Nokia's Asha range of phones are typically aimed at emerging markets like India and South America, but the 503 will be making its way to British shops and Nokia is hoping that the colourful body and dirt-cheap price will appeal to us Brits on a budget.
To help its appeal, the 503 is the first of the Asha phones to have a 3G radio on board, rather than just 2G. You won't keep up with your super-speedy 4G-toting buddies, but Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp on the move are well within its capabilities.
Other features include a 3-inch display, a 5-megapixel camera and of course its unusual 'encased in ice' design. It's free from £11 per month on a two-year contract.
To save on production costs, budget phones often come with pretty plain, uninspiring designs, but the 503 features an unusual but nonetheless attractive look that stands out from the other cheap mobiles. Its body features a clear perspex back, giving it an icy effect.
The thick plastic casing means it feels like a very sturdy piece of kit too. There's little flex in the body and I have no doubt it can take a serious knockabout on holiday without showing too much wear and tear. The back is removable too, giving access to the SIM card slot, the battery and -- unusually on a budget phone -- a microSD card slot, allowing you to expand the storage up to 32GB.
With a 3-inch display, the 503 is a compact little chap. It measures 103mm long and 61mm wide, making it extremely easy to fit into your pocket, although its 12.7mm thickness puts it on the fatter side of today's phones. At 110g, you won't ever feel bogged down by its weight.
The 3-inch screen has a 320x240-pixel resolution, which is very low, even for a budget phone. It results in fuzzy text, icons seriously lacking definition and Web pages looking thoroughly unpleasant. It's bright, but the poor resolution and awful viewing angles mean this screen really isn't suitable for anything more than the absolute basics of making calls and sending texts.
The Motorola Moto G has the best screen found at the budget end, with a 720p resolution that makes even small text look satisfyingly crisp. Starting at £100, it's slightly more than the 503, but if you plan on doing a lot of Web browsing then it's money well spent.
Instead of the Windows Phone software you'll find on Nokia's more expensive Lumia phones, the Asha runs its own software -- simply called Asha OS. It's based on Nokia's old Meego software and it's easy to see similarities.
The homescreen is made up of a grid of small, rounded app icons, rather like you'd find on iOS. Navigating around the interface is done almost entirely using gestures as the front of the phone is only home to a single, touch-sensitive back key. Swipe in from the right edge to close an app. Perform the same motion again and you'll be taken to something called Fastlane.
Fastlane pulls together recently called contacts, opened apps or visited websites, along with upcoming information such as calendar reminders and displays it in a constantly scrolling timeline. The idea is to help you get to your most-used apps and services quickly, with a minimum of fuss.
The Asha software is simple and attractive enough, but the poor screen and weedy processor makes navigation a chore at times. The interface can be very sluggish, with juddery transitions between pages. I also found on numerous occasions that a swipe would be registered as a tap, causing an app to open -- something that quickly became frustrating.
Although the Asha phones do have their own app store, it's very poorly stocked. Some good names like WhatsApp and Plants Vs Zombies are available (the latter will cost you a fiver) most of the big name titles you might be used to seeing -- Spotify, Netflix, Instagram -- aren't offered. If you're big into your apps, you'd be better off splashing some extra cash on an Android phone.
On the back of the phone is a 5-megapixel camera with an LED flash. I took it for a spin and found it to be about average for budget phones. The clarity was acceptable, and it's a satisfyingly bright shot, but there's image noise in the shadowy areas and the colours are rather lacking in vibrancy.
You're not likely to take the photography world by storm with the 503's camera, but it'll at least let you snap some arty sunsets for Facebook. There's no front-facing camera, but with no Skype or Google Hangouts on board, video calling is out of the question anyway.
Under its ice-encased back, the 503 packs a dinky 1,200mAh battery. It's surprisingly small actually, given the fat proportions of the phone's body, but without a huge, high definition display, it shouldn't need to be too big.
Nokia reckons that you can get up to 4.5 hours of talk time on 3G from the phone, which isn't very impressive at all. Even the enormous Full HD phones with their power-hungry quad-core processors will give you more juice than that. The Asha makes up for it by being able to slumber in standby for up to 35 days, however, making it a great choice for casual use when you're away. So long as you don't use it much, you should always have power in case of emergency.
If you're after a phone for the absolute essential tasks of calls, texts and a spot of social networking, the Nokia Asha 503 will provide exactly that and asks for very little money in return. Its poor screen however, together with its sluggish performance and hugely limited app store means that it could be worth spending more to get a taste of Android.
The Motorola Moto G can be had for £100 -- a chunk more cash, sure, but its sharp screen and powerful processor makes using the phone even for the basics far more enjoyable. The hundreds of thousands of apps in the Google Play store will also help keep you entertained for hours on end.