Martin Karlsson / prog.re

Notes to self


Nokia 3310 3G as a podcast player

TLDR

The Nokia 3310 3G is a Some versions of the Nokia 3310 3G works as a descent podcast player, but you have to manage your podcasts on a real computer.

The story about why I bought candy bar feature phone in 2020

Nokia 3310 3G is a feature phone with at least a design heritage from the much loved Nokia 3310 of the late nineties. A feature phone in 2020 is maybe not as strange as it might seem. While the smart-phones are getting ever more advanced, there is also a counter trend of digital decluttering.

I used to love my smartphone. I was on reddit (back when the mobile website worked) and youtube all the time on my phone. I use it as a music player while I'm doing kitchen stuff.

But the main use was as a podcast player. Pre-corona I had a commute of about an hour in each direction (bike + bus). I spent most of the bike time with podcasts in my ear (the bus time was spent on hobby programming projects).

In January of 2020 I went on paternal leave and the podcast time picked up significantly as I spent the days lugging around my sleeping then 7 months old boy while walking the 8 months old lab. I would get about 10 hours of battery time out of my phone, a 2016 model of Samsung A3. Now, clearly the battery had seen better days. And it was never a high end phone to begin with. But 10 hours battery time was getting to be a stress factor.

The thing is I sort of have to have a smartphone. Swish payments is one factor. Most things that used to be actual currency transactions is Swish payments now. Buy meat from the cattle farmer? Swish. Buy honey from the beekeeper? Swish. Buy socks to support your coworkers kids soccer team? Swish. And Swish is available on phones only. The chromebook that I use for mostly everything can run Android apps but the Swish app refuses to install on a non phone device.

Another factor is BankID. BankID used to be only a bank issued smart card and a special little card reader. You would stick the card into a slot in the reader and enter your pin on the readers keypad. To log into you bank or to a government service you would get a 9 digit code from the website that you would enter into the reader. The BankID reader would then display a 6 digit answer code that you would enter into the website and the BankID system would then guarantee your identity to the bank or government service. But then Mobile Bank Id showed up. It's a smartphone app that does the same thing except the code-answer code exchange is done automatically without user interaction now. And lots of websites are starting to retire the old reader way identifying yourself, leaving Mobile BankID with the only option.

Being on paternal leave I did not have the money for a brand new smartphone, other than one really low end one. It was also clear to me that it was the podcast consumption that was eating up my battery. The days that I didn't listen to podcast I would get 24 hour of battery or more. I'm not sure why podcasts in particular are so hard on the battery, it seemed that about equal time on Spotify would not drain it nearly as much. I suspect that the fact that the podcast files are stored on a external SD card has something to do with it.

I started looking at buying dedicated MP3 player. I know from buying an mp3 player for my oldest daughter that the cheap ones are shit for podcasts and audio books. They reset the play list when you turn them off and there is no way to have them turned on all the time. They power down when taking a charge. San-disk still makes an mp3 player that are good for podcast and audio books. "Resume function" is the keyword to look for. Roxcore also has one (I got one for my daughter when the really cheap one turned our to be shit).

But then I saw the Nokia 3310 phones. At 600 SEK it's about the same price as a Roxcore mp3 player. So I started to think I would get one and use it as an mp3 player and have it double as a backup phone in case my smartphone had drained it's battery. But I was a bit hesitant, because I couldn't get good information on weather the 3310 did the resume thing or not.

Eventually I bought one anyway. And I bought a 32 GB micro SD for it to store podcasts. The 3310 has apps but no app store. You supposedly can download java apps for the Java Micro framework or whatever its called and run them on the phone. But I haven't bothered. The phone has a music player that picks up any mp3 file stored in the "Music" folder on the SD card, or the phone itself. The music player really likes those mp3 tags for sorting the music by artist and albums, so it's not ideal for podcasts. As a last ditch it sorts the files by name, so it kind of works out anyway. And yes, it does "resume". Even if you exit the music player app it resumes where you stopped. And I get 4 to 5 days of battery time even with rather heavy use. My old Samsung spends most of it's time in my bag now, and when not used, that thing has pretty fantastic battery time too.

I use GPodder on windows to manage podcast downloads as the phone cant handle downloads. It's pretty OK. I don't use the sync feature though, I just let it download everything, and then I pick and choose what to transfer to the phone.

Addendum

I got a mail from Jakub where he wondered how I got the "resume" function to work. He also has a 3310 (model of 2018), and apparently his phone does not resume anything, but instead resets the player even on "stop". My phone has software version 30.0.0.17.03 (no build date), his phone has software version V11.02.11, build date 2017-04-26. You can get the software version by dialing *#0000# Since the version is completely differently formatted, I suspect that it's a different OS altogether.

So be careful I guess, some phones with earlier software may not work as a podcast player. My advice is do buy from a bricks-and-mortar store and check the software version before you give them your money.

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Get in touch: martin [at] prog.re