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Nokia 8110 4G Hands-on Review: Would you be bananas to buy this handset?

Alex Kidman 26 February 2018 NEWS

Nokia's throwback phone for MWC 2018 is the iconic Nokia 8110 4G, but after all these years does it still have a compelling story to tell?

HMD Global, the company that now produces mobile phone handsets under the Nokia brand has a tough mission ahead of it. Its smartphones compete in the rough and tumble Android world, and it's tough to stand out, or for that matter turn a profit.

What HMD does have to sell is that Nokia name and the right to produce handsets based on classic Nokia designs. That's a plan that worked superbly well in 2017, with the reborn Nokia 3310 generating huge hype, even if we did have to wait a few months for a 3G 3310 to emerge. Here at Mobile World Congress, HMD Global is playing the same game, having announced a new take on the classic "banana phone" (or, if you prefer, "Matrix phone"), the Nokia 8110 alongside a range of new Nokia Android handsets.

I've had the chance to go hands-on with the new version of the 8110 to put it through its paces, although not to the point of a full review.

That's rather moot anyway because at this point HMD Global has no specific plans to bring the 8110 down under. True, that was said about the 3310 as well. But for now, if you're super-keen, you'd have to import one when they become available in other markets in May 2018.

 

Nokia 8110 4G review: Early upsides

  • Thin and light: An increasing number of Android handsets feature ever-expanding screen sizes, and with them, a tendency to be heavy in the hand. The 8110 is exceptionally light, weighing in at just 117g, although it feels markedly lighter than that.
  • 4G-capable: While the initial 3310 was 2G-only, Nokia has looked to the future (somewhat) with the reborn 8110, which will be 4G-capable out of the gate, including working as a 4G hotspot as required.
  • Basic apps are supplied: If you must, you can run a rudimentary web browser, or check your Twitter or Facebook status direct from the 8110.
  • Yes, it still plays Snake: Of course it still plays Snake, although it's the slightly weird "updated" colour snake that was found on the 8110.
  • It's a slider: This can only be a sign that next year, Nokia's going to rebirth flip phones with an updated Nokia 6350, right? Still, if you wanted a form factor that's effectively unique in a sea of glowing displays, the Nokia 8110 would fit the bill nicely.
  • Nuclear grade yellow: The banana yellow version of the 8110 is very, very yellow. It might just be the most yellow phone I've ever tested, if that has value to you.

Nokia 8110 4G review: Early downsides

  • Ordinary rear camera: The 8110's rear camera is a 2MP shooter, and while I didn't have a lot of time to fully test its camera chops, or indeed take photos off the device for perusal, it was clear straight away that this is a seriously ordinary camera, unless you rather like the washed-out look.
  • It has apps, but controlling them is a chore: Do you miss T9 predictive text? I certainly don't, but if you really must update your twitter from the 8110, get ready to wait and tap and wait and tap a WHOLE lot.
  • It costs how much? At 79 euro, or around $115 by conversion, the 8110 is somewhat pricey for what is still a feature phone. That's only slightly less than the Nokia 1 that we will see in Australia, and there are plenty of cheap Android competitors at that kind of price point. Yes, they're also limited phones based on their budgets, but not quite as limited as the Nokia 8110 4G.
  • No Australian launch plans: It made sense that the original 3310 remake wasn't going to be launched in Australia, because that was a 2G-only model, and we're all but out of 2G signals. But the new 8110 is 4G, a network technology with an easy decade ahead of it. Still, right now, there are no plans.

Nokia 8110 4G review: Early verdict

Here's the weird thing about the Nokia 8110, excluding the fact that it exists at all. There's clearly a market for slightly souped-up feature phones, and that's precisely what the Nokia 8110 is.

What's more, it's 4G capable and can work as a hotspot, at which point I could see myself using one from time to time, more as a data repository that can also be a phone in a pinch, rather than as my daily driver.

For those who miss the days of actual keypads on phones and want something simpler, but with a dash of style (as long as you like either yellow or black) it could likewise do very well.

For all the latest news from MWC 2018, click here.

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