Nokia 3310 3G Review: The Verdict
The Nokia 3310 3G is a very capable feature phone, but little else; unless you're explicitly after a "dumbphone", it's hard to recommend. Despite the overwhelming allure of nostalgia, the new 3310 is a reminder that somethings are better left in the past.
What we love
- High quality build
- Snappy performance
- Long lasting battery
What could be improved
- No third party messaging apps
- Very broken web browser
- T9 is terrible
What is the Nokia 3310 3G?
Above all, the 3310 is phenomenal exercise in marketing and weaponised nostalgia. While you could call that cynicism, few would care about the new 3310 if it wasn't called the 3310. The 3310 3G is exactly what it promises to be: an ever-so-slightly more modern version of the iconic 3310. Nothing more, nothing less.
The original 3310 is of course one of the best-selling phones of all time, and iconic thanks to its supposed indestructability. Nostalgia's been big in 2017 - presumably because everyone would prefer to relive the past than deal with this trashfire of a year - so it's no surprise there's been a buzz about the new 3310.
While the 3310 3G may predominantly be a brand play for Nokia, it's nonetheless a capable feature phone. Feature phones are pretty terrible though, and the reality of a digital detox doesn't meet nostalgia clad expectations.
What's good about the Nokia 3310 3G?
Battery life is easily the 3310 3G's standout feature. The box promises just under a month of standby time, and about six hours of talk. In reality, we found you could comfortably go about a week between recharges, although this will vary depending on exactly how much time you spend making phone calls.
A battery that's measured in days rather than hours is nonetheless in impressive in 2017, but admittedly, much of the 3310 3G's longevity can be chalked up to its minimalist approach to functionality.
The 3310 3G's build quality is top notch, doing justice to the original. While we're not sure if the new 3310 is quite as as "unbreakable", it has a reassuring heft to it and doesn't feel cheap, despite being predominantly plastic. And well, being cheap. The buttons have a nice clickiness, and the screen is easy enough to use outdoors, even in sunlight.
Performance is also solid; the 3310 3G is quick to jump between apps, with almost no load time for anything but Snake and the camera. It's exactly what you want from a basic phone. And yes, Snake is still pretty fun.
The 3310 3G can be a pretty decent MP3 player, but you will need to bring your own microSD card; out of the box, the phone has roughly 32MB of free storage. A single song took up half of the available space. While the 3310 3G might not hold a candle to the latest and greatest flagships, it does have one feature missing from the likes of the iPhone X and Pixel 2: a headphone jack. Hurrah!
What's not so good about the Nokia 3310 3G?
The biggest issue with the 3110 3G is that T9 is kinda terrible. My muscle memory for T9 texting is long gone, and I found even the simplest messages took far too long to bang out using just nine keys. Typing "www.whistleout.com.au" into the 3310 3G's web browser took an embarrassing amount of time.
What takes seconds on a smartphone can literally take minutes on the 3310 3G, simply due to the physical number pad. While I suspect you could probably get used to T9 again, it feels painfully inefficient. Please don't ever leave me again, sweet touchscreen.
Other than talk, text, music playback, and Snake, there's not really much else the 3310 3G can do. Capably, at the very least.
There's a very basic web browser, but it's utterly abysmal. Websites simply aren't built for tiny screens, and tend to load as jumbled messes. That is, if they load at all. We found that they'd throw "memory errors" half the time.
The 3310 3G has a camera, but you don't really want to use it. Even photos taken in bright light are grainy, lack detail, and feature noticeable compression artefacts. There's really no reason to fire up the 3310 3G's camera, other than maybe for a laugh.
The oddest omission made by the 3310 3G is the lack of any over-the-top messaging apps; there's no way to access anything like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or Telegram. I get that the 3310 3G is a feature phone, but if you're pitching it as a back-to-basics device, it’s worth accounting for the new methods we're using to communicate. Standard talk and text really isn't enough anymore; personally, I rarely text any more thanks to apps like Messenger.
This might not matter if you're still predominantly using traditional text and actually make phone calls using a phone number, but this is becoming increasingly rare in my circles. Using the 3310 3G genuinely cuts me off from a large portion of my friends and family.
I’ll concede that the lack of apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp may be part of the appeal of the 3310 3G for some, but for me, my phone is still primarily a communication device, and I simply can’t couldn’t use Nokia’s time warp back to the early 2000s as one. If I can’t access Facebook proper or Twitter or Snapchat, that’s fine, but I still want to be able to message friends.
Nokia 3310 3G camera samples
Who is the Nokia 3310 3G for?
Most of us would have fond memories of our first phones, but sometimes memories should just stay memories. Revisiting the past isn't always a good experience; your first phone might have been great at the time, but you'd probably hate it in 2017. The Nokia 3310 3G proves this definitively.
There's been so many strides forward in phone design, accessibility, and user experience that the 3310 3G feels dated to the point of inconvenience. While you could make some arguments for using the 3310 3G as a disposable device that you don't care about breaking for events like a music festival, I'd recommend a cheap Android phone instead. You can get a decent Android powered burner than less than $100 now; it won't be wrapped in nostalgia, but it will run Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. And you still won't care if you break it.
That all being said, the Nokia 3310 3G is a good feature phone. It's fast, it's cheap, it has a high quality finish, and you can easily get a week of usage in between charges. And hey, it plays Snake.