Nokia 8110 Matrix phone points the way back to the future for smartphones

A banana-yellow retro phone may be one of the most forward-looking devices on display at MWC because it puts design front and centre again.

In 1996 the original Nokia 8110 slider “banana” phone was released; three years later it hit the big time in the hand Keanu Reeves in The Matrix. Fast forward 22 years and the Nokia 8110 has been reloaded.

The phone packs 4G but runs KaiOS rather than Android (which means that while you’ll get Snake you won’t get that many other apps on that 2.4-inch screen). It’s a fun device and at €79, or about $100,

That is the kind of nostalgia HMD Global, the company now operating the Nokia phone brand, wants to rekindle. It succeeded with last year’s Nokia 3310. Now it’s time for a slightly more sophisticated reboot.

It’s got 4G, for one. Facebook will also be available through an app store at some point and there will be some form of access to Google’s Assistant, Maps and search, as well as email, texts, Twitter and even Snake.

HMD suggests the 8110 is a great “weekend phone” that gives people the “chance to switch off, have fun and relax in the knowledge that all your smartphone essentials are there when you need them”.

Nobody buys an Android phone because of vendors’ tweaks to Google’s software. That’s no longer a competitive differentiator for smartphones: you either buy Android or iOS. The smartphone industry has been running out of ideas for some time, which is exactly why a nostalgia play like the Nokia 8110 4G is working.

Cameras are where the competition is now: nobody wants to waste their time taking bad photos. That’s why HMD bringing back the much-loved Pro Camera mode in handsets with Zeiss optics is going to be welcomed by fans.

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