Nokia 301

By Enda Crowley on August 15th, 2013

The older I get, the less I care about technology. There used to be a time when I’d humour Android users with arguments about widgets and the inferiority of the iPhone. These days, when neckbeards try to engage me in smartphone wars, I merely glance at my phone and say something along the lines of, “Is that what this is? I didn’t know, it just rings.”

This is what it boils down to for me now: my work is handled in Google’s Drive and Mail; outside of that I text, tweet and check Facebook. I can’t be bothered with keeping track of which calendar or weather app the hipsters are using this week and I really just don’t need my phone to do anything else.

‘I can still text faster on this using T9 than I can on my iPhone. It’s amazing. You never forget how to do it.’

Nokia 301
$85/£70 unlocked

Because there are no good mobile phones on the market, phones in general just don’t excite me any more. If I can use it for work and it can tell me how to get home from the pub then I’m delighted.

Enter – or perhaps re-enter – the Nokia 301. The 301 is headily redolent of the first phone I ever owned, the Nokia 3310, a beautiful blue and white-coloured candy-bar brick of a phone. The 3310 defined mobile telephony for a generation and did more for my social life than alcohol.

You can almost hear the Dandy Warhols’ “Bohemian Like You” in your head as you unbox it. Remember those? And you know what: I can still text faster with T9 than I can on my iPhone. It’s amazing. You never forget how to do it.

This is an entry-level phone, but that doesn’t mean compromise. Well, I mean, it does, obviously. But what I mean is it’s still awesome. This phone is what Nokia does best. They’ve taken years of expertise building solid phones and applied it to the needs of 2013. This phone ships with Facebook, Maps, Twitter and WhatsApp pre-installed.

The camera is 3.2MP and takes some pretty good shots if you have enough light. You can download a Gmail app from the App Store. Yes, it has an App Store. The one downside I could find with this was that there was no Snake, which is shocking and, frankly, inexcusable.

This phone is not for everyone. Probably not even for most Kernel readers. But I’m sick of the snobbery that revolves around high-end smartphones. The phone I reviewed was a loan unit from Nokia, but I’m absolutely buying one of these for my briefcase. You should, too.