The Nokia 3310 is many things, but it is not the phone for summer festivals
I brought a Nokia 3310 to Glastonbury expecting it to be the ultimate festival burner phone, and it failed to live up to expectations.
The simplicity of the 3310 has been its selling point and Achilles heel: these days the standard is high for an everyday phone. At 50 ($64) a pop, it’s been criticised for being too expensive and not offering enough for the everyday user.
That said, on paper it’s perfect for a festival: a month of battery life, a camera with a flash and the iconic Snake on tap. Its no surprise they sold out in less than two hours on release day.
After all the hype, I wanted to test the phone in the most uncompromising setting Glastonbury Festival. Famed for brilliant line-ups and biblical mud, how would the classic Nokia fare compared to the iPhones and Androids of the world?
My expectations were high, and the experience wasn’t without hiccups.
Distraction value of Snake
I mindlessly played Snake for the three-hour journey the festival and found myself returning to it any time there was a gap in my day.
It’s addictive and so simple, and I am now wondering if I’ll ever stop seeing it in my dreams.
There’s something about tapping back into the muscle memory of predictive text that’s just so satisfying. No more “ducking idiot” typos or auto-correct mishaps.
Actually pressing buttons rather than blindly poking festival fingers at an iPhone touchscreen is far less labour-intensive.
It’s small, light, and actually fits in your pocket
After you’ve done the apoplectic walk to the campsite with tents, bottles, and sleeping bags, nobody wants to carry extra weight around a sprawling festival ground. One of the best things about the Nokia 3310 is that it actually fits in your pocket.
As iPhones have become larger and larger, I’d almost forgotten it was possible to fit your phone on your person without five minutes of cramming it into a pocket or a bumbag at the very least.
Making new friends
Festivals are famous for the good vibes anyway, but it goes up a level if you have a nostalgia-inducing phone.
Everyone wants to know how Snake is, what the new functions of the phone are, and how you managed to get your hands on one.
As a conversation starter, the Nokia 3310 was ace and brought a real sense of community whenever I pulled it out.
The camera is surprisingly good! With a shortcut to get to it straight from the home screen, it’s an easy click when you’re in the middle of a busy crowd to take a snap.
It’s a brick robust and pretty waterproof
Cracked iPhones have become commonplace and there’s no fear of that with the Nokia. It’s like a brick throw it anywhere, it will survive.
After being stuck in the Glastonbury mud and a morning of rainfall while carrying the phone around in my pocket, the phone continued to work fine.
The chances of dropping it when your hands are full are minimal
Hear me out I know it’s gross but if you’re really struggling for extra hands it’s sturdy enough to bite down and hold in your mouth.
Festival toilets are notoriously disgusting and more than one person I know has fallen afoul (literally) after stashing their phones in their back pocket and losing it down one of the hideous long drops. It makes your life a lot easier while trying to keep your body away from the riddled toilet seat.
The battery lasts a month? Not so much.
The pull of a month’s battery was one of the main things that drew me to the Nokia ahead of Glasto.
Charging your phone inside festivals is either expensive or annoying. Portable chargers are heavy, particularly with limited bag space and nine times out of 10 you’re having to share the power-pack with someone who’s forgotten theirs.
But the write-ups turned out to be pretty inaccurate.
After 48 hours at the festival, the battery on the Nokia was completely drained. I’d have forgiven it if I’d been calling, photographing, or texting incessantly, but I hadn’t and was disappointed by the lack of staying power.
The storage is non-existent
If you decide to go back to the dark ages with a Nokia, you’re going to need to do the same camera-wise and bring a separate device.
It can only hold about 10 photos or two short videos and I found myself frustrated by the constantly reappearing “No space left” alert.
No selfie camera
In the world of Snapchat and Instagram, the selfie has become a given at any event. The Nokia 3310 doesn’t have a front camera so your options are old school.
Turn it around and use the back camera or get a mirror shot, both of which are difficult when surrounded by a crowd of thousands.
Despite the downsides, the Nokia 3310 was an excellent addition to the festival experience. The social experience would’ve been enough it’s truly amazing how many people flocked to me and asked to play with the iconic model.
It brings back good memories of simpler times, before the world of apps and souped up cameras and bulky, gratuitous smartphones.
That said, if you’re thinking about bringing one to a festival, bring your real phone too. The Nokia works as a central mode of communication and when you’re in transit there’s nothing like Snake to whittle the time away.
But the world we now live in means we use maps, WhatsApp and taking and uploading photos as a social and logistical crutch, and for that you need a phone with a bit more brains.
We wanted to love it anyway, but we’ve definitely outgrown the Nokia 3310.