Nokia 5310 Returns: Can the XpressMusic Nostalgia Work in Today’s World?

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The Nokia 5310 is back in business. With its latest launch, Nokia is bringing back what was once a premium mobile phone targeting young music enthusiasts. However, pretty much everything has changed in our world since then. The only similarity is one of the circumstances surrounding its launch – the original Nokia 5310, which bore the vaunted ‘XpressMusic’ tag, was launched in mid-2007, just as the world was seeing a much documented economic recession. Today, we are heading into one yet again.

What’s even more important to note is that the world of mobile devices is not the same any longer. Today, smartphones are all about larger display, higher resolution, more cameras and bigger batteries, with enough computing power to sail through the average work day. They all look nearly the same, and are in no way as charismatic as Nokia’s most iconic mobile phone designs from years ago. The Nokia 5310 XpressMusic was one of them, with a black body offset with red side panels that included music buttons. At 9.9mm thickness, the 5310 XpressMusic was dramatically thin, more so when compared to its contemporaries. In fact, it almost had the same pizzazz as Motorola’s erstwhile Razr. Mobile phones, back then, were more about the emotions of owning a mobile device and the aesthetic experience of it, than cutting edge features, fast connectivity and so on.

In many ways, with today’s launch of the Nokia 5310, HMD Global is tapping into nostalgia that the XpressMusic edition from 13 years ago carries on even today. HMD has already tried it by introducing a new generation of the Nokia 3310, and the 5310 XpressMusic is following suit. This highlights an important strategy for two reasons – one, it will help people from making the nostalgia connection by themselves, making it an immediately relatable product. Secondly, a recent market report by CMR has suggested that mobile audio is an even more important factor for buyers in today’s world, even more than cameras. With the XpressMusic once being as identifiable in India as Sony’s Walkman, this can tilt the scales in HMD and Nokia’s favour.

The new Nokia 5310 XpressMusic has come with features like a 2.4-inch QVGA display, 8MB RAM, 16MB native storage, a VGA camera and a 1,200mAh battery. With only 2G connectivity at hand, the Nokia 5310 is no longer a device that just about anyone would love to own, from the usage perspective. Had HMD plugged it with larger native storage and 4G connectivity, it may have made sense as a second device that offers excellent battery backup and uncluttered usage experience. Instead, the Nokia 5310 is squarely targeting India’s still-massive feature phone user base. This makes things slightly confusing, as for the user demographic that still purchase feature phones do not particularly prioritise on aesthetics and nostalgia. Would the cosmopolitan buyer want a 2G phone in today’s world?

What, then, can HMD’s ploy be with the Nokia 5310? On one hand, its XpressMusic nostalgia can help it generate some hype in the initial days. However, most industry watchers will remain skeptical to the success of such a device in today’s world. While it does seem to have retained the overall design language, the 2020 Nokia 5310 XpressMusic is no longer as stylish as the old one. This makes us apprehensive towards where exactly would it fit in today’s industry.

Given that we largely stream our music nowadays, does a 2G XpressMusic with bare minimum storage make any sense today, even at a small price of Rs 3,399?


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