Anyone over the age of 30 will remember the original 'mobile' phones. It's ridiculous to think of it now, but back in the 80's, when the concept of mobile phones was first hitting the marketplace, the idea of carrying a lunchbox sized charger and a phone the size of a house brick around was deemed pretty 'high tech'. The fad was short lived, however, and whilst the nineties saw further progress in devices such as 'email' phones and digital cordless phones, it wasn't until the dawn of the 21st century that mobile phones really started taking over and (some might argue) monopolising the marketplace. The pinnacle of this early mobile renaissance for many people (myself included) was the Nokia 3310, otherwise affectionately known as “The Brick.”
First released in the year 2000, the 3310 is perhaps the best-loved and the most resilient phone in history. I still have a working model myself, which I keep to take to music festivals or camping holidays, where a smartphone with a 12 hour charge simply wouldn't cut the mustard. And it appears the idea of a spectacularly durable secondary phone with a seemingly endless battery life is not one that appeals only to me, as Nokia are planning on re-launching the iconic 3310 this year, 17 years after its initial launch. The new 3310 will be sold for just €59 (£50) and is planned to be revealed at the Mobile World Congress later this month.
It might seem odd to many that Nokia are taking such a nostalgic route here, but in my eyes it makes a lot of sense, especially considering the power of nostalgia in 2017 and how Nokia have effectively fallen out of the market they created. Yes, Apple might have kick-started the smartphone revolution with their (admittedly impressive) original iPhone, but in truth, the merging of phone and computer is an idea that stretches back as far as 1996 with the Nokia 9000, which was arguably the first commercially available smartphone. In the ensuing 20 years, however, the fortunes of Nokia floundered quite spectacularly, with the name probably meaning very little to many modern millennials. That could be about to change, however, with a planned regeneration of the brand catalysed by nostalgia.
It's a move that holds more than a few parallels with the recent Nintendo Classic Mini, which sold far better than even Nintendo themselves were probably expecting. Gaming is part of the reason the 3310 was so beloved by so many too. Well. One game in particular. I'm referring, of course, to the mighty “Snake;” a simple game controlled via the number keys. It's a game that is, in many ways, the Tetris of the noughties. It's not only nostalgia that fuels Nokia these days either, as the revitalised brand is looking to have it both ways at this year's MWC, where it will also reveal a range of low-price smartphones developed by the Finnish company HMD, which now owns the rights to the name having bought it from Microsoft last year.
The original Nokia 3310 was retired in 2005 after selling a monumental 126 million units, officially making it the world's best selling phone. According to reports, the phone will initially be available only to European and North American consumers, and there have been no official details about how close the new version will be to the original. I'm personally expecting a more refined emulation of the original than a copy-and-paste approach, though that could mean the phone won't be quite as indestructible as its fore-bearer. It's all mostly speculation at this point, however. For any solid details, we'll all have to wait until the Mobile World Congress, which takes place this year between the 27th of February and the 2nd of March in Barcelona.
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and struggling musician from Kidderminster in the UK.