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|SPECS AT A GLANCE: Nokia 3310|
|SCREEN||2.4-inch QVGA LCD (167ppi)|
|OS||Nokia Series 30+|
|STORAGE||16MB (plus microSD expansion)|
|NETWORKING||2G GSM 900/1800|
|PORTS||Micro USB, 3.5mm headphone jack|
|CAMERA||2MP rear camera|
|SIZE||115.6mm x 51mm x 12.8mm|
|STARTING PRICE||£50 (buy here)|
|OTHER PERKS||A really bad version of Snake|
That the new HMD-made Nokia 3310 was the star of this year’s Mobile World Congress says more about how dull smartphones have become than it does about the appeal of Nokia’s chintzy slab of noughties nostalgia.
Despite the retro appeal, the Nokia 3310 (buy here) is little more than a Nokia 150 (a basic feature phone that sells for a mere £20) wrapped up in a curved glossy shell and sold for a millennial-gouging £50. It is, for all intents and purposes, a fashion statement—a phone for the beard-grooming, braces-wearing festival set that think tapping out texts on a T9 keyboard is the ultimate irony.
I, on the other hand, do not find writing texts on a T9 keypad via a tiny 2-inch display ironic. Instead, I find it irritating. Really, really irritating.
It’s easier to talk about what you don’t get with the 3310 than what you do get. Based on the Series 30+ platform—which was developed by SoC-maker MediaTek—the 3310 eschews modern luxuries like GPS, Wi-Fi, and even 3G and 4G connectivity; 2.5G Edge is fast as it goes, so check your carrier for support. Instead you get a stripped back selection of features that cover the basics of calling, texting, and telling the time.
Naturally, the classic time-waster Snake is included too, except this one has been updated with new modes and visuals that make better use of the 3310’s 2.4-inch 240×320 colour screen. In the process, developer Gameloft has removed the fixed grid navigation from the original game—where you guide a snake towards fruit while avoiding its ever-growing body—in favour of free-roaming around the screen. I didn’t think it was possible to ruin a game as simple as Snake, but apparently it is.
Still, what matters most is how the 3310 looks. On that front, at least, Nokia has done a good job. The curvaceous plastic shell evokes memories of the original 3310, while coming in both slimmer and lighter. It feels like a modern phone rather than a rehash. Beneath the display are a d-pad, select, two menu buttons, call and hang-up buttons, and, oh yes, a numeric keypad. This is a slightly more complex arrangement than the original 3310, which featured a very simple menu system that only allowed for vertical scrolling. Here, there’s a fancy 3×3 grid.
On top of the 3310 is a micro USB socket for charging, while on the bottom is a honest-to-goodness 3.5mm headphone jack. Underneath the back, which takes some force to prise off, is a removable battery—which is good for around a week of use (!)—micro SIM slot, and a microSD card slot for up to 32GB of extra storage. You might be wondering why on earth you need a microSD card on a phone like this. Well, wonder no more: the 3310 comes with a miserly 16MB of built-in storage, of which a mere 1.4MB is user accessible. If you plan on taking any more than five photos with the built-in 2MP camera, or listening to MP3s, an SD card is a necessity.
Using the Nokia 3310 isn’t quite like stepping back in time to the noughties, since there’s Bluetooth 3.0 for wireless headphones, and some basic apps to download. These include the likes of Facebook and Twitter, both of which are stripped bare to save on data. They work surprisingly well, provided all you want to do is fire out the odd tweet or chat to someone in FB messenger. Photos, GIFs, and videos are all just about doable (but by golly they’re slow to load), and there’s a Web browser in the form of Opera Mini. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get Opera to work via the EE network, despite other apps working just fine.
That said, I have used Opera Mini on the similarly equipped Nokia 150. Suffice it say, unless you like scrolling extremely slowly through badly rendered Web pages that take an age to load, Opera Mini (at least on a low-end SoC) is not an enjoyable experience. Even if it was, typing on numeric keypad with T9 predictive text—which allows you to hit each number key just once to type a word—is the worst kind of torture. I’m sure that in my formative years I was the king of T9 typing. But even at my best, I doubt I could have typed as fast as I can now on a touch-screen qwerty keyboard—even when regressing to quality wordsmanship like “k cu l8r.”
Technically, the Nokia 3310 features a nicer 2MP camera instead of the VGA camera of the Nokia 150. But at this level, it makes so little difference. The 3310 doesn’t take pictures so much as it creates an impressionist water colour of whatever you point it at. You might get away with sending them via MMS (yup, there’s no WhatsApp), but the full-size photos are a disaster.
Aside from a few basic apps like a voice recorder, stopwatch/timer, and weather report, there’s little else to the 3310. It’s a spectacularly basic phone that’s only good as a backup, or as festival/travelling companion where a week of battery life would be useful. Which would be fine were it not for the fact that Nokia is trying to charge £50 for a phone that should really cost less than £30. The Nokia 150 is, bar the camera and physical design, identical and costs £20. There’s even the ultra-basic Nokia 105, which costs a mere £8.
Ars Technica UK