Back before the iPhone was a gleam in Apple’s eye, Nokia was the smartphone vendor everyone was trying to beat. For over a decade, Nokia dominated the smartphone and feature phone markets — and one of the devices that cemented its position as an early leader in the cell phone industry was the Nokia 3310. Now HMD Global, the company that manufacturers devices for Nokia, will refresh the device for MWC 2017 with the same candybar design, according to Evan Blass at VentureBeat.
At first glance, the Nokia 3310 doesn’t look like the kind of device anyone would care about in 2017. The original phone launched in 2000 with features like an 84×48 monochrome screen, games like Snake II, a calculator, a stop watch, and a reminder function. The 3310 could store seven custom ringtones, and supported SMS messages of up to 459 characters. In 2017, these “features” are so basic they could practically be integrated into a toaster. (Please don’t -Ed).
Does a feature phone make any kind of sense in 2017? I’d argue that it does, in certain cases, and depending on how Nokia designs the device. The Nokia 3310 was legendary for its durability, and has been known to survive virtually every type of abuse we have a name for. It wouldn’t entirely surprise me if NASA tossed a few of them outside an airlock of the International Space Station and then retrieved fully functional hardware from the bottom of the Atlantic a few years later. The Nokia 3310 was an absolute tank.
The trick for Nokia will be balancing nostalgia, form factor, and capability. If you wanted to put a higher-resolution display on the old Nokia, you might also want to make it a bit bigger — but not to the point that the phone loses its legendary durability. It’s an interesting balancing act, and we’ll be curious to see what they roll out.
- HMD Global is also launching several other Android devices at MWC this year. The Nokia 6 (5.5-inch display, 1080p, Snapdragon 430, 4GB of RAM), the Nokia 5 (5.2-inch display, 720p, Snapdragon 430 and 2GB of RAM) and the Nokia 3 — a device we don’t know much about yet, but that Nokia plans to sell for €149 (roughly $158). The company is hoping that these low-end devices will spur demand for its products, helping it re-enter the phone market after disastrous business decisions and Microsoft’s buyout effectively killed its product lines. Hopefully the new 3310 will build on what made the old one great, contain intelligently conceived updates, and act as a low-cost cellular option for people who need a solid, rugged device with long battery life more than they need a whiz-bang gadget with all the bells and whistles.