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Cashing in on the age of nostalgia: the return of the Nokia 3310

The Nokia 3310, which was released on Sept. 1, 2000, noted that the phone had advanced features like
The Nokia 3310, which was released on Sept. 1, 2000, noted that the phone had advanced features like "voice dialing, picture messaging, predictive text input and games." No camera, though. And no Siri.
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Recognize that?

It's the iconic ringtone from the Nokia 3310. It was a popular choice back at the turn of the century, when cell phones were still something of a novelty. All these years later, the 3310 has earned a special place in  tech and pop culture history.

We called it a brick phone, because it felt like a chunk of masonry in your pocket. But it was a brick in other senses too. It had an almost everlasting battery, and it could survive abuse that would destroy a more modern handset.

And of course, there was that addictive game...Snake.  

You can still buy a vintage 3310 on Ebay, and soon, you'll be able to buy an all-new version.

KPCC listeners weighed in on the re-release of the iconic phone:

To explain the enduring attraction of the Nokia 3310  and how anyone could possibly want such a dumb phone in the smart phone age, A Martinez spoke with CNET's Ashley Esqueda.

Interview highlights

It is pretty barebones but even after the iPhone, some people would still swear by the Nokia 3310. What is it about it that attracts so many devoted fans?

"It's really kind of strange that it has this small cult following on the internet. It used to be one of the defining cell phones of that era. I'd say it's up there with the Motorola Razr, if you remember that phone, the old slim flip phone. If you had a Nokia 3310 it was...just about indestructible. There are still hilarious memes about the original 3310 floating around on the internet...."

"And it was also one of the first really popular phones to have a stopwatch, alarms, a calculator. It could send texts longer than 140 characters so it's already better than Twitter in some ways so it was a little bit forward thinking in that way."

What does the new model offer?

"So, the new model looks very similar to the original except it is much slimmer. It's about a third of the height of a Snickers bar. It is remodeled so it is a lot prettier. It has more rounded edges, it added a camera and it has some other modern features like a browser and you can still play the old classic Snake on this phone which I thought was very funny."

The new iteration of the classic Nokia 3310.
The new iteration of the classic Nokia 3310.

What are some of the things it can't do?

"Well, I think some of the features it has are a little bit too much like the original. So, they have a camera, but it's only a two megapixel camera. So, you're not going to be snapping these beautiful images you're getting off of your Google Pixel or your iPhone. Also, it added that modern browser but it's pretty flimsy and has quite a few limitations."

I want you for a second to bust out your tech crystal ball and give us a prediction of what you think might relaunch, a classic tech product.

"Oh man, I've got to say, it's got to be the Motorola Razr. We've got to have a modern flip phone version of the Razr, I mean that was the jam. I think that's the one...if they want to really relaunch a nostalgic phone, that phone was so popular globally. I mean, nothing has really touched it in terms of ubiquitousness...except the iPhone. So I would say, 100 percent, it's got to be the Motorola Razr."

To listen to the full segment, click the blue play button above.