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HMD Global Plans To Bring Back Nokia 3310 Cellphone

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Now the story of a surprising comeback.

(SOUNDBITE OF RINGTONE)

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

That beautiful sound is the ring tone of the trusty Nokia 3310.

SHAPIRO: The 3310 was once one of the most ubiquitous cell phones. It's the definition of no frills, chunky, small, with a screen just an inch and a half across above a number keypad.

CORNISH: Nokia sold more than 126 million of the little bricks before discontinuing production in 2005, as smartphones were starting to take off.

SHAPIRO: Now the Nokia 3310 is back. Last weekend, a Finnish company called HMD Global announced that it would be relaunching the phone.

CORNISH: Yahoo Finance tech critic David Pogue says the 3310 has not been updated for the times.

DAVID POGUE: You can't install apps on it. You can't use GPS on it. The camera is terrible. It has no alphabet keyboards or the inability to type words in text messages in an efficient way. (Laughter) I'm not sure even your tween would want it.

SHAPIRO: But it can still do the basics, send texts, set an alarm, even make phone calls.

POGUE: It has a really long battery life. So 22 hours of talking and a month of standby. So it's literally the phone that you can toss in your glove compartment or your kitchen drawer and just use it when you need it.

SHAPIRO: Also very important - it can play "Snake" in color.

CORNISH: Tech critic David Pogue also says the phone can help people in developing countries.

POGUE: This phone is intended for the farmer in Kenya who needs to wire money back to his family in the village. For a lot of these folks, having a color screen and a camera would actually be an upgrade.

SHAPIRO: And that's what HMD Global, the phone's newest maker, is counting on.

CORNISH: That and a little nostalgia.

POGUE: It knows what it wants to be. It has a personality. It has a target audience. And it has a purpose in life.

SHAPIRO: And, really, can a phone ask for any more?

CORNISH: There's no word on whether the phone will be sold in American stores yet. But it can be purchased online later this year.

(SOUNDBITE OF FRANCSICO TARREGA SONG, "GRAN VALS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Anjuli Sastry (she/her) is a producer on It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders and a 2021 Nieman Journalism Foundation Visiting Fellow. During her Nieman fellowship in spring 2021, Sastry created, hosted and produced the audio and video series Where We Come From. The series tells the stories of immigrant communities of color through a personal and historical lens.