the double tap, not the capacitive screen, just like the first Nokia double tap phones did back in the day. But the end-result is, it seems to need to much pointed force for my taste.

          I couldn’t repeat the double tap simply by shaking the phone, though.

  • Carsten

    please a link for buying Nokia Lumia 1520 for shipping to Danmark.. Can’t wait to 2Q 2014…

    • Janne

      A good question. I just walked into a brick and mortar for this launch day. Fellow Finns, any online shops that ship to Denmark, Lumia 1520? has them, but I don’t think they ship abroad? Or?

      • x3nom0rph

        Verkkokauppa does ship to Denmark. Had to laugh when they wrote that shipping charges were 65 euros to ship Lumia 1520 and over 100 euro to ship 3 Lumia 2520.

        Had to ask them if they were using Santa’s postal service ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • twig

    Is this on YouTube?

    • Janne

      I took just photos.

      • sunnyvale

        Now that someone mentions it, I’ve never seen a video unboxing or video review from you.

  • Pekka

    I also have one and I have to say I’m dissapointed. It is not smooth at all, 311 is much smoother. Camera is not even close to as good as one on Lumia 620. And most importantly, no Whatsapp for single SIM 503!

    I do like the OS, especally Fastline. There are many great features in this phone, but it is just too slow.

    • Janne

      Great to hear your experiences, Pekka! Keep them coming.

      I am quite inexperienced with the latest Ashas myself, so great to have more knowledgeable people chiming in. I’ve mostly played with them at Nokia Worlds and expos etc.

      • Pekka

        Battery life is pretty good, it lasted 3 days and I did use it quite much

        By the way, 503 came to Finland 28.11. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • Janne

          It did? OK! It was announced by ร„รคni for the 4th. E.g. sold the first on the 3rd of Dec.

          • Pekka

            I bought it from last saturday.

            • Janne

              OK. Some color I checked online was sold first on the 3rd. Maybe you chose another. ๐Ÿ™‚

              • Pekka

                Yeah, yellow was not available so I had to choose white. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Marc Aurel

      It probably has a slower processor than the 311, judging from the much reduced video capture resolution (the 311 can do VGA at 25 fps). The lower screen resolution is a clear retrograde move as well. From what I have seen before, the 5 MP EDoF camera module is actually not that much better than the 3.2 MP one on the 311, either. LED flash is nice, though.

      So while the 503 has a better UI, it starts to seem that otherwise the 311 is actually still the better phone. I wish they had combined the best sides of the two — the 311 with the improved UI and a 5 MP camera with LED flash would be a great little phone. (It is pretty good even as it is for the price.)

  • x3nom0rph

    Lumia 1520 will be released in Denmark on January 18-19 ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Carsten

      But not in white only black and yellow.. I want white so I had to buy somewhere else. And its 799โ‚ฌ in Germany but only 649โ‚ฌ in Finland.

  • chitrarth

    janne plz help I’m confused shud i buy asha 503 or lumia 525 since asha has led flash & dual sim support while lumia is a lumia(full smartphone) I have to choose between only these 2 & I’m currently on nokia5230 & afraid if i buy asha i will miss multitasking & lot other features. Ilive in India………….. plz help

    • Janne

      That’s a good question, chitrarth.

      Now, I haven’t used Lumia 525, but I have used e.g. Lumia 520 and Lumia 820 and of course 525 seems to be mostly just a Lumia 520 with the same memory as Lumia 820.

      Anyway, my immediate reaction was that if your budget can cover Lumia 525, which is a much pricier phone than Asha 503, I think you should go for Lumia 525. At the end of the day, the Internet and app experience, and the overall fluidity of operation on any WP8 Lumia will be far superior to Asha 503. On a different planet kind of superior.

      Some reasons to go for Asha 503: Is dual-SIM very important for you? Do you need flash photography a lot? These of course are things Lumia 525 misses. Finally, some people may like the Asha swipe experience over WP.

      Reasons to pick Asha 503 and not Lumia 525:

      – You absolutely must have dual-SIM for your daily life.
      – You absolutely must have flash.
      – You don’t really need apps and browse the Internet only very rarely.
      – You’d prefer a very small device, which Asha 503 is.
      – Asha 503 price is better for you.
      – You prefer swipe over Windows Phone.

      If you can live without dual-SIM, if you can live without flash and you are fine with the price and size of Lumia 525, absolutely go for the Lumia 525. I think Asha 503 should be your choice only if the things on the list above are so very important for you. Otherwise the decision is easy: Lumia 525.

      Finally, rumors are there is a Nokia dual-SIM Lumia in the works (Moneypenny?), maybe you’d want to wait for that. First half, 2014?

      Hope I could help. Good luck with your choice!

      • Janne

        One aspect to choose Asha 503 over Lumia 525, also, would be if there is some e.g. software feature in Asha that works better for you regionally. I know Lumia has been traditionally lacking some features very popular in India for example, so that is something to consider of course.

        Lumia and WP have gotten better, for example Xpress Browser is now available for Lumia and images can move over Bluetooth, but if you need more freedom then in some things Asha can be more free and have more features that may be more popular in some markets.

        • chitrarth

          thanx janne for a detailed help and i think i shud better buy a lumia 525 but i would like to wait if any dual sim lumia rumours get true, thnx for your help and my budget is $200 only

  • chitrarth

    well i also want how to change dis avatar image of mine coz it is really dumb….

    • chitrarth

      want ‘to know’ i missed it

  • chitrarth

    janne can u plz tell what is max video resolution which can be played on 503 i’m asking just playback not recording???

    • Janne

      If I get to test something further I will reply.

      Specs say:

      Video Playback Formats 3GPP formats (H.263), H.264/AVC, MPEG-4 Video Playback Frame Rate 26 fps

      Of course the screen resolution of 503 is 240 x 320 pixels 3″ and Lumia 525 is 480 x 800 pixels 4″.

  • Jorgues Borgues

    My first day with asha 503 and really happy with the User Interface, good quality for music and internal speaker, medium quality for camera (photos witout natural light or sunny days gets so much noise), resolution is for video is really bad, bluethoot works with my macBook, laptop with win7 and my Motorola headset.
    Wifi also works fine, and the battery looks great! All the day playing and connected, and still at 50%
    About app: facebook takes a lot of time to load, twitter works fine, but no whatsapp is installed!!!

    The design and weight are perfect!

  • xyster

    I am new owner of Asha 503 Dual SIM. After using this handset nearly 1 week I couldn’t find the features like Autometic answer & Voice Call. But Nokia’s offcial web page stating that Asha 503 have all this features. One can check it. Is that the problem everybody facing who have owned a Asha 503??