Back to basics – Nokia 3110 Classic

I’ve gone from a Samsung SGH-X820 to a Nokia E65 in the space of a year and before finally buying a Nokia 3110 Classic.

The Samsung by far offered the best picture, sound and video quality, but the worst battery life. As I SMS a lot and have primarily used Nokia phones, the predictive text input was also annoying in that the space was located differently to that of Nokia phones, drastically slowing down my text input rate. While the multimedia features of the phone are a cut above that which comparable Nokia phones have to offer, I found myself using it less as a media player and more as a phone / SMS device, which at the end of the day, meant that I had to deal with a battery that gave up at the end of each day, which if I ever forgot to charge it overnight or was travelling, was a disaster (though I did get a spare battery and external charger with the phone, which helps things a bit).

The Nokia E65, which I bought after the X820, is Morris Minor that’s donned a Ferrari outfit. It looks delicious, but when you begin to use it, you realise that it’s horrendously underpowered and over-featured. Admittedly, the Symbian operating system it runs is extremely capable and within a week of getting the phone I had installed a number of free programmes that got me the latest RSS feeds, allowed me to connect to Skype, Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and SIP through WiFi, got me daily weather updates, my Gmail account and even Reuters news. I even installed Opera Mini on it. Over a WiFi connection, using it to connect to these services was a breeze.

But here’s the rub. The phone, being a 3G device, constantly switched between the GPRS and 3G / UMTS network as I travelled around, almost invariably resulting in dropped calls or disrupted data flows. The final straw came when I was in Kandalama Hotel recently for a few days and EVERY single time I tried to make a call, the phone threw up a connection error message. Sick of trying numbers repeatedly, switching the 3G network off helped things considerably, which of course meant that most of the data services on the phone, including VOIP through Fring, were rendered unusable.

The E65 is also quite slow and frequently crashed when I tried to do things in rapid succession (one crash that was particular annoying and recurrent was when a call could not connect and I hit the End Call button, resulting in a total freeze of the phone). While I got it to work / sync with iSync and Address Book on my Mac using plugins for both from Novamedia, I never really used the high-end 3G functionality on the phone and never got around to getting Dialog to configuring its built in Realplayer to watch mobile TV. Also not entirely sure I would have enjoyed TV on it had I set it up, given that the E65 does not come standard with stereo headphones.

In the end, it was the performance, or significant lack thereof, that made me tire of the E65 and last week go in for a Nokia 3110 Classic, a new and basic mobile phone from Nokia that plays nice with my Mac, sports Bluetooth, a radio, stereo headphones, a media player and a wonderful, large keypad that is an absolute joy to type on. Using Nokia’s own operating system, it’s as fast and reliable as I remember and trust Nokia’s to be. No 3G, but using GPRS EDGE, connects to services like Facebook remarkably fast – which is really all I need when on the move since I always have my Mac with me. Design wise (and I’m a sucker for good design aesthetics in anything I buy) the 3310 Classic is more robust and even better looking than the significantly more expensive the E65.

The clear, if expensive, lesson for me – the most feature laden phone isn’t always the best for my needs. Looking forward to using the 3110 Classic in my work with Ken Banks and the development of FrontlineSMS to support peacebuilding and peace processes.

18 thoughts on “Back to basics – Nokia 3110 Classic

  1. Hi,

    thanks for your review of the Nokia 3110 Classic. I am thinking about buying one, but II haven’t found a reliable source that confirms it is possible to use it with iSync (Address Book and iCal).

    Can you confirm it works out of the box? Or are you using 3rd party software such as Nova Media?


  2. Hi Sanjana,

    Thanks for the great review! I’m currently looking for a new’ish Nokia (something one can still find in a store…) that’s confirmed to be compatible with FrontlineSMS. Did the 3110 Classic work out for you? Did you use a Nokia DKE-2 data cable?

    And, beyond just the 3110, do you have any other suggestions for compatible Nokia+cable combinations that are newer than the “official” tested recommendations on the FrontlineSMS site?


  3. Hi Sanjana,

    How did you get GPRS enabled from Dialog? Did you have to visit an Arcade?

    Call center people don’t have this model listed!

    If you know the steps, please mail.

    Thanks for the great review. It’s great feeling that I made a good selection.


  4. Hi Chris,

    I haven’t tested the 3110 with FrontlineSMS. I’m waiting for the new avatar of the programme and have ended my testing of the present, Windows XP based version. My earlier Nokia, the E65, worked with a Nokia data cable. I haven’t tested cables other than Nokia – sorry.


  5. Hi Benjamin,

    Perhaps you didn’t read my post carefully enough, where I’ve already answered your question. To reiterate, the 3310 works perfectly with Address Book with Novamedia’s plugins, which cost a few euros.

    iSync with iCal didn’t work for me with the E65 and with the 3110. It worked once on the E65 but refused to sync afterwards.


  6. Thanks, I was able to get it to work without the Novamedia Plugins even.

    Only notes do not sync, what a pity. Maybe I will get an iPhone just for note syncing.

    Good luck with that humanitarian shiznit btw!

  7. Hi Sanjana,

    Thanks for the review. Just wondering how much the 3110 cost. I made the mistake of purchasing Sony E’s W810i through the small mobile phone kades in Liberty Plaza, and am thinking of replacing it with a newish Nokia.

  8. Machang,

    When I got it the phone was SLR 19,200. I’ve heard that a lot of others had bought the phone based on this review (!!) and frankly, after the first Nokia I used, this is the best mobile I’ve bought. And as I discovered recently, the phone displays Sinhala characters perfectly, so it’s actually possible to go through the mobile version of a UNICODE Sinhala site like Vikalpa on the phone, which is neat.

    I’ve also set up, through Gmail, my personal and work email accounts on the phone, which over GPRS work beautifully – no need of a Blackberry to get and respond to urgent emails on the go!



  9. Hi Sanjana,

    Wow, didn’t know the 3110 could browse sinhala sites.

    Does it have Sinhala unicode built in which means it it was predesigned for the Sri Lanka market?

    It should then have Sinhala as a language option so the menus can be in Sinhala and you can also type SMS in Sinhala? Does it have Tamil as well?

    Sorry for all the questions, but as far as I am aware Nokia doesn’t support the installation of Sinhala or Tamil unicode fonts into any phone. This I would assume is the solution for someone who wants language options, but Nokia instead provides phones that are factory fitted and designed for the Sri Lanka market.

    I think its a bit anti free markets, and a competitor could score big time if they allowed the installation of fonts into their phones, in my opinion.

    I think this because local language uses for mobiles is growing rapidly, and I bet in all countries around the world, and enough reason for someone to buy a phone with local language support.

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