Retro tech: The Nokia 3310 is making a come back!

The Nokia 3310 is making a come back!
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HMD Global Oy, the Finnish manufacturer that owns the rights to market the Nokia brand, is bringing back the old school Nokia 3310.

The Nokia 3310 launched 17 years ago as a replacement for the Nokia 3310, is making a comeback after being discontinued in 2005, after selling more than126 million units. This earned it the title of the world’s best-selling phone, according to Nokia.

When I worked in LA many years ago I was V.P. of a Wilshire Boulevard public relations and marketing firm.

Along with the position came the hardware so others could remain in touch with me. Regrettably I had a text capable pager and mobile phone. I absolutely hated being accessible at all times and much to the chagrin and heated reprimands of my boss I left my pager in the dark confines of my desk drawer, unopened in its original box. My mobile was eternally plugged into my car cigarette lighter.

But not being able to stop the future and seeing that keeping in touch is where it's at in Europe, I had cast aside my old inhibitions and set out way back then to find the perfect handy to drag me into the new millennium and beyond.

The first mobile under the microscope is the 3310; Nokia's famously feature-filled mid-level entrant to its vast and expanding stable of wireless gadgets.

Two things about the 3310 that caught my attention right from the start are its lightweight (151 grams) and the fact that its integrated antenna makes it much easier to carry.

So much so that I was even stashing the phone in the front pocket of my Levi's with having only a slightly bigger bulge than normal (ah, the side benefits of owning a mobile).

The overall size is a compact 124x51x21mm with the case flaring out a bit above the keypad to accept the easy-to-read monochrome display screen. The operating menu can be displayed in a host of languages including Czech, English, German, French, Polish, and Slovak, Russian and even Hungarian.

Depending upon your SIM card, the phone can hold up 250 names with numbers and searching can be done by inputting the name via the keypad with the phone pulling up the name and number even after the partial name has been written into the "Search" screen function. The keypad was easy to manipulate while sober or drunk because the push buttons, while flush against the case, are nice, fat and brightly illuminated.

In noisy restaurants and bars I had no problem recognizing the distinct ring of my phone because, and hard to believe, it seems nobody except me has chosen "Brave Scotland" as the ringer for their mobile. There are an additional 39 pre-programmed tunes on offer, and budding Beethoven's can even compose their own original melody.

Calls can be automatically diverted to another number either whilst the phone is on but without having it ring, when you are talking, when a call goes unanswered or when the phone is off or there is no coverage. Fairly long text messages can be sent or received with ease.

The 3310 also has the feature of sending one of three built-in "pictures" that are really more of interest to my 14 year-old cousin Sarah: a heart with wings, two stick figures frozen in dance motion or a celebratory birthday cake complete with burning candles.

The call register handles your missed calls, received calls and dialed numbers. Within this feature you can also see a call's duration and how much it cost you. Other less important standard features in the 3310 are a clock, calculator, an alarm and three games; Pairs II, Space Impact and Bantumi. Of the games I found Bantumi to kick my ass the most often.

Nokia is proud of the 3310's long-lasting battery, which is why it is set for a bright future in a world of battery eatting smartphones, and well they should be as it had plenty of power (for you technoheads it's their 1250NiMh with prismatic technology).

Depending upon how much of a chatterbox you are, the phone can go for up to three days without a recharge. I found this to be a great feature especially while I was on the road and did not have to worry about my mobile being DOA.

Nokia's 3310 is also dual band capable with even the frequency transferring automatically from system to system if this is something offered by your chosen service provider.

"Imagine that you are traveling in Germany," explained Hosek. "If you have your mobile set up to automatically switch between the 900 or 1800 systems, the phone will do the switching for you to provide the best available service without you even noticing it."

About the biggest drawback about the 3310 was that when I went into this mobile's nine internal features (phone book, for example) and was given an up and down list on the screen for Search, Add Entry, Erase, Edit, Tone, Send Entry, Speed Dials, etc., upon pushing the up/down button to get to the Add Entry function, the phone would automatically jump to the very last item on the list.

Trust me, if you are in a hurry or doing a couple of things at once while on the 3310, it's very frustrating to have to click your way through the myriad of choices to find the one you originally wanted.

Overall I was most impressed with the 3310's compact size, its power and the lightweight. Although Nokia's 3310 lacks fax and Internet accessibility, you are able to send and receive quite lengthy text messages.

For those looking to retrograde with a feature-packed, solid, powerful and technologically sophisticated wireless phone in the upper end of the mid-level category, the revamped version of the fan-favorite cell phone will be available to consumers in Europe and North America for around $62, which is noticeably cheaper than the $160 price tag it had in 2000 when it was originally released.

The announcement will reportedly be made on Feb. 26 at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona. At this price and with this staying power, the Nokia 3310 is worth a serious look.

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