The Nokia Asha 201 proved a disappointment when asked with going online, but it fares a bit better as a music player. However, you will have to splash out on a microSD card as the 26MB of internal memory isn't enough to house a single album.
Navigation of music is intuitive, letting you browser by Artist, Album and so on - as you would with an iPod. Like the rest of the interface, it's not flashy but it is clear. The output from the 3.5mm headphone jack is also clean and offers decent volume output. There are no physical playback or volume buttons, though, requiring you to use the front d-pad to navigate between tracks.
Nokia includes a headset with a single-button remote, but as the earbuds are non-removable and fairly poor, music fans will want to plug their own set in. A good FM radio is also built into the Asha 201. It uses the headphone cable as an antenna, reaps a good signal and will automatically scan for radio station upon first use. You cannot record the radio signal to phone's memory, but this is an above-average mobile radio, where many mobiles' offerings feel like a tacked-on afterthought.
The camera isn't a similar success, though. Its chunky lens housing looks better than that of many a budget phone, but its specs are woeful. There's no flash, resolution is a limited two megapixels and it has a fixed focus. This is an extremely basic camera only capable of papping throwaway shots.
In good light the Asha 201 is can create photos worth posting on Facebook. However, its 2-megapixel sensor doesn't offer a great deal of resolution and detail captured is limited. Photos are a great deal smaller than those of a 5MP or 8MP phone too - the Gherkin cut-out above had to be blown up beyond pixel level to be this large. Purple fringing is clearly evident, as is the overall lack of fidelity.
In more challenging light conditions, the Asha 201 really starts to struggle. Here, the scene appears desaturated. The blue sky has been all-but turned grey, and there's a fuzziness to detail that you wouldn't see from a higher-end camera.
The clearest annoyance in the use of a fixed focus - rather than autofocus - is that the camera cannot make close-up objects look sharp. Here, the leaves are affected. Any subject needs to be a metre or two away to appear in focus, severely limiting what you can snap - without resulting in a blurry mess.
Given this mediocre performance, it's surprising that the camera app is one of the flashiest parts of the phone. Unlike the rest of the software, it's packed with neat animated transitions and cute menus. The functionality it offers - a few colour effects, white balance settings and control over the quality of shots - is nothing special, mind. The Nokia Asha 201 lets you upload any images taken to your social networks, through the Social app, but as the connectivity types available are all quite slow, it's best avoided.
A 1430mAh battery powers the Asha 201. This is a decent size for a phone with a small screen and no 3G connectivity. In a smartphone, constantly plugging into the internet using 3G is what digs away so heinously at a battery's stamina. Here, you'll be able to enjoy at least 2 days' use as long as you don't make the phone search constantly for emails, or spend too long browsing the web. It's rated for seven hours of call time, which betters many recent mid-range Nokias, including the X3-02 Touch and Type.
Call quality is decent but unremarkable. The earpiece is fairly loud, but the loudspeaker isn't and there's not noise cancellation - no surprise at the price, but it will making calls in noisy conditions frustrating.
For around £50, the Nokia Asha 201 may sound like a good deal. It can access social networks, grab emails and browse the web, but without the software or connectivity to do the job properly, such abilities don't add up to much. The Nokia C3 is now available at a similar price and, packing Wi-Fi, is an altogether much better-equipped phone.
If you need a phone with a physical keyboard, the Nokia Asha 201 is one of the cheapest you can get. However, its outdated OS and slow mobile internet connections stop it being much use in its role as a social networking and email tool. Other phones around the same price offer both Wi-Fi and 3G, making this phone feel as though it's stuck in the past.