The hot new phone for 2017 doesn't have Bluetooth.
It won't link to your car for navigation. It won't recognize your virtual assistant software.
But the Nokia 3310 and its sturdy, colorful plastic body may take you back to a day when phones were built to last, and built all over the world — not just in low-cost regions.
On Feb. 26, HMD Global Oy, the parent company of Finland's Nokia phone brands, announced its latest round of smartphones to the media. It also said it would bring back the “iconic” 3310: “a modern classic reborn.”
When the original 3310 came out, what was then Nokia Oyj was a global phone making giant. In 2000, it sold 128 million phones, which was a 64 percent increase from 1999. Its biggest competitor, Motorola Inc., saw sales in its “personal communications sector,” including phones, jump 11 percent in 2000.
But not even a full seven years after the 3310 was introduced, Apple Inc. changed the mobile phone landscape when it introduced the first iPhone in January 2007. Suddenly, there were new players and new demands for what phones must do.
While the Nokia name brand survived, the company's assets were swallowed up by software giant Microsoft in its attempt to become a major phone company. In early 2016, private equity backers supported the debut of HMD in Nokia's old hometown of Espoo, Finland, staffed by former Nokia engineers. HMD has a license to market phones under the Nokia name until 2024, and it came on strong with a series of smartphones introduced this month … and the revamped icon 3310.
It does have a camera — 2 megapixels, compared to the 8 megapixel camera in HMD's most stripped down smartphone, the Nokia 3 — and one game. The classic game Snake.
The Nokia smartphones introduced the same day as the 3310 boast a “unibody crafted from a single block of 6000 series aluminum.”
The 3310? “Available in four distinctive colors — Warm Red and Yellow … and Dark Blue and Grey.”
There is no email. No Facebook. No Twitter. No internet browsing.
So why the interest?
That indestructible body, and long battery life (the company says it'll last a month in standby mode), and the very lack of connectivity is attracting some people simply burned out. As the United Kingdom's Telegraph newspaper put it: “Even during a relaxing weekend away, few can escape the reflex of flicking onto the mail app for a quick browse of their emails. Maybe everyone should have a weekday and a weekend phone — a smartphone for Monday-Friday, when we actually need all the apps we have come to rely on to do our jobs, and a Nokia 3310 for weekends when we desperately need a break from staring at a tiny screen.”
Also, there's the price tag. Nokia's top-of-the-line smartphone will sell for about $300. The 3310 for $50.
But don't count on the return of the 3310 to mean everything may go back to the way things were.
During its heyday, Nokia made its phones around the world. Its Texas plants employed 5,500 people. Motorola had its manufacturing hub near Chicago.
However, even when Nokia ruled the telecommunications world, it was busy shifting production to low-cost countries. Eight hundred of those 5,500 Texas jobs headed to Mexico in 2001. Motorola, meanwhile, was closing a Harvard, Ill., plant.
And while HMD may be waving the Nokia flag proudly, it is just developing and marketing the new phones. Production is outsourced to Foxconn Technology Group, the contract molder that makes phones for nearly every brand name.