Nokia Asha 503 review

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

Nokia Asha 503 review
Almost everything you expect from a smartphone in a bargain package

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

The Nokia Asha 503 finds itself in the low end price range, and the performance it delivers correlates with that. With a 3-inch display in a small but chunky frame the Asha 503 will not likely win any awards for its design.

The 5MP camera is of a higher spec than other competition in its price range, although it definitely looks better on paper compared to the reality of shooting with it. Compared to other competitors devices like the Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 or the Huawei Ascend Y300 the images from the Nokia tend to be much lower quality.

We liked

The Nokia Asha 503 will run for several days without needing to be charged. A great feature if you need to be away from a power outlet for long periods of time.

Despite its poor quality, the camera is one of the plus points on the Asha 503. There are a lot of great editing effects, but these may be wasted if the photo you are applying them to is out of focus or not properly exposed.

The phone is certainly easy to use. It's one of those devices that you can pick up and know exactly how to operate it without any instructions. It's so simple that old or young, experienced or inexperienced, users should be able to navigate around stress free.

There are lots of bundled messaging apps on the Asha 503, so you should be able to communicate with everyone you need to for free - if you have a Wi-Fi connection - otherwise you may be shocked when your next phone bill gets delivered.

We disliked

The tiny screen with its low pixel density leaves a lot to be desired, pixelating the interface and providing poor viewing angles. Watching video on the Asha 503 is difficult, as the controls are basic and you find you have to squint at the screen.

Without GPS you will find the 503 absolutely useless for searching locally, navigation or directions. Although what the device lacks in GPS it makes up for in battery life.

The store you're expected to download apps from is also very limited. There are not very many apps, even from the established big companies, and there are not always alternatives for what's missing.


Nokia has managed to design and produce a solid device for under £100, and for the price it's hard to complain about the problems. The bulky frame can be taken one of two ways. Either you think it feels rugged and durable, or chunky and a waste of space.

The Asha 503 certainly feels well built and sturdy, although the cheap plastic rear case does not do itself any favours in terms of premium quality.

The rear of the device is replaceable, which is a plus although the case is so thick that it is unlikely to ever break anyway. The option to customise the 503 with your own favourite colour should appeal to style conscious users.

The 503 is lacking in up to date technology, there's no NFC or 4G, but this should not be a surprise from a device that does not even support GPS. For the price and the market it's aimed at though the Asha 503 is a reasonable compromise, but I'd recommend spending a little extra cash on a Moto G or Lumia 520.

First reviewed: January 2014