Chapter 10 – The Dancing Nokia

As my new media studies at The Canadian Film Centre were coming to an end, the phone I finally settled on as the successor to my much-loved 5190 was another, newer Nokia, the 3390. Nokia’s nomenclature made absolutely no sense to me at the time; suffice to say the 3390 was better in a number of ways. For starters it was less than half the size, and had no external antenna poking out so I could easily fit it into my pocket. Like the 5190 the 3390 had Xpress-On covers; unlike the 5190 you could change both the front panel and back battery cover.

And like my old StarTAC the 3390 was blessed with a vibrate function. On its own the feature was convenient enough, but another Nokia engineering feat made for the stuff of legend. I discovered quite by accident that if I put the phone in vibrate mode, placed it upright on a flat surface and called it the 3390 would magically rotate about a centimetre or so on its base, without falling over.

In other words, it could dance.

For this to be even possible the handset would have to be weighted just so; ditto for whatever produced the vibration inside. Long story short, the dancing was clearly a planned feature — either pointless or awesome depending on your point of view — but proving nonetheless that Nokia’s engineers were light years ahead of anyone else.

Unfortunately, as an entry level phone the 3390’s days as my personal sidearm were numbered. But I kept it as a spare, and years later it would perform another feat matched by no other handset before or since: it was the first (and so far only) cell phone to ever be thrown at me by an angry girlfriend. It missed its target and smashed into a wall behind me, and thanks to its Xpress-On cover we both lived to see another day.