For the last week or so, my Android smartphone was benched—I put it into a drawer, and for the next week, barely touched it. Instead, I used the new Nokia 3310, a reboot of Nokia’s 17 year-old phone of the same name, which was once legendary for its longevity and near-indestructibility.
I thought I’d suffer the week at the hands of a dumbphone—that I’d miss my emails, my apps, all of it. The week came and went. Not only was it not that bad, but I’m tempted to never go back to my Android phone. In fact, I’m tempted not to go back to any sort of smarpthone, ever again.
If this sounds extraordinary to you, and you want to flock out to buy the new Nokia 3310—if it even works where you live—keep in mind: There’s nothing special about this phone.
The Nokia 3310 is a dumbphone. It’s similar in function to a Nokia 150. It lets you take and receive calls and SMS messages. It’s got a small color screen, and a 2-megapixel camera, which you won’t use, because it takes crappy photos. It’s got a built-in Opera browser and app support, which you also won’t use, because they mostly suck (at least when compared to the same experience on a smartphone), and also, everything is slow. It’s got an amazingly crappy calculator app, with only the most basic of functions. And don’t get me started on the typing experience. You’ve likely forgotten how hard it is to type on a numeric keyboard, and trust me, you’re better off having forgotten.
Above all, the Nokia 3310 isn’t even cheap. It starts at £50 in the UK (€49 in Europe; not available in the U.S. yet). The Nokia 150, which has roughly the same specs, costs less than half the amount. With the 3310, you’re paying the extra dough to have a phone that sorta resembles the original Nokia 3310. Only it’s thinner, lighter, and, conversely, probably isn’t even as durable.
And that’s the review of the Nokia 3310, right there. The price? Worth it, if you loved the original phone. And to be fair to Nokia, they knew exactly what they were doing where exploiting nostalgia’s concerned.
Whenever it emerged from my pocket, it elicited near-universally joyous responses. “So cool!” “They’re still making those?” “I want one for my kids.” “Does it have snake?” (It does, in fact, have Snake—but a modern version, arguably crappier than the original).
But if the phone itself isn’t, well, great, then what’s all this talk about never going back to a smartphone? The Nokia 3310’s a dumbphone, and it’s as good as entry as any dumbphone to the smartphone-free life.
What I got from switching to the Nokia 3310 for a week was a bit of rest.
The smartphone-free life is not a new concept. People have tried, and wrote about, far more daring feats—including staying off the internet for a year. But I wasn’t looking for a stunt. The internet is my life; I can’t stay offline for long without changing my job. What I got from switching to the Nokia 3310 for a week was a bit of rest.
Rest, from checking the Facebook feed every 10 seconds. Rest, from the never-ending circle of checking e-mail, then Twitter, then Instagram, then Facebook, then e-mail, again. Rest, from constantly looking up things online. How many IBUs does this IPA have? How much is this car? What’s the name of the song that’s playing on the radio?
I realized I truly didn’t need the information overload in my spare time. In the past week, I’d get my dose during work hours. After that, I’d leave my laptop in my home office, pocket the 3310 (it’s so small, I constantly thought I lost it) and go take a walk, spend time with my kid, or read a book.
I realized I truly didn’t need the information overload in my spare time.
After a week, I feel content in the dumbphone world; free of worry, free of that hovering impulse to constantly check what’s new. I receive a call or a message every now and then, and that’s alright. When was Sylvester Stallone born? Hell, I don’t know. You check it out, if you want.
There are other advantages. At £50, the Nokia 3310 may not be cheap, but it’s far cheaper than most smartphones. If someone steals it, no big deal. I don’t even have to worry about data; no passwords are stored on it. I can take it to the beach, worry-free.
Its battery lasts forever, at least by smartphone standards. Two weeks of battery life? Not unimaginable at this point, but I’m not sure: I only charged it once so far. One less thing to worry about.
There are times when I miss my smartphone—when I need to check a ferry schedule, or when I’m working out and the wi-fi dies, and I can’t tether my laptop to my phone. Or when I sit alone at a restaurant and everyone around me is staring at their smartphones, and I feel like a weirdo.
On such occasions, I’d pull out my 3310 and immediately curse it, mostly because it’s just not a great time-killer (and I was totally over Snake after two days). It’s like having a cigarette that won’t light.
But most of the time, I’m thankful for being able to soak up the real world around me. In the past week, I’ve read two books. I talked to people more. I think even my food tasted better. In other words, my Nokia 3310 dumbphone has managed to make my life smarter—and it could maybe, if you let it, do the same for yours.