NOKIA 3310 (2017) - The legend reborn with a camera
When you visit Nokia’s website today (yes, that Nokia) you’re greeted with a range that features three devices (X30 5G, G60 5G & C31) currently available for consumers. The company’s latest offerings are greatly influenced by sustainability and eco-friendliness, and this is reflected in the design and construction of their devices with their top-of-the-range model touting a body made out of 100% recycled aluminum and 65% recycled plastic.
However, while we appreciate the thought and philosophy that has gone into Nokia’s latest lineup, there is another device that brought us back to the old telephony juggernaut. It was in 2017 when Nokia decided to revisit one of its all-time classics – the 3310. Very much aware of the cultural impact the model has had, when you visit the phone’s product page, you’re greeted with the statement “The Icon is Back”. Albeit in an updated, slimmed and rounded form factor.
We simply couldn’t resist getting our hands on this retro-tastic reimagining of what has popularly been regarded as one of the toughest phones ever created. If you need any proof of just how ‘indestructible’ the original 3310 is/was, there are countless videos posted on youtube demonstrating this, usually in comparison to more modern devices (including the 2017 version!).
The new 3310 in all its miniscule glory.
What’s new in the remake?
If you’ve ever seen or held an original 3310, coming across this modern update you are immediately struck by just how much lighter and daintier it feels in the hand. Not only as it compares to the original, but also to just about every other modern phone we’ve had a chance to handle.
The second most obvious difference is the fact the screen is now in colour. But in keeping with the past, the resolution itself is nothing to write home about. Then again, that’s not exactly the point of this phone – rather, it’s a fine mix of nostalgia, simplicity and functionality, perfect for those that aren’t too concerned with modern conveniences like wi-fi or messaging apps.
Things are decidedly more colourful with the new 3310.
Much like the original, you’ve got the standard number pad below the screen, with the usual three main navigation buttons positioned above, dominated by a central square button that is used to navigate and confirm all the different options available.
However, on the reverse side, the new phone betrays its modern roots, by coming equipped with a centrally-located camera flanked by a small LED light that functions as your built-in flash (and torch).
The rear of the 3310, with the 2MP camera and flash.
The specs, however, are very much ‘old school’ with the camera sporting an eye-watering 2MP at maximum resolution. If we take a quick look at Nokia’s history, the first time a phone sporting those specs came out in 2005 in the form of the futuristic N90.
Nokia’s N90 (2005) was their first phone equipped with a 2MP camera.
This however hasn’t dissuaded us from taking a closer look at the capability of this ‘camera phone’ from days gone by.
Familiar menu items grace the updated model.
Taking photos and recording video with the 3310
When you first wake the screen up, you’re greeted with a familiar layout of Nokia’s past models. There you have “Go to” “Menu” and “Camera” as your available options.
Under each option, there are a number of submenus and these are:
- Lock keypad
- Torch on
- Ring. volume
- Data connect.
- Left key
- Call log
- Internet (Opera mini)
- Snake (with its own new logo)
- Apps & games
- Alarm clock
- Voice recorder
- Smart dual-sim
- Flash on
- Video camera
- Image effects
- Choose scene
- Burst mode
Available options when using the camera.
When you open up the Camera, you’re once again given three different navigation buttons. To the left, three stacked dashes indicate the different options that are available for shooting. In the middle, you have the camera-taking button and to the right, we have an arrow denoting the “step back” aspect, that is to return to the previous/main menu.
The three dashes are of most concern to those wishing to take photos and the available options are:
- Flash on
- Video camera
- Image effects
- Choose scene
- Burst mode
- Image quality
The simple camera menu of the new 3310.
Most of these parameters are self-explanatory, and the main areas of focus (pardon the pun) for photographers will be Brightness, Image effects, Choose scene, Burst mode, Selt-timer and Image quality.
With Brightness, you can either navigate left or right, to increase or decrease the amount of available light. Similarly, under Image effects, you can select the available options by navigating either left or right – the options here are Greyscale, Sepia, Green tint, Blue tint, Colour invert (negative).
The image effects, or filters, that are available on the 3310.
Choose scene only yields two possible options, Automatic and Night, which is meant to give a boost to the parameters when shooting in darker light, although, we couldn’t notice any real difference in the conditions we were shooting.
The Self-timer is a very similar affair that is found on countless other phones/cameras – you have the ability to switch between 2 and 10 seconds, and of course, no timer.
Burst mode, much like it is on every other camera offers the option of taking multiple photos with one press of the shutter button, and the available number here is either 3, 4 or 6 shots.
Finally, we arrive at Image quality, which, as previously mentioned is defaulted to 2.0MP, however, should you choose to go even further into the past, you can also set the quality at either 1.3MP and 0.3MP, although quite why you would choose to do so, is beyond us.
The image quality on the 3310 is a blast from the past.
The resulting photos are exactly as we expected them to be – 2MP images that are as good as they were, more than 20 years ago.
Taking photos of a subject up close reveals the camera’s inability to focus at such a range, as can be seen in the images above. Interestingly, the camera comes with a zoom, but as it is digital rather than optical, it only effectively zooms in on the image itself.
As you can imagine, at 2MP, there isn’t too much detail available. As a result, any images that have used the zoom function end up looking more like an impressionist painting than a photo.
The camera has a zoom function, however it is digital and the results aren’t great.
Special mention goes to the video recording function, which gives you the ability to edit your video on the fly, as it were. When you first hit record (using the middle button, of course) you’re given the option to either Pause or Stop the recording. If you just hit the pause button, you’re creating a cut and can continue recording another scene and add further cuts. Once you finally hit stop, the recording is finished.
On-the-fly editing when recording video with the 3310.
Video recording allows editing with the “pause” function.
Classic Nokia simplicity, the removable cover also reveals the removable battery and available slots.
The new 3310 comes with 2 SIM slots and a micro SD card slot that supports up to 32GB.
Remastering a classic - Snake
While we were most interested in seeing how this antiquated phone camera performed in today’s day and age, many of us in the office were understandably curious about the other most famous feature of Nokia’s back catalogue – Snake.
The classic, reimagined. Snake comes pre-loaded on the 3310.
Much like the whole phone itself, it too has been given an update. What was once a pixel on a screen chasing other pixels (and growing as a result), the modern update features an orange/yellow snake that progressively collects cherries which subsequently makes it grow.
The look of the game itself is reminiscent of another classic – the grid pattern on the screen and the blocks that are present bring back memories of Tetris and there is even an actual immovable block that is placed somewhere on the grid which you need to avoid as well as eating your own tail.
The most curious aspect of the gameplay is that, unlike all the other functions on the phone, the middle square button doesn’t control the snake, but rather it is the keypad numbers 4 & 6 that make it move across the screen.
The updated Snake, looks colourful, but the charm of yesteryear is missing.
After a few tries of this new version, we were sadly left a little cold with the end result. The simplicity and brilliance of the original remain unsurpassed and bringing the game into the 2000s (by making it look very much like it is a product of the 80s) has done it no favours.
So that is the updated Nokia 3310. For anyone wishing to experience what our photo-taking ability was like 20 years ago, it is a great walk down memory lane, as it accurately represents the pixelated and grainy nature that was the norm back then. For us Wafflers, it was fun to experience the past once again, however, we won’t be rushing to trade in our iOS and Android devices just yet.