ELECTRONIC GEAR: Nokia – The AK-47 of Cell Phones


So when 3rd world rebels, bearded High-Speed low drag types, spies and Mercenaries need to make a call what phone do they pick-up? When I get the call to hop on a plane to some 3rd world war zone for a ridiculous amount of money what type of phone do I throw in my bag?

Sony Ericsson? No way, it’ll break in a week. Motorola? It won’t last 3 days before it breaks into two pieces. iPhone? Fuck no [I would rather use two tin cans and a string than anything “I” in the 3rd world.

So what is my and just about every other operator’s choice for a cell phone if we will be working in some of the most hostile and hardest use environments in the world?

Nokia – any model

Yep, just about everyone I tell this too is surprised when I say “I would rather use a pay phone than use any cell phone but Nokia in a War Zone”. But walk around a base in Iraq or around a city in Africa and you will see what I am talking about. Nokia is one of the most prevalent phones in the third world, and for good reason.

Even the cheapest model is bullet proof, and oddly the cheaper the model you buy the tougher it is. One of the reasons why Nokia phones are so tough is Nokia’s main market is Asia, Southeast Asia in particular. Unlike in the US or Europe where people go from their homes to their car to their office - in Asia people jump onto the back of a kerosene and diesel fuming Tuck-Tuck, then to a bus or subway stuffed with 80 people then a 20 minute walk in a pothole covered street.

And Nokia knows if their phones can’t take that then simply people won’t buy their phones. In parts of Asia buying a cell phone is a big investment, so if word got around that Nokia made shit phones that fell apart then no one would buy one. So market pressures have forced them into making even the cheapest model tough as hell.


And people who work in the 3rd world in jobs that are extremely hard on electronics where communication can be a matter of life or death have learned that no other phone can take abuse and keep calling like a Nokia.

I remember one time I was jumping out of a Blackhawk in Balad, Iraq when my Nokia 9500 communicator [one of the first color screen qwerty keyboard cell phones] fell out of my pocket and smashed into 9 pieces on the ground. After chasing the pieces around the flight deck I snapped it back together right there, turned it on and called for my contact to pick me up.

And that is just one of a hundred stories I have heard and experienced about a Nokia phone taking mad damage and still working. I know guys who used them for years when the screen was cracked, the case held together with duct tape and the antenna cap missing with zero operational issues.

Another good operational aspect of using Nokia phones in the 3rd world is the ease of getting extra batteries, chargers and accessories. I swear every hajji shop in the Middle East has 20 types of Nokia chargers and plastic zippered carry cases. Seriously, you can buy a Nokia and 84 different accessories every two blocks in the 3rd world. That alone is a major reason why choosing a Nokia phone for overseas work is a no-brainer [there is no Golden Connex in the suck].


The next time you are watching a newscast during a coup or civil war pay attention, you will see dudes in the background chatting on Nokia phones or with one strapped to the shoulder strap of their LBE [an oddly popular way of carrying a Nokia in Latin America]. Hell, even Hollywood has caught on to the “guys who carry guns use Nokia’s, you will see Leonardo DiCaprio using one of the tougher older models in Body of Lies and tons of other movies. Hell, even James Bond uses a Nokia.

So whenever I pack my bags for a gig in some far off 3rd world hell-hole the first things that come out of storage and into my bag are my Nokia phones and a good pair of boots.


~James G Founder - Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long; he has traveled to over 50 countries chasing fortune and glory. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and spending way too much on the latest models of Nokia's. James G. on FACEBOOK