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Nokia Asha 503 review

A bargain handset that is full of features, but not that smart

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The single rear camera on the Nokia Asha 503 has a 5MP sensor, and that's your lot as there's no front-facing camera. Seeing as there is no support for video calls on the 503, it would have been mostly redundant anyway.

The camera can be accessed from the lock screen by swiping upwards from the bottom of the screen, and like all devices it has also got its own icon on the home screen.

On paper, the camera looks to be one of the lead features of the 503. In reality, it's a letdown.

Nokia Asha 503 review

Using the 503's camera is really easy - open up the app, point it at your subject and tap the screen to take the photo. You can use the volume buttons to zoom the camera in and out, but there is no dedicated button to start and stop video recording.

Unfortunately you can't set the focus, aperture or exposure of the picture either, so you just have to hope the Asha 503 is focusing on what you want and will take a decent picture.

Nokia Asha 503 review

There are a few manually-controlled settings. To access these, press and hold the screen with one finger. A menu will pop up where you can set the flash, timer, white balance, effects, shutter sounds and photo resolution.

When you first get your hands on the Asha 503, a lot of these settings will be set to automatic. And that's probably how they should be left, as the photo resolution is set to the highest quality (2592 x 1944), the shutter sounds are off.

White balance on the Asha 503 can be a bit hit and miss. When testing the device in daylight some of my pictures came out with a green/blue tint. The 503 seems to have an automatic response to indoor lighting which is applied with erratic results, leading to unbalanced colours in the images.

The flash is extremely bright, but still has problems illuminating a medium-sized room. As long as you're close enough to your subject you should get a decent image, although I found that the picture was either too washed out or too dull.

Nokia Asha 503 review

For a device of this price range you probably won't be surprised to hear that the colours were not totally natural when using the flash. The flash is essential in low light though, as the Asha 503 really struggles to take pictures in these conditions.

The camera times out after around 15-20 seconds to save battery power. Make sure you are on the ball and have time to wake the device before taking the perfect photo or you might miss the opportunity.

There are three effects built into the camera app: black and white, sepia, and negative. You can preview these effects so you know what to expect from the finished product. They are basic, but fun and can add a little something special to average images.

Video

The video functions on the Asha 503 are accessed by swiping the screen from the camera window. This is a bit fiddly to access - it's easy to inadvertently find yourself at the home page by accidentally swiping from the edge of the screen.

Once you have navigated there the same basic functions apply - tap to record, tap to stop, and the zooming controls are still accessible via the volume buttons. The video quality in low light is passable, but not great.

Combining the amount of blur the camera produces from the slightest movement, and the fact that there does not seem to be any image stabilisation, the Asha 503 produces footage far from high definition quality.

The same settings window can be brought up on the Asha 503 and the effects can also be used while recording. This is a nice feature, but it won't help your footage in low light conditions. The LED flash would, but for some reason there is no option to use the light from the LED while in video mode.