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Watch out for fake Nokia 3310 Phones22 Aug 2017

Some Nokia 3310 phones have a suspect appearance

Fake Nokia 3310 phones are cashing in on the huge success of the Nokia retro phone. It seems that it’s not just Fuss Free Phones which harks back to the time when phones were easy to use.

Supplies of Genuine Nokia 3310 phones are so limited it’s become impossible to buy them from Exertis, the approved Nokia wholesaler.

On the high street, Carphone Warehouse has stock but is priced at a premium and is not available as an upgrade or discounted with a new contract. The Nokia 3310 is such hot seller it doesn’t need to be discounted.

One trade source told Fuss Free Phones that it had ordered 26,000 phones and got 2,000. Someone has described the 3310 as a “publicity stunt which has gone wrong”. HMD, which makes phones under the Nokia brand, plans to discontinue the retro handset next month. There are rumours that it will be replaced with a 3G version.

We bought a 3310 on ebay and turned out to be fake. It didn’t feel right. It didn’t have the sense of quality of a proper Nokia phone, let alone one which had a basic set of features and a premium price. We knew it was a grey import because it was a dual-SIM phone and came with a non-Nokia charger. Indeed the charger says it’s an Apple charger but that’s probably fake too.

Every phone has a supposedly unique ID called an IMEI. This is issued by the GSMA. The international trade body for the mobile phone networks and an organisation I used to work for. The IMEI is used by phone networks so that we can work out who is using which models of phones. It’s particularly valuable for spotting phones which misbehave on the network – doing things like not hanging up properly. Some disreputable companies re-use the IMEIs to hide the fact that they are making more phones than they say they are. This reduces not just the amount the dodgy phone makers pay to the GSMA but the royalties they owe to the companies which developed fundamental technology. So a cloned IMEI is a dead giveaway of a phone which is not kosher.

Our ebay phone has two IMEIs, that’s because it’s a dual-SIM phone and the easy way to this is to glue two separate phones together inside the box. Both the IMEIs belong not to Nokia or HMD but to a Chinese company called Aolixin and the model is an Android smartphone. It’s a fake, hoax, imposter, sham, fraud, and pretender.

Or maybe we could have skipped all the detective work and realised that something which sells in the local high street for £60 and something which we’d bought for £15, including shipping from the Far East, might not be exactly the same.

The Nokia 3310 was cool, with its series 30 UI and snake I remember getting an original to review for What Mobile magazine. I’d not expected much at the time. There was a gimmick of being able to swap cases and colours but that didn’t feel exactly innovative. I later heard a rumour that this was done to keep the build cost down because it meant Nokia could use unskilled labour.

But after a week using the 3310, I was sold. It was so much more than the sum of its parts and I said so at the time.

We’ve ordered what we believe is a genuine 3310 and will report back when we have spent some time with it. Comparing the two will be interesting.



Simon Rockman