Blog Post

Sometimes, a phone is just a phone

n3110.jpgPut this in the “what took them so long to figure this out” category. Nokia is introducing a new phone, Nokia 3109 Classic which is a phone first, and everything later. “We recognize that a sizeable number of people just want a mobile phone to stay in touch on their own terms,” said John Barry, Director, Mobile Phones, Nokia.

No Shit. After using N-Series phones and my E-Series devices, I have been yearning for a simple phone, that can store all my contacts, lasts three days on standby and is able to take input from my calendar. Some days it good to have just the voice – good clean crisp voice and of course good battery life.

16 Responses to “Sometimes, a phone is just a phone”

  1. It’s just a low-end Nokia, very similar to many many before it. If you wanted a simple phone, why did you buy into the N- or E- series? These are very clearly separated from the bulk of the Nokia stable by their model numbers and their prices, which indicate that they are special high-functionality premium phones.
    If you bought high-end when you really wanted low-end, you only have yourself to blame ;)

  2. While I agree with the basic sentiment, I think Motorola’s MotoFone is a much more successful example of a phone that is just a phone. In this case, the thing can do eight hours of talk time and lasts 12 days on standby and it’s gorgeous.

    And while I stand by the general premise, I’m finding myself craving an increasingly capable device all the time. My fiancee has a BlackBerry Pearl, and it’s terrible for web browsing. At the same time, it’s convinced me I want a phone that’s good at web browsing, e-mail and texting. I don’t think I’ll take the iPhone plunge yet, but I could get talked very easily into a Samsung u740, for example.

    What’s relevant here is that the need set is changing, and it’s roiling the handset carriers. Everyone needs a phone that can send or receive calls. But a smaller set needs access to a host of other functions. And unless a company is willing to eliminate those features, they’re left with horrible convergence devices that no one wants to use. It’s a dilemma.

  3. David Oliver

    Here in China (and Hong Kong) Nokia, and most of the phone makers, offer a a full range from high end down to very basic models that cost around US$50. Sounds like they only offer their higher end models in the U.S.

    Voice is still the main revenue driver for most mobile operators as far as I knew …

  4. I know what you mean. I look at the N95 which is a great phone except for the fact that it has a really lousy battery life and I find myself wondering if it is worth it having all the cool features and have to then charge the device evern few hours to a day if you use them …

  5. Michael Whitney

    Based on the comments here it seems that they should build a nikeid like site.

    So nokia has a base model. Then you choose a color, and then you choose features like camera, software, bluetooth, wifi, minisd, reg sd, etc.

    I would love to buy a phone with just the stuff I want but nothing else.

    Personally I just want a phone that has an excellent camera. Thats it really great camera and phone nothing else.

  6. Great post made me smile reading it this morning – but do you really think that you could manage with just a simple device. If the answer is yes – then mobile is failing in the convergence space.
    A mobile phone is supposed to be ripe with applications that people can’t do without. But perhaps they can?

  7. The press release doesn’t seem to say anything new. Leaving the new N series models, Nokia has been steadliy releasing models with similar nice-to-have features like bluetooth, music player etc. The only currently popular feature missing is camera and that doesn’t make it a back-to-basics phone.

  8. “No shit”? Did someone wake up in a bad mood today?

    I carry a xv6700 which I love but would love to be able to take a SIM card out and pop it into a tiny devise that is only a phone. Would be nice for biking or running (not that I ever do that, but you get the point)

    Of course, Verizon doesn’t do that.

  9. once again, it shows the amount of research made here.

    Just a few weeks ago, Nokia announced that that it sold 200 Million 1100 handset. (e.g.

    This is the real no frill phone, the 3109 has “expandable microSD memory, […], organizer, calendar, notes, and email. […] music player.”

    So, go to and check again, thanks

  10. Erick

    Wasn’t this the same market the Razr was going after? Everyone griped the Razr had so many limitations, but in reality, it’s a compact, very pocketable flip phone with decent battery life. Way to spin this into a new marketing campaign, besides, doesn’t everyone over 40 have a b&w 5190 or one of it’s cousins that came free with their mobile accounts?

  11. John Thacker

    able to take input from my calendar

    Ah, see I don’t care about that. I view “take input from a calendar” as just another useless feature. Other people may want a simple phone, but by that they mean that calendar information is useless to them but a camera is important.

    And that’s the problem for companies making simple devices. Everyone only uses and wants a few functions, but sometimes those functions aren’t the same for everyone. The same thing is true with TV– pretty much everyone only watches about 10 to 20 channels, max, regularly, but it’s different channels for everyone. Some people can’t live without ESPN, others Food Network.

  12. Consider this one to be the “Anti-iPhone”… :D This phone really has three marketing segments, IMHO:

    1) Corporate locations where cameras and card readers might raise eyebrows.
    2) Persons whom hate swiss-army-knife-type gadgets.
    3) “Developing” markets (where price is an object, and features can be poorly supported via infrastructure).

    As for me (and others of the same ilk), I prefer the multi-function approach only because multiple gadgets can be very burdensome. Furthermore, battery issues seem to have been consigned mostly to oblivion in the last few years.

    All that being said, kudos to Nokia. I’ve certainly heard many persons complain about wanting “just a phone”. This is an intelligent response, which should yield high margins for the company (not exactly an R&D sink, this phone)…

  13. After carrying both a regular phone and a PDA around I’ve often thought –

    Why doesn’t someone make a PDA that has a detachable phone? That way during the week you have a powerful, do-it-all, PDA and on the weekends you just detach the ultra-sleek phone and off you go.

    Anybody with skills is free to steal my idea as long as I get the first one.