This week there’s been some news that HMD, the Finnish company which has the licence to the Nokia brand, is going to re-release an updated version of what I would say is the best mobile phone series in history, the Nokia 3310 at MWC (Mobile World Conference)
I am looking forward to seeing what this Nokia looks like, but sadly, I am not too excited by this, and I doubt very much I will get one. Let me explain why.
Back in the day (around 1999-2002) the Nokia 3310 was the phone to have. It was not the most expensive, it was not the most luxurious, but it was the best. It came from the Nokia 3210 which was a good phone, the 3310 was a brilliant update to that, and a smaller, incremental update, the Nokia 3330 which I have pictured above which is my actual phone (sadly I can’t find the phone) which was almost identical, but came with a different cover colour and support for a WAP browser which nobody cared about. What made this the best phone of all time?
Built like a tank – I had one of these phones for years, in fact the only reason why I broke my one and only Nokia 3310 was because I dropped it in a glass of lemonade and it froze. It then got replaced by my 3330 which is pictured, and as you can tell from those images, it was still in incredible quality sitting next to an iPhone probably around 10 years later.
Battery life – It was immense. With over 260 hours of standby time, you could quite easily go over a week without charging it. There was virtually no need to ever worry about charging your phone.
Ringtones – Ringtones were a big thing back in those days, and you could get custom ringtones to your phone! You could even code in your own, so it was as simple as finding the keys on the Internet (56K back in the day) and coding in the notes and hey presto! You had the song in that classic tone style.
Colour Cases – Like Ringtones, cases were huge business. The Nokia 3310/3330 came with the front and back casing being removable, so you could have an almost limitless number of case designs and colours, which means you and your friends could all have the same phone, but they would all be different.
Games – Snake. That’s it. Everyone loved the game snake. It was an addictive game which was so simple to play, but so hard to master.
The King Of Texting – Long Text Messages. You probably don’t know, but text messages are only 160 characters long. Anything more is counted as more than one message. Back in the day with old phones, that would means sending a message either short, or writing it out in multiple parts. The Nokia 3310 had Long SMS built in, which means you had 100’s more characters, you could send longer messages, and providing you sent to another phone which had this (to another 3310) it would appear as one message, rather than being split up.
Predictive Texting – Weird to get at first, but once you did, it became easy. This was a bit of a love/hate feature for most people.
Text Message Writing Speed – It was just blistering. Since you had real buttons to press, you could fly through a text. You could write it without looking at the buttons or screen, you could do it blindfolded. It was so good!
The Design – You might take it for granted, but the Nokia 3210/3310/3330 were phones which had the antenna inside. This was quite revolutionary at the time, with other phones such as a Motorola or Ericsson having external antennas making them more bulky and awkward shapes.
Hacking & Customising – If you were a cool kid, and I was, you could get a data cable and hack the phone. It meant that you could change the logo on the start up screen and on the front, you could remove the carrier name, and you could design your own logos and screens.
The Pricetag – For £99.99 you could have one of these, sim free. Think about that, the best, most popular phone for under £100. Today, you have to shell out £500+ for the same Sony/Samsung/Apple/HTC phone. Incredible value!
If you are in your 20’s and reading the above you’ll probably thing it’s no big deal and today’s phones are better, and they are today, but back then the 3310 was the king.
Why It Won’t Work In 2017
Back in the days of the 3310 we were all about one thing; Texting. That was pretty much it. We made a couple of calls, we messed with the games and all the cool stuff like ringtones, but it was mostly the texting.
Now phones are no longer phones. They are little computers we put into our pockets. They are cameras, they are sat nav, they are what we use to shop on, what we use for social media, what we use to watch and listen to music and media, and a whole lot more. We do far too much on our phones now, so the 3310 as it was just wouldn’t work, even for a going-out with friends for a laugh kind of phone, or even a spare. We don’t use phones like that anymore.
It will probably get an update, possibly use Android, maybe have a camera, maybe be touchscreen with 3/4G, but then what do you have? You have a smartphone which you can already buy. The heart and soul will be gone.
For that reason I will almost certainly not be getting one. Nokia already have a couple of phones like this, simple phones. They look pretty great for their price, the Nokia 105 for only £25, the Nokia 222 for under £50 and other models 216, 215, 130 and more.
The original Nokia 3210/3310/3330 will always be an epic phone.