Service Improvement Manager at the NEC Group □ Tech Columnist □ LinkedIn Top Voice □ Ghostwriter
The smartphones that sit uncomfortably inside our pocket are now more powerful than the large desktop computers from 10 years ago. However, many people will tell you that these fantastic advances in technology are not always a sign of progress.
For example, anyone that remembers the days when the tank like Nokia 3310 ruled the world will scoff at our unusual modern ways. Back in simpler times, you didn’t have to worry about dropping your phone or constantly searching for a power socket to charge your phone, and it even fit in your pocket.
You didn’t feel the need to have to search for a game that you somehow buried on page 7 of your phone apps because the only game you played was called Snake. This was an era where reliability and resilience were rated much higher than shiny new gimmickry.
Sure, there was a reversal of fortune when the iPhone appeared on the scene, and we fell in love with mobile apps and screens that shatter just by looking at concrete. Eventually, Microsoft infamously acquired Nokia’s mobile phone business in 2014 for a whopping $7.17 billion in a move that would eventually be the kiss of death for the Nokia phone as we knew it.
According to Evan Blass, HMD Global Oy, the Finnish manufacturer with exclusive rights to market phones under the Nokia brand have an interesting announcement on the horizon. It appears there are plans to announce four handsets at Mobile World Congress later this month including the much loved Nokia 3310 that many still remember as the first phone they fell in love with.
HMD is expected to unveil the phone that was first released back in 2000 at a launch event on February 26 in Barcelona. The attractive price of €59 will aim this new incarnation at nostalgic tech lovers who might want a second phone when they expect more battery life and resilience at a music festival or camping trip for example.
Although there will be two new Android phones on display too, it seems the love of all things retro will the Nokia 3100 will once again grab all of the headlines. Whether it’s original users getting all nostalgic or hipsters promoting ironic living, there is clearly a lot of love for the 17-year-old phone.
We now live in a digital age where sophisticated smartphones from all manufacturers all look remarkably similar and are only separated by gimmicks. However, as users, we don’t necessarily want waterproof phones, with curved screens or the ability to take live photos. The average user simply desires reliability, resilience and a half decent battery.
Nobody would seriously suggest returning to solely using phones that are nearly 20 years old. But, I think this is a clear indication of what consumers feel are lacking from their current generation of smartphones. There is an argument that if any phone manufacturer added these two requirements we once took for granted to their next model of smartphone, they could hit a winning formula.
Yes, we expect our model of choice to be aesthetically pleasing and contain all the features we know and love. However, savvy consumers have quickly realized that new features are often just gimmicks to create fake selling points.
Maybe, we also need to look in the mirror. Our desire for something new and exciting via annual refresh rates is responsible for leaving less time to develop anything genuinely new or exciting. Depending on your pocket size preferences, there are small or plus-sized phones to cover all tastes. But, what have we sacrificed along the way?
Recently a soldier advised his 17-year-old Nokia 3310 has survived three army tours and a washing machine, but still works perfectly fine with 4 bars of signal. Whereas a screen that doesn’t crack when dropping from 3 feet and a battery that goes beyond a full day somehow seems entirely implausible here in 2017.
If we are completely honest, our obsession with being face down into a smartphone was almost non-existent in the days of Nokia reign. Our usage and expectations from these tiny devices have progressed to epic proportions, and maybe this is an inconvenient truth for those that look at the past through rose-tinted snap chat glasses.
However, the impending announcement of the Nokia 3310’s return from the grave at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona certainly offers food for thought. What was your first and favorite mobile phone? Are you tempted to pick one up to use the second phone? Or do you prefer the past where it belongs?
Neil Hughes was named one of LinkedIn’s “Top Voices on Technology.” You can also connect with him on Twitter at @neilchughes