Review

Retro Review: Nokia 6310i (circa 2002)

In my time writing for Neowin I've had a lot of hands-on time with the latest and greatest in technology. I've tried and tested the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, I've explored new smartphones such as the Sony Xperia S and Galaxy Nexus, and even enjoyed experiencing some of the latest games like Mass Effect 3. But today I'm not doing any of those things, no... in fact today I'm looking at something from the past.

Over the past decade Nokia has been one of the most iconic and most successful phone manufacturers, going from the days of the most successful phone handset ever made, the Nokia 1100, to the new direction focusing on Windows Phones such as their new Nokia Lumia 900. For one week I decided to go back to Nokia's good old days and use one of their earliest business-focused GSM devices: the Nokia 6310i. Here is my retro review.

Specifications

  Nokia 6310i
Product Codes 6310i
GSM Bands 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G/4G Bands None
Display 1.5-inch monochrome LCD at 96 x 60
Blue backlight
Processor No idea (even Nokia themselves don't know)
Graphics Probably none
RAM Not much
Storage Not much
Connectivity Bluetooth
Infrared
Camera None
Ports Proprietary charging port
Proprietary serial data port
Car connectivity kit port
Sensors None
Battery Li-Po 1,100 mAh removable
Launch OS No idea
Launch Date 2002
Size & Weight 129 x 47 x 17-21 mm
111 g
Price Discontinued

As you can see from the specifications table above, the Nokia 6310i is truly a fantastic phone for business with all the features that the modern-day businessperson needs, such as infrared to send contacts between other Nokia devices. Unfortunately when I contacted Nokia PR about what is inside this device, they couldn't find exactly what was inside (!), but rest assured that it is an SMS powerhouse.

You'll also be glad to see that there is a 1,100 mAh user removable battery, which should be able to keep the phone running throughout a nuclear apocalypse on a single charge.

Design

The original box for the Nokia 6310i (and yes, I managed to obtain the original box) says that the Nokia 6310i has a "timeless design" with "advanced technology" and I would have to completely agree with Nokia here. Simply put, the design of Nokia 6310i puts current generation devices like the iPhone 4S to shame, forgoing any sort of metal and glass for stunning reinforced plastic that really sets it apart from the competition.

The Nokia 6310i in its wondrous glory

While modern smartphones generally have the entire display taking up the entire front area of the device, the Nokia 6310i has a fantastic set of hardware buttons that make the using the phone much, much easier than any sort of horrible 2002 stylus-loving resistive "touchscreen". The clicking noise the buttons produce is nothing short of orgasmic, delivering chills up and down my spine whenever I send a text or play Nokia Snake II.

Not only do the buttons deliver amazing feedback that you don't get with boring capacitive-touch buttons on current-gen devices, they are spaced appropriately and are capable of withstanding the repeated pressing of toughened fingers. Except the "1" button, for some reason that one button takes more force to get it to work than the others on my review model.

Pure sexiness

The left hand side of the phone has a volume rocker, which in typical Nokia fashion is very hard to push; don't worry though, this is a feature that stops you from accidentally changing the volume of the device. The top has an equally hard to push power button (again, it stops you from turning the device off) and the timeless infrared port. The bottom has both the charging port and the serial data connection point so you can add contacts via Windows XP.

The back of the device sees simple Nokia branding and pretty much the rest is taken up by the removable battery, with the one exception being the antenna connection port for in-car kits. The port looks like someone has forgotten to attach a camera there, but in fact no camera is included with the device, not that one would be particularly useful with the monochrome display.

Almost as thin as a Droid Razr!

The colors used on the device are simply beautiful: black ("Jet Black") for the most part with some silver and gold highlights that give the 6310i a premium look. If you don't like black, you can also get it in the wonderful "Mistral Beige" and "Lightning Silver". Unfortunately the model I got given had some scratches and marks to the paintwork, but these are just signature scars from surviving a great many drops from considerable heights; after all, it's an old Nokia and they are pretty much indestructible.

The final great thing about the phone is how comfortable it is to hold. It seems to be just the right size with perfectly sculpted contours to the design, and thankfully the thickness of 17 to 21 mm means that you'll always feel like you have something in your pocket.

Display

The Nokia 6310i packs a 1.5-inch monochrome LCD at 96 x 60 "pixels" with a blue/white backlight. These aren't your regular pixels with a red, blue and green subpixel though, this LCD display is only capable of two colors: black and white. Unfortunately with this particular display there is no middle ground between black and white (hence no greys), so pixels can only either be on or off in a similar way to alarm clocks and microwaves.

Not to worry though because the 6310i doesn't support viewing (or taking) images, and website support is very limited so there is no real need for a color display. Although don't expect crisp text because this is no "retina" display: individual pixels are definitely noticeable, and if you're patient enough you can probably count all 5,760 of them. In comparison, any 720p smartphone display has 921,600 pixels, or around 160x more; not to mention each pixel supporting 16.7 million colors as opposed to a measly two.

A crisp display with beautiful contrast

Considering the screen here is just slightly bigger than an Australian 50 cent coin, it's incredibly frustrating to use. Text messages often don't fit inside the area of the display, requiring me to scroll down, often several times, to read the entire message. Menus often take up several pages of screen space, meaning that it feels like you are constantly scrolling all the time, something that I'm not used to with large displays of modern smartphones.

Luckily the display is quite good outdoors because it is an old LCD display that doesn't need to display color. There is quite good contrast between the on and off pixels, giving reasonably good black levels considering the age of the technology. The display also has a backlight which, well, works.

Software

Generally the software on the Nokia 6310i does exactly what it is supposed to do. I had no problems making calls and sending texts for the most part, and there are some pretty cool features included with the phone such as a phonebook that can store several hundred contacts and options to set speed dials.

So many menus

Using the keyboard to enter text is enhanced by predictive text which can be reasonably fast depending on how good you are remembering where the letters are on the numpad. Although, after you send a text you are taken back to text entry area which includes all the text you just sent, which is pretty stupid and can be confusing. There are also a lot of menus throughout the UI; a surprisingly large amount including some menus that only have one possible option to select.

For the business user there are some applications such as a calendar, to-do list and a calculator. Strangely the calculator is limited to a 10-digit readout, meaning that you can't perform a calculation such as 4589256314 * 2147568910 because it doesn't round the 19 digit result to standard notation. There is also no support for trigonometric or logarithmic calculations, limiting the use of the calculator to just basic functions such as adding and multiplying.

The calendar on the Nokia 6310i is fit for any businessperson

There is a voice recording application, although it's horrible and should never be used.

Finally there is support for sending emails on the device, although I couldn't seem to find a way to do this because the process just to send one message is very long, complicated and probably wouldn't have worked. I also couldn't find any option to check my emails, but it was probably hidden away somewhere in the endless amount of menus.

Performance

Unfortunately I have absolutely no idea what powers this device processor-wise, and neither did Nokia when I sent them an email regarding the matter. Not to worry though, because the Nokia 6310i performs well in most tasks.

By saying the 6310i performs well in most tasks is not really saying much because the device can't do much. There is no lag opening up the menu, and there is no lag inputting text for a text message; generally the interface is very smooth to use, although there is no animation so this is not really a magical feat.

Snake is no problem for the 6310i

Two of the most processor intensive tasks you can do on the 6310i is use the calculator and use basic Java applications and games. The most intensive thing I could think to make the calculator do was a square root of a 10-digit number, and it seemed to have no problem performing this. Then again, my microwave is probably powerful enough to perform a square root calculation so it's hardly something to be proud of.

The phone had no problems rendering the three included Java-based games, although they are all monochrome 2D games at 96 x 60 so again, any home appliance is probably equally as capable of doing this as the Nokia 6310i. You can also use Java applications on the device, however after you try out World Clock and Converter, the two included ones which take over 10 seconds to load, you will probably be put off from adding any more.

Trying to browse Neowin? Turns out the page is too large

Lastly, the web browser needs to be mentioned. The good thing is that it is included on the phone. The bad thing is that it only works properly if you can find websites that have no images and haven't been updated since roughly 1999. I surprisingly managed to load the Google homepage on the device (although it took damn forever), but when I went to actually search for something it came up with a "web page too large" error. The same error occurs for pretty much every other website on the current-day internet.

Although, there are several variations of the "too large" error message, so it was mildly entertaining for a few minutes trying to see what all of them looked like.

Camera

There isn't one. Oh well.

Media Playback

If you're thinking that this device can play back MP3 "true-tones" then think again! If you think it can play polyphonic ringtones also think again, because the 6310i only supports monophonic audio tones! Yay!

What's great is the Nokia 6310i comes with a full 35 monophonic ringtones to choose from, include favorites such as the Nokia Tune, Auld Lang Syne, [The] Entertainer and my favorite "Long Scale". Even better, you can add your own MIDI tones provided you either have the proprietary Nokia serial cable or some sort of infrared transmitting device attached to your computer. I have neither, so I was stuck with the default 35.

What wonderful ringtones to choose from!

The speaker included on the device isn't particularly loud, although if you happen to be in a busy shopping center and you can faintly here what appears to be a $1.50 piezoelectric buzzer going off nearby, it's probably your Nokia 6310i. If you're worried about volumes just turn on the vibrate mode as well, which is easily powerful enough to dislodge fecal matter from your bowels while it's in your pocket.

After changing your pants and answering the call, prepare to listen intently to understand what the caller is saying thanks to a shockingly awful in-call speaker. For some reason it makes everyone sound like they are on the toilet while calling, although the microphone is apparently clear enough for the receiver to understand perfectly. 

Also, don't expect any sort of image or video playback because the phone can't even receive a simple MMS, let alone display it in more than two colors.

Battery Life

In true Nokia featurephone fashion, the battery in the 6310i seems to last forever. At 1,100 mAh it is smaller than most modern-day smartphones, but in the entire time I have had the phone, which is almost a week, I have not had to charge it or even get the charger out of the box it came in.

Almost infinite battery life

In fact the battery life is so good that currently I'm sitting on 4 out of 7 bars remaining after a good week of using the phone as my daily driver, making calls and texts and playing the occasional included 2D Java game. The box for the device says it has a standby time of 408 hours (17 days), and for once this could actually prove truthful although I simply didn't have enough time to test it.

If you happen to be going on a camping trip and you have to choose whether you take your Lumia 800 or 6310i, choose the 6310i because you won't have to scramble for a power point each night to charge it. In fact given the battery life I'm experiencing you may need to charge it less often than an Amazon Kindle.

Conclusion

There are several awesome things about the Nokia 6310i. For one, the design is awesome, comfortable and solid enough that if you dropped a brick on the device it will only scratch the paintwork. Another great thing is the battery life, which as I mentioned before would survive well into any sort of apocalyptic event no matter how many critical phone calls you make and 2D games you play. The monophonic Nokia Tune ringtone is also quite nice to a nice retro jingle to hum along to.

Which would you choose? Personally I'd go for the Nokia

However there are some pretty horrible things about the device too. Nokia included way too many menus in the user interface for some reason, and the screen is probably (maybe) a bit small. There is also the issue of the terrible, terrible in-call speaker, the completely useless web browser and the incredibly complicated email set-up process.

That said I would recommend picking up a 6310i if you need amazing battery life, and I imagine they are reasonably priced considering the age.


Got something old that you want us to retro review here at Neowin? Send me an email and we'll see if we can organize something

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My first mobile phone was a Motorola m301 (on the Mercury one2one network) - a real classic from about 8 years before this one!

I actually loved the 6210. It was Awesome for bussines and allowed to add several details into one contact. Amazing stuff by then.
Oh and those Operator Custom Logos

The cellphone industry has came along way and grew fast. In 2005 I was using one of these Nokia's but it also had an antenna. Then I had a Motorola that looked like the N-Gage. Then I had the Razr. Back in 2007 I bought the Samsung Blackjack and my buddy spent $800 for the iPhone and 2 year contract when it first came out.

Reminds me of my old Optus Siemens mobile for $99 - black and white screen, ok voice calls but damn did it have the most awesome predictatext ever - I swear 99% of the R&D spent on the device went into it given how good it was. As much as I love the smart phones these days I do wish for at times less features and those remaining features working perfectly than having tonnes of features with lots of hiccups.

This was also my moms first cell phone. For what ever reason it ended up in a drawer in my basement (Well I'm renting the house from her so I guess that's why). So I took the phone out a few months ago and was playing with it yes it still turned on. Then forgot about it 2 weeks. later I hear this beeping sound every hour or so. I ignore it for a few days and finally decided to track the beeping down. Turns out, it was the phone I was playing with 2 weeks before. it had a message on the screen saying "low battery". They don't make them like they use to!

Reverend Spam said,
*Sigh*.... Its april fools again.... I really hate what websites/businesses do with april fools. Annoys the hell out of me.

It was posted yesterday. March 31.

DiamondFootprint said,
Best phone of all time was and always will be Sony Ericsson K800i. Still have one in my drawer for emergencies. Best phone ever made.

You forgot the "IMO" thingy.

Nokia back in the days ruled! I've had numerous Nokia phones: 1610 (the brick), 8810, 8850, 8210, 6230, 6230i

All had anazing battery life and to be honest... I'll even take the 6230i on holidays and festivals nowadays just not to charge THAT often (plus I don't need Internet and cameras there)... I'll use a netbook/iPad for that.

Loved this! Never had this model but, ahh nostalgia.. I loved my 3310, I replaced it with a 3510 (not because it didn't work, it did, still works I believe).. and when that one died I got another 3510. Still have that one in a drawer somewhere.

Ah, I remember my first mobile phones that were both Mitsubishi Trium - Mars and m320... I'm most likely a bit younger than Tim, though

I used this bad boy for a little while, preferred the 6610, that was a hell of a phone that one.

Oh god, that was such a nice phone for it's day.

I wanna see that Droid Razr in 10 years. For sure that nokia would look the same and still working in 10 years, probably for the next 100 years.

Man i loved the battery life of these old phones.

I would play snake for hours on end and not a single bar was used up!

I simply look at the time on my galaxy s2 and suddenly i ve lost 5% of the battery (ok im exaggerating a bit but you get the point)

I said this in another post regarding smart phones, i think they are fast enough, what really needs to be a key focus is better battery life.
Both iphone 4 and galaxy s2 just drain the battery, i found myself charging both phones daily.

Im not sure if it is because I am also Australian, but I was literally crying with laughter! Brilliant review, I love it! =D

One of my friend had 3 handset of Nokia 6310i make. He said that he never had a battery drain despite of heavy use. I had a Nokia 3530, a good phone in 2003 with Colour display, Java Games and Polyphonic Ringtones. Then I had a N72, again a phone with good battery, 2 MP Camera and Music Player.

I have an android Phone now, but I miss all the fun and good battery life with this. Secondly, the OS updates drain too much of battery and every time you need extra space on device.

I have to say, of the early generation of Nokia phones, the 6310i was by far my favourite. In my time I've owned the following Nokia devices: 3210, 3310, 6210, 8310, 6310i, 6230i, N73 and N82. The N series phones were on the Symbian OS so they counted as later generation Nokias. But, by far the best of the rest I found were the 6230i (Early Symbian generation) 6310i (Mainly for it's battery life! Something like 17 days standby!) and the 8210 (It was soooo small! The smallest Nokia phone I can remember!) Ah... the good old days! Cool review Tim

You should review the 5110. I think everybody at some point owned a 5110. I remember having it and i never had any credit on it, i just played Snake on it all the time.

Also to this day, my first phone was the 5110 and i still use the same phone number... obviously not the same phone though haha.

pft you want retro then you want my old Nokia 252 still in as good a condition as it was bought in 1999 shoot it don't even do txts LOL

was on a Telecom New Zealand Prepay plan on their old now defunct 025 analog network

I think the writer should ditch his smartphone (guess that fugly motorola droid) for this Nokia permanently if he really believes this "Nokia 6310i puts current generation devices like the iPhone 4S to shame".

You may or may not like iOS/Apple however iPhone has a truly unique, simple and elegant "timeless" design (i'm not talking about specs or anything).

yodat said,
I think the writer should ditch his smartphone (guess that fugly motorola droid) for this Nokia permanently if he really believes this "Nokia 6310i puts current generation devices like the iPhone 4S to shame".

You may or may not like iOS/Apple however iPhone has a truly unique, simple and elegant "timeless" design (i'm not talking about specs or anything).

The article is full of sarcasm...why so serious?

yodat said,
I think the writer should ditch his smartphone (guess that fugly motorola droid) for this Nokia permanently if he really believes this "Nokia 6310i puts current generation devices like the iPhone 4S to shame".

You may or may not like iOS/Apple however iPhone has a truly unique, simple and elegant "timeless" design (i'm not talking about specs or anything).

There is something called humour. Look it up

yodat said,
I think the writer should ditch his smartphone (guess that fugly motorola droid) for this Nokia permanently if he really believes this "Nokia 6310i puts current generation devices like the iPhone 4S to shame".

You may or may not like iOS/Apple however iPhone has a truly unique, simple and elegant "timeless" design (i'm not talking about specs or anything).

Haha, wow.

yodat said,
I think the writer should ditch his smartphone (guess that fugly motorola droid) for this Nokia permanently if he really believes this "Nokia 6310i puts current generation devices like the iPhone 4S to shame".

You may or may not like iOS/Apple however iPhone has a truly unique, simple and elegant "timeless" design (i'm not talking about specs or anything).

Dear gawd. There's one in every crowd it seems.

yodat said,
I think the writer should ditch his smartphone (guess that fugly motorola droid) for this Nokia permanently if he really believes this "Nokia 6310i puts current generation devices like the iPhone 4S to shame".

You may or may not like iOS/Apple however iPhone has a truly unique, simple and elegant "timeless" design (i'm not talking about specs or anything).

This article went right over your head....

yodat said,
I think the writer should ditch his smartphone (guess that fugly motorola droid) for this Nokia permanently if he really believes this "Nokia 6310i puts current generation devices like the iPhone 4S to shame".

You may or may not like iOS/Apple however iPhone has a truly unique, simple and elegant "timeless" design (i'm not talking about specs or anything).


Your Apple shaped heart just got hurt?

yodat said,

You may or may not like iOS/Apple however iPhone has a truly unique, simple and elegant "timeless" design (i'm not talking about specs or anything).

"truly unique" Oh really??? We will just forget that Apple stole the design for the iphone off LG/Prada.

yodat said,
I think the writer should ditch his smartphone (guess that fugly motorola droid) for this Nokia permanently if he really believes this "Nokia 6310i puts current generation devices like the iPhone 4S to shame".

You may or may not like iOS/Apple however iPhone has a truly unique, simple and elegant "timeless" design (i'm not talking about specs or anything).

It seems as though this article may be lost on some people?

2002, I think I was using the Nokia 2510 or something close to that. worked wonders till I dropped it 2 yrs later

MMMM... Gotta love that screen resolution.

THIS WAS A TIME, WHEN IT WAS ABOUT MAKING PHONE CALLS, NOT PLAYING ANGRY BIRDS!!

Wombatt said,
MMMM... Gotta love that screen resolution.

THIS WAS A TIME, WHEN IT WAS ABOUT MAKING PHONE CALLS, NOT PLAYING ANGRY BIRDS!!

nah it was about makign phone calles and playing snake and uploading custom operator logos

Hilarious
Sure takes me back to 1997 when I got my first Nokia.
Don't remember the model, but I do remember (and very much miss) the infinite battery life feature (and just while typing this, my iPhone dropped one bar)

Don't forget it also doubles up as a DEADLY WEAPON. It'll probably still work after you've cracked someone's skull open with it, too.

Kushan said,
Don't forget it also doubles up as a DEADLY WEAPON. It'll probably still work after you've cracked someone's skull open with it, too.

Haha!

Sorry but the Nokia 3310 is the best selling phone in western country's. The 1100 got a lot of success from the eastern markets, it did sell well in the west but it didn't reach the heights of the 3310 with the youth. Why would you get a 1100 over a RAZR V3, v220, Sony ericsson K300 or the Samsung E250 which were really the most popular high end phones during the time the 1100 was out.

The RAZR V3 is in the top 5 sexiest phone's ever, in terms of technological capability and the rival phones at the time. Just to see a phone so slim, shiny yet powerful with a massive colour screen.

Edited by Gaffney, Mar 30 2012, 1:40pm :

Gaffney said,
Sorry but the Nokia 3310 is the best selling phone in western country's. The 1100 got a lot of success from the eastern markets, it did sell well in the west but it didn't reach the heights of the 3310 with the youth. Why would you get a 1100 over a RAZR V3, v220, Sony ericsson K300 or the Samsung E250 which were really the most popular high end phones during the time the 1100 was out.

The Nokia 3310's 126 million units doesn't come close to the 250 million 1100's sold

Scorpus said,

The Nokia 3310's 126 million units doesn't come close to the 250 million 1100's sold


Yes the overall units, but the 3310 was mainly seen as the bigger phone in the uk at least, no one can really remember the 1100. I think the 1100 has higher figures because the price was really really low and was sold a lot in poorer country's. The 3310 was like the iphone of it's time, 1100 was more like a blackberry, sold well but not top of the class, won't be remembered that much.

Gaffney said,

Yes the overall units, but the 3310 was mainly seen as the bigger phone in the uk at least, no one can really remember the 1100. I think the 1100 has higher figures because the price was really really low and was sold a lot in poorer
country's. The 3310 was like the iphone of it's time, 1100 was more like a blackberry, sold well but not top of the class, won't be remembered that much.

poorer country what are you talking about i bought it in sweden istill have it.. it still works he he

XerXis said,
ah well, couldn't match my nokia 3310

That's still a synonym for a cellphone in my head. And it's indestructible. Most used phone around here at the time. I used to own the next generation (or the generation after that) -- 3510i.

Syanide said,

That's still a synonym for a cellphone in my head. And it's indestructible. Most used phone around here at the time. I used to own the next generation (or the generation after that) -- 3510i.

I absolutely adored that phone. I was hacking that phone to pieces using tools on the PC - modding it to be best of my abilities for the day. I absolutely loved it These phones today are just too easy to customise!

The Teej said,

I absolutely adored that phone. I was hacking that phone to pieces using tools on the PC - modding it to be best of my abilities for the day. I absolutely loved it These phones today are just too easy to customise!


Same. Getting an LPT-flash cable to work PAH, good luck with that! I still have my 3315 (upgraded it via the hack from 3310 ;p) using it as an SMS gateway.

Back then, it was a great phone! really really great!
and well, i guess it makes better voice calls than modern day smartphone that forgetting they suppose to be in the baseline... a phone!

I remember the 6310 style phones - I refused to have anything to do with them due to the whacky keyboard. Numbers should be directly alongside each other, not in some curved lines.