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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

Our Verdict

For the price the Asha 503 is a reasonable compromise, but I'd recommend spending a little extra cash on a Moto G or Lumia 520.


  • Great battery life
  • 5 MP camera
  • Replaceable rear cover
  • Easy to use
  • Cheap


  • Small, low res screen
  • No GPS
  • No front camera
  • Small selection of apps

The Nokia Asha 503 is the latest handset in a series of low-cost, feature-packed devices from the Microsoft-owned company.

The Asha 503 is a slightly upgraded version of the Asha 501, with an improved camera and better social integration as default.

Picking up the Nokia Asha 503 SIM-free will set you back about £100. However if you sign up to a pay-as-you-go deal, you should be able to get the 503 for under £80 - an absolute bargain.

The 503 comes equipped with a single rear facing 5MP camera accompanied by an LED flash, which is comparable to the Nokia Lumia 520 and the Motorola Moto G in terms of megapixels.

The downside is the tiny 3-inch screen on 503 feels minute when compared to the likes of the 4.7-inch display you get from the Nokia Lumia 625.

Nokia Asha 503

TIny but cheap

What the Asha 503 lacks in screen size is made up for with solid battery life and it offers most of the features you'd expect from a modern smartphone. Running on Nokia's Asha software platform 1.2, the 503 is smooth to operate without much lag. The operating system is very basic, but that does mean it's easy to use.

The Asha 503 runs on Nokia's Asha software platform, which has replaced the MeeGo software Nokia was developing before it was bought by Microsoft. The Asha OS is a stripped back version of MeeGo, but also an upgrade from the Symbian OS which had been used by other Nokia devices for years.

Nokia Asha 503 review

Within the Asha 503 a 4GB microSD card is included, but that can be upgraded to a maximum of 32GB for all your files and apps.

The phone comes with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, and a 1200mAh battery which boasts an incredible 35 days of standby time. However, maximum talk time over 3G is a rather average 4.5 hours, and don't expect 4G or even GPS support here.

Nokia Asha 503 review

Measuring only 102.6 x 60.6 x 12.7mm, and weighs in at 110g, what the device lacks in height is certainly made up for in thickness, but it feels comfortable, sturdy and well built in the hand.

Any fragile parts or features have been eliminated from the 503's design, and like older handsets from Nokia - for example the Nokia 5110 - the 503 feels durable.

Nokia Asha 503 review

It is likely that this device could be dropped hundreds of times without breaking it due to its thick and durable plastic case. However, that's unlikely to happen because the 503 fits so snugly in one hand you'll rarely feel it slip.

Around the edge of the Asha 503 you will find the volume controls and the power button to the right, the headphone socket and charging/data port along the top and an opening for the microphone at the bottom. There is also touch operated button under the screen, which provides the back feature.

Nokia Asha 503 review

The colourful rear cover is removable, allowing for replacement or customisation. Nokia has provided the Asha 503 in a handful of colours, including yellow, black, green, red, and blue

Each case has a clear plastic layer that covers the rear, this is what noticeably makes the 503 instantly different from its 501 version. Presumably, this is for added protection, but the corners are quite sharp and the extra clear plastic makes the device unnecessarily bulky.

Nokia Asha 503 review

The protection also extends to the screen which is covered in Gorilla Glass to ensure extra durability.

The 503's screen is far from high definition with only 134 pixels per inch, which gives an obviously pixelated image when compared to any mid-to-high end device.

The viewing experience is less enjoyable as a result, but once you get used to the three-inch display, you start to realise that this weakness gives the Asha 503 strengths in other departments.