Hands on: Nokia 8110 4G

The Matrix banana phone is making a comeback

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Our Early Verdict

Another nostalgic blast from the past is served up with the 8110 4G, and if you loved the slider phones of old you'll likely have a soft spot for this. If you're after an inexpensive second/emergency phone though, there are better options out there.

For

  • Nostalgic blast, now with 4G
  • Huge battery life
  • Low price

Against

  • Basic functionality
  • Smartphones aren't much more
  • Difficult shape for pocket

The new Nokia 3310 wasn't a one off. We now have the second installment in what HMD (the firm that produces Nokia branded smartphones) is calling the 'Nokia Originals' series. 

[Update: We've put the 8110 4G up against the original to show you how they differ, and HMD admits the 8110 4G nearly had a spring-loaded slider.]

Say hello to the very yellow (but also available in black) Nokia 8110 4G, which launched alongside a number of Android smartphones from the brand at MWC 2018.

It takes its name and inspiration from the classic slider which shot to stardom in the 1999 blockbuster The Matrix, although in the film the slider was modified to be spring loaded. 

Sadly there's no Hollywood makeover here, and you'll have to manually pull the keypad cover down just like we had to when the original 8110 launched in 1996.

That's not for the want of trying though. TechRadar spoke to HMD's Chief Product Officer, Juho Sarvikas who exclusively revealed that the new 8110 very nearly had a spring-loaded slider.

HMD says the new 3310 was its best selling feature phone in Europe in 2017, proving the Nokia Originals endeavor is more than a simple marketing gimmick that plays on nostalgia. 

So can lightning strike twice with this second nostalgic blast? We're not so sure.

Check out our brief video hands on with the Nokia 8110 4G below

Nokia 8110 4G release date and price

This is a feature phone, which means the Nokia 8110 price is a respectable €79 (around £70, $100, AU$120).

That is, however, more expensive than the 3310 reboot. There are a couple of reasons for this.

Firstly the design is more costly, with a distinctive banana-like curve to the handset and the sliding section.

Secondly, it packs 4G connectivity, giving the 8110 more scope for features and apps.

You will have a little bit of a wait to get your hands on one though, as the Nokia 8110 4G release date is set for May. 

The banana yellow variant is very... yellow

The banana yellow variant is very... yellow

Design and display

Nokia 8110 4G specs

OS: Smart Feature OS
Screen size: 2.4 inches
Resolution: 160×120
CPU: Qualcomm 205
RAM: 512MB
Storage: 4GB
Battery: 1,500mAh
Rear camera: 2MP

The original 8110 wasn't nicknamed the banana phone for nothing. Like its predecessor, the new Nokia 8110 4G has an obvious curvature to its body, allowing the microphone and earpiece to sit snugly against your face when taking a call.

It sits less well in the pocket though, with the chunky design and bend causing problems when trying to slide it into skinny jeans. Even more forgiving pockets don't completely solve the comfort issue. Maybe there's a reason this design didn't catch on more...

The plastic body is solid, so it should be able to stand up to a few knocks, but it's the sliding keypad cover which has stolen our heart a little. 

Sure, it's a bit of a gimmick, but there is something deeply satisfying when sliding the cover up and down. The click it makes as it docks and undocks from below the screen and the smooth sweeping motion as you run it up and down its tracks is almost hypnotic. 

A nice touch is that the cover wakes the screen when slid down, and turns it off when you return it to its closed position. 

You can still illuminate the screen with the cover up, by pressing the power key on the right side of the handset, but you won't be able to actually use the phone. 

That's because the 2.4-inch QVGA (160 x 120) display isn't touch sensitive and all your navigation keys are hidden beneath the cover. 

The screen is fine for reading text and viewing basic images and games, but you won't be enjoying works of art or movies on this phone. 

As we've already alluded to, the Nokia 8110 4G comes on black and an extremely vibrant 'banana yellow’. 

It also features a headphone jack and FM radio app, along with 4GB of storage, allowing you to listen to music with a set of headphones.

Nokia 8110 4G hands on galllery

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Camera and battery

The Nokia 8110 4G does feature a camera, but it's a basic as they get these days. 

A 2MP snapper adorns the rear of the phone along with a single LED flash, a feature the original didn't have, and there's no front facing option. 

It's really only good for the very occasional snap, and you're limited in what you can do with your pictures after taking them in terms of social sharing and sending, thanks to the basic feature set.

Where the Nokia 8110 4G will shine is battery life, and HMD claims the 1,500mAh power pack inside the handset is good for up to 25 days on standby. 

It also says you can make an 8.5 hour LTE voice call on a single charge, although that seems like an awful long time for one call. Wouldn't you run out of things to say?

Anyway, thanks to its long battery life the 8110 4G can bill itself as a festival or emergency phone, as you don't have to worry about constantly charging it (which is done via a microUSB port). 

There's a 2MP camera, with flash, on the rear

There's a 2MP camera, with flash, on the rear

Performance and interface

It'll come as no surprise that the Nokia 8110 4G isn't packed to the rafters with power. Instead you get a Qualcomm 205 chipset and just 512MB of RAM. 

That's all that's required to run the basic feature phone OS though, and the updated version of Snake that debuted on the rebooted 3310 plays just fine here as well.

The interesting part is what the addition of 4G connectivity can do for a simple handset like this. 

HMD says that it expects to have a rich app ecosystem for the 8110 4G in the coming months, although for now the only confirmed apps are Facebook, Twitter, Google Maps and Google Assistant.

The improved quality and speed of the data network means that apps can do more, providing features the new 3310 could only dream of. It's not clear what these will be, but it's something to keep and eye on if you're considering a low-cost second phone. 

You can also harness the improved data connection for your other devices, making the 8110 4G into a WiFi hotspot so you can connect your phone, tablet or laptop to it. 

The simple operating system has Facebook, Twitter and Google Maps apps

The simple operating system has Facebook, Twitter and Google Maps apps

Nokia 8110 4G vs Nokia 8110

So how does the new 8110 4G compare to the 1996 original? We put the two side by side, so you can see with your very eyes how they differ.

The banana bend and sliding keypad cover have made the jump to the new version, although the design has been refined - the new 8110 4G is slimmer, lighter and slicker.

You'll also notice the external antenna has been dropped in favor of a microUSB port and headphone jack, while round the back a 2MP camera, LED flash and speaker have been added.

8110 vs 8110 4G hands on gallery

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Early verdict

The Nokia 8110 4G is a bit of fun. It takes a playful classic and brings it up to date, but it does feel a little overpriced. 

Its rebooted 3310 sibling is cheaper, and if HMD offered the 4G version globally it could have the same potential as the 8110 in a more user friendly design. 

That said, for those looking for a second handset, or an emergency device the 8110 4G offers something different without breaking the bank. 

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.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.