News today is that after selling out on launch in the UK, HMD Global has announced that the Nokia brand-licensed model 3310 will be launched in South Africa soon. MTN South Africa has indicated that the device will be available for R699 in mid-June.
The 3310, a feature phone styled on the iconic Nokia 3210 of yore (yore, of course, being the early 2000s), is targeted at those suffering from a bit of nostalgia for the days where a mobile phone battery lasted longer than the trip from home to the office.
The 3310 offers an amazing 744 hours of battery standby time and 22 hours of talk time. That’s a full month of standby or nearly a full day of talking!
In the age of smartphones where a constant state of anxiety exists about remaining battery life, and where pitched street battles can erupt at conferences and airports for access to power points, that sounds like a dream.
But it is a dream. Yes, you can get 2002 levels of battery life, but only if you use your phone like it is 2002. And that’s the problem. We don’t use our mobiles as phones anymore. They’re portable computers, and we need that utility.
The functionality offered by the 3310 is outdated in almost every respect. The only nods to a more modern time is that the tiny 2,4-inch screen is colour (as compared to the monochrome 3210), and that the phone is capable of streaming via Bluetooth using A2DP.
Unfortunately, that colour screen is so low in resolution that its only use is to view the menu. You’ll not be consuming any video or photo media on this device. And while it can stream your music to your car stereo, you’d better have that music on an (optional, maximum size 32GB) SD card because with 2G/Edge as the highest speed data connection, you’ll not be streaming anything from the Internet. That is, if the phone was capable of running a music streaming app, which it isn’t.
Want to access the Internet? Good news, there’s a browser. Bad news, it’s WAP. Most of the best coded mobile sites today will fail to display anything coherent.
Want to get directions, check a map, book a ticket, send a WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat message or Twitter DM? Sorry, you’re outta luck. Those things require what is called a smartphone.
I’m a little surprised that any of the local mobile networks is listing this device. Spectrum management is a major issue for these networks, and the demand for 3G and 4G data is growing exponentially. In order to satisfy that demand, most have been refarming 2G spectrum to 3G and 4G. It doesn’t make any sense for them to be promoting a device that requires a 2G network exclusively. These networks should be incentivising customers to abandon their 2G devices and embrace faster networks, not introducing more legacy connections.
So, the Nokia 3310 achieves its amazing battery life by removing almost all the features that we expect from a modern phone. It’s like boasting about the fuel economy you get from a car that’s never taken out of the driveway.
My advice? Nostalgia isn’t a good fit with technology. If you’re concerned about battery life then buy a charger for your car, or buy a portable battery that you can carry in your bag. Don’t step back in time. 2002 was the Dark Ages for phones.
- Andrew Fraser is an independent marketing consultant focusing on telecoms and consumer technology. He can be reached via e-mail