Nokia 5210 started something that still lasts

Rugged phones are not a new commodity or a standard. Manufacturers started early at the dawn of mobile phones, making devices that could endure more and survive drops, falls and even a splash of water. The main idea was to make that product affordable enough to make it a bestseller, and Nokia was a real champ there. Back in 2002, I started working in the charter of sailboats, and I needed a phone that would survive the everyday working environment, climbs on the masts or potential drops in the water pools when the boat was being prepped for the guests to come. Nokia just announced Nokia 5210, and I fell in love.

With the first money I earned, I got that piece of ruggedness. It was a phone that wasn’t a proper rugged phone but rather a smaller version of 3310 internals with a case that would mount on the board like an exoskeleton. That specially-designed body was swappable and was coming in different colours. Also, it was coated with rubber and had a rubber cover for the ports at the bottom to save exposed connectors from water. I remember it had a thermometer that wasn’t precise as the ones we get on phones today but would get you a solid reading.

When Nokia 800 Tough came to life, it reminded me instantly of Nokia 5210. But, the technology and the idea behind those two phones are completely different. While Nokia 800 Tough is a propper rugged phone, like Nokia XR20, Nokia 5210 was a regular phone for the days but just dressed for mining a comet. That feature phone from 2002 started a trend of coating phones in rugged bodies that we do now when are installing those ugly thick protective cases on gentle smartphones. Nowadays we also have a great rugged phone which is not just durable but also versatile, and I must say I like my Nokia XR20.

I can end this with saying that Nokia 5210 earned a special place in the history of phones and started something that lasts till today. I think Nokia replaced this phone with Nokia 5100 which brought even more rubber to its outer skeleton.

Do you guys remember Nokia 5210 or do you still have it stashed somewhere?


Thanks to a Redditor for bringing good memories back.