Nokia 8110 4G was so nearly a true spring-loaded Matrix phone

When the Nokia 8110 4G launched at MWC 2018, some people expressed surprise that it didn’t have the spring-released front cover like it did in its iconic starring role in The Matrix.

However, this was actually a feature added in by the movie’s producers to make the handset look more visually exciting, and the original phone was just a simple slider.

With the fact that Nokia has been alluding the fact the 8110 was used in the film, it was therefore disappointing that the rebooted model didn’t stay true to its more famed version – but it turns out it so nearly did.

The original Nokia 8110 device

Speaking to Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer for HMD Global (the brand that’s making phones under the Nokia name), he told TechRadar that there was a plan to create a spring-released 8110, but it would have ruined the design.

“When we started the engineering program, it was very clear for design and engineering that we would do a spring [release]. What we ended up discovering was the width of the design would be almost 2 centimetres more because of the mechanism.

“Then we [thought] ‘what if we don’t have the spring?’, and we would just optimize and modernize the form factor to be a very compact, beautiful design.

“So we had both [designs] in parallel, and what we decided is the way you can operate the 8110 with a single hand – without the spring – and the benefit that brings on the dimensions and how much more beautiful the design was, we ended up going with that one.”

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Old and new: the two Nokia 8110 phones side by side

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While some Nokia fans will be disappointed that HMD Global didn’t take the chance to ‘right the wrongs’ of the previous design, Sarvikas also pointed out that if the brand had gone ahead with the spring release, there aren’t the same places to service a broken handset that there used to be in the past.

Keeping a heritage

Others we spoke to within HMD, such as Pekka Rantala, Chief Marketing Officer and Jon French, Vice President of West Europe for HMD Global, also pointed out that the business wanted to keep some of the heritage of the Nokia Originals line, to really remind consumers what the brand used to be about, as well as making sure the cost stayed competitive in this new ‘smart featurephone’ space.

“With the original 8110, I happened to have the privilege to launch this, in 1997, in Austria and Switzerland, and it didn’t have any spring. We wanted to stay true to the original Nokia 8110, exactly as it was designed,” said Rantala.

“What you do find is that it’s an awful lot of fun opening and closing [the 8110] on a desk or a table and we didn’t want to lose that,” said French. 

“A lot of work has gone into that satisfying click, similar to opening or closing the door of something like an Audi or BMW, and a lot of work’s gone into that.”

The good news is that Rantala told us that HMD Global is still open to more Nokia reboots in the future – so if you’re someone that’s hankering for another rebooted handset from the 1990s and it’s not been done yet, you still might get your wish.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2018 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar’s world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone. 

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