Nokia 8110 4G was so nearly a true spring-loaded Matrix phone

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When the Nokia 8110 4G launched at MWC 2018, some people expressed surprise that it didn't have the spring-released front cover the phone sported in its iconic starring role in The Matrix.

However, this was actually a feature added by the filmmakers to make the handset look more visually exciting, and the original phone had just a simple slider.

Still, given that Nokia has been alluding to the 8110's appearance in the film, it was  disappointing to many that the rebooted model didn't stay true to the design of the movie version – but it turns out that it very nearly did.

The original Nokia 8110 device

The original Nokia 8110 device

Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer for HMD Global (the brand that's making phones under the Nokia name), told TechRadar that there was a plan to create a spring-released 8110, but it would have ruined the design.

"When we started the engineering program, it was very clear for design and engineering that we would do a spring [release]. What we ended up discovering was the width of the design would be almost two centimetres more because of the mechanism.

"Then we [thought] 'what if we don't have the spring?', and we would just optimize and modernize the form factor to be a very compact, beautiful design.

"So we had both [designs] in parallel, and what we decided is the way you can operate the 8110 with a single hand – without the spring – and the benefit that brings on the dimensions and how much more beautiful the design was, we ended up going with that one."

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Old and new: the two Nokia 8110 phones side by side


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While some Nokia fans will be disappointed that HMD Global didn't take the chance to give the original 8110 design a Matrix makeover, a spring-release is a mechanical part that might prove susceptible to breaking, and Sarvikas pointed out that there aren't as many places that can service a broken handset that there were back in the day.

Keeping a heritage

Others we spoke to within HMD, such as Pekka Rantala, Chief Marketing Officer and Jon French, Vice President of West Europe for HMD Global, also pointed out that the business wanted to keep some of the heritage of the Nokia Originals line, to really remind consumers what the brand used to be about, as well as making sure the cost stayed competitive in this new 'smart featurephone' space.

"With the original 8110, I happened to have the privilege to launch this, in 1997, in Austria and Switzerland, and it didn't have any spring," said Rantala. "We wanted to stay true to the original Nokia 8110, exactly as it was designed.

“What you do find is that it's an awful lot of fun opening and closing [the 8110] on a desk or a table and we didn’t want to lose that," said French. 

"A lot of work has gone into that satisfying click, similar to opening or closing the door of something like an Audi or BMW."

The good news is that Rantala told us HMD Global is still open to more Nokia reboots in the future – so if you're someone who's hankering for another rebooted handset from the 1990s and it's not been done yet, you still might get your wish.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2018 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.