As the world waits with bated breath for the latest Apple iPhone and Google phone announcements, phone maker Nokia did something very unusual. In late February, Nokia announced a re-release of the classic 3310, an unabashedly retro move at a time when the world is obsessed with the latest and greatest smartphone technology.
The Nokia 3310 is considered a feature phone (sometimes jokingly called a “dumb phone”), which places it a few rungs down the technology ladder from a smartphone. The original 3310 came out in 2000 and earned a reputation as a durable phone stocked with fun games, good text messaging features, and a solid battery life. The modern version sports a slimmer design, a color screen, and a 2-megapixel camera, but it won’t run all your fancy smartphone apps.
The 3310 will not initially be available in the U.S. when it launches, but Nokia isn’t ruling out bringing it to America. A side effect of the announcement is that people around the globe are thinking about feature phones again. It’s a neglected corner of the phone market, but there are reasons why feature phones have not completely disappeared.
Is a feature phone right for you? Let’s explore why you might actually want one:
1. Long battery life
Smartphones are amazing. They can take crystal-clear pictures, surf the internet, and direct us to our destinations while giving us traffic updates. All that brainy computing power inside a small device comes with a caveat: you’re going to need to charge up the battery constantly. Feature phones don’t suffer from the demands of big screens and power-hungry apps, so you can usually expect to go several days (or longer) between charges.
You’ll be the envy of your backpacking companions when it’s your fourth day of roughing it out in the wilderness and your phone can still make a call. A long battery life is also nice for forgetful people who don’t want to deal with plugging a smartphone in every night.
2. They’re cheap
You can buy a no-contract unlocked iPhone 7 for $650. You can easily buy a no-contract feature phone for $50 (or even less if you shop around). While some feature phones have rudimentary web browsers and other internet features, you’re not going to want to use them to get online thanks to the small screens and often awkward keyboards. That also means you don’t have to fret about dropping a lot of money each month on a big data plan.