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Nokia 3310 review: A millennium throwback best left there

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Nokia 3310 review – I didn’t review the original Nokia 3310. You know why? Because I had a lot on my plate, what with starting my A/S Levels.

The original Nokia 3310 was released in the year 2000 and, if you were feeling particularly mean, you could say that’s where it should have stayed. Something to look back fondly on and smile.

I’m not quite that mean; I’d have been quite happy seeing it as late as 2005 but in 2017, no. It’s a relic. And, even if you want a feature phone rather than a smartphone, £50 is a relatively expensive outlay for the warm fuzzy feel of nostalgia. Basic phones from Alcatel, Doro, Samsung and even Nokia start at around £10 or you could pick up an Android-based Alcatel PIXI 4 for £10 less than the price of the Nokia 3310.

So, no: while 17-year-old Alan might have recommended the Nokia 3310 as an essential purchase (assuming this whole mobile phone thing catches on), the 33-year-old version thinks you shouldn’t waste your time.

Nokia 3310 review: Design

Nokia has pulled off quite a neat trick in design terms. Like a developer remastering an old game for new generations, the designers have managed to modernise it subtly in a way that makes it feel exactly as you remember it. It’s not: while the original Nokia 3310 weighed 133g, this one comes in at just 80g. The bulk of this has been lost from the phone’s thickness, where it drops from 22mm to a mere 12.8mm. It’s tiny. Next to the Samsung Galaxy S7 I use day to day, it feels like a toy.

The feeling of familiarity is also there with the 2.4in screen but again, it’s an illusion. Back in 2000 the 3310’s screen had a resolution of 84 x 84 pixels and this time it’s a full-colour 240 x 320 jobby. While no match for even the most basic of 720p screens you get on a smartphone it does the job well enough. It’s bright and colourful, if a touch grainy.

And, of course, it isn’t a touchscreen. Input is achieved via the 15 buttons underneath the screen: 0-9, *, #, select, make call and end call. You navigate the menus by pressing the frame of the select button in one of four directions. And yes, it feels as anachronistic as it sounds. The only real sign that you’re in 2017 and not the late 1990s is the microUSB port on the top edge of the phone where the battery is charged.

The back comes off meaning you can swap out the battery should yours no longer last as long as it used to (though compared to smartphone standards it’ll still go on for aeons). Sadly, this doesn’t mean you can swap out the faceplate like in the old days, which is a shame. You’re stuck with red, yellow, dark grey or blue, depending on which model you selected in the first place.

Nokia 3310: Performance

Nokia has been pretty tight-lipped over what’s powering the 3310 but it’s clearly not going to be the last word in smartphone SoCs. You simply don’t need much power to keep things moving on such a basic handset. The menus work smoothly; it’s hard to see what more horsepower would achieve.

But it’s not a smooth experience for anyone who has grown used to touchscreens. Text input, even predictive, was never a particularly natural way to communicate. People just got alarmingly good at it because there was no alternative. Going back to it now feels extremely clumsy, so it’s just as well that there’s not many places you actually use it.

Quite a few of what we can convey in this article, Nokia 3310 review: A millennium throwback best left there, hopefully this article useful.

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