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    Tuesday, February 27, 2018

    Nokia's Retro 8110 is Getting a Revival as HMD Goes high-End

    The banana phone is back: Nokia's reboot of the 8110 "Matrix" phone
    Some folks have started to take exception to companies that rely on people’s nostalgia to peddle their tech. But that ain’t stopping Nokia.
    Last year at MWC, Nokia (which isn’t really Nokia anymore, but HMD Global) revived it’s iconic brick phone, the 3310. But for 2018, Nokia is going one step further by bringing back its legendary banana phone, the Nokia 8110.
    In 2017 Nokia revived the 3310. It caused quite a fuss. Nokia's original 3310 was many people's first phone. It arrived in 1999 just as mobile phones were becoming cheap enough for ordinary people to afford.

    At MWC 2018, designer of Nokia phones HMD announced it will to attempt the trick once more, this time with the Nokia 8110. Whether this will cause a blank look or one of excitement largely depends on whether you owned one in the late 90s. Or if you count The Matrix among your favourite films.

    The Nokia 8110 was released in 1996. It was an early-adopter classic, and the "lead" phone featured in The Matrix, the film responsible for more embarrassing photos of teenagers in leather trench coats than any other.
    Its new incarnation is "not a simple redesign", says Nokia chief marketing officer Pekka Rantala, but something "a lot richer".

    Nokia 8110 reborn
    The new Nokia 8110 is like the 1997 Volkswagen "New Beatle", the 2002 Mini or indeed last year's 3310. It doesn't actually look that much like the original. If it did, it would be entirely anachronistic.
    HMD has co-opted the slight curve of the 1996 version, the slider design and, of course, Nokia's signature Snake game. Because while feature phones without Snake are fit for developing markets, those with Snake are ready for East London.

    We were not huge fans of the Nokia 3310. The nostalgia factor wore off quickly. However, the Nokia 8110 looks smarter, and has the added benefit of the satisfying tactile snap of a slider mechanism. And, yes, it comes in plain black as well as the bright yellow version seen here.
    The Nokia 8110 has 17 days of standby time
    The phone's software is much the same as that of the 3310, which runs the S30+ OS. It's used in Nokia phones that don't touch on irony or nostalgia, like the very popular £27.99 Nokia 105.
    There's no touchscreen, you navigate around a grid-based interface with a D-pad. It's straight year-2000 retro, even though S30+ is an active, in-development system.

    It has an app store, one closer to the WAP app stores of the pre-Android days than iTunes. You can sync your calendar and email to it, and there are apps for Twitter and Facebook. Yes, you can still get these time sinks on a Nokia 8110, even if avoiding them is the best reason to abandon smartphones.
    The Nokia 8110 has 4G, too. And the same souped-up version of Snake seen in the Nokia 3310. A minor rewriting of history, the original Nokia 8110 didn't actually have Snake. It made its debut the next year, 1997, in the Nokia 6110.
    Like a joke told twice, the Nokia 8110 doesn't seem as exciting as the Nokia 3310's reboot. Its main appeal is as a feature phone with a somewhat nicer design than the numerous models Nokia currently makes. It's a phone that lasts a week or more off a charge. We were told it'll last 7.5 hours of talk time, or up to 17 days on standby.

    That's just half the stamina of the 3310, but still a long old time.
    Nokia is unlikely to earn as much attention as it did with the 3310, though, and not just because our nostalgia has been milked recently. The Nokia 8110 was a far less accessible phone than the 3310.
    It was much more expensive, initially marketed as a business device, and arrived three years earlier. This cuts out a big chunk of the older millennials who start tearing up at the thought of their first phone, and memories of a pre-Facebook past in which the internet barely touched their daily lives.
    HMD hasn't made the Nokia 8110 for everyone, though, and its 2018 success does not rely on it. The other phones announced alongside will shape its future.
    HMD has filled-out its smartphone line-up with the Nokia 7 Plus, Nokia 8 Sirocco, Nokia 1 and a newly refreshed Nokia 6.

    Nokia 1
    The new Nokia 1 is one of the first phones to use Android Go
    At the bottom end, the Nokia 1 will sell for $85. That's £61 in a direct currency conversion, although current prices for other models suggest a UK price of £79 is more likely.
    It has a 4.5-inch 720p screen and a plastic back that can be jazzed-up with patterned Xpress-on replacement covers.
    A low-end MediaTek CPU and 1GB RAM would usually mean performance issues for an Android phone, but the Nokia 1 is one of the first phones to use Android Go. This is a cut-down version of Android designed for mobiles with less RAM, little storage and low power.
    It's too early to tell quite how successful this will be, but a flick around the Nokia 1's interface didn't reveal any obvious performance problems. HMD also says Android Go leaves the phone with 5GB spare room, not the 1GB or so left in a standard Android phone with only 8GB storage.
    Like the classic Nokia Lumia 530 and Lumia 620, the Nokia 1 could prove to be one of the better sub-£100 phones.

    Nokia 8 Sirocco
    The new Nokia 8 Sirocco: a move to show the brand "can still do high-end"
    HMD has also made an ultra high-end phone, the Nokia 8 Sirocco. This will cost €749, likely a similar amount in pounds.
    This makes full use of the skills of HMD's manufacturing partner Foxconn FIH, with a surface area that is "95 percent Gorilla Glass 5" according to HMD chief product officer Juho Sarvikas. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, its sides are steel, not softer aluminium.
    The steel is bevelled where it meets the curved front glass to avoid any hard-edged seams. It feels dense and expensive.
    "Nokia can still do high-end" is the message. It arrives alongside an HMD push to introduce, or re-introduce, features that add to the vanilla Android software behind all Nokia smartphones.

    These include an HMD-developed face unlock with claimed speed to rival the rear fingerprint scanner, a Pro camera mode similar to that of the classic Nokia Lumia 1020 and adding of virtual light sources in photos. Much like the iPhone X.
    It has a Snapdragon 835 processor, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage and a "2K" 5.5-inch P-OLED screen. However its display is still 16:9 in aspect, contrary to the current 18:9 trend.

    Nokia 7 Plus
    The new Nokia 7 Plus has the same higher-end camera as the 8 Sirocco
    The Nokia 7 Plus is the first HMD phone to have one of these ultra-wide or long screens, with a 6-inch Full HD+ 18:9 IPS panel. It may be of more interest to the average buyer than the Nokia 8 Sirocco, thanks to a €399 price.
    It doesn't quite manage to shake off the vanilla looks of HMD's first-wave Nokia phones, but HMD has tried. The Nokia 7 Plus is made using a machined block of aluminium, with six coats of ceramic paint on the back that HMD claims is "as strong as anodised aluminium".
    Thanks to a double anodisation process, the bevelled edges have colour accents, like the gold on white effect seen here.

    The phone also has the same higher-end camera as the Nokia 8 Sirocco. Its rear has two sensors. There's a primary 12-megapixel sensor with a wide aperture f/1.7 lens and 1.4 micron pixels for better low-light performance and a "2x zoom" 13-megapixel camera for lossless zooming.
    It seems fairly fast to shoot, but has a tough time ahead matching the heights achieved through the Google Pixel phones' software, and other phones' optically stabilised cameras.
    The Nokia 7 Plus also uses a mid-range Snapdragon 660 CPU, where aggressive price rivals like the Honor View 10 and OnePlus 5T have processors from the class above.

    Nokia 6
    The 2017 Nokia 6 has had a update with a Snapdragon 630 CPU and fast charging
    HMD has also reworked the Nokia 6, the first phone in the new Nokia era, first released in China in January 2017. The new version addresses most criticisms levelled at the old  Nokia 6.
    It now has a higher-spec Snapdragon 630 CPU, in place of a Snapdragon 430. And comes with a fast charger that takes the battery from 0 to 50 per cent charge within 30 minutes.
    There has been no obvious radical overhaul of its camera either, which seems to produce fairly soft shots with limited light. However, its machined aluminium casing does feel given for the price.

    All of HMD's new Nokia smartphones will be available from April 2018. The Nokia 8110 will follow in May 2018.

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    Item Reviewed: Nokia's Retro 8110 is Getting a Revival as HMD Goes high-End Rating: 5 Reviewed By: BrandIconImage
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