Nokia's 'Matrix' Phone Returns, There's Just One Problem
Nobody wants to talk on the phone anymore.
This weekend at Mobile World Congress, the annual technology conference in Barcelona, phone brand Nokia marked another return to its glory days with a release of the 8110, the curved phone that became iconic when Keanu Reeves pulled it out of a FedEx envelope in The Matrix in 1999.
Nokia last year made waves at the same conference when it announced it would re-release the 3310, the “brick phone” that was ubiquitous twenty years ago, and not just because it included the Snake game and T9 texting.
The Finnish company HMD Global now makes Nokia phones via a decade-long licensing deal announced in May 2016. Before that, Microsoft had the rights. The new 8110 sells for around $100.
It comes in two colors: yellow and black. There’s a headphone jack and micro USB port for charging. The two-mega pixel camera won’t do much if you’re used to an iPhone camera.
The newly designed 8110 now has 4G service and a bigger screen. You can import you Gmail contacts. It comes with Twitter and Facebook. “Snake preloaded,” notes the marketing language on the Nokia website. But there’s just one problem.
The banana phone, called that for for its curve and yellow color, won’t likely get much use, though. Nostalgia can’t change the fact that nobody wants to talk on the phone. Even moms prefer to text back in 2018. Presumably, one might call someone with the 8110 to let them know they were calling them on a Nokia 8110, but that’s about it. And texting with T9? Nobody wants to return to a T9 lifestyle.
“The buttons are really tiny and hard to use,” says technology reviewer Jake Kastrenakes in a video for [The Verge]z(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26aMc-bAsa4). He praised the phone’s nostalgia factor in his review (as did most other reviews) —- but then complained about how it works as exactly like ‘90s mobile phone, encapsulating the problem with nostalgia in the first place.
“Shout out 1999,” commented The Fader.
“Most Americans love texting and would rather send a text than make a call,” said Informate Mobile Intelligence CEO Will Hodgman in 2015, whose company tracked smartphone use in 12 countries. “While, in many Asia Pacific and Latin American countries, the data reveals a strong preference for chat apps like Whatsapp Messenger and Facebook Messenger.”
When the phone came out in September 1996, there were early criticisms that remain relevant, now. In February 1998, blogger Mr. Brown reminded readers that the 8110 was “impossible to put into your back pocket unless your right or left butt is shaped like a football.”
The new Nokia 8110 comes out in May. If want the original, check eBay.