Legends never die. They might get temporarily forgotten; but they just cannot be replaced. At the Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona, Spain in 2017, a long-lost legend came back to life! While the event can boast about the launch of a number of brilliant, futuristic phones by major electronic firms, what stole the show was a cell-phone from yesteryears. A mobile device powered by an operating system not developed by Apple or Google, a phone that can barely surf the internet, a device that looks just as sombre as its specifications and is eons away from being a smart-phone. Yet, it promises to light up a smile on your face. A bunch of intriguing paradoxes. What’s all this fuss about? Cue drumroll.
Remember Nokia, the Finnish technology giant that literally ruled the mobile devices market back in 2000? The company that popularized monochrome display screens and a T9 input function along with a simple but highly addicting game is back in the news. And how!
In February of 2017, Nokia launched its rendition of the widely popular 3310 handset, revamped with an air of elegance and a sense of purpose. With the tech world abuzz and the internet broken, Nokia had set the stage for a comeback that’s going to be written in the history books.
Wasn’t Nokia dead?
It was. Back in the 2000s, Nokia had established a massive foot-hold in the mobile phone space. With its user-centric design and super-functional operating nature, Nokia was synonymous with the best and only phone available in the market. The company had been developing mobile devices and PDAs that were selling like hot cakes. A series of highly functional phones at affordable prices catered to the needs of both, the working class and the teenagers. Given that they had dished out a lot of popular models, the 3310 is arguably the best they had developed.
Selling a staggering 126 million handsets, it was clear, the 3310 had achieved legend-status. An efficient T9 input keyboard with four buttons to cancel, power on/off and navigate up or down fit right below a monochrome-lit 2-inch display, the Nokia 3310 was the bomb. The world wasn’t introduced to the razzmatazz of flashy smartphones back then, and the 3310’s simple midnight blue chassis coupled with silver touch finishes made the handset look as fancy as it could get. After all this success, it seemed like Nokia was en route to becoming a major force in the mobile phone dynamic.
However, that was not the case to be. With bedazzling technological advancements being made in every sector, the need of the hour was to embrace and adopt this technological spurt and take the game forward. Newer companies were emerging with enhanced technological prowess. And with an industry where innovation is key, Nokia was too busy playing competitive catch-up that it failed to match the customer’s needs and demands. A classic case of Darwin’s evolution theory: Survival of the fittest.
Apple and Samsung started embracing the massive improvements in tech and soon, Nokia has fallen too behind on the customer approval ratings chart. In 2014, it was forced to shut its independent operations which led to a $7 billion deal, yielding Nokia’s huge network and patent portfolio to Microsoft. The dream run was all but over.
Microsoft began the Nokia mobile revamp a year after the acquisition with its signature Lumia phones powered by their Windows operating system. Lacklustre performance and the availability of cheaper and better smartphones dipped Lumia’s sales to a staggeringly low level. A string of disappointing products virtually removed Nokia from the map and it was all but lost. In 2016, however, HMD Global, a conglomerate run by some of Nokia’s ex-executives, purchased licensing rights of the brand, Nokia. Backed by Chinese bigshot, Foxxconn Telecom, HMD launched the revitalised 3310 along with a few Android powered mobile phones under the Nokia banner.
What’s new about the Nokia 3310?
While the original Nokia 3310 featured a classic midnight navy body with silver colored keys and a screen collar, the revamped model looks a lot cooler. Color variations available with the new 3310 sport a warm orange, a sun-kissed yellow, a tomato-red and the classic midnight blue. Though the design baseline is similar, the newer model is a lot sleeker and sports a streamlined chassis. The control buttons have a big revamp as they replace the older four buttons with a layout more common in feature phones i.e. a central OK button and four directional controls coupled with two side buttons.
Back in the 2000s, this handset came with a paltry 84X48 pixel density and a black-and-white display screen. As unappealing as it sounds now, it was what drove customers crazy almost two decades ago. The 2017 Nokia 3310 sports a refurbished display with a pixel density of 240X320. Although it is significantly weaker than the HD displays that today’s smartphones feature, it feels a lot more powerful when used along with the signature body. Nostalgia guaranteed. The 2.4” corner-to-corner screen is not touch-enabled, but comes in color unlike its predecessor.
Like most feature phones, the 3310 does not house enough hardware capability to support an Android Operating System, and so runs on S30. Compared to the older version, the software looks a lot more sharp and fun to use. The phone has however, stuck to its roots. The original model offered a ‘browser’ to explore the internet for the sake of using the internet. The new 3310 clings to that farce too, in a certain way. It houses a sole Opera Browser that can provide internet connectivity on a meager 2.5G spectrum, enough to Google single page results at best. Review by Mirror.co.uk
Connectivity and Media
To the tech world’s surprise, the 2017 Nokia 3310 comes with a dual SIM feature. Though Nokia hasn’t publicly spoken a lot about this, the company’s website promises dual SIM connectivity. The back of the phone also houses a removable battery and a MicroSD card slot. Memory storage? For real? Yes. The 3310 comes with a 2MP camera with LED-flash. The folks at Nokia have thus been generous enough to provide memory card storage to store your low-res pictures safely. The company has not elaborated about the capacity so that’s one thing potential users are looking forward to knowing. It lacks Wi-Fi so any chances of boosting net speed go out the window. It supports Bluetooth connectivity nonetheless.
Notably, the most standout feature of the new 3310 is its beast of a battery. The original sported a 900mAh battery which was powerful enough to hold the phone alive on standby for as long as 260 hours. The revitalized battery can do better. Nokia claims it can provide over 22 hours of talktime and standby power for a month with its stronger 1200mAh Mathematically, it can last for longer after being used for its optimum capacity than your standard smartphone can after doing literally nothing.
The ultra-popular game of the 2000s, Snake was what shot Nokia up the ranks in the mobile entertainment space. A simple yet fun to play, addictive game was all the talk when the original 3310 was released. And now, the internet doesn’t seem to get enough of it. History does repeat itself. The new 3310 boasts of a colorful rendition of the original Snake, with better graphics and control courtesy of its refurbished control buttons. From the outlook, Nokia seems to have added newer functionalities to the game itself in order to make it more appealing. Only time will tell if these alterations are going to enhance the gameplay or drastically backfire.
The 2017 Nokia 3310 is going to be retailed at $50 in the market, significantly lesser than its predecessor’s cost. Given the traction the phone and company achieved, its welcoming design and simple interface might just be able to woo a customer base looking to indulge in some good ol’ nostalgia. The dual SIM feature has the capability to lure users looking to buy a budget phone that comes with the option of separating personal and private life. However, the way the company has pitched this latest product, potential customers are probably just waiting to get their hands on the revamped Snake.
Though Nokia doesn’t have a hand in the design and functionality of the 3310, it still holds its brand rights. HMD Global has taken the gamble of relaunching this retro hit after a period of 17 years. It will reimburse Nokia with brand and loyalty charges on every phone sold because none of it would be possible with Nokia’s name.
What’s in a name, you say?
The new 3310 is set to release worldwide by the end of March, 2017. Whether this is going to be a worth investment or not shall be determine in time, but you have to agree, news of its launch has raged a wildfire in the tech industry and also the world, for that matter.