Retro phones: the new trend?

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Retro phones take off apparently

The South China Morning Post wrote an article about what it perceived as a rise in usage of feature or retro phones. The article cited Lëkki as an example of such handsets becoming trendy, rather like retro re-issues of Nike Air Jordans or the adidas Originals range.
In reality:

  • This isn’t a new trend, UK site, Retro Fones have been going since the mid-noughties, and Lëkki has been around since 2009 and 2010 respectively. There are have been eBay stores going even longer specialising in supporting Nokia’s 6310i for well over a decade – since retro phones nature of these models of handset worked so well for business travellers. The 6310i and related models of retro phones (6110, 6150, 6210i and 6310) had a reputation for reliability, being hard to damage and connectivity. Add to that early support for Bluetooth, iRDA and a 400+ hour battery life. Which is why Mercedes Benz included these retro phones in its S-class range until 2006. 
  • It isn’t as big as the article would make one believe, this is a small craft business at best, it would make vinyl records and print photography look like major corporate concerns in comparison
  • It does highlight a number of weak points in smartphones. The designs don’t cater for self-expression, they don’t provide a ‘switch-off’ button from their electronic lives, they aren’t perceived as being robust, their battery lives are poor, they aren’t a convenient size for everyone and their call quality leaves much to be desired
  • Network technology is changing which will ‘brick’ these old cellphones once and for all. A move away from 2G networks to give spectrum to 3 and 4G technologies in developed markets effectively kills off these phones

Probably one of the best options to get the benefits of a feature phone is Nokia’s 515, which looks like a traditional candy bar phone and supports 3.5G networks. Supplies are apparently thinning out, but you can still get one new for around 100-115GBP on eBay. More related content here

More information

Dig out that Nokia 3310: What’s old is new again as vintage mobile phones take off | South China Morning Post (paywall)
Retro Fones

Need a status update? Get an antiquated Nokia handset | FT