Gadgets

Living with a Nokia 8810 in 2018

You might have owned one these banana phones from the 90s - in fact, it was your very first mobile phone. Its reincarnated version is back. And what was it like to use the retro Nokia phone in 2018?
 

Photo: HMD

The Nokia 8110 - also known as the banana phone from The Matrix - is back with a 4G upgrade. What this means is it can act as a 4G hotspot for your smartphone, let you browse Facebook and help you access your email. All while lasting a solid two days without charging (or so it claims).

I tried it out for five days, allowing myself to use my iPhone only to browse WhatsApp. WhatsApp will soon be available on the KaiOS store (Nokia’s equivalent to the iOS App Store and Google Play Store) so I’m not really cheating. Or at least, that's what I tell myself.

 

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Batteries no longer need a full 8-hour charge now so as soon as I saw that the bar was full, I got a SIM card from the nearest 7-eleven and pop it right in. I was on my way to meeting a Coffee Meets Bagel date and really wanted to listen to a podcast so as to not overthink things. Or maybe revisit his Coffee Meets Bagel just to remember who he is again. But I couldn't because neither one of those apps are on this phone.

I settled for playing snake. 12-year-old me would have been appalled by my scores but 12-year-old me was also advised not to meet men on the Internet. So what did she know. Snake has gotten an upgrade - you can move diagonally - and the phone has a colour screen so even the game is coloured (240 pixels by 320 pixels, in case you're interested in the specifics).

Later that night, I wanted to snap a picture of my eyelashes to thank a friend for recommending this great mascara. It didn’t smudge all day (it’s the Dior Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Waterproof 91. You’re welcome). Instinctively, I thought to take a selfie, only to realise that the phone had no front-facing camera.

What the phone does have is a 2 MP camera with LED flash. For a better idea on what that translates to visually, here’s what you can expect:

Speaking of pictures and phone cameras, you’re probably wondering about Instagram. Yes, you can open the browser tab and scroll through your feed and stories. Bear in mind though that there are no photo filter apps available just yet. This means no VSCO or Snapseed. The only grainy “vintage” photo you get on your 2.45-inch display is the one that your phone snaps.

At the moment, there are a few games available on the app store but a map app is slated to be available in a couple of weeks. No word yet on whether emojis will be available. Being so dependent on touchscreen technology, it was hard to remember to slide open the curved protective cover for the keypad. Tapping on the screen of a non-touchscreen phone did feel a little silly. The keypad took some getting used to (were they always this small and close to each other? That escaped me in the 90s and 00s). Posting a comment on Facebook took more than double the time I normally would’ve. But it is okay, I press on. 

 

Old school functions like the sound of the alarm have been refined so that it’s not so jarring on the ears. It used to sound like the devil's nails scratching the chalkboard. It's much more mellow now. You can also get an antenna to use the radio app on the phone. To transfer photos, use bluetooth, email or the cable. That's not so bad. 

So what’s the point of the phone? It being a neat novelty item aside, it's great as a backup phone when travelling and hiking. You never know when that might come in handy when travelling solo. Or in case you want to unwind and unplug

The Nokia 4G 8810 is currently available in bright yellow or black colour, and is fully compatible with modern-day 4G networks. You can get it from Lazada, M1 shops, and major consumer electronic stores at $119.

 

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