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      BARCELONA (AFP) - Finnish brand Nokia, a former mobile star, on Sunday launched three new Android smartphones and unveiled a revamped version of its iconic 3310 model more than a decade after it was phased out.

      Unlike the original, which was known for its sturdiness, the new Nokia 3310 will allow web browsing.

      The new version will bring back its predecessor's popular "Snake" game and distinctive ringtones, said Arto Nummela, the head of Finnish start-up HMD Global which will produce the phone under a licensing agreement with Nokia.

      "The telephone will allow you to talk for 22 hours, ten times more than the original," he said during a presentation in Barcelona on the eve of the start of the Mobile World Congress, the world's biggest mobile phone show.


      The new Nokia 3310 mobile phone, in dark blue, warm red and yellow, sits on display during a product launch event in London. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG 



      The new Nokia 3310 mobile phone, in dark blue, warm red and yellow, sits on display during a product launch event in London. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG 


      Launched in 2000, Nokia's original 3310 sold nearly 120 million units worldwide before it was discontinued in 2005, making it one of the world's best-selling mobile phones.

      Analysts said resurrecting the popular model was a clever way for HMD Global to relaunch Nokia's brand.

      "HMD launched three new smartphones and an iconic mobile. It is a way to create a halo effect around the other models by reviving talk about the Nokia brand," said Thomas Husson, a mobile analyst at Forrester.

      In addition to the new 3310, HMD presented three new smartphones, the Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6 which will sell for different prices.

      The Nokia 6 was already available in China and will now go on sale globally.

      "We think (Nokia) could take 5 percent of the global smartphone market by the end of 2019. But it needs to get big quick or it won't work," said CCS Insight's device specialist and chief of research, Ben Wood.

      Nokia was the world's top mobile maker between 1998 and 2011 but was overtaken by South Korean rival Samsung after failing to respond to the rapid rise of smartphones.

      Its telephone brand remains widely recognised, especially in developing markets.

      Now a leading telecom equipment maker, Nokia sold its entire handset business to Microsoft Corp in 2014.

      Last year HMD bought Microsoft Mobile's handset business and the right to use the Nokia brand.

      Under the agreement, Nokia will receive royalty payments from HMD for sales of every Nokia branded mobile phone or tablet.


    • Nokia’s 3310 unlikely to go on sale here despite online buzz


      BARCELONA/SINGAPORE — Online buzz for Nokia’s 3310 “dumbphone” picked up several notches on Monday morning (Feb 27) when the Finnish brand confirmed rumours that it was bringing back the classic model, known for its sturdiness and battery life.

      But don’t hold your breath if you are hoping to buy one in Singapore. It looks like the 3310 won’t be coming to our shores any time soon, according to checks with the major telcos here.

      M1 and Starhub said in response to queries from TODAY that there are no plans to sell the phone here. TODAY has reached out to Singtel with similar queries.

      There are two main reasons why the beloved 3310, phased out more than a decade ago, won’t likely reappear in Singapore.

      One, the phone maker has not made any plans to distribute the phone in Singapore, said Starhub.

      Second, Singapore plans to disable 2G services from April 1. Seeing that the 3310 runs on a 2G network, it would be “a pointless exercise” to bring it in, said a spokesperson from M1.

      But judging from the positive online reaction and from those at the ongoing Mobile World Congress (MWC), the Finnish brand’s classic phone still has strong appeal.

      The new Nokia 3310 aims to bring back everything you loved about those plastic communication bricks one used to own in the ‘90s.

      It’s sturdy; purportedly lasts a month on standby (or 22 hours of talktime); and it has the game, Snake.

      Of course, there’s a lot it also doesn’t do. First of all, it doesn’t boast a touchscreen - everything’s done through the keypad.

      It also doesn’t have Wi-Fi, which constantly sips away on the battery, so it also doesn’t offer notifications.

      It doesn’t even support apps really, aside from the ones pre-installed and available through the Opera Store.

      So why are people going nuts for this thing?


      First of all, it’s cheap. In Europe they will cost €49. Yes, you read right. That’s less than one-tenth the price of an iPhone 7 there. And while the 3310 is so shamelessly functional and plastic — and comes for colours, red, yellow, grey and blue — it does feel sturdy. You can’t pull the fascia off and replace it with new colours a la the old Nokias, but you can take the back panel off to replace the battery.

      It also feels built to last, and has some nice cheeky styling — the base of the screen seems intended to represent a smile, for example.

      Sitting above that smile is a display with 2.4-inch QVGA screen which crucially isn’t touch-sensitive - you use the buttons to interface with the device. Oh, and it’s running on Nokia’s Series 30+ software, which sadly isn’t an Android fork.

      (Hey, you wanted retro, so you’re getting retro.)


      When it comes to utility, though, the Nokia 3310 actually packs some welcome surprises.

      First of all, it supports dual SIM cards, so you can run it on two networks at the same time. There’s a headphone socket (hey, it’s worth confirming this detail in this day and age) but the phone does have Bluetooth if you want to use wireless speakers or a headset.

      There is also a microSD slot which supports cards up to 32GB, so you could use the phone as a pretty serviceable portable music player.

      While the Nokia 3310 certainly isn’t intended for anyone who is addicted to Snapchat, WhatsApp or any other number of always-on social apps, it won’t be completely useless to millennials.

      It comes with the Opera browser and supports 2G connectivity, meaning you can check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram no problem. In fact, because it uses Opera, it automatically optimises pages for image size, meaning everything should be fairly quick to load.

      It also has a 2MP rear camera with flash, meaning you can still take shots and video to be uploaded to social networks later. There are a host of built-in apps as well. There’s a flashlight, a converter, stopwatch - all the usual “must-haves” that Nokias have offered since the late ‘90s.

      Which, naturally, leads us to Snake , which if anything may be a little too advanced for fans of the monochrome original. This new version of the game moves at much more precise angles than up, down, left or right, but the same rules apply: Eat fruit, get bigger, avoid crashing into your ever-elongating body.

      There are also a load of other built-in apps that have become much more essential to our modern lives since then, such as calendar, notes, contacts. We were also amazed to see an FM radio in there, with your wired headphones acting as the aerial.


      But who is the Nokia 3310 actually for? Well, emerging markets such as certain parts of Africa for one, where mobile networks are still in the process of developing.

      There are plenty of other use-cases, including festivals and gigs where you don’t want to risk losing a premium smartphone. It’s also something to have in your glovebox, or to give to someone who doesn’t want or need a smartphone, such as a young or elderly relative.

      Then there’s the pure nostalgia factor - there are groups of people who will think it’s funny or cool to own a Nokia phone that doesn’t even have Wi-Fi. (Although we were surprised at how quickly we got back into T9-based texting again.)

      From our experience at the press showing, there were so many people who seemed to love the idea of having a phone that they didn’t have to charge for weeks on end. We’d hazard a guess that there are also those who want to be available for their loved ones, but are beginning to lament the always-on nature of modern smartphones. ADDITIONAL TEXT BY CHRISTOPHER TOH


      A version of this story first appeared in Stuff Singapore.

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