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Updated: April 29, 2014 19:00 IST

Goodbye to an iconic brand

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The basic Nokia phone played an important part in our lives. Photo: P.V. Sivakumar
The Hindu The basic Nokia phone played an important part in our lives. Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

Truth be told almost every cell phone user from the 90s has used a Nokia mobile. Despite being stodgy rectangles, with ringtones that sounded like tin cans being clapped together, these breed of phones have always been of great service. As Nokia winds up its factory in Chennai, the MetroPlus team looks back on their first phones

If it’s a phone, it’s got to be Nokia. That used to be the rule when I wanted a new phone. I’d already used a couple of Nokia phones and was looking to go in for a new one…but with the same brand.

That’s when I happened to see an ad for a new model from the company, purely by chance, on TV. It was love at first sight, for the phone (Nokia X2-01) looked exactly like a Blackberry. That’d be super cool, I thought, to flaunt an inexpensive phone and pass it off as a high-end one.

Once a friend bought the same model and liked it, I decided to go for it. After a short trip to the nearby mobile store, I brought home a brand-new X2-01. And oh, what fun it was. It could store a lot of contacts, take decent pictures and had an excellent battery life.

If you’re one of those expensive smartphone users, you need to download apps for everything. If you want to record a conversation, you download an app. If you want to record calls, you download an app — and it might still not work! With my inexpensive Nokia X2-01, I could do all that without having to struggle. Thus continued my tryst with the brand for a good number of years.

And then, during a recent holiday, my phone fell into a bucket of water. I was flustered but remembered that even technology could sometimes be battled the ‘good ol’ way’. So, one sunny morning, I just took out the battery and let the sun beat down on the phone. Such devices ought to require Vitamin D too, I figured. After an hour or so, it began working just fine.

Till a couple of weeks ago when it died a natural death, perhaps due to old-age related illnesses.

As they say, maatram ondru than maarathathu (Change is the only constant thing in life). With immense pressure to join multiple Whatsapp groups (my poor Nokia could handle Whatsapp, but not 126 messages within 50 seconds!) and to jump on the Android bandwagon, I recently went in for a brand new expensive smartphone.

Today, even as Nokia has been bought over by another leading company, I can’t help but reminisce how the brand has been with me through thick and thin. Going forward, I’m really not sure if my new, trendy smartphone will make me any smarter.

- Srinivasa Ramanujan

I didn’t have a mobile phone of my own till I made it to college. And then it was gifted to me...a gleaming blue phone neatly packed in a white cardboard box which contained the words NOKIA 3350 in big bold letters. Yes! I screamed in delight to myself. I had finally made it to the limited for now but rapidly growing cell phone gang in class.

I was the esteemed few. I could send SMS and play games... Oh and choose from a set of ringtones. So, the next morning I coordinated my clothes with my new acquisition and grandly walked into class sporting my object of desire. Alright so this phone didn’t have a camera but it did have a little photo frame behind where I proudly displayed my picture. Corny yes, but back then in the mid-2000s, it was considered cool. Evenings at home were spent obsessing over the beauty which let out a fluorescent green glow every time I touched a key. Ringtones would be changed everyday to go with my mood — mostly cheerful tunes to go with my happy-go-lucky image, except for the occasional angst-ridden day. And then we discovered the joys of exchanging monophonic ring tones and the latest tunes from movies and pop charts became my ringtone...pretty much defining my personality.

Class hours were spent sending secret messages to friends and playing a quick game of snake. No, we didn’t have the privilege of choosing from app store back then.

The initial phase which involved figuring out the phone controls took a while and my phone let out a loud sigh when I lost a game of snake while in class. It’s a challenge to pretend to look interested in what the lecturer is saying while focusing on level 3 of Snake. My Precious was confiscated and only after much grovelling with the teacher was it handed back to me, which I then guarded from all possible evil.

A year later I had grown out of my fascination and yet another newer, sleeker Nokia caught my fancy. I didn’t let this one go. In fact it still remains in my cupboard, hanging on tightly to bittersweet memories from the past and holding a place of pride with my collection of CDs, DVDs and Sachin Tendulkar artefacts that I so adore.

- Priyadarshini Paitandy

It is actually funny to think that pre-historic Nokia phones — the heavy handsets designed exactly like a soapbox — were considered a luxury in those days. It couldn’t do anything that smart phones of today are capable of — one couldn’t take selfies or read books on it — but it did what cellphones were supposed to do: help make calls on the go and send text messages. And it could withstand abuse: you could drop it in a bucket full of water and it would still work after you dry it in the sun.

Those handsets were used for strictly functional reasons and we used to have a life back then. If you went to a movie theatre, you could actually see people watching the movie and not looking into their smart phones, tweeting about the film. Many of us were surprised when Facebook and Twitter exploded with nostalgic anecdotes about Nokia phones after the news broke that Nokia would be renamed Microsoft Mobile Oy. During a time when walkmans were uncool and DVD players were expensive, Nokia phones gave us the first taste of technology — having started with a black and white phone, we slowly switched to colour, and then to a phone fitted with a little camera on the back and so on.

These phones may not have had many features, but it also had tremendous personal value. The phone’s battery very rarely gave up on us even when we spent all night sending flirtatious text messages and talking to those who mattered. Today, how can one talk all night after tweeting all day?

When we used the pre-historic Nokia phones, we actually had real conversations with real people over dinner unlike today.

- Udhav Naig

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