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Nokia goes back to the movies

With a long legacy of iconic films that feature Nokia phones, spy film No Time To Die becomes the latest to feature the brand. BRYAN TURNER explores Nokia’s history in movies.

The tech world may be stressing about headphone jacks and wireless charging, but there was a much simpler time for mobile phones. But even in their early days, they were regarded as cutting-edge devices that provided vast feature sets and enabled more people to connect than ever before.  

In the 1990s and 2000s, Nokia dominated the mobile phone segment. Each device the manufacturer delivered hit the sweet spot for consumers. Now it is back in the game with features that are unique to Nokia handsets, like 5G support almost anywhere in the world. As the release of the new James Bond movie approaches, this feature is perfectly paired with 007, who travels the world and needs fast connectivity to get his job done.  

The movie joins a long line of iconic films that featured Nokia appearances. These are our Top 10: 

1. Nokia Mobira Talkman in Lethal Weapon (1987)  

The history of Nokia phones - Movie Edition — Nokia phones community
Image: ‎Silver Pictures

One of the first appearances of mobile phones in film was a bulky Nokia device, which was groundbreaking at the time. Danny Glover makes a call with a portable phone, tethered to a battery and transceiver, showing off the Nokia Mobira Talkman. Thankfully, Nokia innovated quickly to make voice calling a one-handed task.  

2. Nokia Communicator 9000 in The Saint (1997)  

Le téléphone portable ordinateur Nokia 9000 Communicator de 1996 ...
Image: Mace Neufeld Productions

Almost 10 years later, Nokia had moved on from bulky two-handed phones to small smartphones. Writing and reading email away from a computer was not possible for many, and Nokia enabled the segment of the market that needed to do this. Val Kilmer is seen in the back of a car, typing an email on his Communicator 9000, which was revolutionary at the time.  

3. Nokia 8110 in The Matrix (1999)  

Retour du Nokia 8110, le « téléphone banane » de Matrix
Image: Warner Bros.; Village Roadshow Pictures; Silver Pictures

The Nokia 8110 is probably one of the most famous handsets in film history. In the Matrix, Keanu Reeves as The One used a modified version of the 8110—known as the Nokia banana phone at the time, thanks to its unique design. To this day, it has a futuristic feel and is a showcase of innovative design. The refreshed Nokia 8110 that was released in 2018 still feels like one of the best feature phones on the market.   

4. Nokia 8210 in Charlie’s Angels (2000)  

The Charlie’s Angels remake in 2000 showcased the small Nokia 8210, which could fit in almost any pocket while having a vast feature set. The devices were used on-screen by Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, and Drew Barrymore, and were sometimes used during combat scenes to show how effortless they were to use.  

5. Nokia 7110 in Swordfish (2001)  

Forget about the mobile internet — Benedict Evans

We now take Internet connectivity on our devices for granted but, in 1999, consumers could only connect to the Internet as long as they were near a landline. Nokia changed all that with the Nokia 7110, equipped with a WAP browser. John Travolta showed off this phone in Swordfish, which led to the device’s nickname “The Swordfish Phone”.  

6. Nokia 770 in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)  

Starring the Computer - Nokia 770 in Fantastic Four: Rise of the ...
Image: Marvel Entertainment

At the start of the mainstream smartphone era, Dr Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) ran his machines via a Nokia 770. This was one of the first films to showcase how powerful user-installed applications could be.  

7. Nokia 5800 Xpress Music in The Dark Knight (2008)  

The smartphone Nokia of Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises | Spotern
Image: DC Comics

The Nokia 5800 Xpress Music was one of the first consumer-acclaimed touchscreen devices, in a market that was still being convinced that a touchscreen was going to be the input method of the future. The focus on music made the device very appealing to consumers, who were still carrying around a phone and an iPod at the time. Every important person in this film, from Bruce Wayne/Batman to Lucius Fox, used the device in the movie.  

8. Nokia N8 used to film Olive (2011)  

File:Nokia N8 (double-sided view).jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Image: Wikimedia Commons

A modified version of the Nokia N8 was used to film Olive, one of the first feature films to be shot on a mobile phone. The device featured a 12-megapixel camera with a modified autofocus feature to make it suitable for shooting longer shots. Bear in mind that this was at the same time as the iPhone had just introduced HD-ready video recording. This was the first indicator that smartphones were going to be the next method of shooting video.   

9. Nokia Lumia 925 in Man of Steel (2013)  

Nokia Lumia 925 in Man of Steel - Brands & Films
Image: DC Comics

The DC Extended Universe films were rebooted with Nokia technology in mind, which put the feature-rich Nokia Lumia 925 on the map. Windows Phone was unknown territory, but the low-light photography features made this phone one of the best camera phones on the market at the time.  

10. Nokia 7.2 in No Time to Die (2020)
Image: MGM/Eon Productions

Nokia’s reboot under HMD Global has breathed fresh life into the brand, which now runs on Android. The device goes back to its early 2000s roots: feature-rich at an accessible price point. This time, though, consumers can get the custom modifications that are shown in the movie by purchasing a tough 007-style Kevlar Case.  

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