Reviewing the Nokia 3310 - How nostalgia sells mediocre phones at a high price
These days we tested one of the ghosts of the last decade: the Nokia 3310! You surely have heard of it. It is one of the most emblematic phones of the early 2000s. There are a lot of people who still remember this phone and who feel nostalgic about the times when it ruled the mobile world. If you feel like this introduction is about dinosaurs, congrats, you’re right! The Nokia 3310 was extinct until it got resurrected this year by HMD Global, the company that now owns the Nokia brand. Joking aside, we were very curious to test the new Nokia 3310. We loved the original model and we had some hopes for its modern reinterpretation. After using it for the last couple of days, here’s our opinion about this modern twist on a legend:
Packaging, design and build quality of the Nokia 3310
The Nokia 3310 is what you would call a feature phone, which is nothing else but a fancy name for an otherwise old device with far fewer features than you might expect. It’s a “dumb phone” with no modern day features, but with a whole lot of nostalgia taped on it.
Where To Buy
This mobile phone entered the time machine in the year 2000 and got out today. :) Therefore, the Nokia 3310 comes in a small square box, with graffiti-like illustrations painted on it. We find it funny that the visuals are very hip and clearly aimed at young people. We’re pretty sure that most people that are interested in this phone are not exactly young.
On the back of the package, you can see all the essential “features” offered by Nokia 3310, such as its 2 megapixels camera or the fact that it comes with Snake preinstalled. :)
Open the box, and you find the Nokia 3310 phone, the detachable battery, the charger, a headset and the usual documentation (quick start guide and warranty card).
The charger is very small and uses a micro USB plug to output 5 volts DC electrical current with a power rating of 550 mA. The battery has a capacity of 1200mAh which doesn’t sound like a lot for modern standards. However, it is a generous battery if you consider how little energy is needed by a mobile phone to function. According to Nokia, the battery should be enough to keep the phone on for a maximum talk time of up to 22.1 hours, a maximum standby time of up to 31 days (wow!), a maximum MP3 playback time of up to 51 hours, and a maximum FM radio playback time of up to 39 hours.
The Nokia 3310 is available in four different colors: warm red, yellow, gray, and dark blue. The model that we tested was the dark blue colored, which is also a color that was used by the original Nokia 3310 from the 2000s. Again, the colors are very hip and aimed at a young audience.
If you buy the Nokia 3310 because of nostalgia, you’ll probably choose one that’s either dark blue or gray, both matte. If you’re a hipster who wants a vintage phone but with a razzle-dazzle look, then you might prefer the glossy red or yellow models. Unfortunately, you must know that the covers are not interchangeable so you cannot switch colors whenever you grow tired of one. Only the back cover can be taken off.
In an age of large 6 inch smartphones, the Nokia 3310 is only 4.55 x 2 inches (115.6 x 51 mm) in length and width. It has a thickness of 0.5 inches (12.8 mm) and it weighs just 2.86 ounces (81 grams).
When you hold it into your hand and analyze carefully, the Nokia 3310 feels cheap. Its build quality is not going to impress anyone: the plastic from which the phone’s body is made is probably the cheapest available on the market. The back cover feels like it’s tearing apart when you take it off and mounting it back requires a lot more strength than you’d expect.
The design though is quite good, contrasting with the build quality: the screen is slightly curved, and the keypad beneath looks elegant. The colors used are pleasing, so visually, this phone is surprisingly beautiful.
Unfortunately, the buttons on the keypad are very small, and the navigational keys are almost unusable by any adult with average sized hands and fingers. Half the time I tried to press the top, bottom, right or left buttons, I ended up pressing the Enter/OK button instead.
The screen has a size of 2.4 inches and a QVGA display resolution, which is the short version for Quarter VGA and is equal to 320 × 240 pixels.
Except for the Micro USB port used for charging and data transfer found on the top edge and the 3.5mm audio jack found on the bottom edge, the Nokia 3310 doesn’t have any other special ports or buttons on its sides.
On its rear, the Nokia 3310 has a 2 megapixels camera and a LED flash. Close by, there’s also a speaker grille and the Nokia logo.
To store the photos and videos you shoot with its camera, the Nokia 3310 offers an internal storage space of 16 MB, out of which you can use a whopping 1.4 MB. :) Fortunately, the phone also accepts a MicroSD card of up to 32 GB. The card can be inserted right under the SIM slot. Speaking of SIM cards, Nokia 3310 works only with a Micro SIM.
This phone is available in single and dual-SIM variants, but neither of them can use 3G or 4G networks. Nokia 3310 can only connect to 2G networks, which means that you might not be able to use it at all if your mobile operator only uses 3G/4G radio networks. There’s no Wi-Fi connectivity on this phone, only Bluetooth.
The new Nokia 3310 is a simple phone from another era, made from cheap components and with a rather poor build quality. There’s nothing special bundled with it, and there’s no feature that makes it stand out. The only major positive is that it looks better than the original version from the year 2000.
Software and apps
If you’re old (like us), you probably remember the old days when phone software was simple and using it was complicated. If you’re young, you probably should buy a “dumb phone” like the Nokia 3310 just to experience how mobile phones were back then. You will appreciate your smartphone more if you do this.
The Nokia 3310 uses a proprietary operating system originally called Nokia Series 30+, which is the same as the one we saw being used on the Nokia 150 phone that we reviewed a while ago. It looks old, but it offers all the tools you’d expect from a “feature” phone.
Browsing through the user interface, you’ll find that the Nokia 3310 has tools such as Call Log, Contacts, Alarm clock, Calendar, Messaging, Calculator, Notes, and Voice recorder. There’s also a Camera app, an FM Radio app, a built-in web browser (Opera Mini), a Weather app, and even an app that should probably be a trademark of Nokia phones: the Snake game. :)
If you’re wondering, our experience using all those apps was the opposite of what you’d call spectacular. The user experience is too dated to be enjoyable by modern standards. You will call it anything but “user friendly.”
One thing nostalgics will surely enjoy is the Snake game, at least for a few rounds. After which, you’ll probably notice just how tiresome it is to play it.
There’s also a “store” - Opera Mobile Store - which includes some Java apps and games, but unfortunately, there’s no space on the phone to install any unless you also add a Micro SD card. And even if you do, there’s nothing truly useful inside the Opera Mobile Store. Don’t expect to find WhatsApp or Facebook in there.
We would like to point out that the Nokia 3310 works well when you use it offline. If you want to use it online, open the web browser and navigate on the Web, you will be disappointed: the internet looks a lot different than you’re used to, when you see it through a screen that’s only 240 x 320 pixels.
The Nokia 3310 runs on a very simple operating system and has some basic built-in apps. Although they’re not friendly to use, they do what you expect them to do and they do cover all the basic needs of an unpretentious phone user.
The phone experience on the Nokia 3310
The Nokia 3310 is also a rather mediocre phone when it comes to its main function which is being a phone. I used it for quite a few phone conversations with other people who were using different mobile networks and various phones and smartphones. :) Pretty much always, the Nokia 3310 had a muffled sound in my ear and delivered an echoey sound to the people to whom I was speaking.
The only good thing that we can say about the Nokia 3310 is that its battery lasts so long that you’re prone to forgetting when to charge it. We’ve had it for almost a week now, here at Digital Citizen, and when we got our hands on it, the first thing we did was charge it fully. It’s been 5 days now, and it still looks like its battery is about 70% full. Considering that we also tested it in phone conversations during this period, it’s an impressive autonomy.
Nokia 3310 is a phone that offers mediocre sound quality in phone conversations, but which manages to impress with its long lasting battery.
The camera experience on the Nokia 3310
The camera found on the Nokia 3310 is advertised as a “2 MP camera with LED flash for simple snaps”, and that’s exactly what it is. The image sensor is very modest, and the quality of the photos it takes is beyond anything you’re probably used to. The photos have no details, the colors are close to reality only when taking pictures outdoors in very good light conditions, and good contrast and clarity are not things you’ll get to see. The only good use for the photos and videos you shoot with the Nokia 3310 is for sending them in messages. There’s no point in displaying them on a larger screen like that of your computer monitor or on your TV, and we see absolutely no point in trying to print them on paper. The end results will be unpleasant.
In the gallery below you can see just how bad the camera is at taking photos - we’ve included both indoor and outdoor photos, close-ups and landscapes.
Filming videos is just as bad as shooting photos. The Nokia 3310 can’t do it decently, so there’s not much point in trying unless you happen to be around a very important event like aliens landing on Earth. Otherwise, just don’t! :) Here’s a sample of a video we shot outdoors, to get an idea of what to expect:
The Nokia 3310 is not a phone to buy if you want to shoot photos and film videos. It simply wasn’t built for that sort of thing. Also, you must buy a Micro SD card if you want to use it for picture taking or video recording.
Pros and cons
Where To Buy
There are some positives about the Nokia 3310:
- From a visual perspective, this phone looks good
- It offers long-lasting battery life
- Marketing-wise, resurrecting a legend like a Nokia 3310 is a good idea
However, there are plenty of downsides about this phone:
- The build quality contrasts the nice visuals. This phone is made of cheap materials that are far from being as durable as those used on the original.
- It can be used only on 2G networks. It is unusable if your mobile operator offers only 3G/4G networks
- Poor sound quality in phone calls
- The apps on this phone are not fast, not easy to use and not that useful
- The camera is unusable for modern standards
- This phone costs too much for what it offers
The 2017 version of the Nokia 3310 is a feature phone that’s a good choice for people who are nostalgic and remember the “good old days” of the early 2000s. It’s a phone for those who want to get away from the “era of smartphones" and it is a backup phone that you can use when your smartphone’s battery dies. While visually, it looks like a device that’s made for young people, young people who use smartphones regularly will detest it. Maybe some young hipsters will enjoy using it but that’s about it. Also, the “new” Nokia 3310 is too expensive and it fails exactly where its ancestor was legendary: at its build quality. The hype around Nokia 3310 is not deserved!