It’s almost like going back in time. When was Nokia last relevant to international tech? And maybe it isn’t now, but let’s at least take a minute to discuss the brand new Nokia 800 Tough. It seems to proceed from the starting point that a phone must deliver its essential purpose with the greatest degree of ease and dependability. This may not have been the thinking for the Tough’s spiritual predecessor, the iconic 3310 which was released TWO DECADES AGO. Back then the 3310 was the pinnacle of available technology. But Nokia got something terribly wrong back then with their flagship phone. They made it too durable. It outlasted its technology. Nokia had made a device that worked too well without thinking it should look toward selling customers a new phone every year.

In 2019, the 3310 had taken on cult status, because of its toughness, its superior form factor, and its ability to flawlessly execute all the tasks of a phone (as opposed to a small computer). Some would say that the absence of QWERTY disqualifies this design in the age of texting, but what if you could incorporate today’s AI-assisted typing (or even voice dictation) with the standard T9 keyboard? And what if you could use modern connectivity (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi) to allow a slew of features not even contemplated back in 2000?

Nokia tried this with a ‘reissue’ of the 3310, but it looked to plasticy and didn’t have the form factor of the original. 2017’s version of the 3310 was good, but hardly great.

Enter the 800 Tough.

Yes, there are things about this handset that are really only found on a ‘tough’ device, like the 198-Lumen flashlight, or the silicone port covers. And the design language doesn’t exactly recall the original 3310, but compared the the non-stop influx of smartphones from Apple, China and South Korea, this T9 device with the small screen is still a major throwback.

And then there’s the battery. Freed from a smartphone’s giant screen, the 800 Tough has battery strength that seems endless. We’re talking weeks instead of hours.

There may be an argument that smartphones with touch screens have made society worse. If you ever wanted to try and get along without one you could hardly do better than the new Nokia 800 Tough.