Nokia 3310

Cool factor ****
Usability ***
Value for money ***


There’s something about the Nokia 3310: that icon of the "noughties" which had battery power for weeks and the only "app" we really wanted back then, Snake.

The 3310 was one of the most popular cellphones, and for many of us it is a beloved golden oldie occupying pride of place in our tech memories.

Finnish firm HMD Global, though, was not content to leave the 3310 in the past. In 2016, it secured the exclusive global licence to create Nokia-branded mobile devices, and has since launched several modern Nokia phone models with full touch screens and Android-based operating systems. In among the new sleek versions, is the bright and "buttoned", relaunched 3310.

The design of the new device is beautifully familiar — that old look and feel we knew so well with smart tweaks to bring it up to date. It feels playfully retro — like the updated Volkswagen Beetle and Mini Cooper did.

But just who is this delightful throwback marketed at? At the recent SA launch event, the 3310 was positioned as a device for pre-teens — colourful, cheap and cheerful, with games and basic functionality. It includes a 2MP camera with LED flash, FM radio, and MP3 player. The battery life on the new version is just as laudable as the original: up to a month on standby, and up to 22 hours’ talk time.

Significantly though, there is no Wi-Fi option or 4G. Also this device doesn’t run Android, but rather the "Nokia Series 30+" operating system. And that means no Whatsapp for you, or for your pre-teen user.

It is still a button-operated device, which after a decade of touch-screen dominance, takes some getting used to. Pricing starts from R699, so it’s easy on the pocket, but there are competing entry level smartphones (with Wi-Fi) at that price point.

The original 3310 was pre-iPhone and pre-Android, making it seem like it belongs to a much more innocent age — but that’s the trick of nostalgia right there. The new version will find loads of users — especially in feature-phone dominated markets — who appreciate battery life and simple extras.

But it is just too limited to win back those who’ve since moved on to smartphones.

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