This isn’t the greatest phone in the world, it’s just a tribute. It’s called the Uhans A101, but unlike Jack and Kyle of Tenacious D, the company that’s building it knows all about the device to which it pays homage — one of the true industry classics, the Nokia 1100. Never heard of Uhans? Don’t be surprised. It’s a relatively new Chinese smartphone brand, and the A101 is only its fourth device launch; but rather than simply being just another smartphone on the market, there’s a story behind it.
Uhans CEO Eric Wu told Digital Trends that he has owned a Nokia 1200 since 2007, and it still works as well today as it did back then. Having nothing but admiration for the brand, and for the tiny phone and its predecessors, the idea of a tribute to one of the true classic Nokia phones was conceived. The phone it honors is the Nokia 1100, the world’s best-selling mobile phone.
The A101 takes three very Nokia-like characteristics and blends them into a modern Android smartphone. It’s compact, has a removable battery, and is priced so that anyone can afford one. Like Nokia phones of old, the A101 is built to last, with a body that’s structurally designed to take some punishment. Uhans demonstrated the A101’s resilience by dropping it off a tower block alongside a Nokia 3310. The old feature phone didn’t survive, and while the A101 can hardly be described as in pristine condition at the end of its 50 feet drop, it does at least still operate.
Beyond this, Wu told us, “People are overusing smartphones these days, some are even addicted, so we want more and more functions on a smartphone. But we don’t really need that much, sometimes less is more.” Therefore, the A101 goes back to basics.
Design and power
Thankfully, that doesn’t mean design has taken a backseat. A soft touch rubber panel covers the back of the phone, which apparently has a leather-like feel, and the body itself is completely rounded — no sharp edges here — with 2.5D glass over the screen. The design isn’t reminiscent of the 1100 (which is probably a good thing), but we can see hints of the later Nokia 5800 in the front panel, and Uhans has chosen a deep navy blue, almost slate color scheme as a subtle nod to Nokia’s preferred black hue.
Its obviously larger and more powerful than its inspiration too. Android 6.0 is displayed on the 5-inch screen, a quad-core MediaTek MT6737 processor provides the power, and the phone will connect to a 4G network. The A101 clearly isn’t made to be a powerhouse; but it is made for affordability. The phone costs less than $60, and can be purchased now.
It’s interesting that the smartphone industry has reached the point where new companies are looking back at pioneering devices, ready to adopt certain characteristics that made them so popular. Will the A101 go on to sell more than 200 million examples, just like Nokia eventually achieved with the 1100? We’re sure Uhans would be pretty pleased if it did.