third time’s the charm for HMD’s retro revivals

Opening the phone reveals a 2.8-inch non-touch display, which is tiny by modern standards but the biggest yet for HMD’s annual throwbacks. The 2MP camera is in an awkward place, underneath the device, but it comes with a flash and takes okay quick snaps if you can avoid covering the lens with your hand.

And unlike 2017’s 3310, there’s enough connectivity and smarts in this phone (including 4G and Wi-Fi), that you won’t feel like you’ve completely left 2019.

The new Nokia 2720 looks like the old one, but quite a bit bigger.

The new Nokia 2720 looks like the old one, but quite a bit bigger.

The phone runs KaiOS; a simple and colourful operating system that’s like a blend of Android and generic feature phone software. As a work phone the 2720 was, for me personally, practically useless. It struggled importing contacts from my work G-suite account and refused to connect to my office’s Wi-Fi, which requires a user name. But my personal Google account worked fine and brought my contacts, email and calendar across. There’s support for Outlook contacts too. For those with more simple phone needs, the built-in apps will likely be fine.

There’s an app store, where you can add bare-bones weather forecast and to-do list software, but the best stuff is already pre-installed. There’s Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Google Maps, as well as basic apps for web browsing, email, music (from an SD card), note-taking, audio recording and more.

Obviously if you’re going to be using services like these constantly you’re going to want a smartphone. Even a $150 Android device will provide a much better WhatsApp experience than the 2720 with its clunky speeds, tiny screen and multi-tap keypad. But these are nice optional extras to have on a phone designed mostly for much less intensive tasks.


The one exception is the included Google Assistant, which surprisingly fits this style of phone very well. In fact, since getting around using the buttons is so cumbersome, it’s generally quicker and easier to hold the main button, wait a second for the “listening” prompt and then just say what you want to do. The Assistant can call or text anyone in your contacts, open any app or serve you info from the internet. It can even help you find where you need to go and fetch you directions via Maps.

Assistant is available as a text input option too, so you can dictate messages if they’re short and you don’t mind a lack of punctuation. And that’s a good thing, because the typing still isn’t as good as it should be. Predictive text and button size has improved since last year, to the point that it is certainly usable, but it will still put in a “g” when you try to type the word “I”, and still has too many missing or wrong words. Tapping each button multiple times to make sure your message is spelled properly and grammatically correct is a chore.

Though these phones are marketed as an inexpensive secondary phone for trips or digital detoxes, for the past two years I’ve suggested people look elsewhere. They were just too fiddly and inconsistent. But the 2720 fixes most of the issues and is wrapped up in a much more attractive flip phone format. If it’s a cheap phone you’re after I’d still point you to a low-end Android device, but if you specifically want a simple device that works like the flip phones of a decade ago, this is one that does it with some welcome modern touches and only a few annoying stumbles.

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