Nokia 3310 review: A millennium throwback best left in the past

Price when reviewed

The Nokia 3310 lets you send text messages, but there’s no support for WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Telegram here and I’d say that’s where 90% of my text chat happens in 2017. The 3310 is a phone from the days when phone calls were the primary way of communicating, four years before Facebook launched privately for Harvard students. There is a version of Opera Mini built-in, but you won’t want to use it much given the phone’s cellular data connection is limited to 2.5G. And no, you can’t connect to Wi-Fi.

At a glance, the battery life appears to be nothing short of miraculous in 2017: there’s 22 hours of talk time and a month’s worth of standby according to Nokia’s figures and it’s hard to dispute those figures. The Nokia 3310 is immune to our battery test, simply because it can’t play video files. However, even with heavy usage you’re looking at periods between charging of multiple days rather than hours.

The thing is, though, the main reason for the Nokia 3310’s incredible stamina is that there’s so little you can do with it. If you’re worried about the constant distraction of notifications, then this is the phone for you. Unless, of course, you’re a Snake addict.[gallery:4]

Yes, Snake is back, but it’s not quite as you remember it. Rather than moving purely at right angles by uncomfortably bending your fingers to move between the 2, 4, 6 and 8 number keys, the default control scheme sees the snake shifting slight angles with a tap of the 4 or 6 buttons. It’s brightly coloured and certainly not the same Snake that you remember – but it is just as addictive.

You can buy other games in the store, too. A couple of demos – Asphalt 6 and Diamond Twister 2 – are available by default but if you want the whole thing you’re looking at £3 each. When most Android games are free or very cheap this feels ridiculous but I guess Nokia is thinking that if you have no choice you’ll pay up for something – anything – to do.

Nokia 3310: Camera

The Nokia 3310 has a camera. If you’re thinking “well, of course it does”, your mind is playing tricks on you: the original phone never had one. But the snapper here isn’t going to challenge even the most basic smartphone camera: it’s a 2-megapixel affair, and it’s slightly better than not having any camera at all, as you’ll see from the test shots below.[gallery:6]

Not that you’ll be able to tell until you get them onto a computer. On the Nokia 3310’s 240 x 320 screen it’s hard to tell whether the pictures are bad or if the small screen just makes them look it. Sadly, the answer is “a little from column A and a little from column B”.

Nokia 3310 review: Verdict

It may seem harsh to be comparing the Nokia 3310 – a deliberate throwback to 17 years ago – to the phones of 2017, but there’s good reason to do so. And it’s simply because most people will find this phone a chore to use once they’ve completed a few rounds of Snake.

There are very good reasons to own a feature phone in 2017, of course, not least of which is the staggeringly good battery life they typically offer, and the 3310 certainly provides that.[gallery:11]

And if you want a more positive take on the 3310’s charms, my colleague Nathan over at Expert Reviews offers a good counterpoint. But my view is this: you don’t need to spend £50 on the Nokia 3310 to get a long-lasting old school phone experience. Samsung, Doro and Alcatel make perfectly good alternatives for less than half the price of admission here and you’ll still have plenty of change for a copy of Now That’s What I Call Music 45 on MiniDisc to properly cement the feeling of being back in the year 2000.

Personally, I’d rather stay in 2017.

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