Nokia at the time of digital detoxification

The first Nokia model reappears in revamped form. Enough to give new impetus to the brand?

On the occasion of its 25e anniversary, the legendary Nokia 3210 phone is making a comeback. The Finnish company Human Mobile Devices (HMD), which produces Nokia brand phones, formalized the release of the new version on Wednesday, May 8. The first Nokia 3210 model appeared in 1999 and was one of the most iconic phones of the 2000s, selling more than 160 million copies.

The new Nokia 3210

The Nokia 3210 is a reissue of the classic 1999 model, combining a “retro-elegant” aesthetic with a touch of modernity. It comes in three colors: Scuba Blue (blue), Y2K Gold (yellow) and Grunge Black (black). The new 3210 has a 2.4-inch LCD screen, relatively modest by today’s standards, and includes a USB-C port for charging. It is powered by a Unisoc T107 chipset, complemented by 64MB of RAM and 128MB of internal storage, expandable up to 32GB via a microSD card slot. It also comes with a removable battery, which, although small, is perfectly adequate for such a feature-limited phone. This indestructible, built-to-last phone promises remarkable battery life, with up to nine and a half hours of talk time on a single charge, and “won’t let you go when you’re partying this summer,” writes HMD. Compared to smartphones, the Nokia 3210 has a more robust and shock-resistant body.

For text entry, the 3210 uses a traditional 9-key numeric keypad. For example, you will have to press 4 twice, 3 twice, 5 six times, and 6 three times, just to write the word “Hello”, for a total of 13 presses. However, it has T9 predictive writing software to make writing messages easier.

Despite the dominance of smartphones with multiple sensors for photos, this model features a modest 2-megapixel camera with a usable flash that can also be used as a flashlight. For comparison, the latest iPhone 15 offers 48 megapixels.

“Re-released” phones are usually designed differently from more contemporary smartphones. The idea is to take old models and equip them with new technology to give them better functionality. Although this device lacks most of the features of modern phones, including artificial intelligence, it has still been modernized compared to its previous version.

This time, the Nokia 3210 includes 4G and Bluetooth 5.0, as well as the 3.5mm jack, an option that many users missed when Apple chose to remove it from its devices. The phone also includes Cloud applications providing useful information such as weather, news, YouTube videos, FM radio and the popular game Snake, for a touch of nostalgia.

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Source: HMD

The phone is available now on the brand’s official website, at a price of 79.90 euros (or 89 dollars), much cheaper than a smartphone (on average 400 euros), but a little more expensive than others basic phones. The Nokia 105, another phone marketed by the brand, is sold at a price of 29.99 euros.

There are two main reasons why someone would want to buy the Nokia 3210 in the smartphone era: Nostalgia and/or digital detox. If you’re overwhelmed by incessant notifications, the retro Nokia 3210 offers a nice alternative or as a secondary device. The 3210 may also be of interest to those who would prefer a simpler mobile experience over high-end, fairly complex smartphones. Sometimes all a person needs is to make a call or send a message.

Digital detox, reconnect with real life

The return of the Nokia 3210, with its simplicity and basic functionality, offers a welcome escape for those who want to disconnect from the incessant distractions of smartphones. Social media app algorithms are designed to be addictive.

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Source: Reviews.org

No more incessant notifications and hours spent scrolling on brightly colored apps! Some see old-fashioned cell phones as a way to detach themselves from social media, while remaining reachable for essential communications.

“If it’s urgent, they will call or send a message,” HMD writes.

In the age of “digital detoxification”, boring devices, “boring phone” or “dumbphone” are now “cool”. According to The Guardian, this trend stems from Gen Z’s reluctance toward the data-gathering and attention-seeking technologies they grew up with. A study conducted by GWI supports this, revealing that nearly four in ten young people, aged 16 to 24, worry about spending too much time on their smartphone.

The movement in favor of “dumbphones” is not only about rejecting new technologies, but also about reclaiming one’s space and tranquility. These less intrusive and less addictive communication tools provide a better balance between connectivity and personal well-being. HMD calls this JOMO, or Joy Of Missing Out.

A digital detox is, by definition, a period of time, ranging from an hour to an entire weekend, in which a person abstains from electronic activities, and has been shown to have many benefits. Staying away from screens increases productivity, improves sleep, reduces stress and anxiety, and improves overall self-perception. In other words, spending more time online may lead to a more harmful experience, while spending less time online may improve the quality of your life.

Nostalgia on the other end of the phone

“The original Nokia 3210 holds a special place in the hearts of many users […] It’s the ideal product to reimagine for the modern era, given its strong heritage and iconic design,” said Ben Wood, founder of the Mobile Phone Museum, when asked by HMD about the importance of this model.

This is not the first time that HMD has repopularized a Nokia model. In 2017, it was the 3310 which was re-released, then in 2018 by the Nokia 8810 nicknamed “Banana phone”. Indeed, the return of classic models is generally greeted with enthusiasm, as these “revivals” evoke nostalgia while offering a touch of modernity or revisited functionality.

Nostalgia exerts a strong emotional influence; it’s comforting and familiar like old times. It is particularly prevalent in times of uncertainty or change, reminding us that difficult situations are temporary. Indeed, the return of nostalgia-driven pop culture trends peaked in the early 2020s, a relatively difficult time.

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Source: GWI

In the fashion industry, harnessing nostalgia has proven lucrative, with retro logos and reissues of classic designs dominating discussions on social media. This approach has led many designers to reintroduce old iconic pieces instead of investing heavily in marketing new products. Revisiting iconic handbags such as Dior’s Saddle bag and Fendi’s Baguette, with slight modifications, has become a major trend in recent years. Dior’s Saddle bag, for example, reissued in 2018 as a nod to its Y2K (year 2000) “it bag” status, has been slightly resized to accommodate today’s essentials like a smartphone . According to market intelligence platform EDITED, in 2022, the reintroduction of bags from the 1990s and 2000s saw high sales rates, leading to out-of-stocks for many items.

In the automotive industry, BMW’s revival of the Mini Cooper was a great success, with its iconic design and Karting sensations. However, not all revivals are equally successful. The relaunch of the DS brand by Citroën, for example, did not meet with the expected success. Originally launched with a strategy of differentiation through a premium offering, the brand experienced growing pains, particularly in critical markets like China, and faced an identity crisis among consumers who were unsure of the value proposition it offered relative to its heritage.

Conclusion

The success of relaunching a classic model depends on the emotional connection that consumers have with the original versions, but also on their relevance today. The Nokia 3210 perfectly illustrates this phenomenon: it offers a simplified and nostalgic mobile experience to those wanting a digital break or a return to basics. This basic phone has already enjoyed tremendous success in China, where it sold out in just two days after the relaunch. It thus demonstrates that sometimes, we can do more with less.

Could a possible commercial success of the Nokia 3210 translate into an appreciation of the price of Nokia shares? Let’s not forget that Nokia sold its Microsoft mobile phone division in 2013 and is now focusing on mobile networks (including 5G). And since 2016, the Finnish company HMD (unlisted) is now in charge of producing the brand’s phones…

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