If you’re an Airtel subscriber, Nokia’s Asha 501 should certainly be an interesting proposition. The phone, when it is launched in India in June, will let Airtel subscribers access Facebook for free for a limited period of time, thanks to an agreement between Nokia, Facebook and Airtel.

The Asha 501, which was unveiled today, offers data-free access to the standalone Facebook app, as well as the mobile site. By the end of the second quarter, current Airtel subscribers in Africa and India will be able to enjoy unlimited, data-free access to Facebook from their Asha 501s for some time. 


Free Facebook access, but for a limited period of time

Speaking during the launch, Stephen Elop, CEO, Nokia, said the Facebook partnership will currently be limited to the Asha 501. “The Facebook partnership begins with 501. At a later date we might think of extending it to other models. We are working with operators around the world,” he said.

When asked if Nokia would release a QWERTY model of the Asha 501 he said, “We are watching the trend very closely. People are migrating from different form factors to touch.”

Vaughan Smith, VP, Mobile Partnerships, Facebook, said this partnership would help his company reach the 1 billion users mark. “Last week, Facebook announced that it had reached 750 million users. The biggest opportunity for us is to target the 5 billion people who are still not there,” he said.

“This bundle is a great way to discover Facebook on your Nokia Asha and enjoy the experience for longer without worrying about data charges,” he added. “Working in close partnership with Nokia and global operators made this offer possible and we're excited to help connect the world on Facebook.”

The Asha 501 sports a 3-inch LCD capacitive touchscreen display with QVGA resolution (320 x 240 pixels). The phone will be available in single and dual-SIM variants but will support only 2G. Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and microUSB 2.0. The phone has a 3.2-megapixel camera at the back, but no flash. 

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