Cast your eyes back to the turn of the century and you’ll spot a familiar handset crammed in most pockets: Nokia’s 3310. Having since achieved near-cult status as the indestructible phone, Nokia’s 3310 was trusty, reliable, and incredibly resilient. Seventeen years later, the most beloved phone in history is making a comeback.
Its announcement earlier in the year led to an absurd level of interest. I witnessed a stampede of 100 tech journalists elbowing each other to be the first to get their hands on a £50 phone; the sort of mass pandemonium usually reserved for the latest iPhone launch. Indeed, why has the world fallen on its knees for a phone so far removed of what’s expected in 2017?
Nokia, which now operates under Finnish company HMD Global, has decided to launch an updated version of the Nokia 3310 for the modern age. It’s not as you remember it, though: 2017’s 3310 is smaller, lighter and – you guessed it – much cheaper, too.
It’s not quite up to modern smartphone standards: it’s not running Android or iOS, after all, although you can play Snake right out of the box, so that should be all the convincing you need. But will the Nokia 3310 still hold a place among the Samsungs and Apples of 2017?
Nokia 3310 review: Price and competition
The Nokia 3310 re-do is seriously cheap, setting it apart from the rest of 2017’s phone lineup. HMD could have charged ludicrous amounts for this nostalgia fix, but at £49, the Nokia 3310 is affordable on any budget.
For just £9 more, though, you can pick up the Alcatel Pixi 4 – complete with Android Marshmallow and all the bells and whistles that come with it. It’s got a decent enough camera, far better than the 3310’s offering, and you’re not restricted to a 2.5G data connection, either.
|Display||2.4in 240 x 320 TFT|
|Camera||2-megapixel rear camera|
|Dimensions||115.6 x 51 x 12.8mm|
Nokia 3310 review: Design
Nokia’s 3310 revival serves as an homage to the coveted handset of old. Nokia is known for its simplicity, and hasn’t deviated from that here. The design has only slightly changed from the original, albeit with a few key differences.
For starters, this 3310 is – crucially – a fair bit smaller and lighter than the 17-year-old phone it imitates. It weighs just 80g, and in fact it’s so small that you might just forget you’ve held it up to your ear in the first place. We’re so used to the size and weight of modern smartphones that this 3310 revival is a welcome change of pace.
Pick it up and early-noughties nostalgia will come flooding back. Seventeen years on, it feels – and plays – just as you remembered, right down to those little key tone beeps and that classic Nokia ringtone. T9 predictive texting is just as clumsy as I remember, though, and it’s not quite so easy on the thumbs as I recall.
Sadly, faceplate customisation is no more – so don’t expect to snap on those garish Hello Kitty-ridden custom covers you used to pick up at your local market. This time, you’ll have to stick with either red, yellow, dark blue or grey.
Nokia 3310 review: Camera and display
The Nokia 3310 mark 1 didn’t have a camera of any sort, but this 2017 resurgence has a 2-megapixel rear snapper, plonked just above the Nokia logo on the back. It’s obviously not the best (take a look at my test shots and you’ll see that for yourself), but it will do the job for the occasional snap.
The new camera would be for nought should that monochrome 84 x 48 display of old make another appearance, but we’re treated with a proper 2.4in, 240 x 320 resolution colour display instead. It’s a decent enough display, and it’s bright enough in direct sunlight, but as with the camera, it won’t be winning any awards.
Nokia 3310 review: Performance and battery life
Nokia remains a little tight-lipped on what’s inside, but it’s hardly going set the world ablaze when it comes to performance. Navigating menus was responsive enough; given the 3310 doesn’t do much else, you wouldn’t expect otherwise.
One thing to note: this Nokia 3310 doesn’t have WiFi or 4G support. To browse the internet (albeit through the shoddy Opera browser) you’ll have to rely on 2.5G connection. It’s incredibly sluggish, and it leaves me to wonder how we ever coped with those speeds in the first place. The Expert Reviews website took a lifetime to load.
Sure, the original Nokia 3310 wasn’t internet-powered – obviously – but it’s a shame to see a phone launch in 2017 that struggles to connect to the web. It might only be a burner phone after all but its competition around this price point, Alcatel’s Pixi 4 specifically, has no issues connecting.
Nokia claims up to 22 hours of talk time and one month of standby time on a single charge from the 3310’s 1,200mAh battery. And I can vouch for that, too – despite being unable to run our usual battery test – the battery fell to just below 50% after a weekend’s heavy use on a single charge.
Nokia 3310 review: Snake
Chances are that you’re picking the 3310 up for one reason: to play Snake again. The thing is, it’s not quite as you remember it – it’s colourful, and there are a few challenge levels to keep you satisfied.
The concept remains the same: eat fruit and don’t touch your tail/obstacles. Now, new power-ups pop up every so often and either cut a bit off your tail or attract nearby fruit. Oh, and those challenge levels I mentioned earlier? They’ll see you navigating your snake through a tight level to the exit, or competing for fruit against an AI opponent.
Gameloft has tinkered with Snake a little too much for my liking, and I feel they’d have been better served sticking to the simplicity of the original. The 2017 Snake is fun for a few brief minutes and might just quell the occasional backseat boredom, but this is no Angry Birds.
As for other games, there aren’t many others at launch. You’ll find a couple of timed demos for the other two titles, Asphalt 6 and Diamond Twister 2, but you’re expected to fork out £3 a piece once your time’s spent. That’s an ancient pre-Android relic that should have remained dead.
Nokia 3310 review: Verdict
Nokia’s 3310 isn’t a smartphone – more a 2017 re-do if anything. It’s a great idea: pull at the heartstrings of nostalgic fans for the firm’s big comeback, and if early interest is anything to go by, it looks like it’s worked. Nokia’s 3310 resurgence has raised a lot of eyebrows since its inception, despite being the strangest product to launch this year.
The problem is (and it’s a big one) that the 3310 might be a tricky sell in the modern smartphone age. It might be cheap at £49, and you might think you’re getting a good deal, but there’s already a handful of far better-equipped Android phones at that price. Take the Alcatel Pixi 4 for instance: it’s just £9 more, and remains one of my favourites.
Still, it’s a decent upgrade for the 17-year-old handset, featuring the beloved simplicity that made you fall in love with it in the first place. With a rear camera and a display you can actually read in sunlight, along with that joyous £49 asking price, Nokia’s 3310 is a wonderfully affordable nostalgia trip that’s well worth the ticket.