Retromania gone cult-crazy? PAT PILCHER looks at the resurrection of an antiduluvian mobile phone that ain’t even smart.
The Nokia 3310 hasn’t been around for 12 years, but bizarrely, newsroom editors and tech journalists are now soiling their undergarments about it.
Some trainspotter phone fan types believe the 3310 is an iconic device. They say it’s because Nokia sold over 126 million of the chunky buggers, which got phased out of production in 2005.
So why is a non-smart phone that has been dead for 12 years now suddenly hot again? Turns out that some genius at HMD Global (who own the Nokia brand) decided to relaunch the 3310 with a few modern wrinkles.
They’re gambling that millennial nostalgia could give the new 3310 a lift in today’s cutthroat phone market.
Announcing the new iteration of the 3310 at Mobile Word Congress was also a clever move. A straight press announcement might have at best got a small amount of column space, but announcing it at the most important convention for smartphone freaks saw it gaining an unprecedented amount media attention.
So, aside from the obvious retro angles, what does the new 3310 have going for it?
The first criticism levelled at the 3310 will probably be that it’s a “feature phone”. Its internet capabilities are likely to be limited.
On the other hand, it will offer far better battery life than its more powerful smartphone siblings. It should have a month’s standby and in theory can delivery up to 22 hours of talk time. Given most smartphones run at best for two days with minimal use, this could prove compelling.
The media hype says it’ll be affordable. It’ll go on sale for €49 (around NZ$72), but add retail and distribution “costs” and this figure is likely to be closer to NZ$100-$120. With budget smartphones available for far less but offering more functionality, the 3310’s value is at best questionable.
Because it uses 2G connectivity (which for those used to 4G will feel positively glacial), surfing the web or checking emails will be about as much fun as a DIY cranial lobotomy done with blunt knitting needles. This also means it won’t work on Spark’s network, limiting your choice of telco to either Vodafone or 2 degrees.
And its powered by S30+ OS. Forget about apps. There’s hardly any. You’d better like playing Snake too.
The last nail in the 3310’s coffin is its camera. It’s only two megapixels. Even the cheapest ultra-budget smartphones pack at least an 8MP rear shooter. In short, the new 3310’s camera will be about as useful as a cat-door on a submarine.
Beardie-weirdie types may be getting all worked up, uttering phrases such as “digital detox”, but let’s be realistic: beyond phone calls and texting, the original 3310 kind of sucked. The new one won’t be much better.
Based on its specs, it’s fair to assume that many used to the versatility of 4G-connected 24 megapixel camera equipped smartphones will find the new 3310 one step too far backwards.
That’s the thing with nostalgia. It makes for great water cooler conversations, but the reality is that when it comes to using retro gear, it usually sucks balls.
So should the past get left in the past? In the case of the new 3310, its long battery life and a solid design could see it used as an emergency phone in your car’s glove box. Beyond that it’ll likely struggle. It seems that Nokia overestimated the power of nostalgia. Worse still, this feverish marketing gimmickry has over-ridden their understanding of the needs of modern smartphone- addicted customers. PAT PILCHER