Mobile Tech

Nokia 3310 Pushes Nostalgia Buttons

HMD Global, owner of the Nokia phone brand, on Sunday reintroduced the classic 3310 feature phone at the Mobile World Congress, along with a line of brand new Nokia smartphones that run on the Android platform.

The relaunch of the 3310 is the reimagination of one of the world’s best-selling feature phones as a sleek, lightweight device that features 22 hours of talk time and an entire month of standby time. Its average retail price will be just 49 euros (about US$52).

The phone will come in four colors: warm red and yellow with a glossy finish, and dark blue and gray in matte.

The reintroduction was part of a larger rollout that included new smartphones — the Nokia 3, Nokia 5, Nokia 6 and Nokia 6 Arte Black Limited Edition — that will operate on the Android Nougat platform and include Google Assistant.

The launch is the first major Nokia phone product introduction since Microsoft agreed last year to sell the feature phone business it had acquired from Nokia to HMD and FIH Mobile for $350 million.

HMD has committed to spend $500 million over three years to support the resurrection of the Nokia smartphone and tablet business.

Nokia phones stir up real emotions in customers, said Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global.

“For the Nokia 3310, we just couldn’t resist,” he said. “We wanted to reward loyal Nokia phone fans and make a statement that rich heritage, innovation and modern design can go hand-in-hand.”

Limited Gain

It’s unlikely that the new device will generate much profit, said Todd Day, senior industry analyst for mobile & wireless communications at Frost & Sullivan.

It features a basic operating system with texting, but no QUERTY keyboard, and there are low-end smartphones on the market that can provide greater functionality at the same price point, he told TechNewsWorld.

The new feature phone rollout is little more than a marketing ploy — but it could drive enough volume to be profitable for HMD, said Ian Fogg, an analyst at IHS Markit.

The risk is that the publicity from the launch will overshadow the “innovative industrial design” in the new Nokia smartphones, he told TechNewsWorld.

The Nokia 6 features a 5.5-inch full HD screen with a unibody made of 6000 series aluminum. The phone features a smart audio amplifier with dual speakers and Dolby Atmos sound. The limited edition phone features 64 GB of storage and 4 GB of RAM.

The Nokia 5 features a Corning Gorilla Glass laminated 5.2-inch IPS HD display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 mobile platform, and a Qualcomm Adreno 505 graphics processor.

The Nokia 3 features a Corning Gorilla Glass laminated 5-inch display, and an integrated 8-MP wide aperture front and back camera.

Marketing Tricks

“In some ways, the Nokia 3310 is a marketing coup, as it reminds people of the Nokia brand,” remarked Annette Zimmermann, research director for personal technologies at Gartner.

“On the other hand, this is just one classic feature phone of many that HMD Global now has under its roof since it bought Microsoft’s feature phone business,” she told TechNewsWorld.

There were 400 million feature phones sold in 2016, Zimmermann noted, many of them in emerging markets, and HMD was one of the leading vendors of those devices, next to Samsung and TCL.

It’s possible that HMD sees an opening in the global market due to Samsung’s recent Galaxy Note7 troubles and other reliability issues, and wants to strike when the iron is hot, suggested telecom analyst Jeff Kagan.

“This throwback to the year 2000 gets them a lot of media attention, and brings warm and fuzzy feelings,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Whether this is going to be anything bigger than that is the problem.”

David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain's New York Business and The New York Times.

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