Ben White
Ben White
28th February 2017

For anyone with an eye on current activity in the technology world, it will come as no surprise that the legendary Nokia 3310 ‘feature’ phone has been relaunched by Finnish tech company HMD. In what has been called a ‘bold’ and ‘clever’ move, the launch comes nearly 17 years after the handset’s initial release. Mobile phone users of a certain age (myself included) may have owned one, and will almost certainly be aware of - or wasted many hours playing (myself included) - the now cult game Snake.

Whilst there has been a great deal of reminiscing about the excellent battery life, Snake and how it will be great to be able to have a phone again that is, well, just a phone, I’m particularly pleased to see the resurrection of a design classic. Product design - in this case mobile phone design - had it much harder even those few years ago - there were all those little numbers, navigational keys and tiny screens to fit into a palm sized device when smaller definitely meant better. Technology has come a long way since then, but I can’t help think that by moving the majority of functionality into a blank touch screen we have managed to homogenise the form factor of the device itself.

Now, don’t get me wrong - I’m definitely a fan of modern device design (well, some anyway), but a lot of ‘new’ devices do look very similar, and seem only really differentiated from one another by their technological features, not their physical design. I’m sure everyone can take a stab at when the design of mobile devices converged and arrived at the current ‘(i)deal’ solution, but is this it, or will we start to see a reemergence of devices with a little more personality in their design? I can’t help my wry smile when thinking how in this technology and feature abundant world the ‘latest development’ that has got everyone talking is a slightly revamped turn of the century design - brilliant.

HMD have identified an opportunity and the appeal for a non-smart phone - “It’s almost like a digital detox or a holiday phone” their Chief executive Arto Nummela recently explained to the BBC. However he did go on to say - “Why wouldn’t you buy this like candy? If you see this hanging on the shelf at the checkout in a [see-through] package, then you’d just buy it as an accessory.”

Whilst I find it a bit of a struggle to share this ‘optimistic’ sales view - I’m not sure I can remember the last time I bought a £40 chocolate bar on impulse whilst queueing for my groceries - I’m sure a lot of consumers (even just of a certain age) will be keen to get their hands on a revamped version of this design classic.

Smart.

This was originally posted on my own site.