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No, you’re not seeing things. It’s the year 2022 and rotary phones are back. There’s likely a sizeable portion of our audience reading this piece who have only ever seen rotary phones in television shows and never in person. The dial-based phones wherein you rotate the dial around to call someone are back in style.
So why are rotary phones making a comeback? In these stressful times, people of all ages are obsessed with nostalgia and all things retro. For Gen Z, these phones are a hilarious novelty, and for older folks, they remind us of simpler times.
For as great as smartphones are, sometimes, you don’t want to be overloaded with information 24/7/365. Plenty of people, including celebrities like Chris Pine, have waxed poetic about not having a smartphone and how a more analog approach allows for more free time to do things like reading or even being more engaged with your partner. A rotary phone fills that space but does it in a way that evokes a certain timelessness. It’s similar to how there’s been a recent progression back towards vinyl and record players.
What Do You Need to Know Before Buying a Rotary Phone?
The biggest question you’ll have to answer is whether or not you’ve got a phone line in your home. Most older builds should have an existing line, but you may or may not have to get it reactivated. Newer builds probably don’t have one at all, so you’ll have to hire someone to run a line. Costs are variable and will depend on your local phone company, so be sure to reach out to them to figure out the details. You’ll also need to pay for a dedicated phone plan for it, so take that into consideration as well.
If you’re considering a rotary phone in 2022, make it one of the phones we’ve listed below.
1. Sangyn 1960s Rotary Phone
Classic and timeless, this rotary phone from Sangyn evokes major Mad Men vibes with its 1960-inspired design. While it comes in a variety of different colors, the black version feels like something you’d see in a typical office environment, which makes it great to put on an end table or similar setting within your home. Plus, the mechanical style ringer is clear yet loud to ensure you won’t miss a single call when it comes in. And, weighing slightly over two pounds, it’s easy to pick up and move around if you’re someone that likes to pace when you talk.
2. Glodeals 1960s Rotary Phone
BEST PINK PHONE
Who doesn’t love a good, pink phone? The kitchens of yesteryear were typically clad in bright, vibrant colors wherein a pink rotary phone wouldn’t feel out of place. That’s why we like this version from Glodeals, which is a perfect shade; not too bright or too dark, it’s just the right amount of attitude to add to a given space.
3. Charlton Home Classic Desk Phone
BEST DESK PHONE
This modern digital desk phone was built to resemble a 1930s era phone. It’s missing the spinning dial, but otherwise, it’s a classic retro rotary phone. If you love cool office supplies, then this is the perfect desk accessory.
4. Design Toscano Brittany Neophone Rotary Phone
The roaring 20s brought all kinds of opulence to American culture, and you can get a taste of that indulgence with this rotary phone. Art deco style is pretty timeless, so having this in your home is bound to provide a given space with all kinds of elegance. But you won’t be saddled with 1920s tech, as the phone includes an adjustable receiver, volume control, redial and a clear ring, making it a rotary phone that’s the best of yesterday and today.
5. Wild & Wolf 746 Rotary Phone
Part of the appeal of a rotary phone is in the inherent nostalgia of it all, which is why we’re really drawn to the Wild & Wolf 746 rotary phone’s overall design. The detail we love the most is the fonts used on the numbers and on the information dial. The striking red numbers also provide a nice flourish of color to the sleek black appearance, helping to create an overall compelling statement piece for any space.
6. EC VISION Rotary Phone
FOR DON DRAPER-TYPES
There’s something about this particular rotary phone from EC VISION that feels like it belongs in a leather chair-clad library or in a space where cigar smoking and whiskey sipping take place. Nevertheless, this rotary phone has a bit of an elegant feel to it, thanks to the almost leather-like detailing and the brass-like dial itself. Plus, it includes modern features like a redial button and even a hands-free mode.
7. Opis FunkyFon Rotary Phone
Sort of a hybrid between a 1920s-style phone and a 1960s style phone, this “FunkyFon” has that t-shaped design with a colorway that feels as if it was plucked from the 60s. But it’s not just this striking orange, as the rotary phone also comes in a variety of different colors to best suit your individual personality. Plus, the loud ring ensures you won’t miss a call when you’re in another part of the house.
8. Gpo Rotary Phone
We’ll level with you here: half the reason we picked this rotary phone from Gpo is due to its wonderful color. The sharp mint green hue is certainly of the moment, capable of fitting into any space and making a stylish impression. It’s more than just looks, however, as the phone includes plenty of handy features for this era, including a loud ringer which you can toggle on and off if things start to get too noisy.
9. TelPal Bronze Retro Rotary Phone
With ornate detailing (look at the rose!) and a 1920s-style design, this vintage rotary phone from TelPal stands out. The receiver, especially, is really incredible to behold and even easier to use. Despite its old-looking appearance, the phone includes modern functionality like redial but is otherwise pretty straightforward in terms of its use. What it lacks in features (in so far as rotary phones have them), it certainly makes up for in its inspired design.
10. Opis 1921 The Classic Candlestick Rotary Telephone
BEST OLD SCHOOL
Want to throw it back even further? While Opis states this rotary phone is more of an early 1920s-style rotary phone, we think it dates back even further since it’s more of a candlestick style phone you might see in your favorite period drama. Either way, you have to admire the commitment to a retro design, as the entire body of the phone is made from wood. You’ll have to hold one end of the receiver to your ear while you hold up the other portion, but you’re into going to really retro, this is the rotary phone for you.
11. Oukaning Vintage Rotary Phone
Another 1920s-style rotary phone, this desk phone from Oukaning includes a wonderful wood finish, accented by some great brass tones (although they’re actually zinc alloy in construction). The cord is plenty long enough for you to walk around a bit while you’re using it, and the handle feels great in your hand and actively talking to people.
12. OldPhoneWorks at Etsy
OldPhoneWorks is a Canadian seller on Etsy who meticulously restores retro rotary phones until they’re in perfect working order. This Etsy storefront is full of beautiful and one-of-a-kind antique rotary phones. These colorful electronics are sure to be a great conversation starter. Check out the entire storefront at Etsy.