Nokia Memories: Reminiscing with the Nokia 3210

Nokia 3210

With all of today’s emphasis on improved spec lists and fancy operating systems, we at thought it might be quite cool to take a week off from our smartphones and go back to a simpler time.

To do this, we decided to have a throwback all the way to the millennium, picking up a Nokia 3210 off eBay, and using it over a weekend.

The rules were simple; I could only use the 3210 for anything I’d use my current smartphone for, pretty much locking my current handset away for the weekend to see how I’d cope without it.

So, with an aura of optimism and excitement, I embarked on my mission, and here’s the result…

We couldn't wait to get our hands on the retro handset!


The moment I got my hands on the 3210 it was impossible to stop the hairs on the back of my neck standing up through sheer excitement; it’s not like I’d never used a 3210 before by any means-  in fact I was lucky enough to have one the year it came out when I was in Junior School. But the moment I picked this one up, the memories came flooding back.

One thing I definitely couldn’t recall, however, was the weight of the handset. Just lifting it from my desk seemed like a real chore compared to my iPhone, and I couldn’t imagine holding it to my ear for anything longer than a 5 minute chat!

I quickly got to grips with the system, copied over my contacts (manually, which I didn’t realise was such an effort!), and immediately began playing Snake, considering it as a suitable time to spend my working hours.

Whilst heading home, I quickly realised that this wasn’t going to be an easy week for me; a self-proclaimed music addict, having to actually listen to the sounds of chatter and general noise through my journey home on public transport was a shock to the system.

As you probably know, the Nokia 3210 doesn’t boast a standard audio jack, or nearly enough memory to hold a single song, let alone have the capabilities to actually play one. This meant that my hour long journey home from the office seem more like a 12 hour trek on a bus through boringsville, with the odd spot of entertainment generated by reading a newspaper over the shoulder of an unassuming passenger in front of me.

Snake is still one of the best mobile phone games ever if you ask us!

Luckily, I didn’t need the phone for the majority of that evening, otherwise entertaining myself with a mixture of television and a well-deserved dinner with family.


If Friday was bad, I knew the weekend wouldn’t be a walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination, especially having set up a night out on the Saturday, and sporting event on the Sunday.

I awoke on the Saturday morning with thanks to the 3210’s surprisingly loud polyphonic alarm (which is not kind to your ears by the way), and went down to the nearest newsagent to top up my SIM card.

This is a chore which I have not dealt with for at least 6-8 years, favouring a contract phone since my days in secondary school.

Having made it to the shop, I queued diligently, and received my £10 top-up voucher, which obviously had me ring Virgin Mobile’s robotically powered number and enter what seemed like a 25-digit long code (which of course I mistook on the first try!), eventually burning up around half an hour of my day door to door.

I sent the standard ‘good morning’ text to my girlfriend and then started off the task of texting all of the people who I was supposed to be joining that evening.

I never used T9 back in the day, often preferring to use the standard texting style, and boy did this take some time to figure out. Being only around 20 words long, I imagined this to be one of my easier challenges, but it ended up taking me at least 5 minutes to write each text.

I’d never known how to send a group text on a 3210 when I had one before, and I still didn’t know today, so I had to text each of my 8 friends individually. Obviously there’s no copy and paste feature on the 3210, so I couldn’t try this either!

I scraped by the rest of the day, sending texts only when they were desperately needed, and the night went without any major hitch. The only issue I found with the Nokia 3210 was that I had to rely on everyone else to capture our obligatory night-out selfies. Probably for the best…


Although I’d purposely not set the 3210’s alarm for my weekly Sunday lie-in, my slumber was crudely awakened by a loud rumbling coming from the device. Through my bleary eyes, I realised that I had foolishly put left the 3210 on vibrate mode; the  vibrations cut through my skull like a mixture of a power drill and smashed glass, making me almost jump out of bed in fear of an earthquake or some other natural catastrophe.

My third day without my iPhone passed swimmingly, as I met up with my mates to play a spot of basketball.

Upon arriving home though, I noticed that something was afoot, with the 3210’s screen being completely switched off. I turned the handset on to be greeted by a welcoming message which can’t be repeated on this blog, clearly as a joke from my friends who had taken complete advantage of the Nokia 3210’s inability to secure itself via a passcode.

The 3210 is a real retro phone nowadays

I then received message after message from my so-called ‘friends’ who had renamed themselves on the contact list as different cartoon characters, meaning I was completely unaware as to who each of them were.

Whilst I found this funny, it made me even more aware of the susceptibility of the 3210 to invasion, something which I take very seriously on my iPhone. That said, a 3210 does not house the same security-crucial features as a modern smartphone such banking apps, credit card details and personal email addresses, making this slightly less of an issue.

I successfully spent the final hours of the day playing the infamous Snake, setting a pretty phenomenal high score of 45, making me the Snake high score holder in the office to date (you might be surprised to learn that I wasn’t the only one with a Nokia 3210!).

I set my alarm for work the next day, went to bed, and looked forward to receiving my beloved iPhone back the next morning.

Was it a good experience?

For about 8, maybe 9 minutes, I thought the 3210 was an amazing phone, with Snake being the ultimate nostalgic treat. After that, though, I soon realised what I’d let myself in for.

Texting was a complete chore from start to finish on what I used to think was a great little keyboard; topping up was a scenario completely alien to me; the alarm was unfit for human ears; and finally, the novelty of a retro phone simply doesn’t last.

The only plus sides I could muster from my time with the 3210 was that the battery was still near enough full after the three days, I had set an office record on Snake, and that if I ever needed to break through a window, I could use the 3210 as a brick-equivalent.

To be quite honest, even my iPhone 4s (which I was quick to discredit whenever I had the chance) now feels like some piece of super-fast future technology in comparison to the 3210, and now I realise that I wouldn’t swap it for the world…

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