Nokia 3310 review: well-loved phone returns as a modern classic

You can't travel back in time with the new Nokia 3310. Yes, some of the old favourites are still there but for around Dh190 you'll be getting a basic phone with a bit of nostalgia thrown in.

The Nokia 3310 will go on sale in the UAE some time in the next three months with a guidance price of about Dh190. Eddie Keogh / Reuters
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A word of warning to those considering buying the Nokia 3310: the newly revived feature phone, unveiled by HMD Global at Mobile World Congress 2017, does not allow you to travel back in time.

I wish I could say that holding the relaunched Nokia 3310 instantly transported me back to the early 2000s in the UK, when we still believed Tim Henman would win Wimbledon, we hadn’t (quite) given up hope of another decent Oasis album and life was a bit more carefree.

Sadly the Nokia 3310 won’t bring back those days. But while there’s not much to the phone beyond its nostalgic pull, its elegance and simplicity is hard not to love.

HMD has stuck with the basics with the new 3310: its candybar form factor, the battery that lasts forever and the infamous game Snake. And of course the 3310 is not a smartphone – it’s a feature phone, which means it’s little beyond talk and text.

The classic design elements of the old 3310 – its curvy body, the white trim around the screen, the 12 lozenge-like keys – are present and correct, although this time around it’s a lot thinner and lighter.

HMD claims the 3310’s battery offers a talk time of 22 hours and a standby time of 31 days. Hard to test given the phone is, at the time of writing, less than 24 hours old, but suffice to say you won’t be needing to carry a battery pack for this device.

And of course, Snake is present and correct as well, in a slightly updated version that still, kind of, brings back memories of sore thumbs and missed essay deadlines.

There are a few concessions to modernity thrown in by HMD; the original’s tiny monochrome screen has been replaced by a 2.4-inch colour display. While a 2.4MP rear camera has been added, the 3310 keeps the pre-selfie generation happy by leaving out a front-facing camera.

The Nokia 3310 will go on sale in the UAE some time in the next three months, HMD assures us, with a guidance price of €49 (Dh190). There’s not much reason to buy it apart from nostalgia for a long-gone age. But that’ll be reason enough for those looking for a well-designed basic phone, even if it fails to erase 17 years off your life.

q&a return to basics

AFP expands on the survival instincts of dumbphones – handsets that just make calls and send texts:

I though basic phones were set to disappear as technology moved on?

They were, but they have survived in emerging markets and among nostalgics of simpler devices in the West. Their continued appeal was underscored on Sunday with Nokia’s revamped version of its 3310 model, more than a decade after it was phased out.

So who buys these devices?

Dumbphones remain useful to telecoms operators to “relaunch or accelerate” mobile phone use as they are relatively inexpensive, said Julien Miniconi, a telecoms expert at consulting firm Wavestone. “It makes sense, especially in countries where the network is not great,” he added.

How many were sold last year?

While 1.5 billion smartphones were sold around the world last year, according to research firm Gartner, the dumbphone market is still significant, with nearly 400 million sold in 2016. In emerging markets such as India, their sales still outstrip smartphones. Basic phones accounted for over 55 per cent of all mobiles sold during the third quarter of 2016 in the world’s second most populous country, according to the International Data Corporation, a market research firm.

What about developed nations?

There too the phones continue to sell. “Today they are niche markets, either for those looking for vintage or for those who are anti mobile internet or old people,” said Thomas Husson, a mobile analyst at Forrester, a research group. Young kids also use them as a first phone and others as a secondary phone to lend to visiting friends and family from another country.


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