Nokia’s retro ‘banana’ phone making a comeback


Iconic phone brand Nokia is taking Aussies on another trip down memory lane by relaunching its famous 8110 ‘banana’ handset.

HMD Global, the manufacturer of Nokia-labelled phones, has rehashed the popular yellow phone from the 1990s. This comes about a year after the company also rehashed the ‘brick’ 3310 model.

The retro banana phone shot to fame after it was featured in the popular film ‘The Matrix’. It has a sliding keyboard cover and soft-touch keys, but with a modern twist. It runs off a ‘KaiOS’ operating system, comes with an email app, web browser, a basic camera and 4G data capability.

It is also dual-SIM capable, meaning it can also on-board a microSD card for playing music.

Speaking to Forbes, Head of Design at HMD & Nokia, Raun Forsyth, said the company tried to modernise the beloved banana phone yet keep all the original design cues of the original.

“It came down to that conversation of the sweet spot of being reliable, essential, not over-complicated. The phone’s dimensions are very important. Keeping this to what we consider the perfect size is a real challenge,” he said.

When asked about whether having a touchscreen was feasible or not, Mr Forsyth said: “To put a touchscreen in and obviously optimise it for the curve would have taken it to a price point that would have eliminated a lot of consumers. It was a big debate, but I think that that all-round package should have the most global reach. If they love it, they should be able to get their hands on it.”

Little concrete pricing information has been released, but the phone is expected to retail for about €79, which is about AUD $124 at the time of writing.

Why are phones going retro?

Since HMD Global acquired Nokia, retro mobile phones have been making a comeback. First it was the 3310 and now it’s the 8110 banana phone. It could just be nostalgia, but price may also factor in. Modern flagship smartphones commonly cost over $1,000 – about 10 times the price of the 8110.

According to Canstar Blue research, customers are spending over $75 a month for their phone on a plan, yet prepaid customers only spend an average of about $27 a month.

While the range of retro phones is unlikely to replace mainstream smartphones, they could be used as viable second phones or for a child’s first phone.

Canstar Blue research indicates that 56% of consumers always buy the same brand of smartphone, while 15% upgrade every single year. Almost one in five (18%) also think social status or peer pressure has an affect on the brand of phone they buy.

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