Case study: The Nokia 3310

Nokia is back! Kind of. Long story short; after being sold to Microsoft, the brand was put on ice for a period of time. Not anymore, a little known company (HMD Global) bought the naming rights to sell phones under the moniker Nokia.

They’ll probably produce some standard Android phones and not something worth talking about; but one piece in the article caught my – the re-release/reimagining of the Nokia 3310! There must be a fair few who remember this phone and owned it, I was certainly one of them! There have not been too many phones released through the years that have evoked such a positive emotional response. Especially given the tech leaps and bounds been made since this was released in the year 2000.

So I thought it was a good idea to have a think about what made the 3310 so popular. Given the limitations of technology at the time, Nokias did a very small amount of things very well. It also harks back to a previous article about ‘stuff that just works’. So let us look at the feature set:

  • It had good call quality (remember when people used their phones to actually talk to people?),
  • predictive texting was good and easy,
  • Snakes was a great distraction (especially in 2 player mode),
  • it had great battery life – this phone was the definition of battery life. This bad boy could go one for a good fortnight on one charge. And,
  • It was rock solid, close to indestructible.

We’ve come a long way since then. I reckon you can still achieve great battery life if you killed all your apps and only used the phone for calling and texting, but that would be pretty pointless. But I guess that’s the point, our expectations back in 2000 were different, so as long as it was done well we were sold on the phone. Things such as UX design, cameras, apps designed to capture and hold our attention were not part of the equation. Nokia died as a relevant player due to their inability to adapt to the changing world.

Funnily enough I believe Apple’s success has been based on very similar principles to Nokia – do a few things very, very well (unfortunately they didn’t quite go so far on the solid design and battery life…). New features are only added once they’ve been perfected.

What would a re-imagining of the 3310 look like in 2017? Especially for one that will sell for €59? I see a phone totally stripped back with rock solid battery life and design. Thus a very limited feature set, maybe even the same screen from back in the day.

The world has moved on, but there is always room for nostalgia. I wonder if we will look back at the iphone/android phones with the same fondness in 15 years time? Let me know your 3310 stories!


4 thoughts on “Case study: The Nokia 3310

  1. My very first cellphone at the age of 18 was the 3310. It has been the only phone so far that lasted me for over 5 years. I got a new phone when I started working and ever since my average cycle time has been 2 years before buying a new phone.
    I remember getting the aftermarket Lithium-Polymer for the 3310, which at the time was novel battery technology. It made the phone last up to a whopping 10 days on a single charge!
    Since the 3310 I have developed an aversion for the vibration function though. The force that phone could produce upon receiving a simple text message was crazy. I’ve kept that function off on every phone I have owned after. The only “bad” memory I have from that phone… Everything else was rock solid.


    1. Haha interesting about the vibration! Think it would be impossible to go with the same for 5 years nowadays. ‘Software updates’ would ensure upgrading every 2…


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