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The Landline Phone Is the Latest Home Flex

SPY agents, tasked with intercepting communications between in-the-know assets and engaging in constant, tireless cultural reconnaissance, regularly file field reports on new and meaningful trends. Some of the trends they monitor will change how we live. Field Report captures those early leads to keep you informed on what might be the next big thing.

There are at least five and as many as 25 well-connected Manhattan creative types with landline phones installed in their loft apartments south of Houston. They have perfectly functional cell phones—the most recent iPhones and those Google ones that fold—but their decision to join the rotary club is not purely aesthetic; the phones provide them with a second number they can give out only to those they definitely want to hear from whether its a lead on a party from a friend or someone from the bar they’re trying to court.

The thinking goes like this: Everyone is accessible, too accessible even. Between calls, texts, Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok, BeReal, Hinge, Raya, Bumble, Tinder, Slack, and WhatsApp, everyone’s plastic cup has been connected by string to everyone else’s. Access is no longer meaningful. But restricted access is. Landliners understand this.

The single men adopting the landline see the value on a deeper level. The hottest guys these days are the ones with no social media presence at all—according to women today—so the next step would be to ditch the cell phone altogether in favor of a landline. It’s a Finsta, but for the rest of the phone. In the age of pre-screened romance, circumspection builds intrigue. So does a sense of decorum. When a man communicates directly rather than signaling, some take notice. The call becomes more than a call. There’s an activity, a moment to revel in, whether it’s a close friend calling the secret line with news of a party you won’t want to miss or from the woman at the bar you’re still thinking about. In When Harry Met Sally, the two spent hours on the phone together, watching Casablanca, twirling coiled cords around fingers, rehashing the day. With a cell phone, moments are flippant. Meaningful conversations happen less often because they’re conducted in transit to other things. 

Of course, most of the adopters still have iPhones in their pockets. They text. They send their mothers pictures when they’re on vacation. They answer Seamless calls when the place doesn’t have Blue Gatorade to approve that Red Gatorade would be fine, thank you. But almost all have adopted the habit of asking friends and lovers to “call them later at home.” This gives them an aura of mystery, but is not rude. It is a polite request and the proposal of an exchange: Call back and, in return, receive my complete attention.

At a mere $30 each month for the service, landlines are not much more expensive than enlisting yet another dating app. It’s basically the price of Hinge. That’s affordable by the standards of modern affectations. And installation is less time consuming than maintaining an appealing Instagram or selecting and reselecting emojis like so many bruised fruits.

While its initial purchase may be out of function, the form also adds something to the home. Having “a place for the phone” creates another tentpole in the living room. There is a zone to be curated around whether that means a section of wall space that must be free of other art or shelves because the mount will be set there, or an end table by the sofa that needs a clear pathway for the cord to reach from the receiver to one’s ear. Wall-mounted phones call to mind the romantic comedies of the 1980s where characters meander around the home or leaning on the wall. Alternatively, a phone set on a tabletop with a study base gives the impression of serious communiqués being received, like Kennedy and Khrushchev navigating the Cold War. If there’s any style-minded president to emulate, it’s Kennedy. 

Try it out. Embrace the past’s wisdom. Whatever style you’re looking for, there are a ton of options for any style.

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This big, blocky phone has a weight to it. When it rings, it means that something’s about to happen. Maybe it’s a date calling to schedule the next time you’ll see each other. Maybe it’s a last minute party you need to be at, either way, you’re going to pick up. 

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These phones are more playful, but the cord keeps you in one place. It’s not the on-the-go mentality that the average cell phone call allows for. You linger, you ask follow-up questions, before you know it, you’ve been on the phone for an hour. Also, because it’s mounted to the wall, the phone also creates a certain kind of art piece, where you’ll be able to echo a certain kind of nostalgia.