I imagine not many players of the Roblox melee game that features an "unbreakable" iconic Nokia 3110 phone as a cudgel recall that in 1596, the western Finnish town that the eponymous tech company hails from saw a gruesome battle during the Club War peasant uprising, with thousands brutally killed by heavily armed knights.
Short memories aside, Nokia the tech company's recent history is quite the riot.
After knocking them dead worldwide for years with mobiles, and pioneering high-end photography on PureView smartphones with 41 megapixel sensors and optics from German lens-meisters Carl Zeiss, Nokia lost the plot.
Nokia, under former Microsoftie Stephen Elop, tried to make a fist of it with Windows Phone, but were crushed like 16th century peasants with embarrassing ease by Apple and Google.
Its mobile business in tatters and sold to Microsoft to be written off, Nokia retreated to its profitable networks division.
Considering there are few more difficult areas of business to be in, Nokia Networks has been remarkably successful. The telecommunications infrastructure sector is besieged by political vagaries and beset by controversies which every vendor including Nokia Networks have had its fair share of.
Huawei will have plenty of tales of woe about that, but long story short, it's mainly Nokia 5G radio gear that New Zealand subscribers connect with their new smartphones.
Perhaps some of the success enjoyed by Nokia can be ascribed to the Finns adopting an "if you can't beat them, join them" strategy, by assimilating foreign heavy hitters like Siemens Networks and Alcatel-Lucent to stay ahead in the phone tech race.
Telco network gear is invisible to end users, and like ZTE and Huawei, Nokia felt it had to play in the handset market for attention. Technically, Nokia has had a dog in that race since buying Alcatel's mobile phone division, but the brand is licensed to Chinese vendor TCL so it doesn't count.
Instead, there's HMD Global which also calls itself Nokia Mobile. HMD Global arose from the ashes of the first iteration of Nokia's mobile business, after Microsoft transferred its interest to the company.
HMD Global is run by former Nokia executives; it is also headquartered in Espoo Finland like Nokia, with the telco vendor last year investing in the feature and smartphone maker along with Google and Qualcomm which chipsets power most Android devices.
Nokia gets a say on the design of the phones bearing its name, in return for royalties from HMD Global.
With history out of the way, let's look at the entry level Nokia 3.4 4G smartphone. On paper it offers lots for just $299: 64 gigabyte storage, that's expandable to 512 GB with a memory card, dual SIM, a good screen at 1,560 by 720 pixel resolution that measures 6.4 inches diagonally, fingerprint sensor, and three cameras: 13 Mpixel main, 5 Mpixel wide and a 2 Mpixel depth camera.
There's the clean Android One interface with up to two sets of system software updates and security patches for three; this should take you from Android 10 that's on the phone to Android 11 at least.
A promised two-day battery life from the 4000 mAh unit seems to be about right too. An included 5V/1 Amp wall-wart charges the Nokia 3.4 slowly over USB-C; the phone can charge at 2A as well.
The Nokia 3.4 is made by a subsidiary of Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn, but I can't see what's Finnish about the design as claimed. It looks like a typical Android handset, built fairly well with a plastic case.
It's no "unbreakable" Nokia 3110 (which HMD Global resurrected) and using the 3.4 as a $299 Roblox-style cudgel is not a good idea.
Entry-level means tempered expectations, but despite Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 brains with four cores clocked at 1.8 GHz and another four at 1.6 GHz and 3 gigabytes of memory, the Nokia 3.4 isn't going to break any speed records.
Apps are slow to open and switch between, ditto websites; the 3DMark benchmark test stuttered along at painfully low frame rates, but Roblox and less graphics intensive games ran okay.
The cameras aren't exactly Zeiss-y, with image so-and-so image quality especially in low light. Also, the camera app lag when opening it and shifting from portrait to landscape orientation, and for example zooming in and out of images is annoying.
For light use, the lowish performance of the Nokia 3.4 will be outweighed by the value proposition. Anything above that though, and you'll wish you had saved up for a midrange device instead.