All the way back in 1999, Nokia’s slider phones were about as cool as trench coats and spoon-bending. That is to say, they were very cool indeed, thanks to a starring role in The Matrix alongside Keanu Reeves and guns. Lots of Guns.
In the real world, it was a true banana phone, with an instantly recognisable curvy shape, and that distinctive slider for answering calls with. Now, it’s back - in suitably yellow colours.
The new 8110 is a 4G reimagining of the original, with the same feature phone setup as last year’s 3310 reboot, and a healthy heap of nostalgia guaranteed to put a smile on any phone freak’s face.
After putting one through its paces ahead of the MWC reveal, we think this could be the phone to be seen with come festival season.
DESIGN & BUILD
Is that a Nokia 8110 4G in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me? Slide it into your jeans the wrong way round and you’ll be guaranteed some odd looks, on account of the curvy shape.
The sliding keyboard cover protects the buttons underneath, popping open and snapping shut with a satisfying action. It’s not spring-loaded like it was when Neo was trying to escape the Matrix, but then what were you expecting for the princely sum of €79?
This 8110 is New Nokia truly embracing the design style that old Nokia became famous for. Those plastic fantastic handsets of a decade ago might have been running the duff Windows 10 OS, but there’s no denying they looked damn good.
It’s available in black, but why would you bother? It looks fantastic in this bright yellow hue. Drop it in a muddy festival field and you’ll have no trouble spotting it.
The whole thing is made from a sturdy polycarbonate plastic, and has light-up buttons for late-night texting. It sits comfortably in your hand, and doesn’t feel cheap, either. It’s novel, it’s kitsch, and it’s unmistakable - which is pretty much exactly why you’d pick one up.
SCREEN & CAMERA
There’s not much to write home about here: a basic LCD display gets the job done, with blocky icons and pixellated text. Brightness isn’t much cop, although we only saw it indoors so can’t say how easy to read it’ll be outside.
It is at least a colour screen, which is more than you got on the original phone, but there’s no touch control here - just good old fashioned buttons.
The 2MP camera around back is a similar story. It’s essentially the same as the one found on last year’s 3310; it was beyond basic in that phon, only able to capture rough approximations of images that lacked any real detail or definition - and we’re not expecting a dramatic improvement this time around.
But then that’s the point: this is a retro-inspired phone, with hardware to match, so your photos will have a similar retro charm to them. At least that’s what we’ll tell people when we try uploading snaps taken with this thing to Instagram (on a more modern phone, of course - there’s no feature phone app here).
This is usually where we’d gush about a phone’s performance, but this is a beyond basic phone, so the 8110 doesn’t really have any.
OK, that’s not entirely true, but this is a feature phone through and through - meaning the hardest it has to work is when you’re snapping a photo with the camera, or going for a high score on the rebooted version of Snake that comes pre-installed on every phone.
The OS is basic, with a grid of icons letting you jump between calls, texts, a photo gallery, music player, and a few other apps you can download over a 4G connection. They should be much more responsive here than on the 2G 3310, which took forever to download apps and games. The web browser should be quicker here too, although we didn’t get to try it out.
The saving grace for this lack of grunt is battery life. If the 3310 is any indication, you shouldn’t struggle to get a few days of use between charges - although that 4G connection could sap a lot of juice. We’ll have to wait until a full review to see if it will actually survive an entire weekend of tenting at a music festival.
NOKIA 8110 INITIAL VERDICT
Did you think that last year’s 3310 reboot was a cynical cash grab designed to play off people’s nostalgia? The 8110 isn’t going to make you feel much different. It’s more of the same, in a new shell that adds a slider to the mix.
But then this was never going to replace your all-singing, all-dancing smartphone - it’s a second phone, pure and simple. One for emergencies, holidays, or just a bit of fun at the weekend.
It’ll get you through from Friday night to Monday morning without having to hunt down a mains socket, and it’ll put a smile on your face whenever you answer a call or tap out a text using the number keys. That doesn’t sound like a bad thing to us.
We’re aiming to give the reborn 8110 a proper test closer to its May launch date, so make sure to check back for a full review if you’re thinking of picking one up.