Why the return of Nokia 3310 and Snake means nostalgia for a generation

Perhaps it was the start of the 'I'm bored' phenomenon, almost simultaneously signalling the end-of-reading era.

 |  4-minute read |   18-05-2017
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As the iconic Nokia 3310 goes on sale tomorrow, I can't help but feel a tinge of nostalgia. We were, after all, the Nokia generation. This to us, to me, is like F.R.I.E.N.D.S announcing a reunion - and actually delivering a new season.

My first Nokia (way back in January 2000) was the 3210, more stylish I'd like to believe than the 3310, with its textured grey plastic-metallic body. I'd received it as a wedding present - yes, go on, laugh - from a cousin in Hong Kong who had asked me what I would like as a gift.

It was pretty expensive (some 12-13,000 rupees back in the day, if I remember correctly) and though this seems like small change now when you look at the budgets for phones, it was quite a large amount then. To put this figure in perspective, my monthly salary was Rs 8,000 at the time.

Also, to those who did not grow up in that era, electronics and gadgets were accepted wedding gifts from close family members, and since we already had the TV, the music system, the washing machine, the microwave et al, this was the only thing I wanted and could think of.

At 22-something, a mobile phone - hitherto only flashed around by senior relatives with cushy jobs - seemed very exciting. And as I "unboxed" it (oblivious that a term like that would actually come into being and spawn an entire lifetime of YouTube videos), I remember feeling all excited and pampered.

12_051717100114.jpgMy first Nokia (way back in January 2000) was the 3210, more stylish I'd like to believe than the 3310. Photo: Screengrab/YouTube

The Nokia 3210, unlike its predecessor, the clunky Motorola with the external antenna, was everything a young girl would want. It was petite, yet sturdy enough to survive falls, it was compact, and yet it allowed you to reach and be reached by those you loved. It was the first mass phone with the internal antenna so you could look cool without seeming like you snuck out of your home with a cordless landline phone, and it allowed you the option to change covers.

And of course, it had Snake.

In a world where people run around chasing virtual Pokemon characters, getting excited about Snake (or Pac-Man for that matter) seems almost silly. I can just imagine the millennials pitying us. But at that time, a phone with a built-in game (the 3210 had three, for the record), meant you could now have a "video game" with you all the time (no, I don't think Nintendo was born yet).

Perhaps it was the start of the "I'm bored" phenomenon, almost simultaneously signalling the end-of-reading era. Who knows? But, I was addicted to Snake, and as the snake kept eating up the little tiles (just like Pac-Man) and growing longer, you never had to stare at ceilings again in waiting rooms, or flip through old magazines. You didn't have to look up and smile or say hello. You could just immerse yourself into your little screen and your little world and disappear.

Coming back to the 3210, not only was it one of Nokia's most successful phones, it also led to the update - the 3310 - which was equally if not more successful.

The entire 3000 series (a mid-priced range called the Expression series, targeted at the youth) ensured Nokia was the leader in handsets for a long, long time. The resale was also good, and when I felt it was time to upgrade, two years later, I managed to sell it at a decent price.

I stayed loyal to Nokia for many, many years, with the 7 series, then the snazzy blue and white flip phone, and also the E and N series. Even though friends moved on to other newer brands such as Sony Ericsson and LG, I adamantly stayed true to Nokia.

I loved the brand. So much so that I skipped the BlackBerry cult and had no idea what DP meant for a long time.

I moved to a smartphone as late as 2014. Those who know me well know how crazy I went researching which brand to buy. Nothing could match up to my Nokia. I finally settled for a Sony, and then moved on to Apple.

But, even now, I can clearly recall the signature Nokia ringtone and also the starting tone, with the image of the hands coming together and the fingers touching. Nokia clearly did what it said it would: "Connecting People".

Today, our phones are smarter, more sophisticated and can do so much more, but do I long to go back to a simpler life, where two arrow buttons and one home button were all you needed to communicate?

I don't need to answer that.

Also read:First 'stories', now 'face filters': Is Instagram sneaking up on Snapchat?


Geetika Sasan Bhandari Geetika Sasan Bhandari @geetika_sb

The writer is a former deputy editor, India Today Digital.

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