Review : New Nokia 3310

When the Nokia 3310 remake was announced months ago, I got quite excited.

An original 3310 was the first phone I actually wanted.  I had a Philips C12 but the 3310 was the phone to be seen with.

I can’t remember how much an original cost but I remember that I got the screen repaired for £18 once, after walking in to the corner of a counter getting out the way of an old lady with a tray of food in Woolworths and cracking the screen.

The new phone was launched with some interesting selling points.  The first of those points was nostalgia.  The 3310 was the phone for me that took mobile phones from utility to fashion.  For a start, it had no visible aerial and I think (although I’m no expert) that the only one that has had an aerial since was a 7110 and that was used on The Matrix, so who cares?

Selling a phone without any reasonable memory (it has 16MB on board, but lots of that is used already by the operating system), only a 2G data signal and a 2.4inch screen is going to need more than nostalgia to make if it wants to be known as anything more than a collectible though.

Most reports labelled the new 3310 as a backup phone courtesy of ridiculous 744 hour standby battery life breaking down to 22 hours of talk time.  The thought was that you wouldn’t take your smartphone to a festival where you’d need to charge it every night.  This little bad boy could last the duration and the journey home.

Intrigued, I signed up to the pre-order at Carphone Warehouse.  As the time approached with the £50 price tag confirmed, I became less intrigued.  £50 tips a psychological balance for me that takes it out of Reasonable Impulse Buy to something that you really need to use.  Unperturbed and with my mother in desperate need of new telephony, I convinced her that she wanted one.

I’m such a good son!

The ordering was an absolute nightmare.  Carphone Warehouse really made a hash of it.  I’ve bought iPhones on release day with less trouble.  The phone arrived either 3 days late or five and a half weeks early depending on which e-mail you look at, and this was after Carphone Warehouse ringing me to ask if I’d have a yellow phone because they actually had stock of those.

The phone arrived in a funky little box showing that retro was definitely how this phone was intended.

Inside the box, you’ll find everything you’d expect – phone, battery, earphones and instructions.  I wasn’t expecting to need the instructions but getting in the 3310 to put the battery and the SIM in was staggeringly difficult.

Having prised the thing open with an old credit card, the first real problem with the 3310 was encountered.  It uses a micro-SIM.  That means that using the 3310 as a backup to a smart phone will need a SIM adaptor.  Combined with how difficult it is to get inside the thing, using the 3310 as a backup with your current number rather than an additional one would be a bit of a faff.  Not a faff that can’t be overcome, but a faff nonetheless.

Anyway, I got the phone up and running and had a dabble.  This is a bit of a strange review as I haven’t been able to live with the phone, so this is what I learnt from playing with it for 10 minutes.

  • The new phone is slimmer and lighter than it’s predecessor but still feels nice and robust.  The finish on the blue one that I ordered is exactly the same as the original and I think it’s going to be reasonably scratchproof.
  • The screen is pretty good.  It’s bright.  It’s still only 167ppi though and this is noticeable.
  • I took some photos.  They look OK on the small screen, but it’s a 2MP camera on a £50 phone so it’s not great.
  • Snake is amusing but I think they could actually have kept it truly old school like the version of it that you can get for iOS and Android.  Snake never needed to be modernised.
  • Typing messages on a physical phone keyboard is like riding a bike – you never forget.  The predictive was weird, so it was faster for me to just turn it off.
  • Calls are nice and clear, but it vibrates when you answer the call.  This is weird to both the person answering and the person ringing being able to hear it!
  • I’m told that battery life is good.  Mum isn’t a heavy phone user so if it says 744 hours, she’s not going to complain if it doesn’t quite reach that.

It left me pleased that I hadn’t bought one for myself because after I left the olds’ I went out with my iPhone and I realised that I like what the 3310 can’t provide.  I like a great screen, 4G and being online when I want to be.

The 3310 does have Twitter and Facebook apps that I think would work OK but this is being sold as a communication device first and foremost.  The 3310 strips back everything that is deemed superfluous, but it’s failed to realise that people don’t communicate by only calls and text anymore.  We use iMessage and WhatsApp and Messenger and Viber and Snapchat and whatever else.  These are the types of apps that the 3310 needs to support and it can’t.

The problem is that using one of these as a backup phone without having access to your normal messaging apps means that you’ll have to tell everyone who would communicate with you via these apps that you’re using a different phone and then back to your normal one again.

There are many reasons why I think the 3310 is impractical as a second phone, but that’s a negative way to end this review because the truth is, my mother loves it.  It does what she needs it to do and it looks fantastic.

I said before that the old 3310 took phones from utility to fashion.  The new one should do the opposite, barring the exception of a few hipsters who like the retro look.  The utility it should be aiming for, though, is not as a backup for those who want a smartphone but as an interesting handset for those who don’t need a smartphone.

An interesting side effect to the remake is that it has reminded people that Nokia exists.  It’s a clever marketing ploy and, if it works to any extent, it will be good to see.  It would be like Nokia have turned back the clock to start again at the beginning, reminding people that at one point in time it was them that were the industry trailblazers.

NOTE: I’m not associated with Nokia, Vodafone or Tesco Mobile and I haven’t received anything from them before or after writing this review. One could say that it’s entirely independent. 

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