As new research shows our phones are making us distracted (and even unhappy), the surprising resurgence of Nokia's 3310 prompts the question: are we finally sick of smartphones?by Jessica Furseth / March 5, 2018 / Leave a comment
Who would have thought it: Nokia has become a surprise darling of the Mobile World Congress, which took place this week in Barcelona. The star of the show was the Nokia 3310, which is a repackaging of the phone that I, and probably you too, played Snake on in the year 2000.
Nokia originally sold 126 million units of the first 3310, and the new Nokia 3310 does much of the same things as its 17-year-old peer.
It makes calls and writes basic texts—providing a golden opportunity to dig out some good old text speak (“c u l8r?”) Nokia’s new Matrix-inspired “banana phone” has also garnered headlines, with its pleasingly tactile slide-down keyboard lid.
It’s all a bit of fun, and refreshing in a sea of samey smartphones, although Nokia-branded phones—now actually made by a startup called HMD Global—has launched four of those, too.
So what’s happening here? Nostalgia has a lot to answer for, because there’s nothing technically superior about these new Nokia phones. All the way from clothing to food, brands are leaning hard on nostalgia to promote their products.
Young consumers in particular have become cynical and difficult to reach. But remind them of things from their childhoods—the 1980s and the 1990s—and it’s a lock. I mean, wouldn’t you like to play a few rounds of Snake, for old times’ sake?
Ultimately, few people are likely to buy the new old Nokia to play a simple game. But for the sake of £50, you could get your hands on a phone which can last up to two weeks without needing to be charged—can you imagine it?
You can just about check Facebook on the new Nokia 3310, but you can’t access Wi-Fi or install WhatsApp, making this very much just a phone, not the entertainment centre that our smartphones have become.
There are certainly times when a simple phone would come in handy: if you’re going to a festival or a nature hike where you can’t expect to get a charge, or where you might not want to bring a gadget worth hundreds of pounds for fear of loss or damage.
But the “dumbphone” phenomenon has already been simmering along for a few years…