Cracked screens might be a constant concern for today’s mobile phone user, but that wasn’t always the case. The Nokia 6600 was chunky, ugly, and primitive, but it sure could take a beating, and the only thing that lasts longer than its battery is its legacy. Further proving that the 6600 is impossible to kill, HMD Global has unveiled how it plans to bring back the good old smartphone, with some minor modern concessions.
The announcement itself, which was made at Mobile World Congress this week, was teased a few weeks ago. At the time we outlined some of the things that we’d like to see in the rebooted Nokia 6600, and while some features, like the battery life and refined-retro styling, are accounted for, we still don’t know many specifics about its durability or customization options.
The first thing you’ll notice is the familiar, rounded-rectangle shape, complete with actual, physical buttons. It looks like we’ll actually have to relearn the old text input technique, where each number represented three or four letters, and how to navigate menus with a directional pad and a big select button.
Measuring 115.6 x 51 x 12.8 mm (4.6 x 2 x 0.5 in), it’s smaller than most new phones, but almost twice as thick – although it has slimmed down since the early days. The screen is 3.4 inches with a resolution of 176×208 – tiny by today’s standards, but having grown to take up most of the top half of the device, it’s a fair improvement over the original model’s display. The user interface has also been reworked, with a few nods to the original design apparently thrown in.
The camera is similarly basic with a modest 2 megapixels, and on the audio front, the new 6600 comes with FM radio and MP3 playback. You won’t fit much at all on the paltry 4 GB of internal storage space, but a MicroSD card slot means it is expandable up to 32 GB. Two different variants allow it to work with either one or two SIM cards.
HMD Global hasn’t given any metrics on whether the 6600’s legendary durability has been retained, but those efficient specs should help it replicate the original’s battery life. The company claims the removable 1,200-mAh battery allows up to 22.1 hours of talk time, 39 hours of FM radio listening and 51 hours of MP3 playback. Sitting in your pocket doing nothing, the new Nokia 6600 can reportedly live for up to 18 days on standby.
At a glance, the revival seems to be courting people with a bad case of early-2000s nostalgia, but there’s a big asterisk next to that: the phone only runs on 3G networks. Connectivity is a key area to leave unmodernized, and it means that in countries like the US, Canada and Australia, which are currently in the process of shutting down the aging 2G networks, the 6600’s usefulness has an expiration date.
But it doesn’t look like those are really the markets HMD is targeting: the phone has so far only been announced for Europe, Africa, Asia Pacific, India, and the Middle East, where 2G networks are still in wide use. That means it’s probably less likely to be your cheap burner phone or the best way to call Nana, and more likely, a practical, no-frills everyday phone for people in those regions.