One Phone to Rule Them All: The Legacy of the Indestructible Nokia 3310

Over the years, telecommunication companies have come up with some truly inspired and iconic designs for the devices they peddle. Each one was the zenith of technological advancement in their era, becoming the hottest gadgets in the market. But which of these designs is the most iconic?

Is it the first iPhone? When Steve Jobs first presented what would become the trendsetter for all smartphones, it was a game-changer. No buttons? Touchscreen technology? It was a veritable work of art.

The Motorola flip phone? It might be an exaggeration to say that everyone wanted one of these phones in its heyday. And how neat was it that you can flick it open with a thumb or with a quick snap of your wrist?
But no. Perhaps the best contender for most iconic phone design is the Nokia 3310.

The Phone of the New Millennium

Nokia launched the 3310 in September 2000 as an upgrade from the previous 3210 models. At the time, other phones were huge, chunky, unappealing machines. They had no cameras or features other than for use in an emergency. The Nokia 3310 was a breath of fresh air for early adopters.

Not only did the device allow users to send longer text messages, it had a number of features that set it miles apart from the competition. It had a built-in calculator and stopwatch function and an improved version of the classic cell phone game “Snake.”  But its legendary status comes not from its impressive-at-the-time features, but from its durability.

The Indestructible Legend

colleagues using their smartphones

The advent of the smartphone changed the face of telecommunications, with models like the 3310 already hopelessly outdated by the time it came around. As powerful and technologically superior as smartphones are, they do have a major flaw: they’re weak. The sleek design of smartphones makes them vulnerable to damage, especially from being dropped, which means their owners regularly visit a shop that repairs cell phones.

Perhaps it’s because of this vulnerability that internet users began comparing the relative durability of the standard iPhone to the 3310. The first of such posts appeared on Reddit, in which a user compared the 3310 to “the Witch-King” from “The Lord of the Rings.” The aforementioned entity is one of the toughest creatures in the fictional universe.

Another user posted that if an iPhone were to fall on the floor, it would break. But if a 3310 were to do the same, the floor would be the one taking a hit. This post garnered more than 26,000 upvotes in a fortnight. Thus was born the legend of the indestructibility of the 3310. Numerous people over the internet have actually conducted multiple experiments testing the limit of the 3310’s invulnerability. Most, like a video of someone firing a gun at the phone only for the bullet to disintegrate on contact, are clearly farcical. Others compared the durability of smartphones and 3310s through various destructive methods.

The internet praised the 3310 for its strength in an age when phone manufacturers may have knowingly released devices that bent like cardboard. Because of the renewed interest, Nokia launched an upgraded version of the 3310 in 2017, and with a sleeker design and additional features, it could endure falls that no smartphone may survive.