Nokia 3310: Am I the only one not excited about it?

By Ian Chee - on 01 Mar 2017, 10:54am

Before we start in earnest – lest the title leads you to think otherwise, let me just say that I loved the original Nokia 3310. It had the durability of a brick, and the old one that my father used – and still keeps, collecting dust somewhere – had a battery life of at least three days, despite being constantly used for calls (texts were expensive, and old folks fairly seldom texted anyway), or playing Snake II and Space Impact on it whenever it’s not being used to make or answer calls. The only protective cover he had was a clear plastic one that was more of a tool to keep it buckled to his belt (baby boomers’ fashion sense, I know) than one to protect the phone. And he went through so many of those you’d think he was replacing his toothbrush. The phone itself had only a few  scratches until today, and despite losing the charger easily over a decade ago, the phone itself still turned on when I last tried for the laughs and gags.

But with the new Nokia (or HMD?) 3310, I just don’t feel that sort nostalgic excitement everyone else seems to be feeling. Sure, I felt a little bit of a tingle when the rumors started making rounds, but after looking at photos of the actual thing over the course of our MWC 2017 coverage, I could feel that excitement waning, much like the kind of underwhelming feeling you get when you achieve your dreams but are not as elated as you thought you’d be. It’s a sudden bleakness that makes you question if it was all worth it to begin with.

This may all be caused by all the nostalgia baiting that’s happened these couple of years. And all it takes is for one to tank it so bad the way Mighty No. 9 did that you’d wish people stop pulling at our nostalgia strings lest they taint that beautiful memory. While Mighty No. 9 didn’t ruin most people’s memories of the Rockman series – Capcom was working hard on doing that on its own – the new 3310 has the potential to break (yes, the 3310, break) the fond memories that people may have of the original.

In fact, it already has for me. To start with, the new 3310 is nearly half of the original in weight and thickness. Yes, that is very modern and smaller and lighter is definitely better. But at the same time it also suggests, unfortunately, that it won’t be as sturdy as the original. There’s a chance that you’d snap it in half if you sat down with it in the back pocket of your pants, like any other wafer-thin smartphone of today. While I won’t go as far as to say that it’s indestructible as its reputation would have you believe, the original 3310 was really tough – I did once earnestly hurl it into a wooden wall (probably out of anger). The front and back cover came off, with a few scratches, but the phone itself was generally fine and it’s a simple matter of snapping the covers back in place. I highly doubt the same would be possible with the new 3310. Sure, due to the relatively simple construction, it would most likely survive the impact, but it’s not likely to do so with just with a few scratches.

And if you dropped it the wrong way and it lands with its back flat against rough surfaces like tarmac, that’s enough to render a key feature inoperable. With the addition of such a delicate part as a camera lens, the Nokia 3310 is not only no longer the brick it once was, it now also has one obvious soft spot. The camera also happens to be a 2MP shooter, which makes you wonder if it could shoot images clear enough to be used often enough by people to justify its presence.

I was about to go scouring the internet for what would&#39;ve been very difficult to find pictures of the old Nokia 3310, but it looks like <a href="" target="_blank">TechRadar has already written a pretty good article</a> - and video - comparing the two. <br> Image source: TechRadar.

Despite this, the new 3310 does have a few obvious plus points. To start is the color display. It’s also got more than three times the pixels compared to the original. While such numbers don’t actually amount to much, it fits nicely in the tiny 2.4-inch screen, just enough for a simple menu and whatever basic functions that is enabled on the new 3310. Battery capacity has also gotten a small upgrade. While the climb of 900 mAh to 1,200 mAh may not sound like much, especially considering the color upgrade and the resolution climb from 84 x 84 to 240 x 320 (which is incidentally the size of the thumbnail used for this article), there’s enough reason to believe that efficiency tech would make up for what is lacking in sheer battery capacity. Of course, this is solely based on the numbers provided by Nokia – from 2.5 hours of talktime and up to 11 days of standby to 22 hours of talktime and up to 31 days of standby.

The support for microSD cards up to 32GB is also pretty good, as this means that the 3.5mm audio port can actually be made use of. But of course you have the question as to whether the new 3310 supports .FLAC or other lossless audio formats. With more and more phones supporting lossless formats, it can be hard to go back to MP3, unless you were never able to tell the difference. Peaking at 2.5G cellular support, you’ll not be able to stream your music either. You don’t get Wi-Fi or GPS, but at least there’s Bluetooth. It likely won’t have aptX codec support either, but it may not matter since you’re listening to MP3s anyway.

I guess in the end what I’m saying is that Nokia/HMD should be selling this new phone as something else instead of pulling on our nostalgia strings and calling it the 3310. I’m saying this because I’m pretty sure there will always be a market for simpler phones with none of the fancy omnipotence of modern smartphones. For those looking to get a phone for their children or elderly folks who want phones just to make and receive calls, and the occasional text, there’s no need to fork out what is around RM500 for the most basic of smartphones that can do everything but poorly. This new 3310 is priced about half of that, and has got the basics covered, and that fact would likely remain unchanged if it was called something else. It may even be more affordable than it already is if it weren’t for the name. But by calling it the 3310, it’s putting its reputation, and the fond memories of the company’s customers, at stake. Should the new 3310 not have the durability of the old 3310, then Nokia/HMD would have tarnished a lot of fond memories of a lot of its customers. And let’s not forget that the good qualities of good memories tend to be exaggerated in order to further cement our fondness of it.

Then again, it’s entirely probable that the sole reason behind the naming of the 3310 is just to pull on customers’ nostalgia strings to drive sales numbers. Feature phones have always existed, and the market for it wouldn’t necessarily be invigorated by the new 3310. Perhaps the new 3310 will help remind people that feature phones can be good backup phones or secondary phones for times when you really want something that is failure resistant instead of omnipotence. Or maybe it won’t, and people who won’t otherwise buy feature phones will continue to not buy them, but make an exception for the new 3310 just for old times’ sake.

Or maybe I just don’t see the new 3310 making such a big splash as the old one because I personally preferred the preceding Nokia 3210 and would have loved to see that one given a refresh instead.

And on that double bombshell, adieu to y’all.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is the writer's own opinion, and does not reflect the views or opinions of, its affiliates or any other institution unless clearly stated.

Ian Chee

Ian Chee / Writer

Having given up his dreams of playing games for a living, he has gone for the next best thing: writing about them for a living. Or at least, whenever given the chance. Quite clearly a Japanophile, it's a wonder why he doesn't yet speak the language, although that might have something to do with the fact that he doesn't speak much in general.