Iconic Nokia 3210 Returns Amid Dumb-Phone Renaissance

For a return to simpler times, a simpler phone might be in order. This nostalgic Nokia device could be just the thing.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
3 min read
The new Nokia 3210 in turquoise, gold and black

It's back, baby!


The year was 1999, and when we weren't busy panicking about the millennium bug or still mourning Geri Halliwell's departure from the Spice Girls, we were stealing our parents' phones to try for a new high score on Snake. That's how I remember the heyday of the Nokia 3210, an iconic device that made a comeback this week with a fresh lick of paint and updated technology to make it 2024-ready.

Finnish phone-maker HMD has released the Nokia 3210 as a new generation of kids seek out dumb phones that allow them to stay connected away from doomscrolling. The company is a market leader in the feature phone category, and this year alone has already announced a Barbie flip phone in collaboration with Mattel, and the Heineken-branded Boring phone. The company is tapping into a mix of nostalgia and concern from young people that they spend too much time attached to their screens to produce a variety of dumb devices that should suit a wide range of people.

This time around, the 3210 packs a full-color screen (unheard of in the '90s) and 4G. The phone also comes with a 2-megapixel camera and a flashlight. Snake is there too, and the battery offers 9.5 hours of call time and "days" of standby time. Best of all, it's available now for £75 (around $95 or AU$140).

"The Nokia 3210, a cultural icon, is back at the pinnacle of the global dumb phone boom as consumers look to balance their screen time usage with a digital detox," said Lars Silberbauer, CMO of HMD, in a statement.

For those of us who remember the Nokia 3210 from the first time around (it's me, hi!), you'll know that this was the iPhone of its day. It was sleek, you could change the fascias and it had an internal antenna meaning you could carry it more comfortably in your pocket without being constantly poked in the ribs/stomach/butt. What more could you want from a mobile phone? I was sadly too young to own one myself, but my parents definitely had one. The only competition to the 3210's cultural dominance was its successor, the Nokia 3310. Which of the two phones was the more desirable really depends on your perspective.

The 3310 was the first iconic Nokia that HMD relaunched when the company first brought back Nokia phones in 2017. But the 3210 is getting its moment in the spotlight right now as 2024 marks the 25th anniversary of when the phone was first released. The new model pays homage to the original with its slightly tapered keypad and distinctive contrasting bezel around the screen and top row of buttons.

The 3210 used to be famous for its interchangeable fascias that allowed you to customize the look of your phone in a way that's only possible today with the addition of phone cases. In contrast, the rereleased model will be available in three colors -- scuba blue, grunge black and Y2K gold. The scuba blue is an especially nice touch, as it reminds me of the vivid shade of turquoise that my friends and I were obsessed with as kids back in 1999.

A dumb phone won't necessarily be for everyone -- as CNET's Jessica Fiero discovered recently when she replaced her iPhone with a Nokia flip phone -- but they could make great first phones for the kids of today. With their longer-lasting batteries, they also make great backup options for festivals and other events where you need to stay connected, but want to focus on living in the moment.