Nokia 3210 review: this is what the 2024 edition can do
Product test

Nokia 3210 review: this is what the 2024 edition can do

Jan Johannsen
16.6.2024
Translation: Elicia Payne

Hello nostalgia! The Nokia 3210 isn’t much of an upgrade on the original from 25 years ago. Apart from phone calls and text messages, digital detox is in order – unless you really want to beat the high score on snake.

Manufacturer HMD pitches the Nokia 3210 as the phone for slowing down. You can be reached in an emergency or reach others, but you won’t waste time on the phone. However, this applies to every so-called dumb or feature phone. The Nokia 3210 entices with Snake, an FM radio, a camera that doesn’t need a filter for retro images and basic internet access.

A modernised classic

My first thought of the Nokia 3210: «It’s amazing how much of the old remains.» But then I take a look at the original and see quite a few visual changes. It’s lighter, shorter and thinner. The 2.4-inch display now shines in many colours, and no longer just in shades of green – above it, a small slit for the speaker. On sunny days, you can just about see the screen.

HMD has modernised the navigation buttons. What remains is the field with the number keys. When I turn the 3210 over, the rear-view outline reminds me of a coffin. It comes in three colours, all of which are more colourful than back in the last millennium.

Is it just me, or does the outline remind you of a coffin?
Is it just me, or does the outline remind you of a coffin?
Source: Jan Johannsen

With a firm grip on the USB-C socket, I remove the back. Now I can insert the battery and two nano SIM cards as well as a microSD card with up to 32 gigabytes. The latter expands the internal memory, which is limited at 128 megabytes. You can’t store a lot of data on this phone. If you want to take photos or listen to your MP3 collection on the move, a memory card is the only option.

The back is removable. But there are no interchangeable cases in different colours.
The back is removable. But there are no interchangeable cases in different colours.
Source: Jan Johannsen

The battery of the 3210 has a comparatively low capacity of 1,450 mAh. Current smartphones have around 5,000 mAh. But, the Nokia lasts much longer, especially in standby mode. No surprise really, because it can’t do as much as a smartphone, so you’re not using it as much. Still, for an emergency phone it’s important that it lasts longer than a week without any problems. The manufacturer claims it has a pure talk time of just under ten hours too.

Keys and T9 instead of a touchscreen

I’m surprised how quickly I’ve got the four-way button and the two buttons on the right and left back up and running. It’s not the original navigation, but it’s close. However, anyone who’s never used a phone like this before may find it more difficult to get used to.

The menu with the pre-installed apps.
The menu with the pre-installed apps.
Source: Jan Johannsen

Especially when writing texts using T9. This is the input method where you press one of the number keys up to four times to select a letter. There were, or perhaps still are, people who can type very quickly this way. A smartphone keyboard with autocorrect and autocomplete function is faster, though.

While writing this text, I learned that T9 stands for «Text on 9 keys».
While writing this text, I learned that T9 stands for «Text on 9 keys».
Source: Jan Johannsen

SMS group instead of group chat

Among other things, HMD suggests using the Nokia 3210 as a festival phone. No need to worry about the well-being of your expensive smartphone, you’ve time for your friends and are still reachable when in doubt. But you’d have to forgo the group chat on WhatsApp, Threema or similar. Installing apps isn’t intended for the S30+ operating system used.

An SMS group is set up instead. Here, it’s important to keep things short – 123 characters is the limit. But a festival doesn’t involve long discussions, it’s about short exchanges about who’s going to which stage and when. Photos and videos won’t be available until after the return at the earliest – and nobody has to listen to voice messages either.

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Welcome to limited internet

You can’t install apps on the Nokia 3210, but you can still access the internet with it. Not via WLAN, but via 4G and the inserted SIM card. Facebook is pre-installed. Gossips would say the phone’s «suitable for the boomer target group». But HMD is targeting younger people who don’t have their own experience of the first generation of the phone.

No spontaneous online shopping with the Nokia 3210.
No spontaneous online shopping with the Nokia 3210.
Source: Jan Johannsen

Opera Mini is also installed. The browser enables mobile access to the internet – theoretically for every website. But you have to enter the URL using T9 and navigate via the directional pad. This makes it almost impossible to control a website – that’s if Opera Mini can even display it correctly on the 3210. It reminds me of the days when websites were only optimised for Internet Explorer – when the first 3210 came to market. As a result, the internet remains an emergency option and definitely won’t be used to kill time on the Nokia.

There can only be one snake

Of course, Nokia 3210 has Snake. The classic pastime has been given a new look. The snake is now yellow, stands out against the dark background and eats red apples.

Proven gameplay, upgraded graphics – and the passion still kicks in.
Proven gameplay, upgraded graphics – and the passion still kicks in.
Source: Jan Johannsen

There are eight other pre-installed games. Some reasonably well-known titles are included too, like Doodle Jump and Crossy Road. The only disadvantage of all games apart from Snake is, they’re not Snake. Plus, only five test games are free of charge. This slightly counteracts HMD’s digital detox approach for the 3210, but the risk of buying one of these games is low.

See every pixel

HDM tries to talk up the Nokia 3210’s 2-megapixel camera with «Y2K-style snapshots». But even when the sun’s shining you won’t get more than a clump of pixels and at best, mediocre colouring.

The Nokia 3210 takes photos in portrait format.
The Nokia 3210 takes photos in portrait format.
Source: Jan Johannsen
Washy colours and little detail.
Washy colours and little detail.
Source: Jan Johannsen
HDR is a foreign word to the Nokia 3210.
HDR is a foreign word to the Nokia 3210.
Source: Jan Johannsen
The Nokia 3210 keeps the night dark.
The Nokia 3210 keeps the night dark.
Source: Jan Johannsen

Even for snapshots, it’s no longer in keeping with the times, rather a reminder of the progress technology has made. No-one will be buying the Nokia 3210 for the camera, that’s for sure.

Radio and MP3 to pass the time

You won’t find any of the well-known streaming services on the Nokia 3210. Instead, you can listen to the radio. There’s an FM receiver installed. Use headphones in the 3.5 mm socket to extend the antenna and improve reception. It works wonderfully, and during a live broadcast of the European Championship you can hear every goal faster than the others can see it.

Connect headphones via cable or Bluetooth? The Nokia 3210 can do both.
Connect headphones via cable or Bluetooth? The Nokia 3210 can do both.
Source: Jan Johannsen

The biggest modernisation besides 4G is that the 3210 has Bluetooth 5.0. So you can also connect wireless headphones. It’s complicated to find in the menu, but it works. Obviously, you won’t have the antenna support for radio reception then. But you can enjoy your MP3s – the only music format that the phone can play. I found a few old tracks, and they definitely sound better through the headphones than through the 3210’s single speaker.

In a nutshell

Nostalgia alone isn’t enough

The Nokia 3210 can’t and won’t keep up with current smartphones. It focuses on the basic functions instead: phone calls and text messages. And it does this really well, thanks to 4G and a long battery life. For some, the nostalgic memories are a bonus. For others, they first have to familiarise themselves with a keypad again.

FM radio and the option of connecting headphones via Bluetooth extend the phone’s capabilities. Apart from Snake, the games aren’t a must-have for me, and I’d happily swap Facebook for a messenger app. In my opinion, HMD could’ve also saved on the camera in favour of a lower price – as with the original 3210.

In the end, the Nokia 3210 remains a feature phone with a nostalgia factor. You can get the basic functions mentioned on other devices for less money, but many haven’t been converted to USB-C yet.

Pro

  • long battery life
  • integrated FM radio
  • Snake
  • USB-C

Contra

  • lousy camera
  • internet difficult to use
  • messenger or chat app would make more sense than Facebook
Header image: Jan Johannsen

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Jan Johannsen
Content Development Editor
Jan.Johannsen@galaxus.de

As a primary school pupil, I used to sit in a friend's living room with many of my classmates to play the Super NES. Now I get my hands on the latest technology and test it for you. In recent years at Curved, Computer Bild and Netzwelt, now at Digitec and Galaxus. 


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