Two days ago, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, HMD Global announced that phone maker Nokia would be introducing a revival phone. The 8110 4G, an improved version of the original 8110, would be released shortly and retail for the measly price of €79. Local pricing hasn’t been announced as yet. But the release, along with a short video of the phone’s functions, quickly made worldwide news.
The 8110 “Banana Phone”, as it was coined, was a gently curved mobile that was designed to ergonomically fit with the face. It achieved instant fame with the launch of The Matrix (1999), the sci-fi dystopian future on artificial intelligence and the machine world that looks more likely every day. If you don’t remember it, above is a clip from when Neo (Keanu Reeves) gets the phone.
The actual 8110 differed slightly from the Matrix depiction of the mobile. It didn’t have the spring-loaded mechanism. That was incorporated into its successor, the 7110. And yes, as a retro nerd, I do wish Nokia had brought that back as well. Check out all the video of the new 8110 4G below.
HMD Global cleverly employed the ‘Reloaded’ tagline, a play on the second Matrix movie that was released in 2003. Over Nokia’s past, there have been many variations of the 8110. The 8801, 8810, 8800 are editions that have set Nokia records for everything from pricing to style. The 8110 buys into the brand’s significant mobile past and reminds us that hey, old can be made new again.
Looking Back at Today
The 8110 4G isn’t a smart phone. It’s what’s called a feature phone, one that can perform a number of great functions apart from the basics. The phone will run on KaiOS, the system based on the Firefox OS for phones and it has some HTML5 apps for users. Facebook, Twitter and Google Maps are just a few. WhatsApp is still absent but hopefully not for long. Meanwhile web apps allow you to run various services. The phone also has a FM radio service among other feature phone classics.
Why is it so good? For no reason apart from the fact that every consumer is a little tired of rectangular brick phones that look pretty much the same. Sure, some are shinier than others, and some are more curvy. But while we’re waiting for the flexible phone, a keypad phone is a nice break from the norm. It may be nostalgic, but the 8110 4G is a fresh take on that.
It also goes to demonstrate Nokia’s steadying clout and confidence as a smartphone maker that it is ready to dig back into its archives to craft a product that looks back on its past and explore its future simultaneously. The Nokia 8 Sirocco (again, a name that’s revived from its past) is its leading flagship for the year and looks set to be a commercial success. But more importantly, it’s just incredibly cool to carry the 8110. And anyone who’s a Matrix fan will surely be looking to get their hands on one.