The Most-Searched Phone of MWC 2017 was... the Nokia 3310

By Holly Brockwell on at

After working tirelessly for years to create a flagship smartphone that would wow the crowds at MWC 2017, the likes of Huawei, LG, Samsung and Sony have been absolutely trounced by a feature phone from the year 2000.

Nokia licensee HMD Global pulled out the long-rumoured 3310 reboot at its Sunday-night launch event, rightly predicting that bringing back the much-loved handset would guarantee headlines for the brand's relaunch. The real story of the event was of course Nokia's three new Android phones, but the PR move to re-release the 3310 has ensured absolutely everyone knows they're back on the scene.

Despite growing excitement around the LG G6, Huawei P10, Sony Xperia XZ Premium and even the Samsung Galaxy S8 (which didn't launch, but got an official date), the search figures for the 3310 absolutely obliterated the competition.

In fact, Google Trends analysis shows that while interest in the four flagships trended downwards after their respective launch events, interest in the 3310 actually went up again in the days following its announcement, presumably as more mainstream publications picked up the story.

Looking at just the the period of MWC (without the lead-up), the ownage is even clearer:

The 3310 also unsurprisingly beat out the three new Nokia phones - the 6, 5 and 3 - but the peaks in searches show that articles about the 3310, which almost universally mentioned Nokia's other new phones (as was the intention), probably benefited searches for those devices too.

As MWC draws to a close today, it's worth thinking about what this data tells us. Branding is ridiculously important in tech, hence why lesser-known names don't get much market share despite offering the same or better specs for less money. The 3310 already had a much stronger brand than its new competitors, coupled with a strong feeling of nostalgia.

Unfortunately, it seems nostalgia for a non-existent 'golden age' is driving a few too many decisions lately, which is how we ended up with The Great Satsuma for a world leader. The fact is, tech wasn't better in the "good old days" when phone screens were tiny and monochrome, and you had to pay 10p to tell your mum you'd be late for dinner because WiFi wasn't a thing yet. It's easy to yearn for some simpler, better yesteryear, but only because we can conveniently ignore all the bad bits.

It'll be interesting to see how many people actually buy the new 3310, once they think through having to type on T9 again. Presumably, HMD is hoping people will consider the 3310, then decide they'd be better off with a cheap but useful smartphone, like, say, the Nokia 6.

In short, HMD's played an absolute blinder this MWC. Those clever snakes.


Giz UK is on the floor at MWC in Barcelona! Catch up on all our coveragehere.