The Nokia 3310 went on sale in India on 18 May. The device is a strong statement, demonstrating the capabilities and potential of a seventeen year old phone. HMD Global is confident of its product and market. There is no need to push this device to the limits. The lack of functionality is a desirable aspect. Feature phones are not exactly extinct, but are being superseded by "smart" devices. The 3310 promises, and delivers, to be dumb.
The phone is reminiscent of the 3310 launched in 2000, and that is the only differentiating factor. This is a device made for Nokia fans.
Feature phones also saw an evolution with the design restrictions of price points and basic communication needs. Nokia continued to offer exceptional services and applications on its affordable devices. A basic phone could be used to stream music, navigate using offline turn by turn navigation, use instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp, surf the web, and respond to emails. The touch-and-type devices, in the Asha lineup were exactly the kind of gadgets needed for those moving on from feature phones.
The 3310 was one of the legendary tier phones made by Nokia. The phone has been included in the national emoji set of Finland (in other news, Finland has a national emoji set). The particular emoji is called the “Unbreakable”.
The 2017 device is made by HMD Global, which acquired the rights to use the Nokia brand for ten years from Microsoft.
The 2017 version of the 3310 is the second Nokia feature phone by HMD Global, after the cheaper Nokia 150. The 3310 launch of the device had plenty of hype surrounding it, and was presented as “a modern classic reimagined.”
HMD Global is an independent Finnish company, but Nokia technologies is on the board of directors, to ensure that the devices meet certain quality requirements, and do not adversely affect the brand name. Even though the device is a feature phone, it is a device made in 2017, and there are at least basic expectations from the phone, if not lofty ones. Let us find out what the device has to offer.
Build and Design: 7/10
As soon as you hold the phone, you know that there is something special about the gadget, a decidedly unique device. The design sensibilities is 20 years old and contemporary at the same time. It is a little unsettling, like a time machine that partially works. The phone is considerably thinner and lighter than the previous version. Compared to modern touchscreens, it feels almost seems too small. The phone weighs just 79.6 grams, which is little more than half the weight of the 3310 released in 2000.
The dimensions of the phone are 115.6 x 51 x 12.8 mm. While the new version is slimmer than the predecessor, it is both taller and wider. The design of the phone is reminiscent of the original 3310, but there are considerable changes. The Nokia “Navi” key in the center has been replaced a square function key. The square framing for the function key serves as a direction pad. The original 3310 had an end key on the left and scroll keys to the right. The buttons were quirky and asymmetric.
In the 2017 interpretation, there are symmetric scroll like keys on both sides, with separate functions mapped to the top and bottom portions of the buttons. The call button is to the left, and the end call or power button is to the right. The scroll keys on the original could allow you to increase or reduce the volume while in a call, this function has now been mapped to the up and down keys on the direction pad.
The keys do not take too much effort to press, especially compared to the older version of the phone. This is a good thing for reducing the stress on the fingers over prolonged use. If authenticity of the original experience is what you are looking for, then you will not get it in the 2017 model. The keys are uniform and oval shaped, and no longer have the inward facing pointed corners.
The vertical speaker grill on the original has been removed to accommodate a larger screen. The speaker on the new Nokia 3310 is beneath a rather deep oval pit that is prone to collect a lot of dust, and needs to be cleaned regularly. The Nokia Logo on the front is on the curved glass covering over the screen, and is embossed below the camera on the back. There is no depression along the back for gripping the phone. The back cover is removable, but you have to pry it out using your fingernails instead of pressing a button and sliding out the back cover.
The phone appears to have a larger screen than it actually does because of a curved glass casing over the 2.4 inch screen. The glass is liable to get scratched, particularly in the middle, so you have to be a little careful when keeping this device in pockets. The edges of the device also can get easily scratched. A soft cover is recommended if you want to keep the phone in a good condition.
There are two micro SIM card slots, as well as a dedicated micro SD slot. The micro SD card slot sits flush on the first SIM card slot. There are no buttons around the sides of the device. The original model had the power button on the top. The top right corner of the 2017 3310 has the micro USB 2.0 slot, and the bottom right has the 3.5 mm jack.
Overall, the most endearing part about the device is that it is an updated version of the classic. However, the original was available in six colours, whereas the newer one is available in only four. The new 3310 is available on orange, yellow, grey and blue. Additionally, the original supported aftermarket Nokia Xpress-On cases allowing the user to sport a wide variety of colour combinations. These are not available for the newer model. Another small but important detail is the missing slot for a lanyard cable. Unfortunately, you cannot hang this phone around your neck, or from the rear view mirror of a truck.
The phone is a series 30+ phone from Nokia, and these have used the Mediatek MT6250 chipset (according to GetCoolTricks). There is an ARM v5 processor on board, with no GPU. There is 16 MB of on board storage, which is not enough to really even do basic tasks such as install an application or record a video. It is absolutely essential to use Micro SD card to use the phone, and the phone supports a maximum of 32 GB.
The only connectivity options available are Bluetooth 3.0 and internet over 2G. The phone does not support 4G. There is no Wi-Fi capability to surf the web or set up a hotspot. The Nokia Slam feature allows you to connect to other Nokia phones and Android phones in a jiffy. You can set a five digit keyguard code and set a duration after which the keyboard should be locked out.
There are no GPS capabilities on the phone, so it is not possible to install a mapping application. There is a radio though. The biggest feature missing is that the phone uses mp3 ringtones, and there is no Nokia composer, so you cannot script your own ringtones.
The display is a 4.2 inch QVGA screen that sits below a curved glass casing that makes the display appear deceptively large. The display has a pixel density of 167 ppi, with a screen to body ratio of 30 percent. The screen of the display is made out of TFT.
The screen is not exceptionally bright, and the colours do not really pop out. You can practically see the individual pixels, which is... more nostalgia I guess? The phone betrays its cheapness and the price point because of the display. There is an option to enhance the colours, but toggling the settings does not seem to make much of a difference.
The backlight of the display can be adjusted, and there are four levels of brightness available. There is a timeout setting for the backlight, which is set by 10 seconds at default. This setting cannot be changed. The phone surprisingly has a glance screen that displays the time. Keeping the glance screen on takes up a considerable amount of battery, and it is better to turn this feature off. The glance screen is set to a default time of one hour, and even this setting cannot be changed.
Notifications and cell info can be turned on and off. There are two font size options available, the regular one and a large one. There are only three wallpapers included by default, and it is a painful process to add more. The photos captured on the device appear terrible on the display, but look much better when viewed on another device or a computer.
OS and Software: 4/10
This is one of the disappointing aspects of the phone. The older phone was feature rich, but the interface was simple enough to be usable blind folded. The newer interpretation has shoutouts to the older user interface, but tries to run a modern app based interface on a phone that does not have a touchscreen. The UI could have been more suitable to the key based input mechanism.
The phone has the Nokia series 30+ operating system, which is made by Mediatek. The phone does not have the capability to run the Java applications. The phone only runs MAUI Run-time Environment (MRE) applications, which have a .vxp extension. You have to hunt through dodgy sites on the internet to download applications, usually uploaded by users to file hosting service.
The biggest shortcoming with the decision to go with MAUI is that the Java applications do not work with this phone. There is no WhatsApp available on the phone. While there is an Opera Mobile store, these are essentially shortcuts to web pages, and even these do not work all the time, including the shortcuts that come out of the box. For example, the Opera Mobile Store shows Amazon, but clicking on the link takes you to a page which says that Amazon is not available for the device.
There is another application store, from Gameloft, and this provides the handful of applications that you can download and install. If you can handle all your instant messaging needs through Facebook messenger, Gameloft has an app for that. Facebook itself is available from the Gameloft store, with the messenger capabilities built in. The interface is an old school array of icons. The default messaging application supports threaded conversations, which is a relief.
The phone actually supports cashless transactions through Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), using the the National Unified USSD Platform (NUUP). You just have to dial *99#, and then enter a code to identify your bank. The bank account being used to operate has to be linked to the mobile number being used prior to making the transactions. There are other banking services available as well. A detailed guide to making cashless transactions using feature phones can be found here.
The phone comes with a music player, radio, a video player, a calculator, a calendar, a voice recording app, a notekeeping app and an alarm clock. “Extra” apps include a countdown timer, a stopwatch, a torch and a currency converter. There is a weather app that requires you to manually enter in the location as the phone does not have a GPS. There is a short window of opportunity to key in a location before the weather information for the previously entered location is displayed. Once the window goes, there is no way to change the location before restarting the app.
One of the strong features on the phone is the availability of 12 local regional Indian languages, apart from English. The available languages are Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Bengali, Kannada, Telugu, Punjabi, Malayalam, Assamese, Oriya and Urdu.
A big part of the user experience is using the T9 predictive text input. This can be a little hard to get used to. The * and # keys are your best friends here. The * key cycles through the suggested words, and the # toggles T9 on and off. It took a couple of days for me to re-learn the input, but once done, it was a breeze.
There is no Space Impact, Bantumi or Pairs II that came with the original device. There is no Bounce, which is a common question I got asked while using the device, even though Bounce was not there on the original 3310. The Gameloft store allows you to install a few games made for the platform. Your carrier may offer additional content for the device. By default, there are two games installed on the Gameloft store, Asphalt 6: Adrenaline and Diamond Twister.
Both the games are trial versions. You can try them out but they cost Rs 50 along with the cost of an SMS to play the full versions. Asphalt is surprisingly fun, although the controls are not too precise. The tracks are not similar to the tracks you can find on the version of the title in the App Store or Play Store though. There are powerups, nitro boosters and the capability to drift on the tracks.
There is a new version of Snake on the device. When you first play it, the instant reaction is “This is not the Snake I know”. The game is different. The graphics are similar to space related NES titles. There are cool particle effects explosions, which must be one of the most stressful things for the processor on the device.
When you start up the game you are thrown into a title with levels and challenges, which replace the “Mazes” in Snake II, that was on the original 3310. There are nine levels, with three difficulties each. The nine levels have three modes.
In the Timed Challenge mode, you have to pick up as many apples as possible. In the Horizontal challenge, you have to navigate a set of obstacles, collect a minimum number of apples, and unlock a door before getting to the exit portal. In the vs mode, you have to compete with up to two other AI snakes to gather up all the apples.
The levels are fun and challenging, and it took me about two weeks to finish the game. There is an end credit sequence when you finish all the levels, at all the difficulties. Even after finishing all the levels, you can compete with yourself as there are leaderboards for gaining the most number of points. This is an addictive but depressingly lonely activity. The leaderboards do not pull scores from other players, but are just names with scores that you can aim for. Multiple instances of your own high scores can show up in the leaderboards.
For those who prefer the original gameplay, there is an endless mode as well. In the endless mode, the objective is to keep gobbling apples, but also keep cutting down the snake in size with the scissors “power-up”. This allows you to get a higher score. The longer your snake is at any point of time, the faster the snake moves, and cutting it down in size slows it down again.
So the game alternates between frenzied gameplay that demands fast reflexes, and a more relaxed pace when you cut the snake. There is a magnet powerup that can pull the fruit towards you. A 2x powerup gives you double the points for the same number of apples. Using the magnet in combination with the 4x powerup is the fastest way to collect coins, and the most efficient use of both power ups. Bumping into bombs, walls or yourself will kill you instantly.
The control options actually substantially changes the entire gameplay. There are three possible movements for the snake. The snake can move in long arcs, take forty five degree turns in a zig-zag motion, or take sharp ninety degree turns like the original snake. These AI snakes in the game use the arc movements. There are 9 colour options for your snake.
The game is one of the most original interpretations of an existing title by Gameloft. If Snake was available only on this device, that in itself would be a good reason to get the new Nokia 3310. However, the new Snake is not an exclusive to the Nokia 3310. HMD has indicated that Snake will be available on the Instant Games Platform for Facebook Messenger. That version will allow you to play with friends, as well as have leaderboards that actually work. More information is available in our dedicated coverage of Snake on the Nokia 3310.
As far as a camera is concerned, the main thing is that the phone has one. No selfie camera though, so you have to guess where your face is. The camera is 2 MP with a flash that does double duty as a torch. The flash has to be turned on for every photo you want to take. The captured images have dimensions of 1600 x 1200 pixels.
There is a video functionality as well. The videos are captured with a resolution of 320 x 240. The frame rate is rather low, at only 8 frames a second. The videos are saved in a .3gp format, and are pretty conservative in terms of storage use. A thirty second video takes up about 2.5 MB of storage space.
The shutter lag is a bit excessive, and you have to keep the camera steady for a couple of seconds or risk your photos getting blurred. The low light performance is not that great, and forget about low light videos as the flash cannot be used while recording videos. The photos appear more detailed and sharp when viewed on other devices, as against the phone itself.
There is some rudimentary manual control available, where the brightness of the image can be set. There is a burst mode that supports 3, 4 and 6 sequential shots. This setting is an on or off toggle. There is also a self-timer, with only two options, 2 seconds and 10 seconds. We wish there was another setting for 30 seconds.
There are a number of filters available known as Image Effects. These are greyscale, sepia, green tint, blue tint and colour invert. The zoom function in the photo mode supports fifteen levels of digital zoom. A gallery of images snapped from the camera is embedded below.
There is a 1200 mAh, 3.7 v removable lithium-ion battery in the device. The rated stand by time is 25.3 days, with a max talk time of 22.1 hours. Continuous mp3 playback is available for 51 hours. It is not realistically possible for us to test the battery on the device. In regular use, you would require to charge the phone once about every three or four days.
Half of the battery drains alarmingly quickly, in about half a day, considering how long the battery is supposed to last. However, the remaining half lasts for a few days after that, your mileage may vary. One way to increase the battery life is turn off the glance screen feature of the phone, which stays on for an hour. Half of the battery charges up pretty rapidly as well, about two hours is enough to juice up the device by three-fourth of the battery life. The remainder takes more than four hours to fully charge.
The battery life offered is better than other feature phones in the current Nokia line up. The battery is better than both the cheaper Nokia 150 and the more expensive Nokia 220. The battery life itself is not disappointing on the device. The battery is replaceable, considering the device is likely to outlast the battery, albeit in a terribly scratched state.
The build quality of the battery has an irritating sticker that needs delicate handling. The sticker used is liable to attract kinks over regular use, as and when you remove or put in the SIM card and the Micro SD card. Using any sharp instruments to remove the battery, such as a pen or a sim ejector tool is liable to leave scratch marks along the sides of the battery.
Verdict and Pricing: 5/10
Although HMD global says the price is Rs 3,100, this is not the price that you can actually get the device for. The MRP on the box lists the price at Rs 3,599. Expect to pay the MRP for the phone if you pick it up from a retail outlet. Online, the device is priced a little higher, and the listings on web sites like OLX are priced in the Rs 3,800 range.
The phone is cheaper than the Nokia 220, and is a better option, but is costlier than the Nokia 150, which provides most of the same functionality at a cheaper price. Considering what the phone offers, the price is on the higher side. If you have a budget of Rs 3,500, it is better to get a Lyf.
Now the main thing the phone is selling is nostalgia. Even for a feature phone, it does not offer what you can expect at that price range. For those who want to experience the nostalgia, original versions of the Nokia 1100, the Nokia 2300, the Nokia 3220, the Nokia 1600 are all available in the refurbished section of Shopclues. Picking up all the phones will cost you Rs 3,400, so you actually save about Rs 200 when compared to the 3310. If nostalgia is what you want, you are better off getting the real thing.
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