By Asimzb (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Today’s smartphone industry is all about competing specs. The newest flagship devices are expected to sport the latest and best in processors, RAM, cameras, and memory. Nokia, however, is taking a different approach with the reintroduction of the classic 3310 feature-phone, first released in 2000.

The original 3310, while basic by today’s standards, was remarkably successful in its time, owing to its versatility, functionality, and durability. The phone featured a monochrome 84×48 display, an alphanumeric keypad, and a long battery life. The phone also included software features which, while commonplace today, were unusual at the time: it had a calculator, a stopwatch, a reminder function, and included four games. Nowadays, the phone is notable mainly for the fond memories it inspired, especially its inclusion of the popular game Snake II and its sturdy construction relative to the shatter-prone smartphones of today.

Nokia is looking to capitalize on that nostalgia by releasing a phone that, while preserving the overall feel and aesthetic of the 2000 original, introduces some essential updates. The display has been updated to a 2.4″ color QVGA screen, and a two-megapixel camera and SD card slot have been added. The phone has been given a simple web browser, although it has no wifi access and network data speeds are limited to 2G. In terms of software, the phone has no ability to download apps but comes pre-loaded with a new take on the classic Snake game, an MP3 player, and an FM radio.

Outside of the nostalgia factor, which is admittedly strong, perhaps the greatest appeal of the new 3310 is its battery life. Nokia claims that the phone is capable of up to a month of standby time without having to be recharged, and offers up to 22 hours of talk time. In an age where we’re used to recharging our phones every night, this fact has the potential to delight potential customers who are willing to go without the advanced features of modern smartphones.

Another draw to the phone is its price. The phone is expected to cost roughly €50, or $52, when it is released later in the year. And, although the phone is constructed from cheap plastic, it’s likely to be more durable and resilient than modern smartphones are a result of the simplicity of its components. Physically, the design of the phone strongly resembles the original phone from seventeen years ago; while incredibly dated and gaudy by today’s standards, the old-school look is sure to appeal to those who fondly remember the time of simplicity and burgeoning technological innovation of the turn of the millennium.

Although Nokia is marketing to those who feel nostalgic about the technology of their pasts, this is not the only demographic that might be interested in the retro-styled 3310. More than ever before, smartphone users are seeing their dependency on their devices as a problem, but nonetheless feel unable to quit their attachment to social media apps. For these people, the Nokia 3310 could function as a happy medium between the constant connection to the internet that modern smartphones enable and being completely disconnected from the world of technology. Although the 3310 is perfectly capable of making and receiving phone calls, as well as sending SMS messages with an albeit clumsy keypad, it has no convenient access to Facebook, Twitter, or other social media apps.

That being said, the announcement of the phone has been met with a mixed response. One reviewer was disheartened by Nokia’s lack of assurance of the phone’s durability, and another expressed disappointment that the phone’s Snake game was not sufficiently retro-inspired. But one thing is clear: the amount of buzz generated by Nokia’s announcement of the phone reboot indicates the potency that nostalgia has nowadays for influencing attention in the world of consumer electronics.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

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Hey there! I'm Tyler. I'm interested in understanding how changes in our technological landscape influence our culture and way of life and communicating that understanding with others. I think that one of the most effective ways to comprehend the rapid developments in our chaotic and hectic world is to look at it from the perspective of technology, as technology is in a constant state of flux and has such a strong impact on our daily lives. Sometimes, we fail to realize just how severe this impact is; through my writing, I hope to correct this blind spot in myself and in others.