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Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Nokia revives the classic 3210 for 4G

Button phones aren’t all that common, but Nokia is reviving an oldie with newer insides, as well as a few more set for release in Australia.

With the 3G network closing very soon even after a late extension by Telstra, there’s now a rush for folks with older phones to move onto something new. If that’s you, there may not be much of a choice.

While smartphones with a big screen make up most of the choice out there, be it flagship, budget, or phones made for the mid-range, anyone who doesn’t want or need the big screen experience might be keen to look at something a little more classic, namely a phone with buttons.

Often called a “featurephone” or even a “dumbphone”, these devices still have one or two of the smarts we might be used to today, but lack the full screen web experience and assortment of apps found on the modern smartphone.

And for some, that’s A-OK. They might even be looking for one to depart from the smartphone life, making their way back to something classic, back for when a phone was mostly a phone, and less a computer.

We’ve seen a few releases of devices like these in the past couple of months, particularly as mobile makers work to make the 3G shutdown easier for some, and Nokia is getting back in on the action with its own releases, too.

Nokia, of course, has a lot of history in this area, with the brand leading the charge for phones long before smartphones became a thing. Its latest take heading to Australia capitalises on that, reviving a classic design from 1999 and celebrating its 25th birthday this year.

Nobody uses the 25 year-old Nokia 3210 these days — and it’s a 2G phone, so there’s no way you could in Australia — but there may be a chance to use something just like it, thanks to Nokia’s latest take on the handset.

The Nokia 3210 produced by HMD Global (which makes phones under the Nokia name) takes the classic 3210 design and updates it with some colour, as well as some new features.

There’s a 2.4 inch colour screen, a 2 megapixel camera, USB Type C charge port, 3.5mm headset jack, and support for Bluetooth and 4G, making it compatible with today, even if it’s not necessarily a phone you’d use to browse the web. It is primarily a phone, and it looks like one, too. There aren’t many apps (but Snake is included), the camera isn’t a major part (though it is a part), and it works on today’s networks, plus it won’t break the bank.

In Australia, the Nokia 3210 will cost $129 outright, available in blue, yellowy-gold (“Y2K Gold”), and black, and it won’t be alone.

HMD has a few more budget-focused Nokia phones made in similar styles along the way, including the compact $99 Nokia 225 and $79 Nokia 215, both of which have a 2.4 inch screen and a difference a camera (0.3 megapixel in the Nokia 225 or no camera in the Nokia 215), as well as a similar model with a slightly bigger screen and a 2 megapixel camera in the $109 Nokia 235.

“The Nokia 3210, a cultural icon, is back at the pinnacle of global dumbphone boom as consumers look to balance their screen time usage with a digital detox,” said Lars Silberbauer, Chief Marketing Officer for HMD.

Overall, we’re not expecting Nokia’s 215, 225, or 235 phones to be amazing — they’re essentially button-based phones made to fill a need, namely getting a phone that jumps on the 4G network — but the fresh take on the Nokia 3210 could be a little fun and different.

Silberbauer’s comments on consumers looking for a digital detox aren’t out of line with some of what’s happening out there; in the past few years, we’ve seen more readers looking for a way to switch off and disconnect. Their numbers are small, but they do exist, and it’s precisely this group that HMD appears to be focusing on with the revamp of the 3210.

The 2024 edition of the Nokia 3210.

It’s not the first time HMD and Nokia have focused on this market, either, with occasional reinventions like this one popping up over the past few years alongside the company’s smartphone efforts. There was the remake of the classic 8110 Banana-phone as well as the Nokia 2660 flip phone, and a few others along the way.

For folks keen on trying that disconnect, the inexpensive outright price of the $129 Nokia 3210 might be just the trick to getting them to try it. They won’t get TikTok or X or even a lot of web browsing from this phone, but they might get some time back, and that might be exactly what they’re looking for.

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