The original was made famous by The Matrix, and some might want to drop this reboot out of the nearest window too
The new Nokia 8110 4G is the latest nostalgia trip from HMD Global, but is it more than just a remake of that “banana phone” from the Matrix?
HMD had a hit on its hands with the new Nokia 3310 from last year, which was a surprisingly charming dumbphone that cost slightly more than other basic Nokias because of the name.
The re-envisioned Nokia 8110 4G goes further, but not necessarily for the better.
For those who never had the original 8110 in 1996, it was a curved mobile with a slider, whose primary claim to fame was being dropped out of an office block window by a clumsy Keanu Reeves in the 1999 sci-fi blockbuster.
The 2018 version displays only a passing resemblance to the original. Gone is the stubby aerial and small monochrome screen, replaced with a larger, colour screen and shorter slider. The keypad doesn’t look anything like the original, either. You could say that only the name is the same.
The curved back comes off to expose the battery, two sim slots and a microSD slot. The manual slider exposes the keypad and unlocks the phone, but doesn’t contain the phone’s microphones so it’s really only there for aesthetic purposes. You can hang up on someone by slamming the slider closed though, so there’s that.
The top of the phone has a microUSB socket for charging and a headphone socket for listening to music or the built-in FM radio.
- Screen: 2.4in QVGA LCD (167ppi)
- Processor: dual core 1.1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 205 processor
- RAM: 512MB
- Storage: 4GB + microSD card (up to 32GB)
- Operating system: KaiOS
- Camera: 2MP rear camera with LED flash
- Connectivity: 4G, dual sim, Bluetooth 4.1, wifi, GPS, FM radio and USB 2.0
- Dimensions: 133.45 x 49.3 x 14.9 mm
- Weight: 117g
Buttons, buttons, buttons
The display is colourful, but low-resolution and not a touchscreen – it’s all buttons, all the time for this little Nokia. The screen’s plastic coating is a serious fingerprint magnet, and even at 100% brightness it’s difficult to see the display outside.
The button configuration and menu system is the same as last year’s new 3310. A select button is ringed by a D-pad and flanked by two action keys, a call and a hangup/back button. Below is a standard 12-button dial pad, of which the last row is surprisingly difficult to press because of the slider.
The Nokia 8110 4G runs KaiOS, which is a sort of dumbphone-smartphone hybrid. It looks and behaves like the old series 30, but has things such as an app store, Google Assistant, YouTube, Google Maps, email, a browser and, of course, Snake.
Google Assistant works surprisingly well, YouTube works just about, and you can even sync your Google or Outlook contacts, if you can face typing out your password using the numeric pad, which took me the best part of 10 minutes.
Google Maps is slow but usable too, while the browser can just about handle sites like the Guardian.
Despite having an app store, there’s no WhatsApp (although apparently it’s coming), Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram, Uber or Spotify. There is Twitter though, if you can bear it.
Bashing out messages is about as tedious as you can expect using the cramped T9 keypad, but it can be done, which is pretty much the experience of the whole phone – most things can be done with enough patience.
The phone comes with 4GB of storage, which is divided into 2GB for apps and 2GB for media, such as photos and music, if you want to sideload it on there. You can also insert a microSD card for more storage if you really need it.
Battery life is about four to five days with my heavy usage, or 25 days of 4G standby according to HMD.
It has one, it is two megapixels and it works, but don’t expect miracles. It’ll do in a pinch, but it won’t match even the worst cameras from a modern smartphone. It records video too, but there’s no selfie camera, so you’ll have to do the old flip-round and hope for the best.
- Call quality was about the same as a modern 4G smartphone on VoLTE
- There are no volume buttons on the side, which is really irritating for calls
- There are a series of shortcuts from the homescreen to turn wifi, bluetooth and various other bits on and off
- The flashlight is a bit weak
- The Nokia 8110 4G is narrow but not particularly thin or short, meaning it’s not as pocketable as the 3310
The Nokia 8110 4G costs £69 and comes in black or yellow.
With the Nokia 8110 4G HMD has produced a much more capable retro phone than the equally nostalgic new 3310. You can get your email on it, you can get Google Maps, YouTube, Google Assistant and even sync all your contacts and calendar. It even has a modern 4G data connection, and an app store of sorts.
But by including all these things, the 8110 4G is a little too connected for a retro-phone that many may seek out to be less connected to the world. And when you actually try and use these modern services afforded by KaiOS you quickly discover the tedium of trying to use a number pad and its T9 predictive text.
If you want a festival phone just for texts and calls, there are cheaper and better dumbphones available that aren’t branded as a reboot of something from your youth. Ditto for those who don’t want or can’t afford a smartphone.
The Nokia 8110 4G is a nice little novelty toy, then, but I’d rather have the new 3310 for that.
Pros: 5-day+ battery life, headphone jack, dual-sim support, 4G, 4GB storage, microSD card slot, removable battery
Cons: expensive, tedious T9, not many apps, no WhatsApp, Spotify or Instagram
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