It’s been a long time since I felt a true affinity to any of my phones. Yes, each phone comes with a slightly sharper screen and more intelligence (that I’m not sure I understand how to use), but when all is said and done, they are monolithic slabs of dullness. Sure, we may get the odd notch, and glass backs to make them look nicer (and break more easily), but none of them get me excited the way the older devices did when each new innovation came with a distinctive new style. Until yesterday, that is, when I felt the romantic tug of a phone.
Okay, I may be pushing the romantic bond to the phone a little, but frankly, not too much. I bought the new version of the Nokia 8110, best known as “The Matrix” phone that Neo, Morpheus, and others carried around. It was a blow-your-mind type of phone back in 1999, with the cool slider to add some flair… and so too is it a fun phone once again, replete with 4G and mobile hotspot capabilities. Sure, I’m biased: my first phone was a Nokia and I held on to the brand far longer than was healthy, convincing myself that apps would come to Windows Mobile if I waited long enough (they didn’t, of course). So I finally gave up and, along with half of America, switched to an iPhone. But it’s not just me that has the phone romance (“phromance,” perhaps?). Sitting in a beer garden in the Netherlands yesterday, my phone rang with the Nokia tune. Everyone over the age of 30 seemed to turn around to look - it’s a classic reborn.
But what of those missing apps that choked the life out of the Windows/Nokia struggle? Well, I confess that I’m cheating a little bit: I carry two phones most of the time (a work phone and personal one), so I really only need one truly smart phone. That said, I also find that I use fewer apps these days than I used to, and I don’t think I’m a unique case. Increasingly, I hear people talking about how they want to step away from the always-on, always-connected world of smartphones. People even reminisce about the basic phone life they used to lead.
Beyond that, the device does have a few apps, this is a “smart” basic phone, and we can expect the app situation to get better. Google has just invested in kaiOS, the underlying operating system used by the Nokia 8110 and other “smart basic phones.” What that means is that the connection to Google apps will improve. For example, while the Nokia has Google Assistant up and running, it’s just an app - with no current OS integration and no way for me to log on and tie the assistant to my Google world. That will change, allowing me to leverage a competent voice interface rather than the old triple tap plus tiny screen that I have right now.
But before that happens, I’m okay with the triple tap. Expect my responses to be a bit slower, but they’ll more likely have the correct words, as there’s no “intelligence” behind the typing, as opposed to when my smartphone often unsuccessfully guesses what I am trying to type. On the positive side, expect voice calls to be better, as the shape of the phone is ideal for a chat, rather than a text.
As for my old iPhone, well, that can take a break. There’s a wonderful irony to the fact that the phone that finally killed my love affair with Nokia has now been replaced (at least for now) by a retro Nokia. So call me, rather than messaging me. I’ll be happy to chat.