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Nokia 3210 review - yes, you can play Snake

I tried out the new Nokia 3210, a lovely nostalgic alternative to today’s fancy smartphones that makes the case for turning back the clock.

Custom image for Nokia 3210 review showing the phone on the menu before selecting Snake

These days, everywhere you go, almost everyone you see has a fancy smartphone equipped with a state-of-the-art chipset, a complex array of cameras, and a glistening OLED display. With this, you might think the days of candybar phones are long gone. Well, you’d be wrong, and the reason you’d be wrong is HMD, the makers of Nokia phones. HMD recently launched a string of retro-inspired devices, including the new Nokia 3210, a fresh take on the 1999 classic.

Now, let’s be clear from the outset, this review isn’t like the standard sort of phone review you might find on Pocket Tactics. To compare this type of handset to a smartphone from 2024 and score it on the same scale as we score devices like the latest Android mid-range phones and iPhones would just be unfair. That’s not to say that the Nokia 3210 is bad, it’s just different. Putting it on the same pedestal would be like comparing a retro bicycle with a quaint little basket on the front to the latest electric-powered motorbikes. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s find out what this thing has to offer.

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Custom image for Nokia 3210 review with the phone delicately placed on a table

Price and availability

Unsurprisingly, the Nokia 3210 is not an expensive handset. However, it unfortunately isn’t available in the US at the time of writing, and it might not be coming anytime soon either. It’s out in the UK, Europe, and beyond, going for the equivalent of somewhere under $100, or £74.99 in the UK, to be precise.

When it comes to available colorways, you can pick from Y2K Gold, Scuba Blue, and Grunge Black. I got the Y2K Gold to test out, which I’m glad about, as it’s my favorite of the three. It’s a relatively matte finish but still sparkles in the sun. There’s no difference in price between the three versions, so you can opt for whichever suits you best.


Battery 1,450 mAh removable
Display 2.4-inch TFT LCD (240 x 320 pixels)
CPU Unisoc T107
Camera 2MP
Storage 128MB (with MicroSD slot)
Dimensions 122 x 52 x 13.1 mm
Colors Y2K Gold, Scuba Blue, Grunge Black


In terms of features, the Nokia 3210 has all the essentials. You’ve got calling, SMS messaging, a music player, a clock, a wireless FM radio, and internet browsing. There’s also an extras menu, where you can find a calculator, calendar, timer, and other everyday tools. Yes, kids, those were the essentials back in the day. Still, the real feature is the lack of features. What am I talking about? Well, that’s kind of the whole selling point of phones like this.

It’s harder to doom-scroll endlessly on Twitter or Reddit, though still technically possible, there’s no front camera so you can’t lose time taking endless selfies at different angles, and the lack of fleshed-out mobile games means you’re not going to accidentally spend eight hours playing something like Honkai Star Rail or Diablo Immortal on this thing. It’s a phone that is great at being one thing; a phone. I’ll be honest, the tech cynic in me absolutely loves to see it.

Custom image for Nokia 3210 review showing the lock option on a vinyl background

Still, despite the lack of online apps, you can connect to the internet and get pretty solid speeds thanks to the 3210’s 4G connectivity. With the 5G rollout taking longer than networks would like worldwide, 4G is still the most reliable option, so you can scroll through news sites without waiting ages for the page to load.

The phone also comes with Bluetooth, meaning if you happen to bump into someone using the same sort of device, you can share audio files and images like it’s 2003. Admittedly, you probably won’t bump into someone using one, but it’s nice to have the option. There’s also space for two sims, which is always nice.

Texting on the 3210 is fine, though you quickly understand why the industry moved from numeric keypads to qwerty keyboards and then quickly onto the touch screen equivalents we have today. I’m used to firing out texts at record speed and typing up anything more than a couple of sentences on this phone can quickly become a bit of a pain. That’s one of many reasons this phone is better suited as a secondary device for stepping away from socials, rather than dumping your Android and using the Nokia for everything.

Custom image for Nokia 3210 review showing the lock screen of the phone

It’s fair to say that there’s a small but growing audience for devices like this, a sort of neo-luddite movement alienated by all the social media apps, massive games, and now, more than ever, the onset of smartphone AI features. For that crowd, these features are all you could ask for, offering a means of social media escape that doesn’t completely cut you off from the world and a sweet hit of nostalgia in one small package.

Design and display

The design of the 3210 is a slightly snazzier rework of the original model, albeit one that feels a touch flimsier. Like other early Nokias, the 1999 version was famous for its durability, with many a meme dedicated to the phone’s sturdiness well before the industry established the rugged phone niche. This thing doesn’t feel quite as indestructible, but I wasn’t going to throw it down the stairs to find out.

Custom image for Nokia 3210 review showing the back of the phone

It might feel a little flimsy, but the form factor feels great in the hand. Smartphones are so big these days that I forgot how nice it is to have something that comfortably fits in the palm and almost never requires two-handed action. It’s so compact that I can make a fist without taking it out of my hand, which is more than I can say of my iPhone or Honor Magic6 Pro.

I have a bit of a quibble with the build of the 3210, though, in that once your SIM card is in, you’re going to have a tough time trying to get it out again. I had to get the pliers out and everything. Getting to the SIM card slot is a bit tricky, too, as it feels like you could accidentally destroy the thing in your hands, à la Lennie and the rabbit from the literary classic Of Mice and Men, when separating the two halves of the phone. Once you get the hang of it, it’s not so bad, but it is a bit frustrating at first.

Custom image for Nokia 3210 review showing the phone playing Blackjack

Moving on to upgrades on the original 3210, the most significant is the display. It’s in color and a fair bit longer than the 1999 version. It’s still by no means modern, it feels more like the sort of display you’d get with a 2007 Sony Ericcson phone, but it’s not the monochrome pixelated screen you might remember from even earlier in the 21st century. It’s big enough to allow Snake to occupy more screen space, and that’s all I can ask for.

In the audio department, the in-built speakers are a little tinny, but louder than you might expect (though volume control is all through software, there’s no volume rocker here). You’ve also got a 3.5mm headphone jack, and I have to say, the audio quality through headphones is better than I’d anticipated. As I write this, I’m using the 3210 to listen to the radio through an old set of cans, and if you swapped the phone out for a mid-range smartphone, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell.


Yes, the Nokia 3210 has a camera. No, it isn’t great. Honestly, what did you expect? The camera in question is a 2MP lens with an LED flash and a zoom function. I took a selfie on it, using the old-fashioned method of turning your phone around and hoping for the best, and the results look similar to my first-ever Facebook profile picture from 2008. We’re talking old-school grainy side-of-a-milk-carton selfies. Still, it’s better than nothing, and again, what did you expect? It’s no big deal, and if anything, it’s nice of HMD to pop a camera inside when the brand could have easily opted not to.

If you want an example of the camera quality, check out the photo of my fluffy boy Floyd below. As I said before, it’s pretty grainy, but it’s not exactly horrible. I was alive in the early 00s, so I’ve seen much worse.

Picture of Floyd the dog taken on a Nokia 3210 for a review of the phone

You can also record video on the Nokia 3210, though I’m not sure why you’d want to. I think this area highlights one of the big attractions of smartphones that we often take for granted these days in that you’re essentially walking around with a digital camera in your pocket. I think this lack of a solid camera is one of the reasons I’d recommend owning both a smartphone and something simple like the 3210, rather than just one or the other.

Performance and games

The hardware inside of the Nokia 3210, namely the Unisoc T107, isn’t going to blow your socks off performance-wise, but it’s all the phone needs for the day-to-day tasks, and yes, a cheeky bit of Snake. There’s a little lag on the camera app when moving from photo to video mode, but outside of that, it’s pretty nifty and is a solid improvement on the original.

Custom image for Nokia 3210 review showing Snake running

If, like me, you grew up playing old-school mobile games on your parents’ brick phones, the Nokia 3210 offers a warm glow of nostalgia when gaming. Obviously, the best game on the phone is Snake. It’s a slightly post-glow-up Snake version of the game, with new colors and sounds, but its essence is the same as the original that I spent hours of my youth playing. As I’ve found out putting this review together, it’s still all too easy to spend longer than you intended chasing your tail and growing the digital reptile until it takes up most of the screen.

However, there is a catch. Of the ten games that come pre-loaded on the device, only six are free. If you want to play Crossy Road, Football Cup, Doodle Jump, or Racing Attack, you have to part with the equivalent price of ten international SMS messages, which seemingly only gives you access for thirty days, or make the most of some free trials. Still, the rest of the games are good to go, and outside of Snake, I’m also partial to a bit of the Space Invaders clone Air Strike and its banging retro soundtrack.


Testing the battery on the Nokia 3210 is a bit of a challenge as I’ve become so used to exact percentages that the vague battery bar at the top of the screen doesn’t give me as much indication of how much battery is left and how quickly the phone charges, as I’m used to. Still, I can confidently say that the battery on this thing holds up pretty well, and after an initial charge to full, I’ve only had to reach for the charger a couple of times during a week of testing where the phone has mostly been on standby, and it juiced back up to full within a couple of hours.

The good news is that you get a charger in the box, complete with a plug, which feels like a throwback in itself in 2024. The battery doesn’t come tucked inside the phone though, you need to do that bit, but it’s good to go as soon as you pop it in. Even this set-up experience is nostalgic, and as someone perpetually living in the past, I’m all good with it.

Should you buy the Nokia 3210?

As we’ve made abundantly clear throughout this Nokia 3210 review, if you’re looking for a smartphone, this is not that. The camera isn’t good, texting on a numeric keyboard is a consistent reminder of why the industry evolved, and much of the experience of using this phone is very basic. That’s the long and short of it, and even I, a fan of the thing, couldn’t deny those facts.

However, if you want something with reliable SMS messaging and calling, access to the internet without all of the curated apps for social media platforms like Reddit and X, and love a bit of nostalgia, this phone is a cracking bit of kit for under $100. I have to say, I’m a fan, and from my point of view, it’s the ideal candidate for a phone people can still contact you on, if necessary, while taking a social media break. God knows, sometimes we all need one.

In all honesty, I think the pull of high-tech smartphones is still too overwhelming for the world to return to brick phones like the 3210 en masse. However, these devices offer a viable alternative that we perhaps shouldn’t have turned our backs on so quickly following the arrival of the original iPhone and the swathe of smartphones that arrived shortly after and ever since. A part of me, the cynical side I mentioned earlier, thought this phone was little more than a gimmick at first. I’ve since changed my tune. A mobile phone can just be a mobile phone, and that’s fine.

There you have it, our Nokia 3210 review. If you fancy checking out some other nostalgia-inducing devices, see our list of the best retro handhelds. Or, if you’re looking for something more modern, see our guides to the best Google Pixel phones, best Samsung phones, and best OnePlus phones.