Nobody ever went broke by pandering to nostalgia. HMD Global, the plucky Finnish mobile startup that acquired the remnants of the Nokia smartphone brand in 2016, knows this better than most.
Since picking up the pieces from hapless one-time CEO Stephen Elop, HMD Global has released a steady trickle of retro revival feature-phones, starting with 2017’s remake of the iconic 3310.
The latest addition to the Nokia Originals stable is a faux version of the diminutive Nokia 8210 first released in 1999.
For those born after the millennium, the Nokia 8210 (shown above) looks like a boring, unremarkable feature phone. At the time, however, it was nothing short of groundbreaking.
Tiny and trendy
Phones used to be ugly. Year after year, mobile vendors would release nondescript handsets with the same weight and dimensions as a piece of industrial rebar, often with a breadstick-like antenna protruding awkwardly from the top.
The Nokia 8210 represented a modest, but significant, change of priorities within the industry.
It boldly claimed that phones didn’t have to only be functional, utilitarian blobs of plastic and rubber. It was tiny. Light. Owners could carry them without the need for a rucksack.
Oh, and you could play Snake.
(Sidenote: Nokia aimed the 8210 at a younger audience. It spent vast sums on an aggressive advertising campaign fronted by a group of young, prancing dweebs wearing what passed for haute fashion at the turn of the millennium. For your amusement, if not horror, it’s embedded below.)
But it wasn’t perfect. The Nokia 8210 had plenty of flaws. It took decades for the consumer electronics industry to perfect the miniaturization techniques we now take for granted. A major design fault saw the screen connector contract over time, resulting in the display becoming ever-more difficult to read.
It also suffered from the limitations of the era. The Nokia 8210 forced owners to make difficult choices about the texts and contacts to save.
The 2022 Nokia 8210
Fortunately, these issues are unlikely to rear their ugly head with the latest revival. By all accounts, it’s a modern feature phone. That means modern manufacturing processes. But it also infers a level of sophistication beyond the scope of the original device.
There’s a camera, support for 4G and VoLTE (voice-over-LTE), dual SIMs, and a larger 2.8” QVGA color display.
The inclusion of 4G may seem excessive, given the phone’s basic design and limited capabilities. It isn’t. Mobile networks are actively withdrawing legacy mobile standards, like 2G and 3G. HMD Global’s decision to use a 4G radio gives this device a shelf life beyond the end of this year.
Storage is a (respectable, given the category) 128MB, and there’s even room for a MicroSD card. It supports simplified feature-phone-friendly applications, including Facebook and WhatsApp. On the entertainment side, the Nokia 8210 comes with a built-in FM radio tuner, as well as support for MP3s.
And perhaps the most important prerequisite: it has Snake.
HMD Global is yet to confirm US availability for the Nokia 8210. A UK launch is penciled for later this month. When it arrives on these shores, it’ll cost £65 (roughly $78 at current exchange rates).
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