Nokia 3310 review: Hands-on with the revived feature phone classic
“Let’s all meet up in the year 2000,” Jarvis Cocker sang back in 1995. “Won’t it be strange when we’re all fully grown?” If Cocker and the rest of his Pulp buddies had eventually managed this millennium meet-up, the chances are that it would have been arranged via Nokia 3310, between games of Snake and burning through £10 One2One top-up vouchers.
If every word in that last paragraph gave you pangs of nostalgic joy, then congratulations: you’re exactly the kind of person Nokia is hoping will put them back on the mobile phone map again. The fact that the revival of the 3310 has caused a lot of interest isn’t debatable – I can see clearly the traffic the original news story has garnered in Google Analytics – what is more unknown is how much of that interest will manifest itself in cold, hard sales.
Nokia 3310 review: What’s changed in 17 years?
So how is the Nokia 3310 equipped to deal with life in 2017? Let’s be clear: this is a feature phone, and not a smartphone. There’s no touchscreen, no WiFi, no 4G and no app store. There’s a phonebook for you to store people’s numbers in, and numbered keys for you to type text messages into.
That’s not to say that you should just start searching for old Nokia phones on eBay instead – this isn’t the 2000 model reboxed. For starters, you’ve got a camera on the back now! True, it’s only a 2-megapixel affair, but it demonstrably better than the no-megapixel snapper the original had.
That leads us neatly onto the second big upgrade the 3310 has seen during its 17 year hiatus: it has a colour screen! True, the 2.4in 240×320 resolution screen is bested by even the cheapest of smartphones, but it’s a world away from the 1.5in monochrome display you were squinting at during The Bill’s ad break.
It also has somewhere to keep all these 2-megapixel shots you’ll start racking up: it has a microSD card slot, with a 32GB capacity. That, combined with the headphone jack (take that iPhone 7), means that it makes for a pretty handy mp3 player too.
But the real ace up the Nokia 3310’s sleeve is its battery life. While nowadays we celebrate a handset breaking the 24 hour mark as if it’s a Nobel prize winning innovation, the Nokia 3310 smashes that, going for 30 days on standby, or 22 hours of solid talk time. It’s hard to argue with that kind of stamina – especially if you’re on a smartphone, where your battery would give up after a few hours.
And yes, Snake is back. Its undergone a graphical spruce up for the new colour screen, but it’s there and as addictive as ever. Muscle memory will kick in very quickly, believe me.
One thing that hasn’t returned is the custom faceplates. You’re stuck with Nokia’s choice of colours this time around. That’s orange and yellow or grey and blue.
Nokia 3310 review: Early verdict
I remain sceptical as to whether there’s an enormous market for the Nokia 3310 in 2017 – after all, it’s not like feature phones have gone away, it’s just that nobody buys them anymore, despite their amazing battery life.
All the same, this is a nice upgrade of a handset that gets people misty-eyed 17 years later, and as a backup phone it might prove just the ticket for some – especially at its €49 (£35) price point.
Keep an eye out for our full review in the very near future.