Ah, the dumbphone. It’s been a decade since we said goodbye to you, although I still miss you sometimes. We didn’t call them “dumbphones” then, we called them “featurephones” because they actually were smarter than the phones that came before. I’m talking about the early 2000s Nokia and Motorola handsets, the ones that let you use ringtones and maybe had a game or two, and a couple of speed dials. This was cutting edge stuff back then.

One of the most popular phones of the day was a variant of this, the Nokia 3310 series:

There were versions for all the major carriers back then (AT&T, Cingular, Verizon, Sprint.) They were cheap, usually under $100 on contract. They lasted about 6 days on a charge and if the battery wore out you could buy another one. The case was even replaceable if you scuffed it up. You couldn’t break this phone, period. I know, I had one, and I treated it terribly. I only got rid of it because I wanted a phone with Bluetooth.

I’ll tell you, a phone you can drop from a 2-story building and that gets nearly a week on a charge sounds pretty good to me. Sure, no internet and very basic texting, but as a phone it was positively aces.

The story this week is that the 3310 is coming back. The company that has the right to make Nokia phones announced it will be bringing back the 3310, or something like it. No details are available yet, and it’s not clear that the phone will even make it to the US. But we can dream.

Of course, a phone like that would be utterly impractical today, right? Maybe not. If there were a sub-$100 phone as tough as the 3310, with long battery life, it might appeal to travelers. After all, when you travel you don’t want to risk losing your expensive smartphone.

I’m not sure that this phone “needs to come back” because it never really left. Since you can’t break this phone, it’s still available on auction sites with a new battery, and you can pay under $50. The phone probably works as well as it ever did, as long as you get a version that works with today’s cell networks.

I don’t know, I just might want to get one of these, whether “new” or old, because, it really does work great and I miss the idea that I can travel all week without charging it. That, and the snake game. Come on, who didn’t waste a couple hours on the snake game?

I know you did, you don’t have to admit it. I did too.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.