If you’re going to trade on nostalgia for a brand, you might as well trade on nostalgia hard. That’s clearly the thinking at Nokia, which has managed to overshadow its own range of new Android smartphones with the announcement of a phone that doesn’t have a touchscreen, won’t let you install any apps, and doesn’t do much of anything except make calls and play Snake: the Nokia 3310.
That’s right, Nokia is ready to party like it’s 2000, with a sort-of re-release of one of its most iconic feature phones. Strictly speaking, this is more of a combination of a few of Nokia’s old devices – along with a handful of modern conveniences – so it should feel immediately familiar to anyone who’s ever held a clunky ‘90s phone.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the same Nokia that made the original. Instead it’s a company called HMD that has the rights to the Nokia name. Regardless, its done a pretty good job here, and we reckon it’s one of the best budget phones around.
Before you rush out and buy the Nokia 3310, do note that a 3G version that will support some apps is coming soon – the company says it should be available in mid-October, but at the more expensive price of 69€, which we expect will convert to around £69.99.
It will be a little bit bigger than the standard 3310, with more space between the buttons. Talk time will be significantly reduced – 6.5 hours versus 22.1 – but standby time increased, here at 27- rather than 25.3 days.
Nokia 3310 UK price and availability
The 3310 is on sale for Amazon Prime day for just £33.97.
The Nokia 3310 became available on 24 May at various mobile operators, including Carphone Warehouse. It currently costs £49.99, though you can sometimes find it cheaper – for example O2 is offering it for £39 upfront with a £10 minimum PAYG top-up, for a total of £49 – about the same as the RRP, but with some data and minutes included.
You can get cheaper feature phones, but none have made waves like this one. It was one of the most sought after devices at MWC 2017.
Nokia 3310 design and build
The new 3310 is both immediately familiar and subtly original. If you were hoping to buy a new phone that looks identical to the 2000 model, then we’re afraid you’ll be disappointed – the new version has undergone a redesign. For one, there’s a much bigger screen (a whopping 2.4in) that stretches most of the way to the top edge, while the buttons are all chunkier and rounder.
As a whole though, it’s still small and light, measuring just 116 x 51 x 12.8 mm. It feels much more compact than we remember the old 3310 being, but it doesn’t feel any less tough (the original was almost indestructible). Build quality is high, with a comfortable weight, attractive finish, and satisfyingly clicky buttons. Light as it is, the 3310 feels solid – this is a phone you’d be happy to knock about, in a way that you probably wouldn’t with a Pixel or iPhone.
The 3310 also now comes in four colours: Warm Red, Yellow, Dark Blue, and Grey, so you can be as cheerful or as sombre as you like. All the colours look great, with bold tones that are nicely offset by the white accents, but we’re particular fans of the red and yellow variants.
They really highlight the chunky, playful aesthetic that Nokia is going for. It’s worlds away from the plain black monoliths we’re used to from the smartphone world, with sleek curves instead of sharp corners.
It’s quite novel these days to have a phone where you can take the rear cover off. This give you access to the SIM and microSD card slot and yes, the battery is removable. The battery life is much longer than a smartphone, of course, but you can carry a spare battery if you feel the need.
While we like the design, there are a couple of things we’re not so keen on. It’s not the end of the world but the Micro-USB port looks a bit ugly sitting off-centre on the top of the phone.
It’s also pretty fiddly to use at times, although this might be how different it is to use a phone like this after getting so accustomed to fully touchscreen smartphones. Using the buttons to type messages will take some getting used to but it will all come flooding back if you used to have a phone like this.
The most awkward thing is using the D-pad key which is the thin rim around the main ok/enter button. It doesn’t particularly look like a button and has been squeezed in which is a shame seeing as you’ll need it to navigate the interface.
Nokia 3310 features
Let’s be honest, this is going to be a bit of a short section. The Nokia 3310 can make calls and send texts. It can play MP3s and FM radio. It can take photos. It can browse the internet, email and Twitter. It can play Snake. What it can’t do – and this may make your purchasing decision for you – is WhatsApp and Facebook. Read next: Nokia Android tablet news
Your current phone can probably already do all of that (well, except maybe Snake). But you know what your phone can’t do? Manage 22 hours of talk time on a single charge. Or survive a full month on standby. And other than the pure nostalgia kick, that’s where the 3310 is going to come into its own. It’s not going to replace your smartphone, but it might become your backup, or the phone you take on holiday or to festivals.
We’ve been using it for five days, mostly to play Snake, and we’ve still got just under 50 percent battery left. It’s only 1200mAh and, as mentioned earlier, the battery is removable so you can carry a spare.
Nokia 3310 hardware and specs
Thanks to the simple functionality, it doesn’t take a big battery to keep the 3310 going – even for a full month – it’s packing just 1200 mAh. Elsewhere, there’s that 2.4in QVGA screen, a headphone jack, Micro-USB charger, and 16MB of internal memory.
You’ll want to supplement that with a microSD card though (it supports up to 32GB), because that’s how you’ll need to store things like music and photos from the 2Mp camera – something the original model definitely didn’t feature. It is unable to produce anything very good, though. Read next: Budget smartphone reviews.
Going back to the screen, the TFT display has an ok resolution of 240×320 (167ppi) and has nice colours, too. It’s not the brightest around and also doesn’t, understandably, have very good viewing angles. We’re being picky here and, for the price, it’s pretty impressive.
It’s a shame that in the UK the 3310 is only single rather than dual-SIM. A bigger issue is that it takes micro SIM so with most people using nano size now, you’ll likely be unable to swap your SIM over to the 3310 as a backup phone.
As for connectivity, there’s Bluetooth 3.0 and support for 2G – so while you can technically browse the web on this, you probably won’t be loading anything fast. There’s no Wi-Fi here.
Finally, software-wise it runs an updated version of Nokia’s old Series 30 operating system, meaning it should be instantly familiar to most users. It takes a few minutes of adjustment to remember that you can’t use the touchscreen (when did pushing physical buttons begin to feel so old fashioned?) but the muscle memory soon kicks in.
If you have no memory of it, it’s easy to learn with a simply laid out interface. There’s a menu is a grid system just like a app draw and you can use the D-pad for shortcuts such as calendar, new message and contacts.
One of the main lures of the 3310 is the ability to play Snake again. Although you can play on your smartphone, there’s something about playing with physical buttons that you can’t replace.
This isn’t the old Snake but Gameloft’s modern take on it including levels and a survival mode which features bombs, scissors, magnets and multipliers. We love it so see if you can beat our high score of 1106.