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Want to feel old? The Nokia 3310 turns 20 today

The legacy lives on.

Published onSeptember 1, 2020

Remember the Nokia 3310? Legend has it the phone has stopped bullets, survived 1,000 foot drops, and spawned more than its fair share of memes. Launched on September 1, 2000, the Nokia 3310 turns 20 today. The smartphone industry has come a long way since then, but it is hard to ignore the impact that the Finnish icon left.

Here are some well known, and not so well known facts about the Nokia 3310.

The Nokia 3310 was designed in Denmark

Despite being a Finnish icon, the Nokia 3310 was actually designed in Denmark by Nokia’s Copenhagen team. Production, however, took place in both Finland and Hungary.

The phone spawned a few variants like the 3330 that added the ability to check out WAP-based sites, animated screensavers, and an enhanced phonebook that could store a whopping 100 entries directly on the phone.

Instant messaging, SMS style

A photo of a text messaging app

We might take threaded messaging for granted today, but the Nokia 3310 popularized the idea. It worked exactly like you’d imagine and let you continue SMS conversations in a single thread over scrolling through a cluttered inbox.

In fact, the Nokia 3310 took a step further and let you send messages up to 459 characters long. This was nearly three times the size of a standard message. Of course, the message got delivered through three separate texts but other Nokia 3310 users would pick up on it as a single thread. Very nifty.

AOL Chat for the mobile era

Smartphones and apps were still in the distant future, but the Nokia 3310 brought with it yet another forward-looking feature. The Nokia FriendsTalk service would let 3310 users log on to chat rooms and create groups with friends for live texting. The service ran on top of SMS technology allowing it work on most carriers, but even supported WAP in the US.

We’ve come a long way since then and you might be interested in checking out some more modern messaging services.

Snake II: Legendary gaming

Nokia 800 Tough review playing Snake
Nokia 800 Tough review playing Snake

The phone shipped with four different games pre-loaded. These included Pairs II, Space Impact, Bantumi, and Snake II. The latter was a refreshed take on an 80s classic, Blockade, and became an instant success.

The beloved game was so popular that in 2012, the Museum of Modern Art in New York featured it as part of an exhibit. Today, you can find clones of Snake II on the Play Store, but they don’t quite replicate the feeling of clicking down on the Nokia 3310’s tiny little buttons.

Xpress-On with infinite customization

Nokia 3310 colors
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

These days, your only option to customize your phone is to use a wallpaper, case, or skin. The Nokia 3310, however, took this to a whole new level. While Xpress-On covers debuted with the Nokia 5110 back in 1998, the 3310 really pushed it to the next level. Thousands of covers were released by various companies to capitalize on the success of the phone.

Between the swappable front and back, this was one phone that truly let it make it your own.

National Emoji of Finland

When Finland decided to choose its national emojis, the choices were obvious. Back in 2015, the tiny nation with the highest density of metal bands, saunas, and a history of producing one of the most iconic smartphone brands chose a rocker, a sauna, and the Nokia 3310 as its first emojis. The emoji was rightfully called ‘Unbreakable’ to channel the spirit of how tough and resilient the phone was.

Since then, the legacy of the Nokia 3310 has continued to live on in reimagined modern remakes like the one released by HMD Global in 2017. That said, none of those phones truly captured the spirit of the time the way that the original 3310 did.

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